At the conclusion of this semester, I have composed an informal letter for my students.
I’d first and foremost like to thank my students for this chance to teach rhetoric once again, especially to such capable, eager learners. At the beginning of this year, I had reached a crossroads of sorts, and I wasn’t altogether certain I would helm the ship of an English composition course ever again. I contemplated other jobs and careers, but I found myself mostly disappointed…disappointed because I could no longer share with students. I could no longer share the college experience, where we strive for intellectualism and effective application. I could no longer share what I had learned—and learn on a daily basis— about rhetoric, textual analysis, and argument, which I hope you realize is nearly everywhere about you, if you but only look and listen. I also could no longer share my genuine passion for my discipline, the study of the shared language system of English.
I learned quite a bit about myself this year. Simply, I need to teach…call it a mid-life epiphany…I will not argue with you. I realized a return to the classroom meant that I might continue to learn as well. I suspect some teachers might not want to admit this, but I often learn just as much from my students, as they might learn from me. When I have a good group of students, willing to interact with each other and their slightly off-kilter instructor three times a week for sixteen weeks, it creates an environment that fosters effective learning for everybody who happens to be in the room. I’ve taught three different classes, each with three differing personalities, but most all of my students this semester have been receptive…and most importantly, have put the necessary effort into the curriculum. I see how much work you have done these 16 weeks, and I want you to know that I see it…and I greatly appreciate it from you. Thank you.
I was eager to meet all of you at the beginning of the semester, and now I am sorry that we’ve so quickly reached the end of our time together. I’ve enjoyed your company and your contributions. Forgive me some emotional proclivity, but I often regard a class with a certain paternalistic sense…that’s my awkward way to express that I think of students like family…
It’s difficult to summarize what I hope you have cumulatively taken away from this class experience (and, perhaps, it’s mostly out of my control anyway!), but I know I hope you see how textual analysis connects with your everyday lives and everyday experiences in some manner. I hope you might become well-read, if you are not already (and some of you have demonstrated that you are!). Becoming an effective writer and speaker comes from exposing yourself to more and more text, without prejudice, but with much scrutiny. I also hope that this class allows students to understand better why they are attending university…and what a college campus may offer for students, which I think can be different for each individual person.
I’d like to ask my students to complete one final writing task before leaving today: Please write me an honest letter today assessing your class experience. For criteria, you might consider evaluating the class policies, major essay/paper assignments, the in-class writing activities, the textbook, my lectures, the peer review sessions, the online materials, or how I did or did not fulfill the role of college professor in your eyes.
Thank you again for your participation this semester. Congratulations on your successful completion of my course, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.