professornana (professornana) wrote,

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This eloquent letter from some teachers in Maine resonated with me, and I know you will feel the same: I left the middle school classroom for the university classroom during a time when something called the "career ladder" was in effect in Texas. I hated the idea of competing for EQ (extra quality) points just so that I could move up the ladder to more pay. I was happy to leave that environment for one where, I thought, I would not be in competition for points. How naïve was I?

But all that aside, I did work and continue to work in an environment that places its trust in me to teach. Yes, there are rules and requirements. Yes, I moan and groan about syllabi templates and online learning platforms. Yes, I despise the arduous tasks of building out classes. But there is trust when it comes to the actual teaching and learning.

And there is the reward: seeing students' work in response to assignments. I am someone who actually likes the grading part of my job (well, talk to me when all 60 students turn in something on the same day, and that might be a tad different). Over the past week since classes began for the summer, I have seen more than a handful of assignments (turned in early) that are remarkable, that go beyond what I had even envisioned. In part, this is because I trust the students. I provide the details of what is expected in terms of content and then leave the process and product for man of the assignments up to the discretion of the students.

There is not a thing wrong with approaching the assignment in a very tradition manner (truth be told, that would by and large be the way I approach assignments after years of having to follow strict guidelines during my own coursework). However, the ones who think outside the box, who take that first risky step onto a high wire without a net, who decide to try something new continue to not only impress me but also give me hope for the future of education.

Regardless of the approach the student selects, I never fail to learn something new each and every semester I teach. And after 40 years, there is something to be said for new learning, learning that keeps me in this new "classroom," learning that guarantees a new generation of readers and learners.
Tags: autonomy, trust
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