2011 was a great year.
When opportunity knocked, I opened the door and took a chance. I faced it like a big girl – and I am slowly conquering it.
And thanks to this opportunity, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a teacher, about the perils and the triumphs of America’s higher education, our students, and even more about my colleagues and the whole profession of teaching in higher ed. What my “opportunity” gave me was an insight into the big picture – the important discussions that are had by teachers, administrators, and lawmakers. The classroom is important – that’s where the actual work of teaching and learning happens, of course – but the decisions that are made outside the classroom (sometimes NOT involving students and/or teachers) have huge impact on what goes on in the classroom. It can determine the success and the failure of students (and teachers).
In a sense, I wised up. I am no longer as naive as I have been about the “big picture.” I know it’s not easy to change things – it can’t be easy to overhaul a system of teaching and learning that’s been in place pretty much since – as I like to say – “ancient time ago”. But I am still hopeful. I have not yet become jaded. I’m not disheartened by knowing more than I used to know.
Here’s one more thing I learned: I like helping students. The big conversations happen and they have to happen – and I am honored to sit in on those conversations. However, what I really love is when a student walks into my office with a problem… and leaves no longer having that problem. This also applies to students who walk into my classroom with poor writing skills or bad writing habits and leave at the end of the semester a little bit improved – and they are aware of that improvement and proud of it. That’s when I feel really good about my day, about my work, and about my life.
So, here’s to hoping that 2012 will bring more moments such as these.