Behind the Scenes

Just like an audience at a play, we don’t see the work that goes on backstage. Talking to future professors and educators has made me realize how much training and skill actually goes in to teaching a class successfully. As a student, I often feel like I have mountains of work to do, but I forget that every paper, worksheet and exam that I complete will go through hours of scrutiny and grading by my professors.

The theories that educators use to teach effectively have always amazed me, though I don’t put much thought into how they’re used past the first day of class. It’s interesting to see what techniques my teachers employ to keep a class interested and motivated in what they’re learning. For example, FMU professor Dr. Ginger Bryngelson uses vibrant and interesting PowerPoint graphics that relate to both students’ interests and her subject of physical science. For those who learn best by doing, she uses handson demonstrations. Her consideration of different learning styles was one of the first reasons I began to pay attention to the subtle ways my professors make classes enjoyable and effective.

I greatly admire the ability of many of my professors to juggle their relationships with students with the workload they carry from their duties as an educator. As FMU is a small school compared to many colleges in South Carolina, the professors here usually get to know their students quickly and form relationships with them. However, I’m sure this is no easy task, as I find it extremely difficult to even remember the names and details about people I’ve met on multiple occasions. Keeping a mental database of all these names and memories of each student’s personality is something I could never do, and I am amazed by those special people who have that ability

Watching educators plan for a semester or a year of school has taught me that they consider almost every possibility for students’ needs in the classroom. The decisions that educators make are usually deliberate, and even though students often feel that the professor doesn’t take their abilities, feelings and stress levels into consideration. Educators seem to always care about how they affect their students. It’s one of the reasons they care so much about our evaluations at the end of each semester.

I’ve started to see the recurring attitudes they have towards students and teaching. Most professors desire open communication with their students, and problems only seem to occur when that communication doesn’t happen. Also, I see a sort of pride in my professors when they complete a lesson that everyone seems to understand or when they present a particularly impressive topic in a PowerPoint or a handout that they spent hours designing.

I feel like I’ve glimpsed the world behind the curtain, when before now I’ve only seen what was happening on the stage. I’ve seen a little of the messy array of paperwork and grading that comes with teaching, and I’ve watched professors hurriedly collect information for their classes in the same way that I would rush to get my homework ready. On the stage, educators perform seemingly perfectly, and before getting to know them, I believed that they had no worries in playing their part. Now, however, I see that educators are people just like me with struggles, accomplishments, hopes and dreams.