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Getting it Wrong

January 28, 2014


My soil science final was scheduled at 7:00am this morning.  I drug myself out of bed and had just enough time for coffee before making the dark two-minute walk to the graduation stand.

I was nervous.

The test was pretty hard—all short answer with complicated calculations—and only two people had come for help since our class ended ten days ago.  They were all smiles, though, and afterwards one even proclaimed, “It was so easy!”

He failed.  A lot of them failed.

Everyone who has been a teacher has been there.  You write brilliant lessons and deliver them with enthusiasm.  You focus on all the right things and make it as clear as possible what you expect.  You are an awesome teacher… so why don’t they get it??

Ok, so maybe my lessons weren’t brilliant.  They were well-intentioned, good faith efforts by someone in way over her head.  I didn’t cut the greatest path because I wasn’t exactly sure not only where we were going, but where we even were.  (I’m already restructuring things completely for next semester.)

But still, as a teacher I always want to see my students succeed.  When they don’t my first thought is, “What did I do wrong?  What should I have noticed sooner?” not the perhaps more obvious, “What’s wrong with them?”  (Ok, there’s one student who only attended class four times… what’s wrong with him?)

I find solace in the fact that as many people got A’s as F’s and two of the girls must have burned the midnight oil studying because they scored well enough to pull their final grades up to B’s.  One of them was the girl who, the first week of class, told me she couldn’t come on time because she was a girl.

You go, girl.

A man can fail many times,
but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.
~John Burroughs
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