Tag: motivation

Did I Miss Anything?

Thanks to Tom Wayman for this succinct expression of teacher disenfranchisement when being asked this question.

I wanted to include it here because there are people who actually ask the question of what this means, which is cause for further despair.

Tom is a Canadian teacher. I also wanted to include it because these sentiments are occurring all over the world.

The third reason is his gender. As a man he still experiences the total disregard that women have been experiencing during their careers as teachers. When a man expresses what women have been expressing, people tend to forego attributing it to our gender’s disadvantages. It is less likely to be seen as “just something she doesn’t like” or other whim.

When I want a student to consider another topic, for example, for a speech or essay, trying to get them to think I little more deeply, I am met with “Well, she didn’t like it so I changed it.”

Karen Armstrong, an Oxford graduate, noted thinker, and author of numerous lauded books on God and religion, discovered this same disregard while a teacher in England, described in her memoir The Spiral Staircase.

And lastly, he is my age, but I imagine we both came to feel like this some years ago.

Here are Tom’s words:

“Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here

we sat with our hands folded on our desks

in silence, for the full two hours.tom-wayman

Everything. I gave an exam worth

40 percent of the grade for this term Continue reading “Did I Miss Anything?”

Nice Teachers Don’t Have Needs

Recently Oxford Academic posted an article about Jane E. Dmochowski’s affection and respect for her students. This is what she loves about teaching. And I am so glad for her.

Quoting from the Chronicle‘s article, “Affection and respect do far more to  improve student behavior in the classroom than snark and irritation.”

Snark? What a profound academic term. Few teachers go into teaching, I would venture to claim, without an initial affection and respect for students. That is a foundational belief right up there with “all moms love their babies”, apple pie and baseball.

The article goes on to list eight more things she loves. A college professor, she had previously posted “10 Things Every College Professor Hates” on her website (lifted from an unnamed “sociology professor at Occidental College”, another problem of our lack of educational self-respect, forgetting to give credit where credit is due). With little student response, she converted it to “10 Things This Instructor Loves.”

I like this – it’s always a goal to take frustration and find the advantage it can be turned into. The list showed her as a human being (often a revelation to students, parents and administrators). Her inclusion of items like having an open mind are totally agreeable. This is the one that got me: “Students who give eye contact during a lecture.”

Lecture? I have not lectured for years. Students tune out the minute I open my mouth. I have taught at college level at four year institutions, community colleges, propriety and public colleges, as well as secondary institutions in urban, rural, and suburban settings. Ten minutes is the longest presentation I ever make. The rest of the class is devoted to engaging students in activities, peer learning or other more active approaches.

The best practice thinking for years has been that lectures are passé. So to get this published in the Chronicle was interesting. It sheds light on the lack of agreement about what best practices are at any level of education.

More disturbingly, it sheds light on the outmoded attitude toward teachers at any level, almost always women. We are not to have any “bad days”. We are not to have any negative feelings and we definitely, never, ever, should express any frustration to our students. It is not motivational, and that is definitely one of the cardinal sins.

Because, as we know, sin is part of the human condition and we wouldn’t want to allow teachers to be human in that way, only in the positive ways of unconditional and unrelenting  acceptance, compassion and patience. But sometimes, you know, you just have to snark on.