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 skip a single class, that everyone will have done all the reading that has
been assigned...early even (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. For the students: 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!