Friday, August 13, 2010

Lesson Plan

I take it as a sign that the economy is beginning to recover in the private sector as there has been a flurry of movement this summer - people are going and coming and shifting about. There have been relevant vacancies in two adjacent teams that have caused a considerable number of requests of help to head my way. Luckily, I'm in a bit of a lull at the moment when it comes to travel and tasks so I'm able to help out.

There are a number of areas where I'm useful from giving seminars, talking to customers, organizing meetings and streamlining tedious tasks. One area where I've never been great is teaching. And that's one of my 'could you pitch in?' requests.

I used to have designs on teaching, wobbling around my parents' basement in high heels to scribble on chalkboards, scold imaginary troublemakers and dutifully grade papers I'd filled out myself. I grew out of that pretty completely, managing both my graduate and postdoctoral training without giving so much as a quiz. I can have conversations. I can answer questions. But writing on whiteboards and grading tests? It doesn't sound like something I'd do.

I'll admit I did a bit of scrambling to try to get out of it, but when Adam frowned at me and suggested I grow up, I pouted for a mere moment before scattering materials across my desk and beginning to look bewildered. Growing up was the problem, I decided. I respect teachers deeply and know from experience that those without passion and planning suck. Sometimes hard and deep.

Taking a breath, I began scribbling some notes. I do understand my topics - there are four - and have materials on each of them. But I'm often (gently) criticized for being overly technical (and talking too fast and using flowery language) so how much detail is appropriate? Am I trying to sell something? Or use it?

As with most tasks in Industry, there are protocols to follow. So I went about filling in the blanks and copying/pasting my little heart out so that I had the proper material captured. I calculated it out and decided my meager 1 hour was stuffed full of about a day's worth of material. And there's nothing more disrespectful to students that droning on about irrelevant crap for longer than you're allocated number of minutes. (Which is exactly why I used to skip classes - total waste of time in some cases.)

So I have started writing out objectives and summaries and working backward. And it's hard - deciding what's important and how to explain it in an engaging and memorable way. I've now put several days into a project that would have taken members of a neighboring team about an hour. I know too much, they say, and I'm making it too complicated and important. So I return to my work and keep shoving material into the supplementary section in case there are questions and think wistfully of travel and presentations and tasks that come easily.

I reached one page and blinked at it, realizing I was to write test questions. It has been a long time since I've taken a test, frankly, and I've grown much better at the surveys that you take after calling customer service or completing a corporate course. Where you rate your teacher (I'm going to get crushed - I already feel it) and discuss what you learned so that said instructor can improve.

No comments:

Post a Comment