Slow learner

Returning to my earlier posts about tags “administration” and “advising,” I was at NLNRU for about five hours today.  Part of that was spent with my program chair, jointly composing a long, involved email to a dean.  Whenever I question my worth to this department, I need to remember that I do have a few talents in the administrative area, and one of them is getting from “Damnit to hell, how many times do I have to tell you” to “Although I know you are familiar with this situation, I’m just going to draw your attention to a few facts that may be relevant.” 

I also met with three students and I think I managed to offer each one of them a suggestion that she or he needed in order to make progress on the final project for the course.  It was all the same type of advice, really–I was able to recognize something either formally or thematically significant in each project that the student hadn’t quite been able to, and to offer a suggestion for allowing this element to come forward in the piece.    In each case the student was all “Wow, good idea!  I didn’t see that!  I am totally going to do this,” which, of course, made me feel very effective.

Just another day’s work, really, but an occasion to reflect on the fact that I actually have acquired some skills over the years–a chance to observe myself doing what I do. 

I also noticed that I am a better listener to students than I used to be. Nobody ever said this to me: “Look, when students come to you in your office, they really want to unburden themselves to you, as much as–but usually even more than–they want you to talk to them.  Just ask them about their work and listen.  They are finding their own way.  Don’t try to steer them too much.” 

It feels like it’s taken me a long time to learn how to do stuff like teach and talk to students and deal with people.  It’s not that I felt completely lost all the time along the way, but now I look back and think, Finally!  I get it, kind of (most of the time).  I know I said a while ago that the first ten years of teaching are the hardest, but I still find it hard to believe that it has taken me this long to feel relatively satisfied with my work. 

(And, as you all know, I operate under a disaster mentality, so I’m convinced that there will be retribution for this momentary feeling of satisfaction.  That’s another story.)


2 responses to this post.

  1. I think you’ve hit a really important point about students wanting to be heard. It’s a point that’s hard to remember sometimes, but important to be reminded of. Thank you 🙂


  2. […] Teaching is full of opportunities to fall short of your own expectations, but after many years of practice, I’m a pretty effective teacher. […]


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