Tonight I proctored our first exam of the semester in Prob Stats.
My hands shook. My stomach hurt. Now that it's over, I feel drained and a little nauseous.
Lest you think 'proctoring' is more complex than it really is, here's what I did. I handed out tests. I told the class how to deal with a typo in the final problem. I answered individual questions, most of which were very straightforward. I collected the tests when the hour and a half was up.
Oh, I also announced when we had 45 minutes left, then fifteen minutes left, then 5 minutes left.
It's not really a taxing job.
And yet - I was a wreck.
I so very badly wanted my students (I call them mine and I've lectured all of twice) to do well. I needed them to have learned something from me. I wanted the time I'd spent with them, during office hours or class or over email, to have cleared up any lingering questions that remained for them.
I really really wanted them to nail it.
When I had any reason to think that one of them was having a hard time - asking me a questions I couldn't answer because it would be cheating, or staring really sadly at their paper - I wanted to help. I wanted to say "I'm so sorry that I didn't, somehow, make sure that this was clear to you".
Grading the tests just now was even worse. I kept thinking 'damn it, I KNOW you know this - you answered it in class or on the homework or ...'. I want to email certain students and say, look, I see exactly what you did here. I know why you thought this was the right answer, and here's the part of the problem statement that you missed. Why don't you take another look.
Of course I can't do that.
Crockett says this makes me a good teacher - wanting success for all of my students. I think that it makes me a person who is not capable of becoming a teacher. I can't feel this wrung out all the time.
Maybe it gets easier - but is that a good thing? Should you bleed for your students, or not?
(The moral here? Actual teachers (people who do this for a living and not just as an assistant for tuition) are under appreciated and underpaid. You know me - always saying things that everyone already knows.)