2. group meeting in the library
3. more work
skirt — Liz Claiborne, thrifted blouse — Banana Republic outlet cardigan — Target belt and cuff — vintage boots — Civico 10 tights — Hema (Dutch Target)
So, last week was a toughie for me. Honestly, I think I am just so emotionally wrapped up in my students and their success that I got really hammered by their nerves and frustration. This is something I need to work on, because not only does it affect my emotional equilibrium, it also affects my ability to be a good instructor. Let me explain: I was so concerned that my students were stressed and so eager to quell their fears that I let them forget my cardinal rule, which is that the highest good is to try, fail, and try again. This was summed up in one emblematic encounter with the student I call pouting girl. She keeps just giving up, saying that it’s too hard or that she doesn’t want to. So Friday, in an individual conference with her, I finally snapped. Instead of trying to mommy her and sooth her anxiety, I just put the ball in her court. Our conversation went like this:
her: I guess the problem is just that I don’t like writing argumentative essays and would rather write a research paper.
me: Well, this is a class based around on argumentative papers, so you’re going to have to try.
her: Yeah, I don’t want to.
me: (here’s where I stopped coddling her) Okay, then drop the class.
her: I can’t; it’s mandatory.
me: Well, then drop out of college. Or suck it up and succeed. Now get back to work.
You could say that I was too hard on her, and I’m sure she felt at that moment that I was being harsh. But the truth is, she needs to know that she has choice, agency, and the ability to make an informed decision about her college career. If she is unwilling to even try to pass College Composition, the one and only mandatory class for all graduates, then she should seriously rethink her choice to be here and to be in college. After I realized that she needed some tough love, I suddenly felt a lot better about myself as an instructor. And you know what? She finally started to try and by the end of our meeting, she seemed to have made the choice to succeed. Now, whether or not she fails or succeeds won’t be about how well I babied her but about how well she motivated herself. And that is freeing, for the both of us.
So here’s to a better week and a better teaching philosophy, my friends!