Thursday, March 03, 2011

how not to teach.

We've all had a nightmare of a teacher...or two. Maybe even more. The kind that when we reminisce about our education experience it makes us shudder. Some were so bad that they may have even been the source for dropping a class.

I know that teaching is an important role and not an easy job. But just like everything in this world...there are teachers that are great and some that....fall short.

I'm currently taking a Spanish class. It has always been my dream to be fluent in Spanish. Not to mention that white boys that speak Spanish are totally dreamy. At least if you ask me.

When I was a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I was blessed to have served with two different people that were called to preach the gospel in the Spanish language. I remembered fairly quickly what I had learned from middle school and high school and was surprised how fast you can pick it up when you are around it.

When it came time to register for classes, I wanted to stay on top of learning Spanish (and I need foreign language credits for my degree) so I signed up for Spanish 201. Which is the last grammar class for non Spanish-Ed majors.

I was anxious and excited to take the class.

I found myself struggling. So I took advantage of BYU-Idaho's free tutoring services and started meeting with a private tutor once a week for an hour (which would probably cost an arm and a leg at almost any other school). He helped me a lot and was even willing to start meeting with me twice a week.

He hands down gets the award for world's most patient tutor. He explains things over and over and is encouraging while doing so. Exactly what a teacher should be. He never gets frustrated when I ask the same question time and time again and he usually tells me "I know you know this. You're just over thinking it." He encourages me to take some time and think about it or even write it down and look at it before giving my answer. Yet again, gives advice based on my individual learning style. Potential future teacher? Survey says: yes.

I was improving in the class but still struggling at the same time. I realized that if I wanted to improve the most that I could, that I was going to have to put forth more effort. I was going to have to volunteer answers in class and take full advantage of the classroom and risk sounding like an idiot.

The class is taught entirely in Spanish. Which is hard and challenging but effective.

So today we were reviewing for an upcoming test.

My teacher was reviewing the subjunctive with time clauses. She asked "Class, when do we use the subjunctive with time clauses?"

I remembered reviewing this with my tutor. I was grateful that I was starting to grasp and remember the context.

I answered...."With commands and the future tense."

"Well.....uh....we already knew that. You always use the subjunctive with commands"
Which is only slightly true. The actual word that is the command is formed the same way as the subjunctive tense, but its possible to have a command in a non subjunctive sentence. Just saying.

Well whatever, it's not like teachers haven't shot me down before.

We started reviewing something else. My teacher was talking about when something is either indefinite or nonexistent. I raised my hand and said that I didn't understand the difference.

"Well....(shooing hand wave)'ll figure it out."

REALLY?! I mean really.

You're a teacher. By definition you get PAID TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS.

Everyone around me was on my side. They said that they didn't know the thing about commands and subjunctive and they quickly whispered that they would explain the difference after class.

How is this supposed to encourage me? And I know that I'm not alone. I know plenty of students in this class and in general are discouraged by their teachers. Which is pretty sad, if you ask me.

I know that she can't hold our hand the entire way, and that at some point I'm going to have to learn this on my own. But that's just it. AT SOME POINT. Like say, after class? After she teaches us? After I graduate and I have sufficiently taken the classes I need and I'm no longer a student.

Isn't school for LEARNING? For asking questions and getting answers?
Maybe I've been wrong all of these years.

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