Today I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Baltimore. I am about to miss a week of class – a point sorely brought home by the exhaustion I feel after a previous week of preparing subplans for the entire previous two weeks, I pulled no fewer than three 12 hour days and two 15 hour days. That is time spent at school doing work – it does not include time spent preparing work stuff at home. Even with all that time spent preparing, I am not happy with the product. I guess I never am. I despise time spent away from my class. I don’t think I would be a good teacher if I did.
So why am I not in class this week? This week is the final MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury before orbital insertion in 2011. Since I am a MESSENGER Fellow, I was invited to the event and I am going to connect my classes and others from around the country to the science and people surrounding MESSENGER. I could not be happier.
But even saying all that, I still had a niggling sense of doubt in my head about whether i was doing right by my students. That doubt was erased on Friday when I asked my students a question I was asked by a reporter. I was asked”How do your students feel about you going away for a week to do this?” I could not answer this and would not put words in their mouths,so I asked my students this question. I was pleasantly surprised by their responses. It was almost entirely positive. The only negative reactions were immediately tempered by comments like “While it is not great you will be away – we will eventually get more out of this class because of your personal experience at the MESSENGER Flyby.” The students comments actually surprised me in some cases. “Being selected to be a part of the Flyby and work with NASA means that you know your stuff. That is important to me!” This comment was made and followed by many of the students classmates nodding their heads in agreement with the student. When asked why this was important to them, the general response I received was ” teachers who live their subject are better teachers in the long run.” These were the students words, not mine I was floored by the overwhelming response. Not only did I think they were not as excited by this event, but I never thought that they cared about what I did outside of school. One student said “College professors are required to work in their field. It not only keeps them up to date but it keeps them excited about their subject. High School teachers should also.”
Interesting ideas from interested students.
Definitely something to chew on.
Meanwhile I will go live my dream.