Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Learning From My Students

One of the reasons I enjoy working as an adjunct professor is due to what I learn from my students. Yes, of course, as an adjunct, as a professor, as a teacher, I am responsible for teaching the students. I like to think I do a pretty good job of it, and actually, I am fairly certain I do pretty well in this area. Still, I enjoy learning from my students.

I do think this is one of the things that helps make me a more effective teacher. I do not come into things with the belief that I know it all and cannot learn from my students. In fact, some of the changes I have made to my course syllabus, and my teaching style, have been as a direct result from student suggestions. For instance, I look to give students more opportunities to speak in non-graded situation so that it hopefully helps when they get to the graded assignments.

One of the things I enjoy about teaching public speaking as an adjunct is, I can learn from the topics the students choose for speeches. I give them a lot of leeway in this area, and I find I learn more. For instance, a couple of semesters ago, I had a student deliver a persuasive speech about the book My Sister’s Keeper. Based on the speech, I ended up reading the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is always a little difficult when I find that I enjoyed a speech and learned from it, to grade it. The reason is, I am still one of these teachers who believe a speech should not be graded on how much I enjoyed it, but how well it met the assignment. I know students often fail to understand this (so do other adjuncts and other full-time teachers), but just because I enjoyed a speech, does not always mean it gets a good grade.

The speech on My Sister’s Keeper was good. It persuaded me to read the book. Still, it had way too many vocal pauses, not enough vocal variety and was far short of meeting the minimum time requirement. So, while it persuaded me, it did not get as high of a grade as I would have liked to have given it.

Still, it does not change the fact that I get to learn a lot from my students and I enjoy that aspect tremendously.