Sunday, May 18, 2008

Training Update: In Which the Author Questions What She Is Doing

My first day of In-Person Training here in Illinois was a humdinger of a day.
Tired from all the excitement yesterday--a graduation, and a celebration luncheon,
traveling felt to me like an another full day in its own right, and I did not get to sleep until after midnight local time. And today--today!--well, let's just say that after more than 10 years as a school teacher, and years of other experiences before that--today I felt like I did not know a darn thing about my profession. I am having my doubts about my ability to do this.
I was inordinately tired and running on caffeine and nerves, with ears that stubbornly refused to clear, all which is a very bad combination. I am currently wondering about whether I am too old, too set in my ways to do this. So I did the only logical thing. When I went to Jewel to buy lunch stuff, I also got some Tahitian Vanilla Gelato. Ahhh. Life is good even if I am terminally bad at figuring out what the trainers want.

A few notes on the training techniques.

Overall, I think the trainer we have is very good. She understands the curriculum and she always points out what we are doing right first. And yet, everyone--rookies and teachers more experienced than I am --everyone seemed more and more nervous as the day progressed. For some of us, the problem is learning something new, but for me, some part of it is unlearning habits--and I do mean habits--that were inculcated either deliberately by our teacher education programs, or that were picked up unconsciously from other teachers.

The more I see of the IRD curriculum, the more impressed I am with the ideas that it represents. It is singularly focused at all levels on one primary goal: getting people to become absorbed in what they read so that they will read books and obtain pleasure and an education from reading. The curriculum is very structured in order to achieve that goal.

Finally I am being told that I talk too slowly and am too deliberate.
I think that's funny after all the years that I was told to slow down.

I spent years learning the Hilda Taba discussion format: a gentle, slow way to guide students towards generalizations.

Maybe it comes from teaching high school chemistry.
If I went even a bit faster than a deliberate pace, I could count on losing more than half the class. For most of these young people--even those who are very good students--chemistry is extremely difficult for them to get their heads around.

Maybe I have finally become--at last--a mostly native New Mexican.
Manana will come. And those people from the east (here defined as anything across the Pecos River), well, we all know that they talk way too fast. And anyway, why rush through life.

But maybe it's because of that dreadful anomia that comes with Tamoxifen.
At the time I had to write down every term I would use in a lecture because I couldn't count on remembering some of them, even though they were as familiar to me as my own name. Words like photosynthesis, chlorophyll, or natural selection.
And for me, although it got better, it has left me talking more slowly,
as I struggle sometimes to get certain words out of my mouth.

And it is really, really frustrating because I remember not struggling like that.

I know that I am an intelligent person. I love academia. I enjoy getting my head around new and exciting ideas. And that excitment of grasping something new, even before I can formulate the words, is extremely pleasurable to me.

And yes, that does mean I am likely a Geek.
Just last week someone said to me: "I think you misunderstood the question. Isn't what you are saying really that certain reading methods are useful?
How can reading a scientific paper be pleasurable?"

I love books. Reading is almost as important to me as breathing.
And, to paraphrase Thoreau, if I had two dollars, I would buy bread with one to feed the body, and with the other I would buy a book to feed the soul.

But perhaps I am not right for this program.
It is not feeling like a good match.

Oy, I am so full of angst.
And here I thought I was too old for that!

1 comment:

momof3feistykids said...

Unfortunately we're never too old for angst. I have no advice; good luck in deciding whether this program is a good fit for you. HUGS.