Now that a new school year has started, I can look over my shoulder at the previous school year and think reflect. Each year I reflect and try to learn from the previous year and then resolve to make some changes in the next year in the classroom, for my professional development or my ongoing efforts to mentor/coach students and peers. What did I do differently last year in the classroom, office hours or other interactions with my students? I resolved for more honesty. I was diplomatic, but more so, I was blunt. I am helpful and professional; however, I refuse to waste my students' time with circular conversations. I do them no favors if I try to sugar-coat conversations.
What were the repercussions for me, if any? I heard more of these comments:
Thank you for being honest. I've never heard this before from one of my professors. Why am I almost done and no one has told me this? I didn't know that this was plagiarism. Thank you for your time.
I did not have any incidents where someone stormed out of my office or a conversation escalated. Those sorts of incidents are quite rare under most circumstances. If anything this last year, I had more meaningful conversations about assignments, interactions, writing, grad school, and other issues. As I have noted on numerous occasions, part of my job means that I have the good fortune to work with young people in the classroom or in my office. I love it. I would not trade this job for another as I get to teach, mentor, coach, and lead.
This last year I also thought more about my time. I strategically chose to focus my time differently. Part of it is that I had to, given a job change (but that is cause for a different post!). I was not as available for extended office hours and the world did not fall apart. I could not triple my office hours during the two weeks that I normally would do so. I expected more notice for extra appointments. In short, I established better boundaries for office hours and mentoring students. I had to protect my time thanks to the job change and I was working more. I managed my time effectively and accomplished more. And, at the same time I did not field complaints from my students. If anything, the change was better, as they commanded my full attention at times that were not pressed between meetings and I could listen.
My writing prompt for this post comes from a Swedish Proverb, "Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less love more; and all good things are yours." This last school year was filled with so much good and change. I welcome the change with a big smile and an open mind. The 2014-15 school year has started and I am in a great place.