As I was offered a teaching position at ASU just a week and change before classes started, I had a lot to catch up on beyond setting up a household and figuring out the greater Phoenix area. Hi, hello policies and procedures! Thankfully, I got a week’s worth of orientation concentrated into 90 minutes where I received a rough sketch of the ASU student body. I came away with the impression that they were point-crazed, spoiled brats with behavioral issues and that their overzealous “helicopter” parents would pester me to see how little Johnny was doing on his homework. As one of my fellow TAs said, “I was prepared for demon seed.”
Flash forward to my first week and a half of teaching. While I approached my new classes no differently than in past (open mind, too much enthusiasm for 7:30 a.m., mild trepidation), I was pleasantly surprised that the students were absolutely delightful! Perhaps the horns don’t come out until midterms, but I suspect that for the most part, students are students are students are students. They’re concerned about acceptance, making ends meet, getting that elusive A, attracting that certain someone, dealing with their parents, surviving the rush of the semester… I just hope that the delightfulness continues without incident!
Giving me hope is the beautiful class we had today… actually that both classes had! I teach at the crack of dawn (7:30 a.m. to those of you who never see it) and 10:30 a.m. While the classes have different energy levels and vastly different personalities so far, the students are gelling with each other and reacting to the course content and my teaching style with aplomb. In fact, they are awake, engaged and dare I say, almost excited, about the class (Apparently “Small Group Communication” doesn’t suck quite yet!). In any case, I was thrilled that in both classes we got into some *real* discussion of communication issues–overarching communication competence, gendered communication and culture. The students brought their own experience and knowledge into the classroom, shared with each other and seemed to have a meaningful dialogue with me and one another.
THIS is why I want to be a teacher. It is the moment when you know you’re making a difference… not that you’re saying the magic words or leading the discussion so wonderfully… it’s when students are really interacting with each other, critically THINKING and considering the world around them. It kicks ass!