I’ve been tagged! DrPrezz of The Doc is In was the first to give me this one (there have been several others since – thanks, you guys!), and it fits nicely with my Ten Things Tuesday theme, so away we go!
1. I am a good teacher because… I truly, truly believe that I teach keys to the kingdom stuff. Everyone can benefit from having a strong, confident command of his or her language, and I give students the skills to get that. I care about what I teach, and I care about who I teach, and that’s a golden combination.
2. If I weren’t a teacher, I would be…dissatisfied with my professional life. It seems that almost everything I’ve ever done has morphed into some sort of teaching and I really do love the work that I do. If I couldn’t do it, though, I’d want to do something helpful – something where I believed that I could make people’s lives better.
3. My teaching style is…always evolving. A lot of how I structure a lesson has to do with what I’m teaching, who I’m teaching it to, what time of day the class is – there are a number of factors that play into how I do my job. I suppose, if I were to give myself a label, I’d say that I am most confident teaching in a lecture/discussion sort of setting. I love telling stories and helping students make connections between what I’m teaching and stuff they already know, and my favorite days are the ones where I actually SEE light bulbs turn on over my students’ heads.
4. My classroom is…only a fantasy in my dreams. As an adjunct professor in a tiny community college, I have neither an office nor a particular classroom; I go wherever I’m told to go and I schlep all my stuff with me. If I HAD my own office, though, it would be tidy, stuffed to the rafters with books, and would have at least three plaques on the wall – one that says “Teachers only open the door; you must walk through it yourself,” one that says “Earn it” and one that says “Your ignorance is their power.”
5. My lesson plans…are flexible. If I come in with a particular lesson in mind and another, applicable learning opportunity presents itself at the last minute, I’m willing to alter my course to pursue that other learning goal. I have lesson notes in a book that I go to to make sure that I’m covering the high points, but I’m excited when something organic comes up that we can explore as a class. I don’t like feeling tied to a plan all the time.
6. One of my teaching goals is…to make better use of activities in my classroom. Because I teach in a college environment, I think that the students have an expectation of boring lectures all the time. Because I’ve spent so much of my adult life as a college student, I’ve learned a lot about teaching through… wait for it… boring lectures! I’d like to figure out how to stretch my creativity (and my students’) to include more hands-on learning. Besides, getting my 8:40 a.m. classes out of their seats can only help…
7. The toughest part of teaching is…the kids I can’t reach. I KNOW I can’t reach all of them, but that doesn’t keep me from trying (or from being disappointed when I fail). I spent a lot of time and energy trying to impress on my students how much I care about them and their success, and it’s profoundly frustrating to watch them blow off assignments and fail in spectacular fashion because they don’t care.
8. The thing I love most about teaching is…working with the students. For all the kids who are a pain in my ass, I’ve got at least as many (usually more, thankfully) who are just wonderful. They stretch their thinking. They bring in great experiences and connections that I’ve never considered before. They write to me after they’ve graduated to ask me with help on their resumes. They tell me that they actually learned something from me. I live for that, and I’m lucky enough to have students who are willing to step up and show me who they really are.
9. A common misconception about teaching is…that anybody who knows a little bit about a subject can teach it. I HATE the saying that “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” That’s crap, and it’s disrespectful to the people who give their hearts and souls to this profession. For most of us – not all, I’ll grant you, but most – this isn’t a job, it’s a calling. We’re driven to teach; we can’t not do it. It’s a lot of hard work, and it requires a lot more time than most people think. “Oh, sure, teachers,” they say, “you work from 7:30 to 2:30 only ten months a year.” Yeah? Spend a week with a teacher and see if you still think that way; there’s planning and thinking and grading, and my work at TCC has me teaching year-round.
10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching…is to COVER. MY. ASS. I document everything. I’ve learned that it’s a “he said/she said” world out there, and the only way that I can prove MY part in any exchange with a student is to document it. I save emails. I write notes to my students through the college’s portal so I know they receive them. If any kind of trouble starts brewing, or I think that something evil might come with a student, I will give my boss a LONG heads-up: I want transparency on my part so that, if something ugly does come of whatever it is I’m dealing with, it will come as no surprise to the people in charge who will be having to sort things out later.
This was a fun exercise. I don’t like tagging (though, strangely, I don’t mind being tagged), so please feel free to boost this for your own use if you choose.
Happy Tuesday, Everyone!