Giving Me the Runaround

by Tina Blue
January 25, 2003

          This semester my "Introduction to Poetry" classes meet in a rather large room, larger than the ones I usually teach in.

          In a way, this is good for someone with a severe hearing impairment, because it means that I can move around freely and get close enough to whoever is speaking to understand what he is saying.  Last semester two of my classes were squeezed so tightly into their tiny rooms that I could not move down the aisles to approach a student when he was speaking, so I often had to ask students in the front of the room to repeat what students from the back had said.

          But in my classes this semester, I can zip from one end of the room to the other, from back to front, left to right, and that can be a big advantage.

          It can also be something of a disadvantage, as I suddenly realized last week while conducting a fairly lively discussion of a poem.

          You always like to see your students getting into the discussion, and it's great when a lot of them participate, not just a few.

          But when a student in the back row, on the left side of the room says something, and the next one to speak up is in the front row on the right side of the room, followed by someone else in the back, say, in the middle of the room, etc., it can become quite a breathless task to race around and keep up with all those comments.

          After about fifteen minutes of this, I had to ask, "Are you guys doing this on purpose?  I mean, are you sending each other signals so that no one who speaks is ever anywhere near the previous speaker?"

          Of course, they weren't, but I might have given them an idea, since the next time we had class, I ended up running around even more than I had the previous class period.

          Oh, well--at least I can be sure of getting a fair amount of aerobic exercise racing around the room to listen to my students speak.  And if seeing their teacher zip all over the place like that is amusing enough, it will help keep all of them involved in the discussions. 

          Hey, we teachers will use whatever we can to motivate our students.

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