DAY 9 of the Reflective Teaching Blogging Challenge: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).
This is embarrassing, but like many instructors, I spent the first couple of years (possibly more!) of teaching obsessed with convincing people I had the right to be their instructor. I wanted to be as funny as the funniest instructor on our campus, as smart as the smartest instructor, and as tech savvy as, well, you get the point.
I was, sadly, more interested in avoiding looking like a fraud than whether students' writing and critical thinking skills were improving. It was all about me.
Eventually, the "I'm a little kid playing dress-up in my mom's closet" feeling subsides. Or, maybe it is that the desire to assess and what students are actually learning and encourage more growth overpowers the fear. So, I started letting go of the need to look great in front of the class and focusing more on the students. It sounds like, "of course, dummy" but really, it's a shift in thought. I know instructors, good instructors, who have been teaching for years, who don't do anonymous surveys or check-ins with their students to see if they're getting it or how they think the class is going. It can be scary to do so!
Anyway, the last few years went by without my getting official student evaluations. Finally, last year I renewed my tenure status and had the gamut of student evals again. (I do anonymous surveys and check-ins but for some reason those HR surveys hold special weight!) For the first time, I got a lot of comments to the effect of "this is a hard class, but I'm learning so much," and "I think my writing is really improving."