(See my earlier post on the topic of why I teach HERE).
Many of you know I am teacher of record for my own class this semester at Baylor, “Introduction to Christian Scriptures.” The course is entirely mine to develop . . . . syllabus, lectures, tests, writing, quizzes, everything. It has been a great experience, and I continue to be thankful for it. I am also very thankful for my students. I have already stated how impressed I have been with them. With an enrollment of 58 in the class, it is structured to be largely lecture-based. This, however, has been far from the case. Class has been more like a conversation. Never have I had to wait for a response to a question; if anything I have to stop the conversation to move on and stay on schedule with lecture! But the class has been a blessing . . . . they are a thoughtful, engaged group with a great sense of humor.
This weekend at Baylor is parents’ weekend, and this morning–along with the rest of the Baylor faculty from every other department–I was available to meet the parents of those who wanted to or were able to stop by. It was great for me not just to meet the parents of some of my students, but to hear from the parents the impact I have had on their kids already. It was very motivating, inspiring, and affirming. Several parents told me their student had said my class is their favorite. That meant a lot (especially since the class I teach is required for every Baylor undergrad).
In addition to general comments that my class was their favorite, I also had students (most of whom came with their parents), but also parents, telling me very rewarding things. One student, when he introduced me to his family, said “this is Professor John Anderson, and he makes learning the Bible actually fun.” Another of the students said explicitly that my class is by far her favorite; she gave a glowing review in front of her mother. And I apparently have had an impact on another student to the point that her mother asked to take a picture of the student and I together. I was happy to oblige! It was a tremendously positive and rewarding experience to see that my students feel this way about me.
Of course, due to FERPA I can’t share many (read: any) specific details about the student’s attendance, performance, etc. This was by no means a hindrance to conversation, though. There were actually points where I had parents waiting to meet me (and, sadly, I wasn’t able to get to everyone). I felt it was very important to articulate to the students and parents that they matter . . . that I am glad they are here. The parents were tremendously impressed with my ability to learn the names of my 58 students and address them all by name. I shared with them how my undergrad was at a small liberal arts school where the largest class was about 20 people. I told them I “craved” that one-on-one attention from the professor, I wanted them to know who I am. And since that was so important to me, especially in an entirely new context (college!), I could understand how and why that would be important to those in my class. Of course the parents felt tremendously comforted by this. It is, however, entirely true. I also discussed with them how, despite the class size, I consider myself fortunate to have a group that is willing to engage (are you sensing that as a key word?) and ask questions because that is where some of the true learning happens. I firmly believe this to be the case too.
So, why do I teach? For a variety of reasons. But, added to the list now is not only that I can confidently say my students have had an impact on me, but I have had an impact on my students. That means a lot, is greatly affirming . . . and is pretty darn cool!