Friday, April 8, 2011

Sans Snark

My last post was, I know, rather embittered. I'm not entirely embittered, however (although I do kind of hate teaching statements, much as I recognize their utility and would ask for them were I to chair a search). But the first half of the week was long. And we're approaching the end of the semester. So sarcasm is easier to pull off than sincerity (isn't it always?).

So: Here are some better thoughts. I'm not going to put together a philosophy statement because, well, that's too much work. Instead, I'll aim for bullets of teaching goodness:
  • This first-year bio student in Brit Lit II. He's taking the class for a gen ed requirement, and first-years don't normally do very well in the class, but, despite not being a brilliant writer, he works really hard and it shows. It delights me to consider this biology student who will go out into the world able to say intelligent things about Jane Eyre, Virginia Woolf, and Wordsworth. That's what a liberal arts school is for.
  • The student who remarked, on leaving class on Monday: "Dr. Mihi, you're awesome. Just FYI."
  • A student challenged her grade on the first paper that she wrote for one of my courses--I'm one of a team of instructors for the course, so challenges have a particular procedure that brings in a third party. The third party upheld my grade decision. The student then approached me to ask if it would be all right if she met with me about future papers (why in the world wouldn't it be okay?); she started participating much more actively and doing better on quizzes; she showed me a draft of her next paper--and she just got an A- on said paper. It's clear that she fundamentally didn't get the expectations for the first one, and now she does--and her work is actually good! So pleasing.
  • Those moments in class--especially in the surveys, which is funny because they're the courses I've taught the most--when I suddenly realize something completely new about the text that we're discussing. It makes me realize how much easier it can be to generate new thoughts through a conversation than stuck on one's own.
  • The fact that I am now able to go completely off script in class on a regular basis. In fact, there are days when I don't use my prep outline at all. And teaching is so much more fun.
  • And honestly, sometimes, I just really love my students. All of them, more or less. Not for anything that they've done, but because they're there, and they're trying (or not), and going through all their stuff, and I get to play a part in that.
See? I can be lovey, too.


undine said...

Yes to all of these, especially about how teaching makes you realize something completely new about a text. I like seeing that lightbulb go on over their heads (and my own).

Ink said...

Yay for happy teaching moments!

Sisyphus said...