The technicalities of teaching

There are two aspects of being a good teacher. The first part is the things one usually thinks about. Does a teacher know his subject? Does he convey it clearly? Does he interact well with students?

The second aspect is what I think of as the mechanics. The teacher should arrive on  time and be prepared. The teacher should fill in all the forms needed and attend all the required meetings. The teacher should grade papers promptly, learn student names, enter grades by the deadline, respond to student emails, do their share of what needs to be done for the school and so on.

This semester I am teaching in a room I had not taught in before. The classroom is protected with a swipe card. About a week before class started, I checked my swipe card and it didn’t work. While checking it a second time, I passed the dean waiting for an elevator. I mentioned my errand to him. I also passed him on my third check, mentioning that I was still unable to get into the classroom.

I don’t think it hurt me for the dean to realize that I was making sure the first day of class went smoothly. I came across as someone who attends to the technicalities of teaching. On the other hand, on first day class met, I checked a fourth time and our campus locksmith had reprogrammed the lock to accept my card. Maybe I just came across as compulsively attending to the details which didn’t need my attention.

I’m glad I checked before the semester started, because the Powers That Be would not know about the problem if I hadn’t. I’m also glad that our administrative aid did her job and so did the campus locksmith. As a side note, I find it interesting that our campus is so big and complex that we have a campus locksmith.


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