Reflections on this past semester:
1. I didn’t show nearly enough speeches to my public speaking class. In the future, I’m going to play more to my strengths as a literary analyst and give my students a lot more historic speeches to read and watch. It’s important that they be given good examples to emulate.
2. I need to not lower my bar to accommodate students who just don’t give a damn. I keep telling myself I won’t do it, but I keep doing it, anyway. Perhaps the need to do creative lesson planning will be a little less intense at L.U., but even if it’s not, I’d like to be able to hold myself up to my own standards of integrity.
3. I don’t think it’s bad for me to feel a certain sense of maternal affection for my students. Some of them are just young enough that they COULD be my children (I had my own babies pretty late – I was 19 when my mother was my age), and I think it’s important that there be a connection between teacher and student. I remember working harder for teachers I felt actually cared about me as a person, and I am the kind of person who operates better within compassionate relationships than strictly professional ones (which feel stuffy and distant to me).
4. I need to learn to stand up for myself better than I did this term. I’m still kicking myself a little about how I dealt with Jon, and I’m trying to synthesize this experience so that I can make different choices if (when) something like that happens again.
5. I did a MUCH better job keeping up with grading and entering those grades in my computer this semester than I’ve ever done before, and I’m pleased by how much stress that reduced for me during the past 11 weeks. I always knew where everyone stood, and I never worried that I was missing something important. I’m totally taking that lesson with me into next semester and beyond.
6. Taking the time to do an assignment that I task my kids with is a useful exercise. It shows them that I think that the work is worth it, it keeps me honest (I’m not going to assign bullshit work just for the sake of assigning something) and it helps me exercise and maintain my own critical thinking skills. Besides, some of my assignments are FUN (at least, for dorky English teacher-type people).
7. The GSA has essentially fallen by the wayside at TCC. There was exactly zero student interest this term; literally no one emailed me or stopped me in the hall to ask about meetings or to talk about diversity issues. I’m going to keep my proverbial door open next term, certainly, but I’m betting that my work there is pretty much done as the college closes and more and more students transfer out. I’m going to look into getting involved at L.U.’s GSA, though – THAT’S an exciting prospect for me. There’s a MUCH more active community over there.
8. While I truly believe that it’s important that everyone – regardless of WHAT they plan to do with their lives – has some level of literacy, it’s also important for me to remember that not everyone needs to have MY level of literacy. The kid who’s going to be an auto mechanic or a lab tech doesn’t need to be able to write eloquently about Martin Luther King Jr.’s rhetorical strategies. S/he needs to be able to effectively express him or herself, certainly, but I can take them for who they are and encourage their growth from wherever they start. That’s not lowering the bar, I don’t think, but honoring my students’ places in their worlds.
9. Like I told Michellina yesterday at lunch; it’s not always the “smart” kids who get ahead. It’s not always how much you’re able to hold in your head, but how you use what IS in there that matters. I’m not terribly smart on my own, but I’ve got lots of friends who know stuff I don’t know, and I can call on them to fill in my gaps. I’m also smart enough to know what I DON’T know; I know how to ask for help and I try to never go too far out on my proverbial limbs. Hard work will often get you farther than “smart” will – why not strive for both?
10. I love my job. Despite the stresses and frustrations, there are ALWAYS rewards that outweigh whatever crap I’ve got to put up with. Usually, those rewards come from places we least expect to have gifts for us, but it never fails that I leave a semester happy that I’ve taken the trip.
Happy Tuesday, Everyone!