February 25, 2012

Extra-credit

Very often, my expectations of glory go unmet.

Indeed, at my PEAKS conference presentation today, my expectations were unmet in terms of fabulous, ground-breaking content; yet I'm not at all disappointed.

This week, I had shamelessly self-promoted my presentation to my ENG 105 students who were hungry for the 10 point extra credit. I reminded them every day about how much I would like to see their smiling faces in my audience.

Knowing that these very small conferences often draw audiences of 0-5 people to each session, I expected a minimal turn-out for the presentation which I would give in tandem with a close friend and colleague. We were competing with a concurrent PhD panel on language policy and planning which meant that our measly first-year MA status would likely direct all potential audience members tot eh more experienced group's session.

However, our small room was soon filled (19 chairs, no less) with my students,  colleagues, interested faculty and a few people I had never seen before.

What a blessing it was to see 10 of my students sitting in the front row. Presentations are a beast unto themselves in terms of nerves and anxiety. But seeing familiar faces, and faces to whom I am used to "presenting" to, in my front row helped me feel comfortable to present a paper I had written about the context of learning English in Cambodia. I bet you aren't surprised about my topic.

Anyway, my usual presentation-crackly-voice never made an appearance, and I was able to think on my feet throughout. Thanks to my students, for once in my life, I was able to deliver the material in a way that I really wanted to without the black-out adrenaline rush I usually experience.

The point of this entry, then, is to bask in the good feeling of creating some type of rapport (or at least effective bribery) that brought my students out to support me. It's some strange (insert literary term for coincidental event here) that in a presentation where I wanted to talk about the importance of knowing the context of your language learners in order to best teach them, my language learners showed up and proved to be the best part of it all.

It's clear that I'm going in the right direction. I feel inclined to thank the universe for a horribly stressful week that culminated in an unexpected show of support. It's sort of like I got the extra-credit, too. Thank you, universe.