Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

There are those times when you wonder what it's all for. Balancing all of my competing priorities besides teaching sometimes results in lost sleep over teaching preparation, grading, etc. At times I wonder when I get a lukewarm reaction from my students from an in-class activity that I've thought up in order to get them speaking and thinking. There I am- all excited about making a lesson a fun learning experience and there they are- somewhat constrained and restrained by their personal limits, which are dictated by their comfort and fluency in speaking English.

Each semester I am humbly touched and surprised by some thoughtful words of appreciation written by a student on the last page of their final exam or in a note... sometimes it's the quietest student in the class, sometimes it's a student who has been struggling in the class, or the student you least expect to hear from.

I realize in a flash that I really have gotten through to some students, that they were listening all along, and that however small, they got something out of my class and I feel useful.

I'm not jaded enough to believe that these expressions are motivated in order to score a grade- in most cases the students who have written weren't on the borderline of failing. Besides, such words written or spoken wouldn't sway me. I'm having to deal with that this semester with a student who's normally very consientious but has been absent for medical reasons (my heart goes out to her) and another who is very congenial, but has scored poorly on her written final exam. In the end, the numbers and their class participation will pass judgement.

Today as I was correcting exams I came upon a particular student's words which were strikingly different from others who have expressed their gratitude and sweet sentiments... this student thanked me for making my students think and for giving them new ideas. That's the most memorable note that I've received from any of my students so far and it was an ultimate compliment. I've done my job!

That's just what I need to hear amist all of this frantic grading and the different pieces news that I got yesterday- many of which were difficult to process as they were met with conflicting feelings. Funny what they say about how things come in threes.

Guess I'll have to leave some mystery to the last few comments for now. Some of that will be come clearer when I update my thoughts in the next few weeks.


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