I told a friend my new assignment. She said something like "Ooooo. They're tough".
Apparently they don't contribute. They're a little bit participation shy. I asked a friend in the group if this would be true.
"Oh there's plenty of talking. We talk to each other, just not the teacher."
After joking that I could accept answers by text I began to really wonder what I could do to get through 45 minutes in front of this group.
My teaching experience comes from 5 years of teaching in the church. Teaching primary that is. My previous calling was a pretty perfect fit I thought, I taught the Sunbeams, the 3-year-olds (don't you love the name they give that age-group?). It was a challenge but I knew what I was dealing with. It was fun. And they're allowed food in class, games, and are not expected to sit still.
But I've been in adult classes before. There is hardly ever food. Like I could count the number of times on one hand that I've been given food. And there are plenty of people that know a lot more than me and hopefully won't wear their proud boots to class. Or what's worse would be if no one contributed at all and I talked for half an hour then ran out of lesson material. Games come in the form of splitting into groups to do readings and then reporting back. The only people that really move are the ones looking after babies that are pre-nursery age (under 18-months).
Well I know what motivates me, so this is what I came up with.
You contribute, you get a cookie. You don't, then you don't! None of this "Everyone wins" and hand them all around at the end business. I needed results.
It came time for my first lesson. I was quite nervous. They're a big group, over 20 people. I deliberately assigned a lot of people to read things out. I joked about Seinfeld and brought up President Bush (the lesson was on being a good citizen). They read things out, they answered questions, they participated in discussion. I thought they weren't that tough a crowd. Someone took down a list of contributers and at the end most of the class (7/8 maybe?) were able to have a cookie, two even because I'd made quite a pile.
Class was small over the holidays, a lot of students had travelled home, so it was easy to get everyone to contribute in a 6 person class. Numbers are picking up again and I'm losing my edge. Nerves are coming back again.
I think I'm taking brownies to class tomorrow. This time the winning team will get the batch. Participation = winning. We'll see if it makes for another "awesome lesson".