Finally over. And what a friggin semester. I had more plagiarism this semester than I’d ever care for in a lifetime, and I’m not quite done dealing with it. I have an appointment in six hours to deal with my last, and most serious, case. I sure hope it goes smoothly.
I feel like I really screwed things up this semester. The whole time, I felt like I was just ruining them, not teaching them what I need to be teaching them, being too soft on them (I was bribed with Cheez-its and Dr. Pepper–FINALLY!!!–to cancel class once), and not giving them their homework assignments back in a timely manner.
All this insecurity is why I like assigning a “What have you learned” essay as the final. While I read them, I realize, and re-learn every semester, that no matter how much the teacher thinks she messes up, the students always manage to learn something. They might not get the lesson that the teacher aimed for, but at least they pick up something. And I guess that as long as they put in the average amount of effort in my class, they have to learn something, just by virtue of writing so much.
So what did I learn from my students this semester? Compassion. The disarming power of acknowledgment. Confidence. We are, indeed, all different. That I do know something valuable that I can impart to even those students who have an excellent command of rhetoric (one student called me a “scholar of the English language”! I don’t think he was trying to kiss up either, because he had earned obnoxiously high scores like 96 and 100). These are all lessons that I need and look forward to continue learning from the very people who come to me for knowledge.
As a student-who-is-also-an-instructor, I have learned that cultural differences can be difficult to overcome in a student-teacher relationship. I have learned to spot instructor insecurities. I have also learned that it is very unnerving to have those insecurities exploited. Teaching helps you become a better student.
As a student, well, I could write for hours on what I learned, but I’m starting to get tired now. I haven’t blogged much this semester because I’ve been struggling to keep up with the grad school/teaching load, but I hope to blog more during Christmas break. Unfortunately, my life gets pretty boring when I’m not in school, so hopefully I’ll have something meaningful to write about.