Rethinking My Place in the Universe

significant.JPGTen of my 21 hybrid students turned in homework this week.  Though, if you count the fact that, of those ten, none of them actually wrote the three to four paragraphs I asked for – and one student sent me an incomplete sentence as an answer to the assignment – I’m pretty sure I have nothing to brag about here.

Kizz mentioned to me the other day that perhaps I should rethink my role for these students.  Instead of being solely a teacher – someone who facilitates learning – she wants me to expand my self-image to include seeing myself as being someone who offers these students a valuable opportunity to spectacularly fail.

Her contention is that, for a lot of kids, this is the first time they’ve been on their own.  They are learning to make their way in the “real world” and, as such, have never really had a chance to fall utterly and completely on their faces.  A lot of college students flame out in particularly breathtaking fashion – I, personally, know a few who did (and who turned out just fine) – and I need to come to grips with the fact that it may well be my job to provide a venue for some of my students to crash and burn.

I really don’t take any of the students’ performances personally.  I recognize that I’m working against a lot of things – student apathy, a failure of public schools to attend to these students’ needs, an insufficient class schedule (if ever there were a group of students who needed more than one-day-a-week classes…) – and there’s only so much that one person can do in the face of that.  I have a lot of confidence that I’m doing the best job I can for these students; I know my material, I’m enthusiastic and energetic in the classroom, I strive to make my lessons relevant and interesting, and I truly love the work that I do.  Caring for my students – and the integrity of my work – also means that I care enough to stick to my policies and deadlines.

I really do care about my students and desperately want them to be successful – regardless of whether they believe that or not – and it’s painful to watch them commit academic suicide right in front of me.  They’re adults, though – or, at least, they think they are – and they get to make those choices.  I respect them enough to let them make those mistakes; I just really hope that they turn out okay in the end.

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3 Comments

Filed under concerns, General Griping, Learning, Teaching

3 responses to “Rethinking My Place in the Universe

  1. Just, fyi, I have no internet at home and no time to read stuff outside of home. I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with you. I miss you!

  2. Your students are going to have to learn that in order to achieve their big goals, (and I am assuming these are the culinary students), they are going to have to make an effort to jump through the hoops of the smaller goals.

    Regardless of the area of expertise they are working on, a degree suggests that stuents have learned to think well. That is the big-picture lesson they need to understand and why they need to put forth more than half-assed effort in the course. Don’t take this as a failure on your part. It’s okay to fail students until they figure out that big goals are often comprised of smaller, less glamorous steps.

    With regards to public schools failing to adequately prepare them, I think that quite often it is coddling parents who are responsible for not preparing their children for these kinds of life lessons.

  3. nhfalcon

    Coddling parents? There’s no such thing as coddling parents!

    Yeah – and there’s also no such thing as the mafia!

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