I must learn how to balance my love of writing my blog and a job. I know tens of thousands of you do it every day, but as always, I tend to obsess over getting the teaching right. Therefore, it takes up a lot of my time, even though I only teach two courses.
Yet, I am finding that I don’t have to overachieve at everything I do. It may be because of the rants I had to give last week in both classes.
The problem is that as of last week, no one in one class and only maybe two or three in the other had even downloaded the book to start reading it. I was amazed that when I wrote notes on the board, no one had written them down.
As I proceeded to lecture and ask questions, I needed to clear the board for other information. I very courteously asked if everyone had written the information, thinking it a valid question, only to discover that no one had written it.
I started to utter a succinct and witty riff, such as “Are you kidding me, people?” But, I stayed quiet. Then, I simply told them that they would need the information on the first exam, so they should at least take a picture so I could continue. And that’s what many of them did. Something is wrong with this movie!
Just over the 20 years since I first taught a college course, something has changed that concerns me. I spoke to both classes last week on the fact that college is not high school 2.0. College is a higher level of thought and expectations of students to participate in their own learning experience.
I told them that I would not just spout information to them, but I expect them to meet me halfway, doing their part to prevent boring classes. When the professor is bored, we got a BIG problem! I advised them that the book is free, and that if we all are aware of what I am talking about, it will be a more enjoyable class for everyone.
I haven’t taught at a community college before, but to me a student is a student. I know that some of my present students may have difficulty with reading, which is why I offer to help them in any way I can. But, high schools and, when possible, parents must prepare students for college in a way that they come out of the gate knowing that college means hard work and keeping one’s commitment to attend. It is a precursor to learning the skills needed in the workplace, especially how to think and solve problems.
That is the product I sell: how to critically think and write about the society they live in and how their decisions aren’t always instinctual but learned behaviors! I want them to leave my class having their opinions informed by research and being able to comprehend problems in more than one way, so they can help solve them in the future, when my generation is no longer alive. So, I told them: LET ME EARN MY PAY!
I have had to rethink my teaching style, but I will not lower my expectations of them. Instead, I will be available to help them succeed in ways that they will leave my courses feeling more capable and valued. That is my task and my promise. I won’t promise no more rants! It’s amazing what raising your voice can do! At least three students wanted to know how to get the book! It’s a start!