Last week, a former student worker came by my office, excited that she had just finished her job application speech and that her instructor told her she had done a good job.
“I can let you see my video or I can give you the actual speech right now,” she said.
“I can wait for the video,” I answered. But then I looked at her face, really looked at the excitement of a student for whom English is a second language to have been told she did a good job in a speech class. “Why don’t you give it right now?” So she did. (And it was a very good speech.)
Her instructor is the same one who came into the library the week before and was accosted by former students who proclaimed their love for her and announced that “she is the best teacher ever.” What is this teacher’s secret? After all, she teaches speech, a course that (rightfully) scares most people to death.
Perhaps it’s that fear of her course that makes her a success. She knows that the students are scared, and she realizes that little things can make the difference between being scared but being ultimately successful or being scared and running out of the room in tears.She gets to know her students; she is always easy to find; she is their biggest cheerleader. She remembers the progress they’ve made between speeches, making sure they realize it as well.
Although not one of these things in and of itself is earth-shattering or hard to do, the impact is tremendous. And it’s a good reminder of how important we are to some students for the fourteen weeks that they are in our classes, and that importance often has little to do with our lectures or how we grade. And it’s that importance that makes education such a wonderful and such a scary field.