Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Love of Teaching: Working at It

Some people love to teach; they love everything about it. For them, it is a calling, it is the very (and only) reason why they pursued a PhD.

Others of us, and I would argue we are the majority, love aspects of teaching, but not everything about it. For instance, I love the connections with students. I love to challenge them, to engage them in experiential learning or dialogues that leads to major "ah ha" moments.

I like lecturing, yet while it may come as a surprise to those who see me as extremely extroverted, I am a bit shy, and don't like to be the center of attention. I don't like grading; at all (but who does?). I don't like having to be "on" at specific times of the day. I tire of some student's desire to have me "make them happy" and engage in "costumer service." My job is to teach, to challenge, to facilitate transformational experiences, not to make someone feel happy about their grade or satisfied. I am an educator, not a call center representative (no offense to call center reps, its just a different role).

So, I love aspects of teaching, and overall, I really like teaching, Yet, I have to really work at liking and loving teaching to really have it work for me. That means I have to really think about my teaching, prepare lessons that are not only stimulating to students, but stimulating to me. It means I have to honor my own pedagogical stances and biases, and not seek to please everyone. In short, I have to engage in teaching the same way that I try to engage in my scholarship and writing, patiently slowly, day after day, year after year. When I don't, its just a grind.

So, I have to work at it. Not just the day to day teaching, but the love of teaching, the importance of teaching, the joy of teaching. I know how to step into a classroom and pull a class session out of my "you know where" (but of course, I would not ever do this :)), but this is a disservice not only to my students, but to me.  I am not suggesting that every lesson has to be new, but for me, I need to engage with teaching in a meaningful way in order to really enjoy it.

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