Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An apple for the student

Today I had a bad case of blinkered teacher.

It's the second semester, and final year students face coursework deadlines in all subjects. This means that they absolutely must manage their time so that they can work towards these deadlines, while at the same time keeping up with daily classwork and homework assignments. It takes tremendous organisation and discipline.

One student is currently doing two major coursework assignments under my supervision: a 3500 word Research Commission for IB Theatre Arts; and a 4500 word Extended Essay, a compulsory extra-curricular assignment designed as a bridge to undergraduate work, which she has also chosen to do in my field. She researched both during her summer vacation last year, gave me a first draft of the Extended Essay last term, and yesterday presented me with a restructured Extended Essay, plus half a Research Commission, with evidence of considerable fresh research, all done over the winter 'break'. I duly went through both, pencilling comments and questions in the margins, noting errors in spelling and syntax; and saw her at lunchtime today for a twenty minute tutorial.

I realise now although I went through both pieces with her, noting good points, and pointing out shortcomings and areas which require more thought, more work, more more more, I completely failed to recognise and acknowledge all the effort, enthusiasm and dedication that this eighteen year old has put into these assignments in order to get them to this point; the fact that she has done this during a so-called vacation after a very demanding autumn semester; and the evidence of how diligently she is working to meet all the requirements of six subjects plus plus.

I was so busy looking at where the exam candidate was supposed to be going that I overlooked how far the teenager had come, and what an achievement that was. Of course, she came for guidance, but some appreciation would have been nice. No wonder she looked subdued by the time I was done.

I don't care what anyone says about the good old days, the continuing decline in academic standards, and so forth, most of these students work their tails off to meet one requirement after another, and often several at once.

Praise where praise is due.


nzm said...

So, were amends made today? :-)

MamaDuck said...

Of course! I emailed her the apple! Also remembered to apply lesson with next student bringing coursework. I'm working on it.

Mme Cyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mme Cyn said...

You've made me smile, MamaDuck.

I don't hand out much praise, either. Like you, I tend to focus on how things can be improved. However, just yesterday I had team project presentations in class. Two of my Emirati teenagers presented (in English) on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. We get a lot of read-and-spit from our girls, but these two actually understood what they were talking about. They could even field questions and expand on information! I was well-impressed, and told them so.

Wouldn't you know it? As soon as I'd given out a little praise, the rest of them who had already gone before started hounding me for comments on their performances! I suppose I either need to dish out a little more flattery or keep my mouth shut! Oh well. =)