Would my students ever believe that I was wide awake at 5:30 this morning because I was thinking about them – and not in a creepy way, totally pedagogically.
By the time I finished grading their papers Tuesday, not only was my brain fried but my self-efficacy was at an all-time low. Their assignment was supposed to be fairly easy, one that the majority of students would ace after a semester of readings, discussions and previous similar assignments. Perhaps that’s why I was so taken aback as I worked my way through them: “But you’re supposed to know this! And you don’t! What have I been teaching you?”
So, after a great deal of soul-searching and several hefty teaching discussions with colleagues, I headed to class yesterday afternoon. I tried something different for most of class and they responded well so that was heartening.
Then I pulled out the papers. I was calm; I was sincere; but I was brutally honest. I accepted my responsibility in their failure but, education being a 50/50 enterprise, they needed to accept their responsibility as well. In no way was their work acceptable for where we were in the semester and where they were in their college careers; if they weren’t taking their education seriously, I certainly was and we were not in a good place.
Then I gave them an assignment: look over these papers, consider past work, too, then email me exactly what we need to work on during Monday’s class, and I’ll create a workshop rather than continue with the next topic on the syllabus.
Well, they listened. I think a few of them cried but most just sat there with the hot blush of shame creeping up their necks. So far, I’ve gotten eight emails (out of 18 students) and most of them have carried some sort of apology. I wasn’t fishing for that but I’m grateful that they took my comments to heart.
And that’s how I found myself wide awake this morning before the sun came up. Did I say the right thing? Did I handle it in the best way? Where did I go wrong this semester to bring us to this point? Can I make up enough ground in the last few weeks of class?
How I laugh when people think that teaching is such an easy job.