Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Labor of Love

I attended the JALT (Japan Association of Language Teaching) between November 21 - 23 in Tsukuba city and on the way back home on the bullet train tears started to fill my eyes. I reflected on the thousands of hours I have spent correcting and commenting on my students' writing and asked myself why. I have read plenty of good student work but also plenty of awful writing by students who are likely more unmotivated to do their assignment than I am to read it. I also reflected on the thousands of hours I have spent reading and commenting on the response cards students write at the end of my classes. I have my own research, my family, my own hobbies, my PhD, university projects, and the classes themselves to prepare for. Why do I spend so much time on something that I do not really get any reward for? I realized that it is because I care about the people in my classes and I want them ALL to get something out of my classes. Giving assignments, commenting on assignments, and the students writing response cards at the ending of class gives me a chance to help the students one on one and show them that I care about their learning. Often, I am so busy commenting on assignments that I cannot prepare as well as I should for class (I cannot make snazzy powerpoint, eye-catching handouts, conduct an engaging introduction of the material, etc.). However, I feel it is my duty for students to get something out of my classes. The best way to do this is to encourage them to delve into the material themselves and encourage them through commenting on their work, opinions, thoughts, etc. I have to show them that I care and will ALWAYS take whatever they produce seriously. This brought tears to my eyes as I felt like a complete ass crying on a full bullet train back to Morioka.


Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean, Jamie. We do have lots of other responsibilities and things we want to do, but at our core we are teachers, and we do whatever we can to help our students to learn. Thank you for writing this - it really resonated with me.


JH said...

Thanks for reading! I think that you and I are on the same page. I like to think that being a dedicated teacher ultimately helps our research more than hurts it.