I am still working at completing school myself, but as a means to add a small pittance to my wife’s real, live adult salary, I teach an introductory undergraduate class in education at one of the local universities (I also tutor some future first generation college students). The class consists of a mix of freshmen and sophomores, with a sprinkling of juniors and seniors mixed in, most of whom are heading toward careers as P-12 teachers, speech pathologists, special ed teachers, coaches, principals, etc. The class covers the major social, political, legal and historical events and issues surrounding the world of education.

When I was a student, especially when I was but a wee tike, I was very quiet. I never spoke in class unless called upon, was reticent to work in groups and found it difficult to make many friends since, well, I would not talk to the other kids. Over the years, I became less shy, made friends and did fine in school. What I could never quite get over, my relic from the silent days, was that I never spoke in class unless forced to do so. It would not be until well in to my graduate studies that I would get past this.

Now, as a teacher/professor myself, I regret very much the student I was. I had a class last quarter that never spoke. It was like pulling teeth trying to get them to comment on some very interesting and important topics. One or two of them would occasionally poke their heads out, saying something, only to go back into their shells. I tried everything. A great deal of group work, group presentations, guest speakers and various other assignments designed to be intellectually stimulating and fun. I even cracked some hilarious jokes. This class went through it all with as little interaction and voice as possible, and the class trudged on until it mercilessly ended. By the end, the kids had produced subpar work and did not show the intellectual progress that I had seen from the students the quarter before (that class was great–very enthusiastic, engaged, a wonderful teaching experience). Ultimately, their grades were lower, and I am not a person who grades hard or cares that much about grades. I care about learning and preparing good teachers. 

The new quarter has begun, and I have an engaged, talkative group again.  It makes my life easier, and, more importantly,  makes the students learn more (whether they know it or not). So, to all of my former teachers, and all teachers everywhere, I am sorry for making your job more difficult.

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