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The Thrills of Teaching

I've had a wonderful day. I've been marking all day, and the joy isn't just because I'm finally done marking all of the final essays from last term's classes. It's because of how much so many of my students have improved. Indeed, several of them turned in essays that were really good. And that goodness was in part because of the copious editing I did on their drafts last month. I wasn't just editing for how closely their work corresponded with the rules of the assignment, but for quality writing in general. I was fairly thorough with most of them. Thus their improvements make me happy with my own editing competencies, with just how much they learned over the course of the past term and with how much they improved by spending some time editing their own work. I'm proud of them.

I'm also happy because it's so rewarding to be teaching a history class again. I'd hesitate to call it easy, since it requires more prep work every week than did teaching essay writing, but it's certainly more comfortable, since I've had so much more experience at doing it. For the first time, I also understand why some lecturers are so much more attached to teaching upper year students than first year undergraduates. They each have their virtues: with first year undergraduates, it's far easier to see them progress and improve noticeably over the course of only one term. With the upper year students, they're already experienced at being university students, with how to operate within their discipline of choice, with the language and modes of discourse.

From the students I taught in the fall term, I've learned a great deal. I learned about Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, and Jade Goody. I also gained a much greater intellectual appreciation of the role of tabloids. And I've also come to appreciate how much I've learned in the past years about teaching history. I realized this by teaching another subject, a subject I knew a great deal about, but had never taught before. It's a real challenge, teaching in a new discipline, but a good challenge. I'd do it better next time, but I've also still a great deal to learn about how to teach essay writing, I think.

So it's been a good day - bright students, improved students, good essays, good comments. It doesn't hurt that my order from the OUP sale arrived yesterday either, or that I'm still thrilled about having won lunch in France.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
snowdrifted
Jan. 19th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yay! Good for you and your group. I'm glad you're having a good teaching term.

(Also this is prime teaching statement material, this right here!)
owlfish
Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being observant and pointing out that this is teaching statement material. That's a useful thought.
a_d_medievalist
Jan. 19th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
It *is* such a nice feeling, isn't it? Even when I'm teaching history, I feel like I'm teaching writing as much as anything. If you think of a way to avoid that, please pass on your ideas!
owlfish
Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
We teach other skills than writing sometimes! This week, I'm reviewing chronology skills with them as a preventative measure. (There is no year zero.) Next week will be geography. If we teach skills classes, at least we can teach them more than writing along the way.
haggisthesecond
Jan. 20th, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
glad you're doing the thing you want to be doing--it's a great feeling!

oh and I had to scroll back to see what the lunch in France was--how cool!

Look forward to hearing about everything on Sunday.
ancrenewiseasse
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
Hooray! I'm glad for you: it is so wonderful to see improvement in students' work.
owlfish
Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
Even if I can't take credit for much of their improvements - they're in other classes too! - it's gratifying to see them improve.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )