Friday, December 09, 2005

Let me tell you a little secret

All semester I've been keeping a little secret that I want to let you in on -- I actually like my students and enjoy teaching.

Sshhh...don't tell anyone.

I feel like this is quite an anomaly in my department and the university. After watching Declining by Degrees in class last night, I realize teacher apathy towards students is more common than people want to admit. A professor, liking his or her students? It's time to throw them out of the academy. Be sure not to give them tenure, as they must not be doing enough research.

You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I'm not sure I'm even over exaggerating much. As a graduate student, and a non-traditional student, I am privy to more info than I want to be at times. I have had teachers complain about how students are lazy, unmotivated, etc., etc., etc. Of course, it's all the students' fault. There is no way a teacher could be to blame for unmotivated students.

I'm not saying that I don't have lazy students, and I'm not saying that many times I wish they would put in more effort. But I don't dwell on those students. I focus on the students who are there to learn and participate. I work really hard at preparing clear and interesting lectures. It may not always work; sometimes I fall flat, but given that I have never been given any training on how to teach (until the one grad-level class I'm taking this semester), I think I am doing an okay job.

At various times throughout the semester the students would crack me up. Our last lecture I was being a little bold and cheeky, the students really got it. And it's not just my students. Earlier in the semester I guest lectured in a different class taught by another TA, and those students, who didn't know me from Adam, were getting into the topic and asking a lot of questions. One student came up to me after and said that he wished he hadn't already taken Intro to PR because he would want to take it with me. That made me feel great.

It makes me feel good when my students feel like they can come to me for career advice; I will tell them like it is and they know it. Yesterday I was chatting with a girl in the locker room at the campus rec center and told her how she could incorporate her major and her interests into something that she would like to do. I had never met this girl before but we were talking and I asked her major and all of a sudden I've giving career advice. I'm working with some of my students on intern contacts and I had another student tell me that she got a special project at work because of something she learned in class. Students tell me that they can see how what I am telling them applies to their career goals; they know I am not full of shit and that I will deal with them in a straight-forward manner.

Of course there are days and there are students, but most of them are bright kids and want to succeed. At least that's been my experience. Most days I feel happy and successful when I walk out of the class. The last thing I am going to do is bitch and moan about my students.

But remember...don't tell anyone. We can't have it getting out that a teacher actually likes teaching snot-nosed, bratty, undergraduates. After all, undergraduates are the bane of the existence to a university.

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