The end of my first year teaching is wrapping up this week. With that comes extensive overview from faculty and peers on what the year looked like for me. I will admit it is funny the way I have handled that type of overview of myself since I have been teaching. I feel like a fraud and that they will figure out I am not worthy of my position and boot me out. I play these funny scenarios in my head of how it would play out if that actually happened and then I show up for class and I add another class under my belt and students say, “Hey are you teaching the next section?” And then I feel like maybe I do get it.
At the beginning of the semester the email comes that says, “Important: You Need an Observation”. I put it off. I know I need one but what if… Then I go through with said observation and the email comes that says, “Important: Need a Meeting to Discuss Observation” and I treat the email like the plague. I convince my brain I have student drafts to look at and then when the right mood strikes I read it and put my hand up defensively as if the smack down is coming. It never has but it feels like it will.
Being a the lowest on the totem pole at a university means one thing. Evaluation: You are evaluated as a student, you are evaluated as a instructor by students and faculty. The hard part about it all is it is more about maneuverability of the finest. You have to sit down, shut up and take it, but you also have to know when and how to defend it. The it I refer to is your pedagogical methods. That is the way graduate teaching is set up. If you pedagogically feel something is important you are expected to defend it. And not only defend it but defend it to people much more your senior (and often with a PhD. behind their names) with many publications on the very subjects you are teaching. It ain’t easy to say the least.
As each class of my own progresses I feel more and more confident in my teaching shoes and skirts I wear. I love teaching at the college level because despite the rigmarole stated above that is literally the only evaluation I feel or partake in and never ever is it approached from the standpoint I am more senior to you and you need to change this. This is such an about face from how the K-12 educational system is ran. It is most certainly a dictatorship with stringent guidelines and even more people that determine what is best above you when you have no pedagogical reason why. Instead most of the time the reasoning is mired in money and power. However, that is another topic for another day.
Anyway I am nearing the end of my evaluation period and I am gearing up for my evaluation meeting and I received the first report back and all seems fairly okay on the teaching front. I am mostly hitting a home run with a few areas in need of some more pedagogical philosophy thrown in. Even better my evaluator recommended my assignments to be passed on to a newly hired Dr. and used the word “innovative” to describe them. I will take that as a compliment and not complain.
My one area that needed some work was my one area that I am still trying to develop. I feel like students collaborating together on writing is so important to the world. More and more students are writing collaboratively together on the internet through social networking sites, blogs, newspapers and etc. Most students balk at group work. They believe it to be hard and one ends up doing all the work. To fulfill my own beliefs and philosophy in teaching I have my students write a research paper together. They initially hate it but then they love it. They love the grades and they learn how to depend on each other for work. I just need to figure out timing and more smoothly incorporating MLA into it.
Now that I have begun this talk of my methods as an instructor I suppose maybe that provides proof enough in this moment I may just not be a fraud yet, but a teacher.