I have now been teacher of record for my own class for a week. It has been a great learning experience already. Here are some of my reflections:
* I seem to have a tremendous group of young, engaged minds. This is truly a blessing; with the religion class being ‘required’ at Baylor, there is always the risk the majority of them are there only because they have to be. Indeed, I only have one religion major in the group of sixty. But I have been absolutely thrilled with the questions they have asked and the engagement shown. There are not only deep questions (which are also HUGE questions, like ‘why don’t Jews think Jesus is the messiah’ or ‘why four gospels’) but questions that show they genuinely want to know the material . . . . even if that is only for mastery of the test. They are asking the questions, and since I love questions, I am glad for that.
* I have surprised myself a little. I have a great confidence and competence I didn’t expect right at the outset. It’s almost entirely intuitive for me . . . . teaching, that is. That may sound arrogant, and I don’t mean it that way, but I have been impressed with my ability to lecture, sans notes but with ppt., and to cover the material I need to cover and want to cover. It’s a good feeling not only to teach but to teach and feel like you are doing it well. It’s even better to be affirmed by students. One came up after class yesterday just to introduce herself to me. I said I hoped you was enjoying the class, and she responded that today’s class she really enjoyed. We had done textual criticism. A freshman thanking me for a lecture on textual criticism. Now THAT’S cool!
* I have found that humor goes a long way in helping relate to students. I’m glad I have this skill, apparently. I think it brings some levity to the situation when needed, helps keep their attention, yet still maintain the teacher/student relationship. In my view, if you’re funny, that’s a check plus.
At bottom, I am thankful to have a good, engaged group who asks very fine questions. I do hope this trend continues. I very much see myself in some of them, when I was an undergrad, asking the very same questions and being affected by them quite deeply. “So there are NO original texts of any book of the Bible? And the thousands of manuscripts we have disagree in various places?” Yes, they do. How cool is that?