Teaching Is An Act of Faith
(Note: This was originally posted to the ISUTEACH Listserv on December 12, 2012. It received such a positive response that I am posting it again, here…)
Yesterday, an instructor was doing a “happy dance” in my office that one of her students “got it.” The student shared with the instructor how what she had learned during the semester was valuable. Earlier in the week, however, I spoke with an instructor who expressed frustration over a student who seemed to miss the whole point of the course. This instructor felt disappointed that she wasn’t able to reach all of her students.
I read an article this morning, When the Semester Ends, It Isn’t Really Over, on the Faculty Focus website that reminds us that teaching is an act of faith. Mary Ellen Weimer writes,
Because course endings give us a false sense of closure, we can end up feeling more discouraged about our teaching than we should. There really is no way to know how our content, our teaching and or the experiences in our classes have affected students or may affect them in the future. Students can be profoundly changed by a course and the teacher may never find out. I have a colleague who loves classical music. It’s not his academic area, but his knowledge is expansive. I once asked how he got interested in music. “Oh, I had a music teacher—that’s how it started. You know, I’d always intended to thank him, to tell him how his introduction to music has resulted in a lifetime of pleasure. But I got there too late. I had to say my thanks at his grave.”
If you’re feeling exhausted and discouraged this week, I encourage you to read the short article as a reminder of all of the ways we make a positive impact on our students’ lives.