The Many Rewards of Teaching

First, my apologies for my absence from ALPS.  A month of trips, administrative deadlines, illness, and conference preparation took their toll.  But fear not! I’m back and ready to talk teaching once again.

I was going to comment on a conversation I had with two groups of students regarding when they do and do not read their assigned texts; I also want to chat about the simulation Statecraft, using games like Diplomacy in IR, a conversation about teaching methods from ISA-MW, and course-long class projects.  So many blog posts, all of which justify my continued avoidance of grading papers!

But all of those ideas have to take a backseat to something wonderful that happened yesterday, just as I was questioning whether the onslaught of work was worth it.

I was just thinking about packing up and heading home when a student in my current class poked her head in and asked if she could talk to me.  I invited her in, assuming she had a question about the material for our class.  Instead, she says that she stopped by to say thank you.  She wanted to express her appreciation for me as a teacher–that she valued my style of teaching, the way I care about my students..and she gave me lovely card–a CARD!–with further thanks. How neat is that?!?!

In the research world, we get direct measures of our impact: through conference presentations, publishing, awards, and citation counts.  But in teaching, you may never know if you had an impact on a student.  They might take more classes with you, or they may switch their major, but how often do we get direct feedback that we made a difference in the life of a student?

It’s rare–or it has been for me–but I can tell you that this conversation yesterday is worth 10 APSR articles in my book.  It may not get me tenure, but it sure was life affirming.  Its 730 and I’ll be at work for hours yet, but the answer is certainly clear: Its definitely worth it.