Thoughts on Teaching – 3/27/2012 – Dropping classes

This was a banner day for dropping my class today.  That is probably because the next big round of assignments is coming due in the next week or so, and people are getting out now before they have to put in any more actual work.  I signed drop slips for 4 students today.  That’s certainly not a record by any means, but it is always interesting that they come in  waves like that.  I had three come to me either right before or after class, and since my Tuesday/Thursday class is the worst one this semester, in terms of grades at least, that is really no surprise.  What is more surprising are the other two who came by my office.  Two different students came by with progress report sheets to fill out, and I had to break it to both that they were doing very poorly in the class.  Both of them knew that generally, but the numbers are much harsher.  Of the two, one decided to drop, and the other stayed in.  With both, they had skipped a significant portion of the assignments due so far, so they should not have been really surprised about it.  Still, they were, as I think that students often don’t think that much about the effects of their actions on their class grade.

The good thing about the drops and discussions of progress today was that all of them took responsibility for their poor performance.  I didn’t have any who blamed anything that I was doing in the class, which is really always a relief.  I don’t know about any other teachers out there, but I am always incredibly nervous and self-conscious about my teaching and whether I am giving the students everything they need to succeed.  I see a failure by a student as a personal failure on my part quite often.  I always wonder if there’s something else that I could have done for them.  So, when they come to me and talk about what they did wrong in the course, it always is a bit of a relief – guilty relief – but still relief.  I don’t know if it is just my personality or if it is something every teacher feels, but I get very personally invested in my students.  It’s one of those things that does make this job exhausting at times, as I take even a rough comment or criticism as a personal attack on my teaching skills and I fret over it for a long time.  But a day like today, while upsetting because so many dropped, is somewhat of a relief, as I got some personal validation that I was not directly to blame for any of these.  Isn’t it strange how the mind works?  I assume things with my students are my fault until proven otherwise.  Any other teachers out there have this same feeling?

Anyway, just a few thoughts to end a very long day.

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About Scott Williams

I am an educator, community-college instructor, thinker, husband, parent of four, student of life, player of video games, voracious reader, restless wanderer, and all-around guy.

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