Kent State University (Jacob)



Aug '08 - Dec '09

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    This and That

    By jacob
    Sep 4, '08 12:12 AM EST

    So if the “this” is the Streetsboro studio, the “that” is this:

    What I do in my spare time
    or: Teaching is hard but awesome

    So I teach.
    Kent State is one of few universities I know of that lets TA’s ‘have’ a studio class. My class. My grades. My Critiques. My juries. My students (13 of them, in second year design)

    Keep in mind, that teaching is what I really want to do with my life, so this is an awesome experience. Nevertheless, I’m continuously terrified (which is probably a good thing to have some degree of apprehension).

    More than anything, I just didn’t realize what it takes to teach.
    …and I completely realize that every teacher out there probably loves this admission.

    I’d been on juries for second year before and it was great. I always felt that I was able to give appropriate advice both in terms of technique as well as conceptual speculation….but this is way different. I just didn’t realize how different it was to stick your head in the mix as a juror at the end and not really be responsible for your advice…compared to being the one with all the answers. My students ask me specific pointed questions and I know that whatever I tell them will mold what they do.

    “Should I make this out of wood?” probably translates into “Would wood earn an A?”

    And of course, that mentality was a pretty common mentality when I was in second year. But it’s a struggle for me to try to figure out how to break that. How do I push for individual thought and passion in one’s design without it turning into a “well, I like the way this looks” retort? It’s a personal struggle to find the middle ground between directly dictating things (and having students produce 13 projects designed by me) and always defaulting to “what do you think it should be?” (and having students use the same response right back as an attempt figure out whether their professor is of the mentality that wood = A+ ).

    …wise words once told me that the trick to teaching is to figure out how to make students believe that they were the ones with all the good ideas.

    Before you think Kent is a terrible place where they have inexperienced grad students completely in charge of impressionable second years, understand the situation. As a TA, we’re paired up with a full-time teacher, who is more or less our mentor. So the evening before class, I make up my brief explaining what the class should be considering in terms of design and explicitly stating what is due for the next class. I send this brief and a handful of questions to my mentor and he typically gets back to me with great feedback. I usually feel that I have a handle on the project and what my students should be considering, but in terms of classroom management…I’m lost. How do you make sure everybody gets the same information? What tricks do you use to stay on time when critiquing? What’s an effective way to keep everybody occupied during studio without pushing busywork?

    I’ve gotten great answers for all of these, but it’s easier said than done. Two classes under my belt, and each one has been a learning experience. The first I critted thinking the class ended at 5:00 (it ends at 4:10…rookie mistake). The second, I tried to speed through critiques, and don’t really feel that it necessarily went over well. I underestimated the amount of direction that students would want/need (this mini-project is due tomorrow).

    I find the most frustrating part of doing this is watching the general low level of work ethic, especially compared to when I was a second year (circa 2005). Things are a lot more computerized now, so I expect some changes….but: the kind of work that doesn’t get done is astounding. Five of thirteen completed my assignment for Tuesday.

    The final is due tomorrow. Check out Danny’s blog a few years ago (wayyyy back when he first started) and read what the other side is like.

    Streetsboro info to come.
    That will all hit Friday

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