Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to be a College Professor 101

Lesson 1: Always bring your own dry erase marker.

I started my internship at the local community college last Friday. I walked in with the professor and students and took a seat at the back of the room as I only planned on observing. No, Ms. H., the professor took one look at me in the back row and indicated I needed to sit up front. So much for easing my way in.

As Ms. H. began the three hour class, I was able to contribute with comments here and there and help pass out papers. About half-way through the class, though, she needed a dry erase pen. In a brand new classroom filled with all the technology a teacher could want, there were no pens for the whiteboard. Ms. H. gave me a key to her office and asked me to grab some from her bag. As I walked out the door, I thought to myself, "This is your first lesson of the day. Always bring your own dry erase pen." I laughed and thought it might make the beginnings of a blog post. (Bloggers will understand how quickly I thought to take advantage of this lesson for my blog.)

Later that day, there was a mandatory intern meeting for training on developmental education. (I am working in the reading department which offers classes for students who do not have college level reading comprehension. These developmental courses are also offered in the math and English departments.) The first speaker for the meeting was a child development expert. He was using Piaget's stages of child development as a foundation to understanding the needs of college students. They are sensory in nature, they are pre-operational at times, they are concrete thinkers, and hopefully, they have abstract thinking skills.

As he talked, he wanted to illustrate how concrete thinking works. He looked at the whiteboard and there were no dry erase markers. One intern spoke up. "I have one." We all laughed and the speaker said something to the effect that in teaching you must always be prepared.

I think I laughed a little harder at that I think than the other interns. After all, the universe had seen fit to teach me that lesson twice in one day!

I think a trip to Office Depot is in order.

11 comments:

Subspace Beacon said...

Well, I'm not a teacher, but I have first hand experience in mistaking a permanent sharpie for a dry erase. They are NOT the same thing. At. All.

(Are you serious about the offer of the Clone Wars poster?)

AJU5's Mom said...

For us, it was always chalk (because, well, my CC is behin the times and uses chalkboards in the older buildings). My orientation was in a classroom run by two of the associate deans. And they didn't have any chalk - it was great! Similar lesson as yours!

evenshine said...

As a college prof, I can personally attest to the carnage that ensues when someone has a dry-erase marker up for grabs. At one institution where I used to teach, the administration would actually provide the teachers with !their own choice! of a rainbow of pens at the beginning of school. You come late, you get the yellows and browns. The popular profs always have a one to lend...secret of the trade.

Terri B. said...

Glad you got that lesson right away! It will indeed save headaches later. Since I like to hang out in office supply stores anyway, I bought myself a nice little multi-color pack which came with a case to carry them around in :o)

planetnomad said...

My very first day of teaching at the Univ of Nouakchott, I had to provide my own chalk and I was not prepared! A student offered to run out and buy me a couple of sticks at the local hole-in-the-wall-that-sells-a-little-of-most-things shop. So you are fortunate to learn this lesson early :)

Mel said...

<-- goes early to financial meets and hides the dry erase markers.

<-- smart like that! LOL

John Ross said...

I used to have an algebra prof who would always - ALWAYS make a show of popping the tops off of three or four markers before he started writing on the white board and inhaleing big huffs of their vapors to "get in the mood" to do algebra.... at first mildly amusing, but then just disturbing as it continued for the whole semester.

Alcohol will actually remove black sharpie marks off of furniture - i learned thanks to our 4 year old.

Do good at that intern thing, sounds like you've got a good start.

Melanie K said...

I am a college professor and I always carry 3-4 dry erase markers with me for that exact reason. You may want to invest in an eraser, too!

Lindsey said...

You made it through the first day of it! Congrats! I remember my first day of student teaching...it wasn't in front of adults though, kindergarteners actually, and whole different ball game, but my mentor just threw me in from the start. It was nerve racking, but I never looked back. I learned EVERYTHING about how to be a good teacher from that 4 month experience. I hope you do to and I can't wait to hear about moer!

Jessi said...

I can't even count how many times in college that class would be delayed because there were no markers or chalk. Definitely bring your own, lol.

poppy fields said...

That's funny. And hooray for being on your way to be a teacher.