Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Teaching tics

Do you have teaching tics?

I do. The big one is inappropriately timed water drinking. Sounds ridiculous, I know. And it is. I'm a big water drinker to begin with. And in classes, I can't seem to tear myself away from that water bottle. It wouldn't be a problem if it weren't that I was constantly taking a big glug in the middle of a sentence: "And the key...[glug]...issue here is..." or "What do you [glug] think of [glug] X?"

I feel like an idiot every time I catch myself doing this. Tonight, it's going to stop. I'm going to keep the water bottle far, far away. No more mid-sentence security blanket.

Tonight I'm also going to try tackling the compulsion to arrive too early to class. Especially now, when I'm new here and don't really know students yet, it feels awkward. I get there and then don't have anything to do with myself, if students aren't coming up to talk to me. I can't stand that feeling - it feels like junior high. But I haven't ever been able to stop myself from leaving my office way too early...I don't know what I think might stall me on the brief walk from my office to the classroom. But I'm always stupidly prepared for those non-existent eventualities. No more. Tonight, I leave the office five minutes ahead of class, and get there with two minutes to spare. Enough time to take my coat off, array my stuff on the table, and have a 30-second admin-type chat with someone. I will be the very picture of nonchalance.


Flavia said...

What a great question this is!

I sometimes think that I should have the teaching center come in and videotape me, so that I can see all the idiotic things I do and maybe break those habits--but I'm too freaked out about *what* I'd see!

Some of the tics I'm semi-conscious of are shifting my weight from foot to foot, or rocking back and forth, or rotating my ankles inward and outward as I'm standing in front of the room and talking. I also make very big gestures that I'm not sure are effective--like a larger version of that, "go on, go on" gesture that sometimes involves my entire upper body.

And I talk much too fast. But at least I've broken myself of the getting to class too early problem (easier now that all my classes are in the same building as my office, and none more than two floors below it). I don't mind it when the class is a seminar, and chatting is easy, but with a class of 30 students and 40 seats? Unless I have lots of homework to return, or things to put up on the board, I feel like an idiot just shuffling papers and being looked at for 9 minutes.

medieval woman said...

I hear ya! My students used to chat with me when I was teaching as a grad student - now, if I try to make conversation (how are your semesters going?) they look at me like I have 9 heads.

My teaching tic is that I completely lose my train of thought in the middle of what I was saying at least once a class. I mean totally. I forget my name, what day it is, everything. It's quite sad really. After blinking for a second or two, I remember and I move on and the kiddos usually chuckle at their prematurely senile prof. but it scares me a little sometimes. What if this happens in a teaching demo for a job?? Arrrrgh! Paging Dr. Beta Blocker...

Hilaire said...

Flavia, the enormous arm gesture thing: I do this, too, and I think it can only be a neutral-to-good thing. I think movement generates enthusiasm, even if can that be bad? Also, I know what you mean about not wanting to see yourself on video - I've had exactly the same thought about why it would be both a help and a horror!

And oh, MW, that sounds distressing! But if you can laugh at yourself, all the better - I think that kind of self-deprecating humour works wonders with students, as long as you prove your overall competence.