Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NaBloPoMo '08 #18: Damn It Again

Forgot to post yesterday. Damn it. I'm so not good at coming up with anything insightful, entertaining, or even remotely interesting.

EXCEPT! That Tuesday I began having second (or perhaps third? fourth? fifth?) thoughts about why my classes haven't been so good this semester. A very good student stayed after class to talk with me about the upcoming student teaching semester (she's scared, but I have every confidence in her) and said,

"You know, Dr. Bad Ass. Most of the students in this class really do care, and are trying hard. We just want to know that you think we can be successful."

I don't know quite how to respond to that. I do think that some of them will be successful. But I think many of them will have to work much, much harder in order to be successful. Harder than they've been working for me. So how do I handle my disappointment in the face of their lack of energy and enthusiasm? Shouldn't I express that disappointment? Or should I put on a happy face and say, yes you'll all be fine?

So. Still not sure how to respond.


Erin said...

I usually say things in class like "I know you all have the ability to do this, you just need to put in the time" and other such statements. It seems like they convey my belief that they can do well but also my belief that they need to work harder to get there. They're usually received pretty well. Most students do need to hear something like it.

Today, I had a student bring me a lab report to look over (I let them bring them in several days before they're due--I mark them and give them back). It was a terrible lab report. I made a ton of corrections. I didn't soften them while talking to my student, or pretend that they weren't a problem. But once I'd finished with it, I said "It seems like you've got a good start here." She brightened noticeably. I don't think saying that made the corrections any less important, but it helped her here that what she's done isn't useless.

On the other hand, there are certainly students that I genuinely don't think can make it in their chosen academic path. But I'd rather those few students hear a statement that I believe they can do it than 50 other students hear me say nothing.

Dr. Bad Ass said...

Erin, I like the way you're focusing on both the positive and the real -- I'm going to borrow your phrasing for use in my class, if you don't mind.

Belle said...

I'm like Erin - they can do it if they'll put in the time and effort. And I remind them when they do it right and wrong, so that they have feedback. Does it work? Not always, but enough. There are always those that need more. I sure did.