December 06, 2007

First Semester of Lab Done

I have just now finished the grading for this semester's biology labs. It was my first semester of doing this and I felt that I should note the occasion here.

It's been an interesting experience. For the most part, I think my students liked me and I'm happy enough believing that I taught a few of them something. Who knows... maybe I even inspired a couple of them a bit and conveyed a little of the awe I feel when I think about life. Maybe not. Still, I did get a very nice email from one of them this morning telling me that I'd done an "awesome" job, and this was from one of the students who hasn't done all that well. Maybe the student was hoping to score a few brownie points? I don't know, but I'd like to think otherwise. I guess we'd all like to think we've done "awesome" jobs at whatever it is that we do.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching. Grading, not so much. That occasional flicker of understanding I see in a student though, sharing that moment of "aha!" ultimately makes the many little frustrations worthwhile. Most of those frustrations come from the students, too. I hate giving out bad grades, so when I see someone making an error of which I'd warned them earlier, I get frustrated. It's not so much taking it personally (though I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit there was a smidge of that involved) so much as my wanting my students to do well. Some of the material is difficult, I know, and I always hope that they'll get it. I'm disappointed when they don't. Still, the good generally outweighs the bad for me and, like I said, I do enjoy teaching, particularly teaching biology.

As I write this, my left elbow is resting atop a big stack of paper, comprised ofthe last few assignments they had for this semester's lab. When I'm done writing this entry I am going to send around an email informing the students that they can pick up their stuff during extended office hours today and tomorrow if they choose and that they can also get extra help for their upcoming lecture exam (on Monday) and their final exam (a week from Monday).

I feel a bit of accomplishment here at the end of my first semester of teaching biology lab. It's been a learning experience for me, too, at the risk of spouting a cliche. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the upcoming break. Being a teaching assistant takes up a lot of time, and soon I'll have a lot more time to do all the things I've had to put off.

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