Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Teaching: Then and now

Eleven years ago, I started my career working as a science/math teacher. I did that for a year before going back to grad school. That was the end of my teaching. Eleven years later, I started teaching again. But it's not quite the same anymore.

2006: Students used to call me ma'am, and different variations of it. Math ma'am. Chemistry ma'am. Funny ma'am. Angry ma'am.
2017: Students call me Dr. [My last name]. I keep nudging them to call me by my first name. Even then, an Asian student said, "Sorry, it is not in my culture, I cannot do that."

2006: I was given a syllabus the ICSE board had prepared.
2017: It took me an entire week of blood, sweat and tears to write my syllabus. I put two classes on reliability and validity testing and then went like, naah, not so cool. So I deleted them. Talk about acquiring syllabus superpowers.

2006: I used to feel like a celebrity putting "right" marks and my signatures in red ink, as if I was giving autographs.
2017: Technology has taken away the fun. Now, I grade word documents. And I put those red marks in my own calendar, just for kicks.

2006: I used to start reading the chapter an hour before class.
2017: Now, I spend the entire week reading up not just textbooks, but research papers, Coursera materials, and stuff on the internet.

2006: "Okay, enough questions. Let me continue."
2017: "Any questions?" (And I silently die a little inside when no one asks questions. Are they not engaged? Are they not understanding? Are they not connecting with me? PS: It takes exactly 3.87 seconds for a silence to get awkward)

2006: If I didn't know an answer, I would make it up on the spot.
2017: Now, I just say, "That's a great question. What do you think?"

2006: My comments went into students' evaluation.
2017: Students' comments go into my annual evaluation.

2006: "No one should talk now." (I had too much to say in 50 minutes)
2017: "Let's spend an hour doing student presentations." (I don't think I have enough to say for 3 hours)

2006: After my first class, I must have gone home, watched TV and dozed off peacefully.
2017: After my first class, I kept checking the online roster for 24 hours to make sure that no one had dropped out of the course.


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