The most challenging aspect of teaching for me is understanding my role and responsibility for student learning. Teaching undergrads, many who are in their 4th year and preparing to enter the teaching field is mostly very exciting. I generally am thrilled to be able to introduce my students to so many new ideas and people that I believe will empower them as they get classrooms of their own. Grades are almost no indication of their potential or future success. The best assessment I have is being able to watch and observe many of them as they incorporate things they learned in my ECMP 355 class.
I’m not delusional. I realize that my class represents a very small part of their capabilities and yet I can’t help being a little bit proud of many who stay connected and do great things with students.
In general, the vast majority of my students put forth a great effort and are genuinely engaged and excited about the opportunities they have to connect with really smart people. I’ve focused on embodying this ideal:
Being I’m not delusional, I also understand not every student will be excited about my course. I have students who tell me, “I’m not into technology”, “Social media is not for me”, these responses indicate to me I’ve failed in some way. It bugs me but it’s reality.
What really bugs me though is students who take my course for a credit and do minimal work. At this age, it’s their education and they should be free to put as little or as much effort into learning as they chose. I’m not sure how I should respond to that. Part of me wants to accept this. Part of me is still bugged. The fact I’m the gate keeper of the grades is of little interest to me as a punitive tool. Being that I also match my students with teachers from around the world, I’m always a bit nervous. These teachers give up their time and classrooms and invite them into their classrooms to observe, connect, learn and sometimes teach virtually. Many of these teachers are not only fantastic educators but are also my friends. When I talk to my students about their responsibilities I recall similar feelings when my own kids would sleep over at someone’s house and I’d be warning them to “behave yourself”. I suppose it was as much about embarrassing me as it was them, but I wanted to make sure they represented themselves well too.
Being my students work is all online, they have to be present and they have to communicate. Lurking doesn’t work. My course is all about being active, reflecting and doing stuff.
So as I write this, you can tell I’m a bit frustrated with a few students. I might normally just post this to our class page but I do so here to elicit some feedback as to what I might do. I do regularly contact students that I think need a push and try to encourage them or offer help. Part of me things that should be their job. If we talk about gradual release of responsibilities, I would think they should hold almost all of it by now. Beyond giving them a poor grade, what else can I do? What should I do? When do we just accept the fact that even as future teachers some just aren’t interested?
Maybe I should just relax and realize for some, it’s just another class and all they want is an easy credit.