Teaching the Trade

by kipress

This past week I took a fairly enjoyable class in “Instructional Methods” along with 19 other instructors, mostly from Red River College. We spent most of the week listening to each other teach. We were a class of guinea pigs, testing out our colleagues’ lessons. I now know only a very little bit about the following: filling a syringe, setting up a surveying instrument, wiring household receptacles (also known as plugs), how digital clocks work, the best way to sharpen a knife, and how to micropipette test samples into those little test tubes in a rack like on CSI.

Now, for some reason, I’ve had trouble getting students interested in poetry in the past. It was the first thing I tried to teach when I was hired, and I made a lot of mistakes in my approach. So I tried a new concise and snazzy poetry lesson on the guinea pigs last week–people with, ostensibly, less interest in poetry than even my Cre-Comm students–with much success. I had mechanics and electricians writing poems within 15 minutes–and it wasn’t even for marks. Someone even brought in a new poem the next day, unbidden, and read it at the end of his electrical lesson.

The other thing I tried out was a proofreading lesson, which, well, was not quite as exciting and for which I still got a lot of glazed faced (still needs work, I guess, but I don’t want to give up on trying to teach a little proofreading).

I hope to learn more about the ever exciting field of teaching creative writing at the inaugural conference of the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs association, in Calgary and Banff this coming Thanksgiving weekend.