Monday, December 28, 2015

The Students We Nudge

I had an especially hard quarter teaching. The truth is, I was not at my best, and am feeling like I am just now starting find my way back to loving teaching again. I have been doing this half my adult life now (eeks!), and so a bit of a lull might have been inevitable. I am also just coming through some challenging personal circumstances (divorce); I can have a bit of empathy for myself. My writing has been going well; I love my coaching clients. Both give me increased energy toward teaching; I think I am going to have a great term next quarter!

That said, I also had a hard time due to a particularly challenging group of students (not all, but a few!) As I teach social work practice, sometimes I have to "go there" and push students in ways that make them uncomfortable. I have an ethical responsibility to point out to students behaviors and skills that may be an issue for them in practice. My student are going to work with some of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations; I owe it to them to be real! Sure, I could smile and be funny and witty and focus on charismatic lectures and making them happy. What would be of little service to anyone.

I also need to remember that it is sometimes the students who are most unhappy with me who have contacted me, weeks, months or even years later and have thanked me for the push. I remember one student who said it was during one session with a challenging client when my challenging him for some less than culturally competent behavior finally hit home. He sent me a box of chocolates and a nice note as a thank you (and yes, I was a bit afraid of trying the chocolate :)).

Something all us teachers/professors must remember.

1 comment:

  1. I am experiencing something similar regarding group work.

    Students hate it, complain about it, and my teaching scores suffer because of it. Yet, every time I go back to my former students asking for how to improve the module (in terms of content or activities), every single one of them mentions the value of group work. In other words, there is clearly a trade-off between short term satisfaction and long term value.