Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My First Class

January 28 was my first attempt to teach Clinical Diagnostics and Ankole Western University. The university campus is currently situated on an old primary school campus. The classrooms have chalkboards and desks, but few other teaching aids. I made some Bristol board diagrams of cow anatomy to bring in for our anatomical systems review, which the students seemed to appreciate. I have 42 students in my class, one of the larger classes at the university - it is going to be a challenge to remember all the student's names.

The students were well-behaved, although half way through my lecture many left. I wondered if I was unintelligible or boring. However they came back 10 minutes later. When I asked if it was usual to take a break, they said no. My lecture slot is a 3 hour lecture on Wednesday mornings. This is a very long time to lecture!! I was hoping for it to be broken into two or three slots. So I was quite tired at the end of the lecture. Some students approached me at suggested that it was difficult to understand my accent, so I will be providing them with notes ahead of time so they can follow and ask questions if they do not understand. I also discovered that students are used to dictation, so they will write notes if I dictate them, but will not write notes off the cuff.

I finished my material earlier than expected, and shared a little bit about Canada and Canadian agriculture. I will try to work in some Canadian trivia each week during the breaks so that the students can stay focused for 3 hours.

I also started our practical lab work this week. We reviewed anatomy on the live animals and discussed landmarks for internal organs and the common names for the external landmarks. The students all wanted to know where to cut for c-sections and where to treat for bloat! I am hoping that my discussion about the need for surgical skills, suturing skills and further veterinary education will discourage them from trying c-sections on graduation, as they are not training as veterinarians, but as vet technicians! On the other hand, I understand the desire to want to help animals in rural areas when no other help is available.

So I have been working diligently over the past few days to set up lecture notes for the 12 weeks of lecture that remain. It takes a lot of preparation to make a course. I am thankful that Dr. Carolyn Langford has lent me her notes from last year. But it is too bad I will not be able to re-use my notes for subsequent classes. At least I can leave them here for future lecturers to use.

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