Well, I had my first real night of teaching tonight.
French freakin’ sucks.
Any of you who have ever spoken to me might have noticed I have a certain tendency toward distraction. Some people have minds like bookshelves. There ideas are sorted in convenient little boxes that they can take down, open and work with. I’ve got bookshelves except they’ve been turned over, all the books dumped on the floor and then gone over with a roto-tiller. The process for me is more so collecting a handful of pages off the floor and trying to compose coherent thought.
Normally I manage to keep things reasonably contained when I’m teaching. I wander on tangents a bit, but I try to keep them really close to the subject matter and only bring in things that will help concrete the subject matter to the existing experience of the students.
It turns out that I only have sufficient brain power to either control my wandering of to speak French, but not both simultaneously. So long as I don’t think about the French I am fine and I can teach. Every so often though I would run up against a word I didn’t know and my framework of ideas would completely crumble.
The worst was as I was explaining the conversion between decimal and binary. French numbers are wretched creatures born out of some masochists demented mind. Four is “quatre.” Forty is “quarante.” Five is “cinq.” Fifty is “cinquante.” What do you think eighty is? Eight is “huit.” Think it might be “huitante?” You would if you were not whatever inebriated Frenchman came up with their numbers, because it is “quatre-vingts” (“four twenties”). Real fun is stuff like ninety-nine (which happens to have been in one of the examples I had to do) “quatre-vingts-dix-neuf” (“four twenties ten nine”).
In this one Moussa had to come in and just take over since I was spending so much time mangling the numbers it was completely obscuring the idea I was trying to impart.
All in all I think teaching with Moussa will work out reasonably well. He knows his stuff well enough. He lacks a certain forcefulness that one must have in order to teach though. I went out of the room for a bit to print something off and when I came back it looked sort of like he was teaching except no one was looking at him. Everyone was turned around looking at their monitors. His volume and tone were about what one would use in conversation.
I listened to him for a bit and let him finish. All he had really done was tell them to read their materials. So, I went in and covered the same stuff but made them run programs and whatnot. Moussa seemed cool going around and explaining things, just not being the leader. I talked to him later and he seemed fine with how everything went down. Granted I still am a little rusty on the cultural customs and he could be plotting my death, but I think he is genuinely more comfortable assisting than leading.
This is a good combo since I generally like leading and running a class. The only problem is that I’ve got to freakin’ do it in French which renders me a step up from gibbering moron. Eh, ?a va. It’s going to be an interesting semester.