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Six Things I Wish I Didn’t Worry About When I Started Teaching

Six things I wish I didn’t worry about when I started teaching

When I started teaching, I worried a lot about doing everything “right”.

Over the years, I have learned that worrying about my teaching does not help – there are simply things you cannot predict in advance.

And, while I always want everything set up (including all the exams) before the start of the semester, these are the six things I should not have worried about in the past:

  1. Student evaluations. Student evaluations are important, and they are part of the “grade” that I get each year on my annual performance review. They are also all over the place. There will always be feedback that is tied to the grade the students received. Sexism is inherent to the evaluation. The feedback can be terribly contradictory (we are always both providing not enough and at the same time too much information).
  2. Doing things right. Doing my best is enough – and being open to try and gauge the classroom environment is very important. I think it is more important to figure out what works for each group separately than trying to develop the perfect class.
  3. Knowing the script. I prefer having time for conversation and letting things take their natural course in class, rather than knowing the script of my class and the timing by heart. Yes, sometimes that means that I run a bit behind schedule, or that we are a bit ahead of our schedule, and usually it all works out.
  4. Detailing everything. Every group is different. Sometimes I think I got a class fully figured out after many semesters, and then I get a group for which things are different, so I need to figure out again how to make the material land for them better.
  5. Trying to predict how things will go. Teaching is a two-way street. I can prepare everything, and there is no way knowing how the material will land with the students. Every semester, every group of students is different.
  6. Online tools. I used to want to use all the bells and whistles. Now, I focus on a few tools that I consider useful for my class, so that the learning curve for my students is not too steep.

What do you wish you didn’t worry about when you started teaching?

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