Today is the first day of the new semester. I'm not exactly pumped. I've been working all weekend to find a motivator, or an inspiration, or a visualization to turn to when I feel it's all too much. What's my objective for the next fifteen weeks? What mantra will I repeat to myself on the days when I'm wondering what it's all for?
In mulling it over, I asked myself, "What have I done for my students lately that made me feel good?"
In December, as I was marking students' final papers and writing feedback, I found myself, in a number of instances, appending the line "It was a pleasure having you in my class" to my comments. A simple thing. I wrote it only when it was true. And each time, a little wash of warmth swept over me.
I need to remember to do this, I thought. Whenever I'm writing final notes to students, I need to acknowledge the enjoyment those students have given me.
But why restrict it to final notes? Could I make it a practice to ALWAYS say positive personal things to students when they occur to me? Not just "What a great pair of boots!" or "You did a bang-up job on that paper," but also "Your contributions really light up the classroom" and "Your friendly demeanour is going to open a lot of doors for you in your life."
When I first began teaching, I saw each student/teacher relationship as an intimate connection. Once I started teaching CEGEP, I burned out quickly; the emotional energy necessary for such a connection with every student was not sustainable. Since then, I've been trying to find a balance, and I've erred on the side of being distant and chilly. Perhaps it's time to start working toward a middle ground, one where I can say, in myriad ways, "I like teaching you."
Do you have a goal for the semester? Did you have one for last semester? How did it pan out? I will keep you posted on how I do with this one, and on any consequences I observe.