Life as an Extreme Sport

A Failure to Thrive

I ran into two former Hum 102 students today, one at lunch at the other on my way home from work. They both wanted to know if I’d be teaching with Phillip in the spring; I told them that, as far as I knew, I would be assisting with Phillip and Giorgia’s class. Both students lit up with huge smiles and told me that was just what they wanted to hear, and they were going to figure out how to get in my section for the class, because they really wanted to spend another quarter working with me.

I’ve been thinking about teaching again, these last two or three days. Tomorrow is my last small group of the quarter. I have one more focus group, one more presentation, one more movie, and then that’s it. It’ll just be papers and a grade and goodbye. It’s a weird time of the quarter to be in, when you’re busy thinking about next quarter and syllabi and aren’t here as much as you should be. I think part of that is just distancing yourself; you get invested in the class, and then it has to end, and it’s never fun to have something you’ve invested so much of yourself in just…dissipate.

I think, in retrospect, it’s why it tickles me so much to hear someone use an idea I taught months, a year, later. Because it tells me that my effort did something; the structure of the class might have dissipated, but there was a lasting impact, somewhere. Even if it’s just a small one.

I haven’t felt very successful as any sort of instructor this quarter. Really, when it comes down to it, I haven’t felt very successful much at all this quarter. To hear, from two separate people at two separate times, that they valued their time spent with me so much they wanted to do it again, was a quiet affirmation that although things might not have gone as well as I would have hoped this quarter, I am not a failure, and my efforts are both valued, and appreciated.