"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Monday, April 04, 2011

Un moment de Bonheur (a moment of Bliss)

My WRIT 101 Class - Fall Semester 2010

Yes I love Paris and travel, adore my Mr. Gorgeous, and am head-over-heels in gaga love with my precious children. But in my soul I am a teacher; it's my calling in life. Last October I posted about my ongoing struggle to make peace with the constant contradiction of being a dedicated excellent teacher (according to my student, peer and administrative evals) and my paycheck totally not reflecting that. I'm sorry and sorely disapointed to say that that situation has not changed - sigh. By now you're wondering 'where's the Bliss part Temple?'

Well, I slated this weekend to finish correcting a lingering batch of term papers. There's one student that I've been working with. He was trying to make a particular point and was schewing the historical facts in order to fit his hypothesis. My student and I are on opposite ends of the 'political' spectrum (hint: I'm a flaming card carrying feminist liberal; he's...not). He is a wonderful student, with great potential - that's irrespective of any political and cultural affiliation - that's how much potential he has. For the entire semester, I've been working with Him to enable him to prove his hypothesis (which I happen to agree with, but that's neither here nor there) but do so from a factual historical standpoint. For the majority of the time, we butted heads - I suspect because He believed that I was trying to force him onto my side of the 'aisle.' But I truly wasn't. My challenge to Him was: prove your point, but you must do so with historical accuracy. Manipulating primary source documentation was not only dishonest but unnecesary. He had a sound argument, with plenty of factual historical backup, a fresh innovative approach, and writing talent - more than enough for Him to write a great paper.

A few weeks ago we had a break through. He was so committed and determined - it blew me away. He reviewed his sources, did extra research, doggedly submitted 3 different drafts/revisions of his paper, and made the ethical/factual changes I suggested. Tonight, I began my term paper correcting with His paper. A+ excellent! In the end, as I had originally told Him, He was able to make his point and find the historical backup that was there all along - without his manipulation. Well done, oh my student.

Our back and forth: engaging in marvelous friendly heated debates about primary and secondary sources; @mailing each other with book ideas, related journal articles, etc; ripping apart paragraphs and restructuring them together (actually, I gave him hints and head's up and he did the heavy lifting). As I was reading His final draft I realized that, while I was teaching Him, He was teaching me. We had some wonderful discussions and we both realized that, though we stand on opposite ends of the political/cultural spectrum, we have much more in common than we don't. And where we're not in common, we were still able to find common ground. I was able to reach my student and I made Him a better student. That's only fair, since He made me a better teacher.

He is just an example of my experience in the last 6 months since I decided to be the best adjunct I can be. He, all my students, and my positive attitude toward teaching, in theory and practice, has left me  feeling fulfilled, refreshed, happy, excited and anticipatory.

Also, 4 of my students (past and present) have asked me to 'hood them' in their honors graduation ceremonies this May - there is no greater honor for a professor than to have her students ask her to participate in such a momentous occassion. They could have asked anyone, any professor they've had over the past four years - and they asked me.

This week reaffirmed for me that I'm good at what I do, I matter, I make a difference, and the people who matter the most - my students - know it too. A moment of Bliss to be sure, yes?

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

  Me, doing my teaching 'thang (January 2011)

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