Last Thursday, our instructor for my Research and Writing course, at Whitworth, was absent due to sickness.  She had setup an on line collaboration session so she could still teach class while having us students log in for anywhere we needed.  Knowing that some students might not see the message prior to class, I volunteered to go to the classroom and help facilitate the computer connection for those who might show up.  It turns out that was a good idea, though I had no clue what I was about to get myself into.

I all started out innocently enough as I arrived.  We managed to get the class computer going and hooked up to the lecture session.  All we needed now was for our instructor to join in from home.  She had a hard time connecting.  After a couple of phone calls and working through the login and application problems, she finally gave up.  Since I had kind of taken over facilitation of the group, she asked if I could help by directing a couple of class activities.  This is where I fell apart.

Out of the 11 people, we had seven in class that night, and no instructor.  The on line lecture hall would not allow anyone outside the college to connect, and there was no facility for a speaker-phone.  I was it, so I started out with some simple work-shopping of assigned essays, starting with my own.  That was a pretty good start, as I had tried to keep to our method of claim, examples, counterargument and rebuttal.  For many students, the current essay  seemed difficult, but after reading mine, some of them started to feel much more comfortable.  We moved on to other student essays that we could work-shop and provide valuable feedback.  Later, we needed to get into more of our directed class session.

Our instructor had wanted us to discuss more “counterarguments”, or at least the concept of it.  She also asked if we could try to divide up and try an exercise with one group coming up with an argument, the other group counter arguing, and then the first group rebutting.  This is where I really fell down, and admit I’m not a good English teacher.  I had trouble in really answering some of the questions that came up.  I know that our instructor would have had no difficulty with them, but for me, it was hard to try and get them across.  Even though I might know a bit about the subject and felt comfortable in my own level of knowledge, I just felt naked up there in front of everyone as I tried to help them understand what I knew.

I’ve had no illusions that I might be better than our instructor.  I’ve tried to participate in the class as much as I can given the time I have available.  I’ve also looked to our instructor for guidance in my writing for class.  I know I need to work on my form and my style.  I can’t simply keep letting things fly out of my fingers on to the page without giving it some thought.  She has been a good resource, and this class is something I’ve needed.  I do enjoy trying to help the other students when I think I’ve got a handle on a concept they need help with, but I’m no substitute for the great gal we have in there now.  I hope she gets better, because we really need her.  I’m not ready to take anyones place.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton