Last semester, as many of you know, I was teacher of record for a course, Introduction to Christian Scriptures, at Baylor University. There was an enrollment of 60 undergrad; all but one were freshmen. I have reflected already HERE , HERE, HERE, and HERE on my teaching. In hindsight, now, with the semester behind me, I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career! I thoroughly enjoyed my students, and it seems they did me as well. It was a good class . . . they were always willing to engage, press, and investigate things deeply (sometimes when we were pressed for time . . . . but their genuine interest is a teacher’s dream!). This may sound sappy, but I actually miss them. I never realized how emotionally invested one can get with a class and students. All in all, I feel quite good about this experience; teaching is intuitive to me. Two Baylor faculty members who observed my class also said the same.
But, perhaps the true litmus test is what one’s students have to say, especially anonymously. Now, I will be receiving student evaluations in the coming weeks, and I am quite eager and excited to see them. There is, however, an unofficial website associated with Baylor that allows students to post evaluations of professors. I wanted to share one (the only one there so far) one of my students posted about me:
A young, funny, an extremely intelligent teacher, Anderson is one of my favorite teachers I have had in all 13 years of schooling. However, his work load is one that will cause migraines for even the most diligent students. Whether you want to or not, you will learn in this class. His tests make sure of that. The average for the first test was a 64. Each day are reading assignments from the textbook (usually 5-25 pages), NOAB (3-10 pages), and the bible (3-30 chapters). As you will soon find out, unless this is your only class you are taking, it is nearly impossible to complete all of these for each class. What I learned to do is to definitely read the textbook pages, ignore the NOAB pages, read SparkNotes of the bible passages, and take notes as if your life depended on it. Good luck!
The latter part is of course subjective, but I will admit my course was not a cakewalk. Nor do I think it should be. I said at the beginning, and often, the refrain “this is college, this is different than highschool.” But if I am going to be critiqued on anything, requiring my students to work is something that doesn’t bother me! (N.B. I don’t relish the fact this student opted for sparknotes on the biblical text. I intentionally cut the reading assignments down and chose a reasonable textbook so that the majority of their time would be spent in the text; I will hope and trust this is an isolated incident! But even as we think back to when we were all students . . . remember, we all practiced “academic triage,” choosing what is and is not important and adjusting accordingly). The first few lines of this evaluation, however, were tremendously rewarding. In my initial outing as teacher of record, for this student I have already earned the accolade of being one of her/his favorite teachers they’ve ever had. If you ask me, that’s pretty cool. I feel good about this; quite good. And I look forward to receiving my official Baylor evals soon.
Hope you all are well!