Who'd have thunk I'd be joining the realms of graders? I'm inclined to fume and thunder, but let's try to take a more philosophical turn.
1) I think my advisor is so generous with marks that I'm skewing the curve. Marks for the midterm seem to fall in the B+ range. Her philosophy is to be generous on the midterm, so we have room to put on our TOUGH GRADER hats for final exams and projects.
2) There is really no reason for students to not come prepared, as study slides, essay questions, and th format of the exam were posted online about five days in advance. Nevertheless, you find students who send frantic e-mails and try to nail down EXACTLY how much information to reproduce. There are also those who send "fishing" e-mails: "I haven't really thought about your response, but let me just try asking again so I can see what accidentally falls out of your mouth."
3) But the kids who enjoy and respond to the class? Frankly they give me moist panties with their awesomeness. Reading their essays is like watching them play Tetris. Whatever chunks my advisor throws at them, they grasp it, rework it, slide it into place and FOOM! An A+ essay.
4) I'm noticing some disappointing performances, though. Kids who have insightful things to say in class but can't reproduce that insight on the exam. On the other hand, there are some seemingly unresponsive ones who surprised me. The key now is to shake more pearls of wisdom loose. These surprises are speeding my realization of the limited influence of teachers. I think my advisor set up a brilliant (just FUCKING BRILLIANT) course, and gives me tutorial outlines that lead in interesting directions. And every week I put on the same face: smiley, encouraging, reeling students back when I feel they've headed in tangential directions. What blows my mind, though, is how I can spew all sorts of questions to try to lead them in a direction, but from one week to the next, the same handful catch on.
Why is that? Is my approach too narrow to appeal to the entire cross-section of students? Where are my blinkers? Have I ALREADY become MY ADVISOR'S STUDENT, that her approaches and methodologies are utterly transparent to me but opaque to others?
I think I need to learn a new dance.
Or, I need to give these kids more time.