The End Draws Nigh!
I have two lectures left for my first class (plus I have to write an exam for the students). In other words – my first semester as an adjunct lecturer is almost over! I feel much, much more confident now, in comparison to how I felt the first couple of weeks.
Looking back over the past weeks, I see that I probably have learned more than my students did. During my Master’s program at Asbury Theological Seminary, I was never prepared to teach. I was in the MA Biblical Studies program, which is supposed give one the tools needed to research and teach the Bible. I feel as though I am capable of researching; those tools were easy to pick up. Teaching, however, was never emphasized. There were very few opportunities to grade for professors in comparison to the rather large student body. Oftentimes, mDiv students were chosen over MA-BS students to grade, which I wholeheartedly disagree with.
I must digress, this post is not meant to be an attack on Asbury (I appreciate the education I experienced there). I want to stress how difficult it was for someone as unprepared as myself to come in to teach a class. I learned a few things:
(1) No matter how unprepared you think you are as an instructor, you still know more about the subject than your students do.
(2) A well prepared syllabus is worth double its weight in gold.
(3) The word count of a lecture does not determine the length of a class; the quality of the lecture combined with the instructor’s ability to draw the students into engaging in conversation about the subject matter determine the length of the class.
(4) The ever dreaded “group work” really is not that bad for in-class assignments (but I still won’t assign long-term research assignments to groups).
(5) Most importantly, and I’m afraid that John Oswalt would disagree with me on this (especially if we were discussing Isaiah), teaching the students to think critically about a subject and make up their own minds about it is MUCH, MUCH more important than convincing them of your point of view. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but even I struggled with this some, especially when I had some extremely conservative viewpoints about the New Testament (such as people understanding the rapture to be biblical, and following the “Left Behind” timeline) come up in class and I had to fight to try not to correct them.
That said, I still have a lot more to learn. I have to write a lecture now, and one more next week, and a final exam. I loved working with these students, and I’m already looking forward to my Old Testament class this fall! This semester has affirmed the fact that I feel that teaching is more than just my dream, but that it is my calling.