Sam is a substitute High School teacher that has just been thrown in the deep end. One of the permanent teachers has had a nervous breakdown and Sam has been asked to step in to teach a Grade 9 Natural Sciences class at the last minute.
With hardly any time at all to prepare, Sam decides to teach them about something novel and current like the recent volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Bali. Sam thinks this is an exciting topic that should hopefully, engage a group of 14-year-olds with a notoriously short attention span. This is the “hashtag” generation and they need constant stimulation to keep engaged.
1. Time to Electrify Your Students
The tools that Sam has available to her to teach this class are not just limited, they are primitive!
She’s trying to draw a diagram of a volcano on a whiteboard but the pen is dry and only a faint green outline is being traced out on the board. Sam is feeling her anxiety building and the class is already getting rowdy again while she has her back to them.
If only she could’ve shown them a real colour picture or video of what a volcano looks like or communicate the magnitude and incredible sounds that an erupting volcano would make. That would be impressive - instead, Sam feels her class is rather depressive.
2. Be Immersive
Sam has lost her audience. She remembers how dynamic the news footage of the volcano eruption in Bali was and now she realises that she is feebly trying to recreate this with a dodgy green pen on a bedraggled whiteboard.
If she was able to prepare properly she would’ve loved to set up some kind of audiovisual class so that the learners could get a real immersive sense of the power of a volcanic eruption.
After finishing her faded diagram of the structure of a volcano on the board one of the learners asks: “Ma’am, what is that? It looks like a giant mushroom.” The rest of the class begins to laugh and Sam curses her misfortune under her breath wishing the ground would swallow her up.
3. Be Visual
The only visual reference that Sam has managed to rustle up for this class is the rather dodgy picture she has practically scratched onto a whiteboard. It doesn’t do the idea of a volcanic erupting any justice and Sam’s 14- to 15-year-old audience are showing zero interest in the natural phenomenon she is trying to teach them about.
She is trying to point out how the pressure mounts under the surface of the earth in order to cause an eruption but one of the girls seems more engrossed on the Instagram feed on her cellphone.
Sam looks on in disbelief as the same girl scrolls on her phone unashamedly, chewing gum and blowing bubbles with a pop. Sam finds herself struggling to suppress the desire to be a human volcanic eruption herself!
4. Be Trending
During her impassioned explanation of the eruption, Sam overhears one of the learners at the back of the class muttering the word “boring”.
She feels the icy sensation of humiliation running up her spine. Never mind a working whiteboard pen, she wishes she had videos and other media that she could rely on to be more on trend with how to reach a young audience. Even TED Talks use slides and dramatic lighting to engage their audiences.
Sam is in her early thirties but at that moment feels ancient. Her lesson seems so unimportant in comparison to what the teenagers have access to on their phones and she knows that most of them won’t be able to recall a thing she has spent the last twenty minutes trying to teach.
5. Plan Ahead
Facing the deadpan faces of her blatantly bored young audience, Sam has so many regrets about the class she has been giving.
She wishes she was able to plan ahead and prepare dynamic and engaging pictures and video footage. She also wishes that there was some way that she could’ve recorded the most important information about the class and been able to share it with the class immediately as a reference.
Worse still is that Sam knows she may have to give the exact same abysmal class to the other Grade 9 class the following week and she can’t be sure that there will be any consistency between this class and that one. If only she had been able to record this lesson!
If only Sam had the tools that she needed to be able to demonstrate just how gifted a teacher she is. The class has left her feeling deflated and doubting her own abilities as a teacher.
Sam is beginning to suspect she knows why the other teacher had a nervous breakdown.