We teach to make our students better versions of themselves. We don’t teach to make our students feel inadequate, to feel incapable, to feel like they could not amount to anything. If there is one thing about teaching, it’s that the students aren’t the only ones learning, but the teachers as well. We learn that our students aren’t empty shells we need to fill, but also mirrors of who we are. The only real benchmark of teaching is not by how many passed your class, but how many didn’t fail.
My neurosis flares up when I don’t see a proper sequence. 23, 24, 25, 27. What the hell happened to 26!? So for this post, I’m giving it a title of 26 & 27 just to not mess up my head. I actually fell on my bed last night and woke up around 5am this morning. Yesterday was not a good day for me, it was a terrible day. I didn’t get to post an update because after making my Neil Gaiman review, I just needed to go to bed.
Because my experience yesterday really left me angry with a lot of things. Though not completely related to my challenge, this experience did keep me from staying long in front of my computer. Anyway, here is the story:
Yesterday was a defense presentation of students on a computer subject I was teaching. This wasn’t my class, I didn’t know the students and thus I have no idea who they are, what kind of persons they were, all I know was that how they were confronted by their panel was wrong.
I was a co-panel and were with 4 other people. Even before the defense began, I had a bad feeling. My colleagues were loudly making comments about how insufficient the students were and they were clear as day. I was observing the faces of the students and was already identifying signs of discomfort. What was worst was how they gave out their comments.
Simply, it can be summed by: “You are wrong, your work is wrong, and it’s all your fault”
I was looking for constructive follow ups like: “You can fix this by doing this…” but there was none. And I was just there at the back with my jaw slightly dropped, shocked by how my colleagues were treating these kids. I won’t jump in, give my comments to make the students understand their mistakes, but I would be cut off by another series of criticisms.
One of them gave a vague question, the student answered. And before she could finish, she would comment “You are not answering my question” but really she is, it just happens that my colleague was fishing for something she wanted to hear.
The defense ended with the students passing. Though I feel like they only carried ill wishes towards their panel, and not the knowledge they should have gotten from the experience.
The activity might have been a success, because the students passed, but did they really learn anything? I left the room immediately when defense ended, because I was already shaking. Shaking from anger, from frustration, because I was surrounded by terrible teachers. They are younger than me by the way which made this even more frustrating.
All I saw were people so insecure about themselves and how their students saw them that they felt the need to keep them in line with whips and flames.
You can’t outright insult your students or solely put the blame of their mistakes on them. Sure, these are college students, young adults, but they are still students. They don’t know any better yet, this is why we are teaching them, but we expect them to have a certain level of competency after a period of time. But we never question how much of that time did we participate in their learning.
This has bothered me until today, and I was unable to focus completely, and to keep myself from failing my challenge, I left the house early, listening to a podcast about Bill Cosby and his sexual harassment charges. In my class I was glad to see students actually excited to see me, because I wasn’t present for our previous meeting.
We talked about a new topic and they had an evaluation again, and I know I’m right about my claims in this post. Because during the activity, my students would come to me for help, they were not afraid, they trusted me, because I respected them, because I acknowledged their weaknesses, and I helped fixed these weaknesses, and each meeting they become more competent because of it.