Next week I will teach my last classes for my TAship. It’s funny in that ironic, not a knee-slapper way, that I’ve been so focused on finishing my Ph.D. that I kinda forgot it really does mark the end of an era for me. The three years I’ve been on this campus are the longest I’ve taught in the same physical location since I started teaching. Two weeks ago I visited my adviser’s class and realized more than half of her students were either currently in my class or had been in the last year or so.
I guess that’s what it’s like when you’re teaching at a campus with fewer than 3,000 students. It’s not an insult to say your students “get around.” 🙂
I dreaded going into class today. The last time we had a discussion heavy class, I snapped at some of my students because they were chatting with each other instead of talking to the class. Usually, I ignore such behavior. My pedagogy generally leans towards the idea that this is your education, if you want to piss it away chatting about lip gloss or boys or whatever else can’t wait until after class, so be it. And that works for me until it gets in the way of someone else’s learning. Then I snap. I think I turned it around well enough – I made it an opportunity for normally too quiet students to participate in class but it’s difficult to tell how the students feel once they’ve been publicly reprimanded.
So I felt the weight of that as I headed into class today, knowing that even if it wasn’t a fresh memory for the girls that I ousted into participating it was there for me at least.
It seemed to take us a while to warm up into the discussion but all of a sudden it seemed like my students were on fire. They were spouting off some great thoughts and ideas and I could see a semester’s worth of thinking starting to gel. And one of the quiet students that I snapped at during the last discussion volunteered to participate and shared some really excellent thoughts. I told her so and she smiled in return.
And as always, those are the moments I live for – the moments where it’s clear I’ve gotten through by whatever means what necessary, and that lightbulb flashes on behind their eyes.
It seems people in the academy complain a lot. When I told Chris yesterday that I didn’t want to finish the semester and just wanted my summer break to begin, I laughed and said, “Yeah poor me – I have to work for 75 minutes tomorrow!” (Of course, I spent about three hours getting ready for class but that just doesn’t sound as funny.)
I am not sure why it is so easy to forget those moments, the ones that ultimately make the politics and the job applications and I’m sure my soon to be renewed status of freeway flier. They seem to flit by, especially when I sit down to read another stack of student papers and automatically correct the their/there/they’re mistakes, or two/too/to, and end up piled in some dusty corner of my brain. I am going to try and set my desk up in that part of my brain, where all the moments I love about what I do live, and see if that helps me complain a little less.