About a week and a half into the teacher training program, I made an important discovery:
I was exhausted.
I’d already taught three lessons at this point. Each day I’d had to teach (and most of the other days, too), I’d gotten about 3 hours of sleep because I’d spent the previous night working on and obsessing over my lesson plans.
All three lessons went pretty well, thanks to my obsessive over-preparedness, but I realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for long.
So when I noticed that it was only halfway through the week and I already felt like I’d been run over by a Lastwagen, I decided on a different strategy:
Fuck my lesson plans.
It made for a lovely night. Instead of spending hours reading the textbook and writing out everything I might possibly need to explain, I told myself, “Whatever, I’ll just wing it.” I made dinner, I went for a walk, I watched some terrible anime on YouTube, and I talked to my manwich on Skype. There may also have been a few shots of whiskey here and there.
This is not how a good teacher prepares a grammar lesson.
The next day was a caffeine-fueled shitstorm. I was so panicked that I was using every break between classes to make copies and throw together some kind of explanation for the poor students who expected to learn something from me that afternoon.
All things considered, the lesson didn’t actually go that bad. Somehow I managed to get things done, so they might have been fooled into thinking that I am a competent teacher. The problem was, I hadn’t really thought about how I was going to explain the grammar. I didn’t have any good examples to give them when they didn’t understand, so when they inevitably didn’t understand, the only thing I felt like I could do was correct them and move on. Almost everything I said was completely unscripted.
I had been so stressed out all day that it was something of a shock to my system to have to be calm and in control for the students. The moments when the students were working on their handouts were the worst. I walked around the room and helped students if they needed it, but after I’d made my rounds I had to sit quietly at my desk and wait until they were done.
It was a lot like being in time-out.
I was so relieved when the lesson was over. When the students walked out of the room, the first thought in my mind was, “Well, that was shit. It’s the weekend now! Woohoo!”
After my lesson, one of my classmates showed me a blind contour drawing she had made while I was teaching: