This is the tenth part of my Reflection Series for 2017 – a self-reflection of my teaching this year.
What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
We all hope that our students remember us fondly, and that they remember they even learnt something from us.
If you’ve kept up with my posts over the years, you’ll know I work very hard to build good relationships with my students. I value that above all else as a teacher, because I believe the key to a good education is a good relationship with the teacher – I’ve found it can overcome so much else that is happening in the students’ lives (particularly as I teach teenagers). If you have a good relationship with your students, everything about your lessons works better.
I truly hope those that I taught in 2017 remember that effort, and remember that the teacher doesn’t have to be the enemy.
I also hope they remember that to me, them trying is much more important than the grade they achieve. I couldn’t care less if they only got a C-grade, if that’s them trying their absolute best at that point. I certainly don’t expect everyone to be capable of an A in every situation – that just creates unrealistic pressure on the students, particularly when our assessment items are not personalised to each individual. Sometimes a student gets less than an A-grade simply because of the format of the assessment piece (and that’s a whole separate issue that I won’t discuss in this post). Besides, we seem to be moving toward proper grading scales in which an A-grade is truly work that is above and beyond the requirements of the subject, so it would be wholly unfair and unrealistic to expect the majority of students to achieve at that level.
I expect that my students improve over the year, applying themselves and trying harder as their knowledge and skill base grows. I would be sad if that sort of improvement wasn’t shown across a year, it would certainly make me feel like a failure as a teacher. But as I mentioned in a previous post, improvement to me doesn’t always translate into better grades.
I know a lot of people reading this will be thinking that I’m a sub-par teacher, that the whole point of school is to get ‘good grades’, and that without ‘good grades’ students face an ever-increasingly difficult time outside of school. Please believe me when I say I certainly don’t ignore grades, or tell my students to not bother trying to improve theirs. I simply do it in a way that makes the actual letter less important than their knowledge, skills, effort, and interactions within the classroom.