I’ve learned that I start the year full of hope and anticipation that students will successfully learn the curriculum for their course once I develop trusting relationships with them and bring as many of them as possible to mastery of the prerequisite material.
I’ve learned that within a week or so I have a solid idea of who knows what and how to proceed with filling in the gaps in their understanding.
I’ve learned that even after several weeks of review, reteaching, and re-reteaching, that I am still stunned at how many students continue to struggle with the prerequisite concepts and procedures, thereby limiting their ability to be successful with the specific content in the course.
I’ve learned that no matter how hard I work to plan, create, deliver, assess, reflect and repeat this process, that many other factors impede students’ ability to attain the outcomes we desire for them.
I’ve learned that in spite of this seemingly insurmountable challenge, much of which is out of my control, that I need to find ways to stay invigorated, passionate, and committed to reaching every student in some way to help them improve in some amount, even if it is simply in believing in themselves enough to keep on attempting the course content in spite of what seems an impossibility to them.
I’ve learned that while teaching is one of the most arduous, draining, and sometimes thankless jobs I’ve ever experienced, I continue to give my best effort every single day even if I sometimes consider leaving the field.
In short, I’ve learned that I’m a thoughtful, caring person who brings tremendous energy and knowledge to my students nearly every day in hopes that in some way I will leave them better off at the end of a class than they were at the beginning.
I do not know if all students benefit from my being their teacher. I do hope that nearly all do benefit though. And with that hope, I continue to work at improving their knowledge about mathematics, its applications, our society, and life itself.