Every time I finish teaching a course – whether it’s been work for my internship, an enrichment class for elementary school kids, a volunteer stint at a summer camp, an adult ed. class or any of the courses I’ve taught for TCC – I always come away with a sort of double-edged sense of well being. Not only have I taught something, but I’ve learned something, too.
One of my cats decided that 5:30 was a good time to wake up this morning and, not being able to get back to sleep, I had a little bit of pre-dawn quiet in which to contemplate my recent history. I started out by thinking about the fact that my public speaking class has only one more meeting before we bid each other adieu, and I really hope that they learned half as much from me as I learned from them.
They taught me a lot about teaching adults (well, SOME of them did. The others were really just high school students in older packages). I learned that it’s important to make accommodations for students who don’t just ask for them, but who demonstrate that they are determined to succeed and can do so if given half a chance – and, usually, it’s only half a chance they’re asking for.
I learned that it’s important to have a work policy that’s extremely well thought out and articulated, or students – not all of them, certainly, but some – will find loopholes and try to manipulate the system.
I learned that I can’t reach every student. I have one in this class that I lost toward the end, though I could be argued that I never really had him to begin with. While I’m disappointed at his failure, I recognize it as his failure. I can try, but I can’t save them all.
I learned that my love for this work really makes a difference to some of my students. I’ve had a couple of them come to me to say that they want to do well for me because they can tell I care so much. I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying that is.
I learned a lot about teaching this particular subject, too; I have a folder full of materials that I can use when I teach another section of public speaking. I learned a lot of important things from my guest speakers. I learned how important it is to plan out to the end a course so I don’t miss teaching something important. I learned a little bit more about how to manage a half live, half online course.
All of these are secondary to the larger lessons, though, and the confirmation that I love this work.