November 13, 2008

Score One for Our Team!

It's easy to get discouraged when you're teaching first-year English. A lot of people in the room don't really want to be there and don't see why they should care much about the course, except that they need to fufill a writing requirement. Sometimes they even tell you as much. That can make you cranky, defensive, or even a little bit sad. Still, you show up with your game face on and do the best you can to show them reasons to care. You try not to let your own commitment or enthusiasm flag. You teach as if they are all with you, because that's the highest compliment you know how to pay them, as well as the only way to face coming to class again and again. And of course many of them are with you: they are basically well-meaning and open-minded kids, and even if they do see your class primarily as a requirement, they'll put in the effort and see what they learn from it. Still, you're always aware of those lurking skeptics, which is why it is especially nice to hear, from the very student whose earlier words rankled so, "I'm changing my major ... to English."