I’ve looked at life from both sides now

I love the back to school season. It’s like from the moment you wake up on the first Tuesday the air is crisp, there’s a fresh, cool feeling and you can see your breath. I remember being so excited about new school outfits and putting on your new fall clothes only to discover by mid-afternoon that it’s still a little too warm to be wearing the fall outfits. Sadly, today I was greeted by many back to school outfits that included way too much Ed Hardy t-shirts and jeans. It’s like they’re teaching a whole generation completely wrong, in years past I worried girls were dressing sluttier and sluttier and now the boys are dressing douchier and douchier. What are they teaching these children? I believe we have a failure in the education system somewhere; can you get on that Prime Minister Harper?

Aside from clothing choices of the kids these days I thought of a few more things today when heading to work to teach students of my own. While I’m not teaching students in the same curriculum that I was brought up in, I’ve grown some insight on the job as a teacher and not only do I understand teachers better, but I think if I were to go back and do it all again (oh my god, kill me now), there are many things I’d change.

First off, if I were to do it all again I’d be more outgoing as a student, not only do I think that the students that ask more questions get more out of their class time and education, but also I’d respond more to the teachers’ questions. There is nothing, I mean nothing, more excruciating than asking a question to only be met with radio silence. And since I’m one to fill silences, I always feel the need to answer the questions. Speaking in class also shows me you’re interested and that the subject actually makes you want to learn.

I’d also show my appreciation more but at the same time realize that teachers can’t be “on” all the time. I go in and give what I call my one-woman show every day, I’m energized in the mornings when the only thing I want to do is be back in bed. And it seems the bad days are the ones that are remembered when it comes to evaluation time. But at the same time, students will tell me when I’ve done a good job, that verbal appreciation does so much not only for my ego, but makes me want to go in and actually work hard for them.

I would realize what goes into lessons. Because quite frankly, lesson planning sucks and to plan a lesson only to hear that your students don’t like what you have planned or to have what you thought would be brilliant only fall flat on it’s face is especially hard on the ego.

On the other hand, as a teacher I understand many things about my teachers in the past. I used to wonder why in high school or in Kwantlen we were given so many “find someone who” activities on the first day, they’re basically icebreakers to get to know your classmates and in high school they were especially confusing since we had known the same people for the past 2 or 3 years. The reason why we do it? It’s a gimme class. I don’t plan anything for a day and this is interesting for me. While I have had some of these students, I love finding out things about my students and the cultures they come from. The anthropologist major in me loves this, I get to hear about so many countries while teaching.

I used to get annoyed with teachers that took forever to give essays back, but guess what those things aren’t easy, or fun, to mark. You have to give feedback on everything. Then grade it. All while being impartial and enforcing the same criteria across the board. Oh, and most of it should be done in your spare time. But who wants to do that? My weekends and evenings are mine, or reserved for lesson planning, so why should I do this in my time. So instead, I wait for test days in class and mark them then, so yes, it will take about a week to a week and a half, but you’ll get good feedback, I promise.

But, because of this, I so love giving multiple-choice tests. While I hated taking them, giving them is so easy since marking is a breeze. There is no half points (which I tend to give a lot on fill in the blank tests) and it’s easy cut and dry test marking that I can often give to student teachers.

And finally, progress reports, aka report cards. Did you ever get computer-generated marks from your teachers? What about something that was eerily similar to your friends? That’s because most likely they are. Writing a different comment for 50 different students, most of whom do not attend classes for tests doesn’t give you much to choose from when you have to write comments. So yeah, many of my comments are pretty generic and tend to sound the same, but it’s the end of the month and I’m tired and I’ve been marking tests for weeks and correcting a pile of essays so the last thing I want to do during my lunch period or after class is to write a personalized individual comment. Sure, I’ll incorporate your name into the comment, but everything else is pretty general.

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