I survived the first day of ATDP 2011 and all I got…

June 20, 2011 in Teaching and Learning by Sam Pierce

… was a massive boost of self-confidence, actually.

To be fair, I think I scared some of my students (yes, scared students, I mean you).  Parts of my lesson plan were too aggressive, and other parts could have been meatier.  Also, ATDP’s database went down while I was in the middle of teaching my class.  So things weren’t perfect.

But it has been an interesting mix of circumstance, coincidence, and perhaps some kind of cosmic momentum that has landed me in a situation I think is shared with my students: I had no idea what to expect today. Yes, I’ve taught this class before, but not while on staff, and not while I was also responsible for several other core ATDP functions.  So, scared students, you were not alone: I was scared too.

everything went better than expected

After class, when I returned to the ATDP office, I observed that nothing had blown up and there were no ashes strewn across any part of campus (don’t worry, Intro to Chem, you still have plenty of time).  My fears were completely off base.  What I’ve discovered about working here—and what I somehow ignored, as the beginning of the program loomed—is how completely and tightly enmeshed everyone at ATDP is with their class, their subject, and their learning.  Every person to whom I speak is a reminder that, even should the terrifying crises occur, they have my back.

So if you got scared the first day, come back for the second and take a look around.  Not one person at ATDP is against you.  You can still worry about that algebra quiz, or exchange uncomfortable glances with your peers when your instructor tries to be funny and fails tragically (not that this would ever happen to me).   That nervous and unfamiliar place creates a feeling that starts to itself become familiar.  That is the best place to grow.

And when you are unafraid, you can scale mountains.