Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Another first experience in..

I had an earlier blog post, about five years ago, whose title also read something similar, saying- 'my first experience in...'. But that was also 'the last experience in...'.

Now, this experience that I am writing about, I am pretty sure it is not the last experience, but surely the 'first' of its kind. I was supposed to teach Analog electronics to BTechs here in IITB as a Teaching Assistant for their course. Not really "teach" the subject as such, but then make them solve some examples- something they call a 'tutorial' here. I had some apprehensions about teaching UGs in IITB, they are pretty smart guys, I thought.. After all, they cracked the JEE, didn't they? So, to prepare myself, I sat along with them during their regular class hours for Analog electronics, to know what's going on in the class, so that I can know what I should be doing during the tutorial. It was a class of limited seats- only 40 students were allowed to register- hmm...decent crowd for me to start with, I thought! These guys didnt know what a high pass and a low pass filter were. And they were pretty decent in the class, so I thought it may not be tough for me to handle them!

Now coming to the tutorial day..When I entered the class, I made sure I wasnt going to stand on the dais of a different class, so I asked them if this was the same class. And I thought that students wont show up for a tutorial class, but almost the whole class was seated, at 6.30pm sharp! Wow, impressive! And the room didnt have speakers or mike, and I wasnt audible at the back benches, so I turned off the fan, because I believed that the noise made by the fan running at full speed was preventing my voice from reaching far! One girl gave me a staring look since I switched off the fan near her.. I knew, so I asked her- is it ok? And she had to say, yes, its ok! That girl didnt open her book to write down anything.. she wasnt happy attending a tutorial for this subject which was supposed to be a 'Minor' subject- which gave her only 6 credits instead of the 8 credits that they normally get. She didnt feel it was worth spending one extra hour a week on a 6-credit course. I said, I cant help it.. its been told that the tutorial was compulsory and she had a pathetic look on her face.. I dont know why it should be compulsory.. if she is not going to listen to me, what's the point in coming there for the heck of it? If I was the Prof, I would say so..

Anyway, I started with drawing simple RC circuits and transient response. These guys were 2nd year guys who didnt know Network analysis or Laplace transforms. So, I had to teach them simple RC circuit analysis. I also taught them what's inside an operational amplifier- thats a differential amplifier. Apparently, that wasn't what I was asked by the Prof to do. She was supposed to teach the concepts and I was supposed to show some applications and examples. But since they weren't aware of some concepts, I spoke about it, and I liked it..
After all, what's the big deal in solving examples? All text books have them, and these simple substitution of values into formula- am sure these IIT UGs are smart to figure them out themselves..
I realised I didnt like to just show examples.. I wanted to take command on the subject, on really 'teaching'..  I wanted to teach concepts.. good, isn't it? And did decently well in handling questions too!
And the best part was, as I expected from EE students (:-))- the students behaved really decent, of course we have some mutual respect, dont we?

There were some guys talking to each other and laughing occassionally, but I didnt want to interrupt the class and treat them like primary school children, saying the same old dialogue of - "Please share the joke with the class.." etc.. It would have been funny if I did that. I wanted to be really professional, like my guide here. I love being professional where it is required.
It was good.. people were writing down notes also and nodding their heads- atleast the first benchers! There were some who didnt open any book also.. but they were the back benchers as one would expect. I was glad I was teaching something that made sense to some atleast.

The funny part was when I took the attendance (which I was asked to take!), it was a real 'first' experience. The last time I probably took attendence was when I used to play this 'teacher' game at home when I was in 1st standard, wearing a saree and broken glasses, holding a stick as if scaring students (there were none really!) and writing stuff on blackboard at home.
Now, I was really taking attendance..Apparently, in a couple of cases, I read out the student's middle name, and they said-'That's my father's name, not my name!' That was funny!

I managed to talk for 50 minutes! And I wasnt nervous.. good! And my hands were full of chalk powder :-)

I had done some volunteering work in the past, and the class I had taught was 8th and 10th standards. That was all unofficial teaching though..
But now this teaching was 'official' and it will go on. Hehe, I am officially a 'teacher'.. sounds weird! I should wear some glasses from next time, it will give me that teacher 'look', yeah that 'look'!

Overall it was good. My next turn is after 3 weeks. And I hope to do better!
(I like to decorate my blog with images.. :-) Otherwise, I think it looks boring. I myself cant read my blogs without pictures, these days!)


Mankutimma said...

Good luck with your TA. You are honing yourself to be a professor someday !

Anonymous said...

hmm its funny experience,but the switching of fan reminded me my college professor,he too did the same but it was summer and it made me angry and i got irritated with dehydration and stopped listening to his lecture.

chalk in this generation?its better to call by roll number if they have any.

the indian way of teaching is bit conventional about the scope of subject we deal.first thing in teaching job is to know two things to be successful. read students mind by asking two simple questions,WHATS HAPPIEST MOMENT IN THEIR LIFE INSTEAD TAKING ATTENDANCE EVRYTIME CUZ ATTENDANCE DOESN'T MATTER AT THis STAGE.
this is the way the teachers in most innovative institutes in the world start the class.cuz to become a good and genuine teacher one should primarily know psychology of students.a person who is equally good at psychology of students and subject u teach can be unique.

one should be frank and straight speaking so that even back benches can take it seriously.its not like a robotic program to perform a task and end with a error.

since your job is part-time teaching ,you need not keep much effort but you can take advantage of even the time you have.

but the whole thing was funny and made me smile.