Today I sat down with my classroom assistant to revise our course curriculum and match handouts, activities and PPT presentations to each Module. The first thing we need to do is copy the two assessments for the first class. One assessment, the COPE Inventory, measures one’s stress-coping skills, the other defines one’s particular humor style.
We’re also using a text book called HA! The Science of When We Laugh & Why by Scott Weems, a young man with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. The 12 participants have already picked up their program copies and (hopefully) will have them read by May 26.
Since the vast majority of course content (PPTs, handouts, etc.) has been created at home, the prison permits me to bring the program laptop with me so that I can load the files and return the computer to the library. In the past, I’ve had to email files to work, and then figure out a way to get them from there to the program computer. Or I’ve had to burn them to CD & then get permission to bring those in. But then they started a policy of disabling ports and devices like CD drives, so that was not an option. And–in the case of PPTs that are way too large to send as attachments–I’d have to get permission to bring files in on a thumb drive, a device that, until recently, they really didn’t want you bringing in. The prison’s decided that it’s easier just to take out the machine, load your files, & return it. Which makes sense..
We’re in pretty good shape now. We’ve got the curriculum, the PPT lectures, handouts, assignments, program text, planned activities, assessments, equipment, and a roster of eager participants. Now, we wait for the 26th to roll around.
We teach two hours each Tuesday night (6:15PM-8:15PM) in the Lending Library. The course is scheduled to go 10 weeks. No earned good conduct credits will be awarded, so inmates attend because they actually want to. Which is nice.
After organizing our papers and revising content, my assistant says to me with a smirk, “This is, like, WORK!” He’s helped me prepare for course, so he knows what’s involved. Every teacher knows the bulk of the work is preparation. Yes, you need to have an engaging teaching style, or you lose them. But you need to have something useful and intriguing to offer them, too, or all the engagement and charisma in the world will be for naught.
Since this is the first time out, we have no idea if we’ll have enough time to administer both assessments (the COPE inventory has 60 questions; the Antioch Humor Inventory has 47). If not, we’ll have to revise lesson plans for weeks 1 and 2 after First Night is over.
This is, like, work.