Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 29: I'm Getting all Verklempt!

Day 29: How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

What a question. My first reaction is to write, "Hey! I'm still changing!" I'm not ready to look backwards yet. But here goes. 

The biggest change I made was settling into who I was as an instructor, and growing confident that the standards I set were the right ones. For better or worse, I'm a chameleon by nature. When I first started teaching, I would sit in on other instructors' classes, and not only would I try to emulate their strategies and copy their assignments, but I would try on personalities, too. We have one professor who is remarkably funny and charismatic. We have many who are intellectually off the charts, who understand Foucalt and Derrida, and gender theory and all that stuff from grad school that left me going, "Huh?" And then there was the On Course professor. I'd try to be all "Miss Personal Responsibility," but as you can imagine, trying to be funnier, stricter, or smarter than you are is a recipe for disaster. A very tiring disaster.

When I started, I waffled when students would make excuses for late work. I graded more easily on some essays than I should have. I graded harder on others than I should have. I thought that making punctuation marks or writing "WC" (word choice) all over their papers was being helpful. I was scared to approach the standoffish student. I was inconsistent in my classroom management. Sometimes students would talk excessively or make off-the-wall comments, and I would either overreact or not do anything. 

Eventually, like all teachers who stick with it, I began to feel a bit more sure of myself. I'm constantly changing things up, and I am by no means always consistent with behavioral stuff. There is still a student or two in each class that freaks the hell out of me and I probably don't engage with them as much as I might. But I'm better than I used to be, and after grading hundreds of essays, standards for average, way off, pretty good, and excellent begin to emerge and it just gets easier. I also don't try to be especially funny or appealing. That's making the class about me, when it should really be about them. (OK, sometimes I go for the zinger or a charming smile. I'm only human, right?)

I hope this isn't too nauseating a personal growth essay. Is it possible that the end of this 30 day challenge has made me just a tad verklempt?

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