I submitted my students’ grades and I have now completed my 18th year of teaching. I want to reflect on this year, but also begin to think about the next school term. This post offers some thoughts about what my students have taught me.
What have I learned from my students?
- Some of them are at university as a placeholder. Everyone tells them it was next for them. For many of them they are in the right place, but for some they will need some time off or to do other things, and this is fine. We have to support them.
- Their first year is hard. They are acculturating to university life and possibly living away from their parents. You have to treat the students with extra patience during the first term. Be firm, but patient.
- They are excited. You really want to keep that enthusiasm up, as it will for them when they are exhausted, homesick or second guessing themselves.
- You are part of their university experience.
- Working with first years for the bulk of my years, you are one of many who have impact on their ability to get through the first year. It is important to set guidelines, but be kind.
Overall, my first years have taught me humility. They are the hardest students to work with, as they demand the most of me. They also offer the most harsh quantitative and qualitative assessment of my teaching. It is ironic that a class full of people who are for the most part new to university are assessing my ability to teach. Who are they comparing me to? But it is important to hear from all my students, and learn from them. They make me smile with their compliments and criticism. It’s interesting to see that three students might like my use of “keener,” but one thinks that it is offensive. Yes, offensive. I cannot please everyone, and I do not try to do so. It is impossible!
I really look forward to year 19, which starts next month with the new term. I include a photo of my favorite Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is also known as the Notorious RBG.