I have received my evaluations from last semester’s class. Before looking at them, our Professor (for the Practicum on Alternative Classroom Practices) suggested each of us might want to write up our own sense of ourselves as a teacher: what kind of a teacher do I think I am? (What kind was I last semester?) How do I think my students perceived me?

I constantly try new activities and different intellectual stimuli while teaching. Sometimes they work as I anticipate and students are jazzed; other times the ideas I try to implement do not pan out as I expect – again, sometimes they still work well (just not in the ways I expected), other times, the error in judgment is large enough to drive a bus through! Once in awhile, I manage to hit a string of unfortunate ideas. Last semester, most of my ideas worked well, but the first one did not, and this affected the energy and motivation levels of the class for most of the course. Generally, the passion I feel for learning engages students no matter the subject. I think students sensed this, even though they could not shake the effects of early (lack of) momentum.

I always expect students to think hard. This elicits various reactions, ranging roughly from excitement to frustration. Sometimes I myself am frustrated – and occasionally my emotions show. I want to believe that my rough edges are getting smoother, but – sometimes I think my disappointment still leaks out. I know and understand that students’ energy (interests, commitments) may lie elsewhere, but for the time that we are in-class, I want them to bring all parts of themselves to class! And, I do expect that – one way or another – they have found a way to attend to the homework and are therefore prepared for what the day’s activities entail.

The thing is, I don’t want students just doing the homework for the sake of doing the homework: this is why my instructions may lean toward vagueness instead of explicit step-by-step directions. Writing has no simple formula, and I know these students’ minds are capable of more than cruise control! Last spring, most of the students improved a considerable amount in their writing skills; even if their overall classroom experience was ambivalent, I imagine they will indicate that they did, in fact, learn.