Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to School

In a couple of weeks I will begin my 23rd at Grossmont College. In that time I've missed only 2 semesters (one when I had Lindsay and one when I took a break). I've also taught at several other colleges in San Diego. This semester I will be teaching 3 classes at Grossmont and 1 at Palomar. I've taught many subjects including Developmental Psychology, Math and Science (for young children), Language and Literature, Infant and Toddler Development, Infant and Toddler Curriculum, and others. I've also presented workshops for various community agencies and have done training for the California Department of Education, Child Development Division. The point is that I have been busy in my discipline for many years. I have loved it. I'm in the unique position of doing something I love AND helping to improve the quality of care for young children.

Every semester is an adventure. I never know what I'm getting myself into and I guess the students would say the same thing. I've taught 16 year-olds and 80 year-olds. Some are right out of high school (or still in it) and others are PhDs starting new careers. I've had great semesters and some I'd rather forget. I've had students who stalked me, students who cursed at me, students who have bribed me (it works....I usually recommend chocolate or Padre tickets), students who I consider friends, and students who scare me.

In commemoration of those 23 years, I'd like to provide a list of 23 things I've learned or experienced in my teaching career. Here goes....

1. The smartest students are not always the best students.
2. Classes have personalities and ONE student can set the tone for the whole class.
3. It's difficult to take into consideration all the cultural variations. One
student became very upset with me when I refused to let her barter for her grade.
4. I take chocolate to all my classes. I can bribe students with it.
5. I allow my students to demonstrate their talents in class. Last semester I had
a stand-up comic perform and another, who had auditioned for American Idol, sang.
I've also had dancers, artists, cooks, etc.
6. My night classes are usually adjacent to the cooking class. Smelling the food is
pure torture. I made friends with the chef and he has invited us to "come
taste". In December he invited my class to a wonderful buffet the students
had prepared as part of their final project. All we had to do is provide drinks.
What a deal!!
7. Usually, the best students sit in the front.
8. I've heard every excuse under the sun. My favorite is, "I couldn't come to class
because my horse was in labor." In San Diego??????
9. Very few guys take Child Development classes. When they do it's usually to meet
10. One of my students told me he was afraid that smoking pot everyday would effect
his sperm production. I assured him that it would.
11. Students will tell you anything. Especially what you don't want to hear.
12. I've seen a critical shift in the past 20 years. Students use to be embarrassed
when they were caught cheating. Now they brag about it.
13. Every semester I have a panel of adolescents come to class. They range in age
from 13 to about 22. A few semesters ago everyone on the panel aged 15 and up (about 6 students) admitted to using drugs routinely - 3 said they got the drugs from their parents.
14. I don't accept late work - EVER.
15. I don't have to deal with parents. One of the great perks of teaching college!
16. I can always keep the attention of my students if I talk about sex and/or teenagers.
18. A scary number of students can't tell me how a girl gets pregnant.
19. I've taught thousands of students and I remember very few of them.
20. Technology has become my good friend.
22. I work with an amazing group of women (mostly) who are selfless and genuinely
committed to improving the lives of children.
23. Teaching Child Development and applying the principles are two different things.


  1. Ok....who stalked you? I must know. I am not surprised you sexy beast! You don't even accept late work when their horse is in labor? What about a death in the family? Love the list and it is all so true!

  2. This was so fun to read--I love getting the professor's perspective. I would have been one of the masses you didn't remember. I was a back of the class, never say a word type of student. My teachers never knew my name and I liked it that way. (Of course, the school part of college was never my highest priority . . .) Now that I have had the chance to teach a class or two--even just seminary, I regret that I didn't participate more. I LOVE students who sit in the front, smile, comment, and throw me a bone every once in a while! I think you are very lucky (and obviously talented and qualified) to have landed such a cool job that is so enjoyable and fits you and your abilities so well.

    Good luck this semester! Do you get to go back to school shopping?

  3. P.S. Your class sounds like a blast!

  4. This was so interesting to read. I am shocked that all six of the students were using drugs and that 3 had received them from their parents. I am shocked by a lot of it--especially the cheating. I was the opposite kind of student as Ashley. She is so smart she never had to do anything in class. On the other hand, I sat in the front, made friends with the teachers (I'm still friends with some of them!), and was very involved. It was my only hope for good grades. I guess one professor mistook my eagerness for flirting and we ended up dating--see my 100. Congrats on your 23rd year!