Monday, October 31, 2011

We do much more than teach

Midterms are here and it occurs to me that as a teacher, I do so much more than teach my students. Yes, teaching comprises the bulk of my time and effort with my students, but I also play other roles in their lives. Lately I have had to confront students about poor effort and late work. I feel almost like a drill sergeant, urging them to work harder, step to it, get the essay handed in, one, two, three. In this role I am not compassionate, but I'm tough. If you do not get this work done, you will not pass the class.

Another role I play is one of counselor. My students have myriad issues and often their circumstances prevent them from achieving success in school. Many of my students are parents, many work, and some have difficult family situations they are dealing with. For these students I need to listen, show compassion, and care for them, while not altogether abandoning my role as teacher. One of my students emailed me today; her babysitter could not come and she already has two absences. What should she do? Thankfully, I teach another section of Comp 1, so I encouraged her to attend that class if possible, and avoid racking up another absence. Problem solved.

Then there is the comedienne. After all the serious work, sometimes we teachers need to lighten up the class a bit with some humor. Nothing soothes a tired, stressed out student (or teacher) like a little laughter.

Drill sergeant, counselor, comedienne = teacher.

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