Saturday, November 16, 2013

What is a student? (Blog 12)

I understand that some graduate students as having a better knowledge of the learning process. While in some respects that may be true, I also know that my style of learning is specific to me. I know that I am great at memorization, outlines, and can focus during long lectures. However, this is clearly not representative of the common college student as proven by our discussions in class and with our respective tutees. While those traits may make me a decent graduate student, it would be foolish of me to go into my own classroom and assume that all my students will process information as I do. Although this week's prompt asks me to reflect on how tutoring has shaped me as a student, I fear that I wouldn't have much to say on that topic. I am pretty set in my current learning strategies and they work quite well for me. However, tutoring has forever altered how I will conduct myself as an instructor.

During my undergrad, I always seemed to gravitate towards teachers that were known as hard-asses. They were infamous for pushing their students to the absolute brink of sanity. Whether the mechanism be essays (quantity or length), exams, or presentations, each of my favorite professors had a knack for getting poor reviews on In fact, my favorite history professor had a penchant for convincing me to write essays on the most impossible topics - Bronze Age Danish gender roles, anyone? I knew that, despite my questionable sanity in preferring these teachers, they always seemed to pull my absolute best work out of me. While that is a definitely plus in my mind, I also remember how other students in the class would shut down instead of rising to the challenge. While I initially viewed these students as lazy, I have learned that they were non-responsive to the one-sided style of teaching employed by the professor.

Being a tutor has given me great insight on how people learn in a variety of subjects. There are learning styles, unforeseen obstacles, and meta-cognitive aspects that need to be taken into considering when understanding how individuals learn best. It has changed how I will approach my future 1010 students. I will understand why some students latch on to the material immediately and run with it. I will understand why students will only understand about 50% of what I am saying. Lastly, I will also understand why some students will just struggle to understand just 1/4 of the information that I will present. In understanding these issues, I will be better equipped to address their concerns and try to help them in the best way I know how.

However, we have also been taught that the most effective forms of teaching are those that allow the teachers to learn from their students. As someone who has committed themselves to academia, I self-identify as a lifelong learner and look forward to being able to interact with and learn from my students. My style of learning and life experience are not "par for the course" - this goes for everyone else. As such, I believe that tutoring has opened my eyes to the variety of college student experiences and how those experiences alter the overarching classification of "student."


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