The balance

New teachers complain after their students don’t score high on their first test. “I asked if they had any questions, and they didn’t.” These new teachers find out quickly that students don’t want anyone to know what they don’t know–until they are cornered on an exam and the truth comes out.

Experienced teachers assess throughout the lesson, wandering from desk to desk, watching students try problems, and fixing misconceptions as they are presented. Students hate this. They are intimidated. They think the constant teaching and correcting is mean. They don’t appreciate the experience of the teacher. But they LEARN more. Scores are higher. Class is harder because students can’t just snooze through, so they complain about that mean teacher, the one who cares the most if they learn.

I’ve been both teachers different semesters depending on what the students need. I’ve even left the scared students alone, the ones who didn’t want to participate, who gave off an angry, keep-away vibe. Those very students were jealous of the students who got the attention. Called them my pets. Complained of favoritism. See how long I’ve been at this teaching thing? Now I make them all participate, for their own good, because I do know better than they. Someday they’ll know better too, but they’ll agree with ME when I teach their children.

This semester was exhausting. So much grading. Too much drama. Long labs. Tired students. I hope everyone recovers and rests these next few weeks. I hope our December graduates find jobs and get into grad school, and buckle down for the next four decades of working for a living. Sorry kids. That’s what we were teaching you for–the real world after college.



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