Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Increasingly, I am realizing that while curriculum and instruction are a big part of teaching, they are only a small part of what students learn.

This is not an invitation to treat planning and the content that I teach as unimportant, but rather a reminder that teaching does not end with classroom instruction. It's actually an incredibly reassuring thought... bad days are overwhelming when they happen, and I obsess far too easily about classes that I feel didn't go well, activities that fell flat, or a disappointing set of essays. However, if I have a trusting relationship with my students, if I care, if I take the time to talk and listen, that is far more important than every classroom activity going smoothly, or every assessment yielding the results I want.

I was reminded of this today. It was not a bad day--I simply had more opportunities than usual to have conversations, either one-on-one or with small groups of students, that reminded me just how important relationship is to the teaching profession. I don't consider myself to be a terribly outgoing person. I'm an introvert--I find lots of social interaction to be tiring. At the same time, I feel like if I were teaching online or teaching lecture-hall-sized classes, I'd burn out really fast.

The conversations in particular, and building relationships with my students in general are such meaningful parts of my job. The fact that students feel comfortable talking to me, and that they actively seek my input and advice gives me a greater feeling of satisfaction and worth than even the best classroom activity. It's not even for my benefit--likely the students do not realize how much it means to me that they value my opinion.

I hope that I can prove worthy of their trust, that I can listen, think and provide wise advice.

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