Saturday, December 02, 2006

"...because of, or in spite of."

This semester I've dealt with an unusual situation within the course I'm a graduate teaching assistant for. The long and short of it is that the sessional who is responsible for teaching the online course has essentially abandoned the course and his responsibilities towards the students. In light of this I've had to step up and take on more than my fair share of the work, considering I'm just a lowly Master's student and paid only to do the grunt work of marking assignments, midterms and the final exam.

I was called into a meeting with the chair of the department at my former University where I'm TAing the course to speak about the absent professor. After a discussion of the problem, in which I was told that this individual would essentially be blacklisted from teaching at my former institution for his lapse in duty and completely unprofessional behaviour, it was determined that I would be handling the course as best as I could on my own. I was already responding to emails, discussion board postings, requests for extensions due to medical or compassionate reasons and a host of other student related duties not officially on my work contract.

I took this on because of my students. My mother used to always have this phrase she would tell us while we were in public school and having a hard time with a teacher. I always found it to be annoying and immediately rolled my eyes when she'd tout the one out. She said that we learn because of, or in spite of certain teachers. This is an "in spite of" situation and I genuinely want to see my students learn and succeed regardless of the professor's falling down.

Over the last few day's as the course is winding down and students are gearing up for final exam's I have received a number of really touching emails from my kids, thanking me for all the work I've done for them and with them. Just when I'm reaching the end of my rope, and wondering why I'm doing all the work I am for a mere pittance compared to what they're paying this guy who's supposed to be the professor, these emails show up in my inbox. It's humbling and inspiring all at the same time, all while reminding me why I am here and doing what I'm doing.

I am here for day's like this.

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