The key to teaching success is not to give a shit. Will they pass? Don't care. Will they learn? Don't care. Will they graduate? Don't care. Do they like you? Don't care. You make them work. You make them work like dogs. You just don't care if they do or not.
I actually started out in a different field, vertebrate paleontology, before I switched fields to astronomer when I turned five years old, and I'm glad I did, since the field work in paleontology is digging in dirt, whereas the field work in astronomy is staying up all night, which when I was a teenager I discovered I was very good at. Most astronomers are born, not made.
Coffee. Massive amounts of coffee.
Constant updating and keeping track of what works or not. Not only semester to semester, but section to section (I teach 4 of the same class in the fall.) Just today(after 16 years) I finally found a genius way to get across a tricky concept in hamster evolution that really CLICKED with the students. So I wrote it into the semester journal after class.Unlike Stella, I do give a shit about students. I feel affection for them as a group and compassion for many of them as individuals, especially the ones who've taken the time to visit an office hour. When even those are avoiding eye contact and yawning, I know it's time to change the lecture. Maybe it helps that I have a kid about the same age as most of my students.On the other hand, I don't give a shit about department politics or contract negotiations. Life's way too short.
Oh, I give a shit about students. If I didn't I'd have chosen another career. But I see my job as helping them to learn. If they don't choose to be helped, I don't care. If they do, I don't care. If they can't, and I have to fail them, I don't care. One of my sweetest students was just sent to a mental hospital and will not be back this semester. I care about her. I don't care that because of excessive absences (both before and after her institutionalization) I am going to have to fail her for the class. That way lies madness. And I am already on anti-depressants and Xanax, so madness is not that far a trip for me.
As usual: What Stella said.
I do it by giving myself to the job when I'm there, and then turning that part of the brain off when I'm not.Too many of my colleagues are in school mode 24/7, and their lives are hellish and miserable.I work like the dickens when I'm at school, writing, grading, whatever. But I'm completely disconnected the rest of the time so my family is my focus.
I just remind myself that, in spite of everything going on around me from student crap to back stabbing colleagues, I'm still the best looking person in the department.
I think if you have your best students' best interests at heart in everything you do, nothing else matters.
Teach them. Go have a smoke or a biscuit.
Proffie Galore, you don't give a shit about contract negotiations--the ones about wages, benefits, and working conditions?
Just found this using the new Search Thingie. Yeah, my wages and benefits and working conditions are fine. I'm fabulously wealthy and pampered by world standards. When we get the annual survey about negotiations, I check the boxes that would improve things for adjuncts (I'm a full-timer), but otherwise I ignore the sturm and drang.
Right at this moment, exhausted and surrounded by papers to be graded (okay, they're virtual, but they still seem, somehow, very substantial), I'm not feeling that I do it all so well. But I'll try to take some inspiration from a combination of the approaches above, and trudge forward.
I ask why. A lot. Drives them nuts.
I love my subject matter, so I like to tell people cool stuff about it.Some of them are actually interested.They keep me going.Sometimes, one of them will ask me a question I can't answer on the fly.That's just gravy.
Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.