Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reflection on a semester past

As far as semesters go, Spring 2009 was not bad at all. I went into it with a few interrelated goals.

One key goal was to remember to keep time for myself. As goals go, it's a bit abstract--so I made it quantifiable--vowed to keep crocheting a part of my life during the semester and not just between semesters. Successful? Yes. I crocheted in evenings, I crocheted between classes if I had no grading stack, I crocheted during down time at my tutoring job. Creating something--whether it's as small as a bookmark or as big as a tote bag or as incomplete as a row on a long-in-progress blanket--is... soothing. And I felt the difference from other semesters.

I also had a goal to try a new way of structuring my Composition II course. It had some success and showed me a couple things that still needed adjustment. What I got right was breaking down the research process into smaller steps. What needed adjustment was the sequence. Duly noted. I also spent more time on MLA. Some students still left me baffled by their works cited pages, and enough still struggled with in-text citations, but they seemed improved over previous semesters' work.

I also had a goal to keep from taking things personally. It's still a struggle, but I'm getting there. It smarted when a student took her parents to my department chair over a grade issue (and, frankly, rattled me a bit in spite of a supportive chair), but the sting faded eventually. Again, I looked over my students' evals only once. One thought I swayed when I talked, another thought I was in the job for the money, and one thought my lectures weren't useful. I remember those, but I also remember that each of those is generally offset by at least one claiming exactly the opposite. I won't be every student's favorite instructor, and that's fine. There is always at least one I can get to.

Am I a great teacher yet? Not likely. I'm still young and relatively inexperienced. But I've got potential, and some day I may be a good one if I can keep my sanity and continue to refine my techniques and approaches. So far, so good.

Now playing: Chiodos - If I Cut My Hair, Hawaii Will Sink
via FoxyTunes

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