Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thinking on my Feet

I think my ability to think on my feet was born from a kind of desperation caused by several years of supply teaching, in which I was asked to teach, at no notice, everything from woodwork to physics to Latin.

It was never easy. But after a while I learned how to make a good start with any new class.

My strategy was always the same: firstly, I would stand at the front of the class and say "Right!" in a voice which suggested I was in command of about twenty thousand troops and was about to give individual instructions to every one of them.

Then, having asked the class to get their exercise books out, I would wander idly round the back of the class, apparently doing very little but actually reading, and making a mental note of, a few names from the covers of exercise books.

Then, back to the front, and address the noisiest member whose name I now knew.

"Jonathan! Could you turn to page 32, please?"

Jonathan now looks bewildered.

"How do you know my name, Miss?"

I would assume a matter-of-fact expression.

"I think you'll find that I know everything. Now turn to page 32, please."

They never did work out how I did it because teenagers are always too preoccupied with their own affairs to notice anything that adults do. HA!

But all those years of practising dealing with anything that happened and anything that was said to me has come in jolly useful, I must say, in the medical roleplay work that I do these days. I'm just - well - - never lost for words. There are some who probably wish that I would be, now and again.

And the other thing is - well, my emotions are always readily accessible. I laugh easily, I cry easily, I've had my fair share of grief and I can usually find the emotions needed for any particular roleplay. I hope so, anyway.

Tomorrow I'm working at a hospice, in a Communication Skills training session for the staff. I haven't been told what I'll be doing yet, except that the scenarios will be improvised on the day. I think it will be challenging because, of course, these are roleplays for training staff who work with terminally ill people.

I know it will be interesting and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm a bit nervous - I'm always a bit nervous - but fingers crossed that I'll be able to find the right words on the day.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

When you have had so much experience of adapting and improvising then you should feel quietly confident that you will cope with any new challenge though a touch of nerves/adrenalin is a healthy way of getting ready for the fray.

12:51 am  

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