The Teaching Terror

I have to teach today! For the first time! Well, not really for the first time, I’ve given workshops before, but always about a subject I mastered, and to very small classes of motivated students. Today, it is the real thing.

I will be teaching to an auditorium of about 100 students.

These students will be mostly unmotivated as this is one of the obligatory subjects in their curriculum.

I do not look any older than most of the students, and they will probably think I am a brave first year student pulling a prank.

I am teaching the Friday evening slot when everyone, including me, wants to go home.

I will be teaching a subject I almost failed myself when I was still in my first year.

I have to use a handbook I don’t understand because certain things just don’t add up.


I have to do this teaching as a part of my PhD program. I was quite looking forward to it, I thought I’d be doing some of the more practical subjects to small groups of motivated students. Presentation skills, or maybe even English pronunciation, that would’ve been fun! Instead, I get to teach Dutch grammar.

I remember this course being absolute hell in my first year, it is the only one in my whole student career that I almost failed. The handbook I have to use now, is definitely not making it any easier. And on top of that, I have to teach in Dutch: even though it is my native language, I hardly ever have to speak it in such a formal environment where I have to show great language skills. If I make even the tiniest grammar mistake (which I will, because I usually work and speak in English, and I tend to make up words when I speak Dutch, think the opposite of the Dutch Louis Van Gaal trying to speak English), I’m a goner.

Please give me some tips! How do I compose myself and make the students think I do this all the time? What should I do if they ask me a question and I have no clue? What should I do if someone points out a mistake I made, whether it was in my grammar or something I explained wrong? And how do I keep having students in my class, rather than them dropping out and trying to self-study?


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