Those of you who read Faculty Focus probably saw the following list in a recent posting. It categorizes the concerns expressed by new teachers, listed from most to least important.
- Exhibiting command of the material (being able to answer student questions, give relevant examples)
- Balancing "teacherly" authority and student rapport
- Dealing with communication anxiety (public speaking)
- Engaging rather than boring students
- Managing students’ perceptions of teacher
- Juggling roles (teaching, research, service, life)
- Resolving grade complexities
- Being memorable
- Negotiating flexibility in policies, assignments
- Overcoming cultural differences between teacher and students
I was struck, when I read through this “top 10” list how little I worried about some of the issues but how much some of the others, after all my many years of teaching, still cause the occasional sleepless night. I don’t spend much time anymore thinking about authority vs. rapport, for instance; my comfort level there developed over the years, as did my comfort level with student perceptions of me, whatever they may be. Similarly, being appropriately--but not too--flexible in my demands and being able to resolve student grade protests do not cause me much concern any more; one learns from experience, I guess.
On the other hand, despite my experience I still find myself struggling with how to get my tired, busy, adult students focused and engaged, and with each new semester I still experience nagging doubts that I have prepared enough to show that I’m up to date and in command of new scholarship.
One item I would add to the list, that I never used to worry about, is just what my role in any given class period should be. Am I still, too often, being that sage on the stage even if I am standing off to the side and talking about material on students' computer screens? Did I prepare enough material to keep the learning going? Too much? The wrong sort?
I’d be interested in hearing--wherever you might be in your teaching career trajectory--what worries you the most as you strive to be successful in your chosen profession. Or what you don't worry about at all.