What was easy today? Nothing (7 responses)

Written before class, but not posted until after. Because I could just back date the “published date” on the blog anyway, so why not just admit it?

Before class

So last week happened, and it did not go as well as I hoped, but it didn’t go as badly as it could have. The test will be this morning as we get started with the second class meeting. How will everyone feel? Will the energy still be there? How did they feel at the end of last class? What did they know about the course at the end of last week? What did they learn?

My guesses

The class seemed happy at the end of last class. But, they’re first-years. Everything is new and exciting. Don’t have too much of that free energy to ride on. And, of course they seemed happy. Pretty low bar.

I think they did not know enough about the course. They got some idea of how I teach and what I expect by doing the tasks last week, but I haven’t explained it well enough yet. How important is that in the first week? They know me a bit, but I know them less well. No surprise there based on the class size and my self-introduction activity. They know that we will be using technology. Some of them know I will be learning with them. They began to learn how to use Google and a web browser and a little bit about how to use Quizlet.

Unfortunately, I do not know the specific answers to those questions because we did not get to the Wrap Up activity for … reasons.

I let one activity run long. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes that is a good thing, but probably not in this case, even if it meant good discussion. Discussion isn’t the only point. Becoming better learners is the goal.

It took inordinately long to accomplish what is normally a simple task. Getting everyone a Gmail address took forever. Several things failed; some my fault, some not. But all my responsibility in the end.

Activities that worked well with one group of learners did not this time around. That happened. Class size is part of it, but can’t explain everything.

Google forced all to use authentication by phone. Voice authentication started to fail. Surprisingly (my error of expectations) many students could not receive email on their mobiles. Many did not even seem to understand that their phones had email addresses from their provider. Tech has moved on. It used to be that new students didn’t “get” pc-based email and only knew mobile email. Now they just know text, LINE, and Instagram. Mobile phone mail is so plagued by spam that some first-years never use it.

The lack of information about enrolled students and no LMS or other system available made making that first online connection tough. Reduced to writing a URL on the whiteboard and asking students to type it in wasted several minutes. Email sign up many more. But the worst is over. On the other hand, I lost some precious “first day of school” energy to IT bullshit.

Next time around with a whole 200 student cohort (in smaller classes) we will have to either get the institutional infrastructure in place, or break this task out for guided independent work (i.e., homework, “flipped,” and/or drop-in tutorial sessions). That is possible when they are “our” students instead of someone else’s.

Also, last week I just didn’t spend enough time getting to know the students. Class was a bit too much on me, procedures, etc. but that is sometimes the nature of start of term. Insert self-serving justification Right? This week has to be much more about them, and it will be. Tasks will be more open ended, and have to make the fact that we’re all seated at computers not become too much the over-riding factor in the environment. I wish it was BYOD like planned for next year. Because that will fix everything. Right.

Let’s see what I learn about these interesting French majors next class.

After class

Much better. They seem to be “getting it.” And the energy was still there. I used a very simple Google Form with the following items on it to gather feedback at the end of class.

How is your study energy level now? 1 “I cannot study at all” 10 “I am super motivated to study”
What was easy today?
What was interesting today?
What was difficult today?
How was your effort level today? 1 “I did almost nothing” 10 “I tried pretty hard.”

Results

How is your study energy level now? 7.4 at the end of class (min 5 max 10)
How was your effort level today? 6.9 (min 3 max 10)

Now, I know those are somewhat leading questions, but the point is less the results for me to look at than for the learners themselves to think about it. If they fib to butter up the teacher, I don’t care that much. Just as long as they know what their ratings are.

The open ended is more interesting. Selected for awesomeness. Well, most of them were awesome.

What was easy today?

* To answer, My favorite SNS is twitter! (attendance question)
* You spoke slowly so I could understand at all.
* “I felt easy today’s test. Because I like remwmbering English word.” well on her way to self-directed learning.
* Nothing (7 responses) (Maybe they aren’t concerned about making a good impression.)

What was interesting today?

* I think I talked with everyone in my group
* Thinking about france with friends.
* many people know some briringual people.
* “I write Engulish in Internet at first. So,I’m intersting! But little difficult.”

What was difficult today?

* typing
* “It is all !!!! But, I study hard !!”
* Why study French
* access this page…(><)
* Nothing (3 responses)

Comment or question, please!

Lots of Thanks yous or blanks. We were running out of time at the end.

Looking forward

Last, they are beginning to get my plan to walk the walk with them. I promised to do the same homework assignments and projects with them. To that end, as they wrote about why they chose to become French majors, I attempted to write why I am studying Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesian!

“Selamat pagi! Saya bisa bicara bahasa Indonesia. Makanan enak. Saya mau pergi ke Komodo. Indonesia pantai bagus. Panas. Terima kasih!”

I read this aloud to them and they were astounded! Wait until they find out that that just about exhausted my Indonesian abilities. Then, they laughed when I translated it into English.

“Good morning! I can speak Indonesian a little. Food delicious. I want to go to Komodo. Indonesia nice beach. Hot. Thank you!”

I hope that went some way towards breaking down the barriers and exhibiting a willingness on my part to make (language) mistakes.

Their motivations for studying French next….

 

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One response to “What was easy today? Nothing (7 responses)

  1. Pingback: And so, we have arrived as (planned) at a parting of the ways | Ted O'Neill

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