Students Are More Than Statistics, They’re People

Teaching statements are a relatively new concept to me but one I find intriguing. I’ve never enjoy academics and in large part, that is due to how teachers/professors saw the classroom. I was raised in one of the most affluent counties in the country, We were actively told that we were being taught a much higher level than our peers. And while in theory this sounds wonderful, we were nothing but statistics to the Superintendents and Board of Directors in the county. I hated this. Within the classroom itself, it was much harder for me to understand and grasp concepts and subjects. I asked for help with the material from my teachers. I went to early morning (6:30am) and afternoon/evening study sessions with my teachers, had tutors, attended study groups at church and nothing seemed to work. And many of my teachers (particularly in high school) did not seem to know another way to approach teaching the material to me. In those tutoring sessions, they would “teach” me the same way they taught their regular classes and still I felt lost. It was not until I came to college, particularly community college, that I took classes and had professors that taught material to students using a variety of formats. The most common format was lecture but many of my professors used video recordings on youtube, made their lectures available on iTunes, classroom games, student teaching, etc. that made the material more engaging and easier to understand. This not only made learning fun for me, but I also began to actually understand the course material. I was encouraged to read, understand and then challenged to communicate my understanding to my classmates in a fun and interactive way. For the first time ever, going to class wasn’t painful. But I noticed the reason behind this was because my professors actually cared about making sure that we understood the material. They engaged with their students and provided an individualized experience for us regardless if there were 20 people in the class or 200.

Reading this teaching statement spoke to me in many ways because not only did it remind me of my experiences but it also gave me hope that there are teachers/professors in the world who genuinely care about their students and are willing to look beyond the numbers to make sure that their students are getting the best experience they can.

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6 Responses to Students Are More Than Statistics, They’re People

  1. Amy Hermundstad Nave says:

    Thank you for sharing this story! It has always been interesting to me when teachers explained and answered questions in the exact same way that they originally presented the information. There were many times in my own education where I just didn’t understand something in the way it was presented, but if I looked at it from another perspective it made much more sense. I think that you bring up a great point that educators should care about the experiences of students, be intentional in how the learning environment is structured, and be willing to engage students in the learning. Thanks for the post!

  2. A. Nelson says:

    It sounds like lots of people are reading Jean Lacoste’s teaching statement, which wasn’t one of the assigned readings (check Week 3 on the schedule: http://amynelson.net/gedis18/schedule/), but I’m so glad it’s resonating! (But I’m sorry that you had to put up with so much before you found a learning environment that worked for you.) I agree that one of the things that makes Lacoste’s approach so attractive is the way it approaches students as individuals (of all things!), with the assumption that different learners will find different modes of learning to their advantage. It’s an inspiring and powerful approach, I think.

  3. sogandmhz says:

    I agree that using activities in the class can help students to understand the course materials better. I had the same experience, and when I think about what I have learned at school, I only remember those that I learned through an activity or a game ( I almost forgot all lecture-based materials 🙁 ). I think it is instructor’s responsibility to have knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of the lecture-based and activity-based teaching process, combine both, and take advantages of their strengths to produce as rich a learning environment.

  4. Matthew Cheatham says:

    I find it very interesting that you said most of your teachers did not really know another way to teach the subjects than how they originally taught it so that when you asked for other help they felt lost. I’ve talked to my sister, who teaches fourth grade and some of the ways she has been “taught” to teach students makes no sense to me, but I can relate to exactly what you meant. A lot of times people are taught how to teach and don’t really know any other way, especially if our mind works differently than the people we are trying to teach. For example, I would always try to help people with math problems freshmen year, but the way I approached and solved the problems was very different from the people I was trying to help so it didn’t work too well sometimes.

  5. Maryam Yuhas says:

    I think its always really beneficial when we can reflect on how we were taught and use that to improve our own styles. Your story resonated with me as well. I have always really enjoyed technology and growing up in an age where technology has been advancing rapidly I was always looking for a better way to complete an assignment and that was not always welcomed by all my teachers in high school. Like you when I did reach the undergraduate level, I found that my professors were more likely to give me the chance to learn in a way that was best suited for me. I think this change from high school to college is probably common, maybe because of the shift in control of the students? I really enjoyed your post as it got me thinking!

  6. Tami Amos says:

    Yes, they are people with feelings. They need to be nurtured and feel as though they are not a test score. Teachers would be able to get more out of them if they weren’t always feeling pressured. It’s not only hard on the students , but the teachers too. As a teacher, it’s hard not to concentrate on test scores when your job is being held against you. Testing must go or be restructured for the sake of our students and teachers.

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