Final Thoughts on Teaching

The walls are bare, the books are boxed, the desk is empty, the grades are entered. It’s done. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life at this, and I have a few thoughts on what I will miss, and what I will not.

I will not miss…

…the grading. The hours upon hours, reading work that students left to the last minute, then threw on the page.

…the politics. Watching a department that is running at about half staff, trying to deal with an ever-increasing number of students, while fighting for every last scrap of funding is heartbreaking. With few exceptions, the department here puts students first and personal advancement second. That seems to be rare, and should be rewarded.

…the excuses. There is an old joke, that grandparents shouldn’t let their grandchildren go off to college, because such actions cause grandparents to drop like flies. I’ve heard any number of reasons why such-and-such paper, assignment, or meeting simply could not be completed. The number of excuses I accepted was few, but that didn’t stop students from, not only making them, but demanding their excuses be accepted. For any students reading this, I have some advice: no professor cares if your mom likes your essay.

…the lies. So many students have lied to my face, with really obvious whoppers. Maybe their parents have never doubted them; maybe their high school teachers couldn’t spare the time or resources to check up on them. I don’t know.

Things I Will Miss

…the people. The people in this department have been a large part of my life for many years, and I have grown quite close to them. They have given me strength on days when dealing with students has just been overwhelming. They have laughed with me at the genuine absurdities that come from students. Knowing that, when troubled, I could walk just a few places and find someone to commiserate with has been a great boon.

….the successes. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but there have been some students that have changed their life for the better because of something I’ve done. Sometimes it is just a change in how they view the world; sometimes, it is changing to a new major, or reinforcing the one they’ve chosen. Sometimes, it is just them asking my advice.

Overall, the good outweighs the bad.

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