Thursday, October 11, 2007

We Finish Up Our Series on Weakness With These Quick Blasts of Negative Energy.

  • I talk too much when I'm nervous. I'm always nervous. I ramble. I get really excited about things my students don't care about, like, or understand. I'm a nerd, a dork, a geek. I care too much about what these kids think of me. I know I shouldn't. I suspect I grade more kindly the students I like, and make no exceptions for the students I don't. And I might favor the girls over the boys. I'm self-conscious, needy, insecure, talky, naive, and judgmental. In other words: the weaknesses I have as a prof are the same weaknesses I have as a person.

  • I've stopped spending enough time on grading. I just give rather general grades to anything that comes in, basing it - a little bit - on whether the student is a pain in the ass or not.

  • I've been teaching for ten years now, and have a stock set of assignments and lesson plans that work beautifully. That's caused me to be incredibly lazy. I don't prepare for class anymore, except for photocopying old stuff. It never occurs to me to try something new, or order a new book. This term a book I like to use (and that I have a series of assignments for) went out of print. The book store couldn't find it anywhere, and so I used a personal relationship I have with my department chair to buy 60 copies of the thing off of eBay and I lend the books to my students and at semester end I'm going to take them back in and give them to my class in the Spring, too.

  • I'm always late to class. It ranges from 5-7 minutes. I know that adds up to a couple of hours a semester, but I really give my all for the time I am there, and the students don't seem to mind.

  • I have no ability to tell if a student is feeding me a line of B.S. or not. And when I guess, I often find out later I was wrong. I denied one kid a chance at a re-take because of his "lame" excuse about a terrible car accident on the highway to the college. Two days later I read about a 25 car wreck on the same highway, at the time and on the day as the student claimed. That student never looked at me the same, and I'm sure I lost any chance of helping him.

  • I didn't want it to happen, but since I got tenure, I spend more time on my own projects than I do on classroom stuff. I say, let the junior faculty carry the load.

  • I have become increasingly sensitive to the opinions of my students over the years. If I have 90 "best class I ever took! greatest professor I ever had!" comments and one "unbelievably dull, could be a great subject if someone else taught it," I will obsess over that one comment all summer long and feel miserable well into the next year.

  • I'm a happily married female professor, and I find I favor the young girls in my class over their loutish and ill-mannered male counterparts. I don't want this to happen, and I constantly try to find a way around it, but the "boys" in my classes behave horribly, arrive in soiled and smelly clothing, and either treat me like their mother, or stare at my tits as if they were reading the fine print on the back of a Red Bull.

  • I resent how poorly my chair and Dean treat me on a personal level, and I've begun to take it out on my students. They're no great prizes, but they deserve better than they're getting.

  • My greatest weaknesses – I have more than one – as a teacher are that I’m pretty disorganized and I improvise too much. I also, in my enthusiasm – or is it to cover the silences? – talk too much. Even after twenty-five years, I have not learned to let the silences fester long enough to make the silent students squirm. When I go on & on, I’m covering for them, protecting them from confronting their own ignorance. Do I do it because I want them to like me, or because I love them? That changes from day to day, I think.