What can I say meditatively and self-reflexively about the job I did on my first lead?
Blech comes to mind.
What don’t I like? This feeling that I don’t have a clue and that getting one is impossible. Specifics on the lead? I don’t know if I even came close to covering the possible significances of the green light. Did I miss something major, something obvious to everyone else that my special brain did not see? Scratching around in the muck and reinventing the wheel seems a huge waste. All my life I’ve wanted a clear, simple set of instructions on How to Succeed at whatever task is at hand. It seems such a reasonable request, so why is it so difficult to find? The general sense seems to be that the patriarchal approach–I’ll tell you when you’ve screwed up–is sufficient. And I hate it. This is probably why I, when training or teaching or otherwise communicating, tend to go overboard in the “stupid-proofing” department.
I think I need more hands-on help with the basics: I don’t remember my much from my grad classes last semester, much less my undergrad years back in 2005-7. So an example before things come to a head would be helpful. What do I mean? Contrary to current popular pedagogical practice, I believe I am best served by being carefully guided through processes until I’ve grasped the basics. My mind is always active, continuously seeking to understand the hows and whys being practices, and constantly looking to improve them. BUT, I have to know clearly the goals, and am usually not the one to create those goals (if I were I’d likely be far richer than I am at present). I work great within someone else’s system, and manage to find better ways of doing things.
The fairly recent, wonderfully intense GTA class I took with Kevin Yee and Co. through the UCF FCTL this summer was the first real exposure I had to Student Learning Objectives. I think I finally understand the overall idea, of quantifying what we hope students will take away from the class or program. However. I need a list. Or lists. Memory is one of my weakest points; although it often surprises me with success, it typically lets me down. Stress adds to this condition (good thing there’s no stress in graduate school!).
In this class, if I were given–handed a piece of paper–a summary of the criticism to date on the green light, then I’d have a jumping off point. Digging up information that’s been discovered (and beat to death) seems like an utter waste of time, like I’m just being tormented because “this is how we’ve always done things.” What am I here to learn? How to go over old ground? Or how to do the things that are new for me? Why not have each of us actually prepare and lead a lesson? Then have the group critique our work? I learned a lot from teaching the UG classes I taught, and often had to start with totally unfamiliar material and a boilerplate syllabus.
For example, I’m presently working as a grad assistant for Dr. Kerry Welch in Student Development and Enrollment Services (SDES). One of his projects over the past couple of years is teaching department staff how to write learning outcomes, both for students and staff. The key direct application of this knowledge is to help staff in various units create their Institutional Effectiveness Plans. Also, the many student volunteers and graduate assistants need to know what they’re supposed to be working towards (besides the obvious volunteer hours and stipends). Clearly spelling out–creating a rubric?–what these folks are supposed to take away from their experiences can help them and their mentors stay on track, and can provide valuable feedback on where things go astray.