Monday, August 26, 2013

‘My assignment has a sunburn’

Last week I participated in a panel discussion aimed at introducing new instructors to Red River College.

These instructors are experts in their fields, from engineering to a variety of social services. But they are new to teaching.

As panelists shared some of our experiences, I mentioned a couple of the stupid things I did as a rookie instructor.

Thrust into teaching, fresh from a rather cutthroat corner of the corporate world, I did not understand that students are not employees.

I provided harsh feedback on assignments, judging them by unfairly high standards unfamiliar to the students.

One of my favourite written comments was “HUH?”

One day, as I handed back marked work in a class, a student jumped up and lamented, “My assignment has a sunburn!” When she waved her paper, all I could see was my comments in red ink.

Talk about “the awkward moment when.”

I realized how intimidating my comments were, and how unfair.

So I changed my evil ways. Well, some of them.

These days I mark in pencil, and I save “HUH?” for the play of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Blue Jays.