Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remind me - what is it that I love about teaching?

One thing too few teachers do is take time to reflect on their teaching.

I am absolutely guilty of this. The current semester seems as though it's been busier and more stressful than the previous three semesters combined. I find myself so caught up in prepping, and grading, and meeting with students, and answering emails - not to mention research, and meetings, and mentoring, etc. - that I find it difficult to get anything done, much less enjoy doing it! Lately when I've asked myself "Why do I teach?" it's been muttered under my breath in a rather cynical tone.

I think it's normal for everyone to feel this way sometimes. Obviously I love to teach, or I wouldn't have chosen teaching, and instructor development, as a career. However, I think that every now and again it's a good idea to take a few moments to reflect on what I love about teaching, and what my goals are as an instructor.

Among the many things I love about teaching is the excitement students display when they "get it". Lately we've been having discussions in one of my classes in which students are spontaneously making connections between the course material and what they're observing in their service learning placements, working for the most part with underprivileged preschoolers. The enthusiasm with which they talk about how they could actually use what they learned in class to understand a young child and ultimately help him to read a book, wait his turn, or make a new friend is amazingly rewarding. And it's inspiring - it reminds me that one of my goals as an educator is to provide these kinds of learning opportunities for students, and motivates me to dream up new ways of reaching them. This little moment of clarity is worth all of the hectic rushing around I do the rest of the day.

Taking the time to reflect is important not only to hold on to one's sanity, but also to help us continue to grow.

In the picture above, I am standing in the front (in pink), surrounded by last year's cohort of talented TA Scholars.

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