During my career the past 30+ years, I’ve realized something important: I cannot teach. And I find that odd because that is what I am supposed to do. That is what they pay me for. I’ve even won awards for doing it.
So what’s happening? I realize that I am only a helper. If students want to learn, then I can help. But I cannot teach them if they do not want to learn.
I try to present information in an understandable, sometimes entertaining way – at least not boring. I show students how this information can be used, how it could help them in their life and career, and what things I find interesting in all this and how they may find it interesting, too.
Then, of course, there is the external motivators. I set up the assignments and grading to force them to practice the things they need to do with the information and skills I am presenting to them. Since most of my classes are online, I am not using attendance as a motivator – in other words, no grade for attendance or penalty to their grade for not attending.
Since I am still teaching digital storytelling as I have before, I continue to present examples for my students. This time, it is another infographic:
This infographic displays the costs of each individual class meeting for a senior at The University of Akron in 2018. I specify a senior because there are fewer fees than other undergraduates, so I thought it would be simpler data to show, and because my students are seniors in class this time, making it more relevant to them.
I used Canva. I find it quite easy to use, and it has a free version that is limited but complete enough for most designs.
Does this help motivate them to learn? I think it should, but that is me, the teacher, the parent, the worker, the bill payer, not me the student – and I do remember that even though it was several years ago.
For example, I do remember a course I took that I didn’t care about too much; you know, one of those required classes. I did what I had to and didn’t study as much as I could or should. Then the final exam came. It was exceptional – a wonderful example of applying what we were supposed to learn and showing how well we learned it. I was frozen, thinking, “What a great exam! I’m going to fail it, but what a great exam!”
That stuck with me, but it did not mature as an idea until a few years ago – when I realized I cannot teach.
I do not know what my cost per class was back then. I do know I had college loans to pay off for several years after I graduated. But my degree did get me into my career, so it was a great investment. I love what I do – even though I am not sure I can do it.
I cannot teach, but I will do whatever I can to help students learn. Sometimes it is part of my course content, and sometimes it is a part of life in “the real world” I need to share.