Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Now I am tutoring at UTS

Yesterday I was a tutor for one of the subjects at the University of Technology Sydney, in the Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine undergraduate degree.

I had no idea that I would now find myself in this interesting Chinese medicine situation at the start of this year.

I must admit I was the most scared I have ever been. Probably second to this feeling was the acupuncture point location exams I had to take and the time when I fell off a peer and hit a barnacle incrusted pylon, cutting my arm open and almost losing my left nipple…

As the afternoon class drew near I was completely panicked, even sitting at rest and sweating! Here I was about to be speaking in front of my peers, on a complex and diverse subject, integrating Chinese medicine and Western medicine.

I prepared by going over my course notes for the same subject from last year, and checking the curriculum notes. It was just like being back at uni again, and I thought I had left for good!

It soon dawned on me that not only was I going to give information, I was going to have to teach it! I scrambled the Internet and I came up with these choice pieces of wisdom. Let the students know what they are covering, let them know (from my experience) the type of information they are covering and do what the Dalai Lama does: think happy thoughts.

One piece of consolation came to me in the light hearted and friendly, jovial manner that the doctors I experienced in China presented information. I tried to keep that in mind. Afterwards I realised I did have some previous experience with teaching as I am a qualified yoga teacher too. I totally forgot about it in my stress!

I also came across some good tips. Time a task and let students know it, aim high (I said lets get 100%). Hopefully that won’t get too tiresome over 3 months! Another great tip was to appreciate a positive quality in each student, so that you look around the room full of students in a positive light.

From personal experience I like to use the shouty voice. If in doubt or losing confidence, shouty voice always works! Presentations, public, one to one. It is a slightly louder than normal speech voice and provides good cover.

Two other tips I relied on for the two hour time frame were, “They are more scared than you” which is what a seasoned professional kindly let me know, and one final one was to get some feedback, and not at the end of the semester. So I asked around and I discovered people weren’t getting all the information. I will repeat main points twice next week. Also, an interesting comment about the room, someone said we were all too spread out, so I intend to put all the tables in one half of the class for next week.

How did I go? I was worried about the people I already knew in the class giving me a hard time (I had shared some classes with some of the students last year, and now I was a professional, and they were still students). That wasn’t too bad and actually created a friendly environment straight away. Some students were loud, I tried to share that energy across the class, “What does everybody else think of that?”. Some people were a bit rude, to be expected. Immaturity is boisterous and reactionary. I simply walked over to the next student.

At the end I was on an enormous buzz. Relived and amazed! To be on the other side of the equation is quite mind blowing for me. To be able to guide someone in a way that I think is a positive way to learn: engaging, open, sharing, and to have fun, is very fulfilling too.

I hope I can maintain the momentum and focus, and provide a positive teaching environment in the following weeks.

 UTS Tower. One giant acupuncture needle

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