This blog is to give the instructor's perspective on the college experience - so if you have questions or need advice - post a comment and I will try to get back with you within 48 hours.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Perfect Instructor Needs a Perfect Student

I always start each semester with excitement, loaded with useful knowledge that I can't wait to share with my students! My expectations are that everyone sitting in those seats, looking up at me expectantly, is just as eager to learn what I am offering. It's easy for me to fantasize that no one will miss a single class, that everyone will have done all the reading that has been assigned...early even (hey, it's my fantasy). Homework is not a chore, but a delightful way to make sure that they learn it for life and to show me how much they know. Whether shy or not, everyone will make an effort to participate and ask questions which enhances the learning of everyone, including me. When life happens and an assignment is left undone, the student will never offer excuses, but accept the consequences with grace and style and continue right where they left off. My students never complain and are happily flexible in the face of schedule changes. Can't you just see the sunlight streaming in from the windows and the music playing softly in the background...

Ok, back to reality. There are no windows in my classroom and the walls are prison grey. The computer screens at every desk are bright and constitute a serious temptation to steal your attention away from the tasks at hand. You may have partied too hard last night, or the baby wouldn't let you sleep - so you’re fighting to stay awake. You may be in love and can only think about him/her – and no instructor can compete with that! There is a knot in the pit of your stomach because you know you didn't do the reading or the homework and you can only hope that won't tank your grade. Somewhere deep down inside of you, you are afraid that the instructor will embarrass you or you will embarrass yourself in front of everyone. Well, welcome to the club! Everyone is a member of the fallible human race, including yours truly.

I have to stand in front of you even if I’m having a bad hair day, my lipstick is smudged, or I spilled some tea on my blouse. I woke up with a headache that morning and I can’t remember what in the world I was just talking about. My head is jammed with so much more information than you need or stories than I have time to share. Oh, the whining and complaining to endure from my students when I have to change the schedule or announce anything new. And on top of all that, I live with the daily reality that my students are judging me every day in every way expecting me to be perfect.

What I have learned over my 10 years of teaching college students is that if you want a perfect instructor, you have to be a perfect student! It’s the same with regard to respect, - if you give respect, you get respect in return. In this small community, it’s possible that a former student of mine could have made a comment to me about you (good or bad) – but everyone starts in my class with a clean slate. Your reputations in high school or among the other students does not matter at all to me. You are all shiny, new adults to me with unlimited potential and if you let me, I will show you avenues of enrichment that will help you on your journey of life. All I ask in return is that you set aside the gossip about the instructors (good or bad) that students love to indulge in and allow yourself to be teachable. Since we both know that perfection is unobtainable, commit to being the best student you can be and I will be the best instructor I can be too!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The True Joy!

Who would have thought that watching things blow up into pretty colors and designs far above my head accompanied by staccato bangs and whumps that jar the body - would lead to a stillness in my soul that has been difficult to duplicate these last few weeks. Sitting in a lawn chair, I began mediate on all that I have to celebrate about, which led to thanking God for the safety of those active in the dangerous activities and then for everyone watching. I became so filled with gratitude and joy that these feelings almost overwhelmed me long before the event was over. The crazy grin on my face while at the same time tears were welling up, went unnoticed in the broken dark and I was free to fully experience this moment of grace without impediment. Peace - in the midst of chaos, peace - without coming to any decision or revelation, and joy that seemed to come from all around me and through me.

Gratitude, it’s like a drug that causes a state of joy that is deeper and richer than mere happiness. It kicks sorrow’s butt even in the face of great loss, and slays feelings of inadequacy and confusion. I feel sorry for everyone who does not have a personal relationship with God. Unbelievers thank their luck or “the universe” or themselves or some nebulous idea that they call god or whatever. When I was an unbeliever, I thought I was happy enough – or as much as anyone else was. I had moments of happiness, pride, the joy that comes with the miracle of a new baby and thought that was enough. There is no comparison to the gratitude for the knowledge of everlasting love that Jesus has brought to the world. That blessed assurance is something worth reveling in!