I always get a little sad when a term is ending – a sort of postpartum blues. I have gotten to know and like my students as personalities and as learners. And they know me. We have settled comfortably into a learning rhythm. We understand each other’s language and mutual expectations. There is so much more that they are ready to learn and that I am ready to teach. And it all must end with the stress of final tests and final grades. Then they will be gone – most to a gentle nodding acknowledgement as we see each other across campus, a few to stop and talk and one or two to visit my office. It makes me sad.
In terms of human development (the subject of the last two posts) our system is less than optimal. If I am doing my job, I have helped move my students to a slightly “higher’ level in their academic/personal development and then they are gone. The instructors that my students will have next term will not get the benefit of my knowledge of their developmental level, their optimal learning style, and their personal foibles. Also I don’t get any feedback from their future progress. Universities have goals – breadth (G.E. requirements) and sometimes improved critical thinking (generally poorly measured) but feedback loops are rare. We instructors, particularly G. E. instructors, lose our students to the system. How they will do next term, next year, after graduation I will not know. It makes me sad.
Note:The above of course is a generalization – necessary since I don’t want to and legally cannot discuss individual students. Anyway to further generalize. I have gotten to know my students personal struggles, their personalities, their mannerisms, their unvarying politeness, the alertness in their eyes, their yawns, their consideration for others as they work in groups, their curiosity. These perceptions touch my heart. That is really why I am sad. I will miss my students as individuals and as challenges to my teaching self and to my personal responsiveness.