One of the reasons I love teaching is that each semester provides a fresh start: empty grade books, eager students. I also cherished this time when I was a student myself: poring over course syllabi, purchasing new textbooks, meeting my professors. Although I reside on eastern South Dakota’s frigid plains, the first day of class consistently brings me a warm feeling.
But once the newness of the semester fades, it’s not long before I casually share with a colleague something a student did or (more commonly) failed to do. This habit started in graduate school. Years ago, student shaming provided a humorous means of connecting with my fellow TAs: in my early 20s, commiserating over student issues felt normal, even cool. Perhaps, too, a case can be made that swapping stories of students’ shortcomings had little effect on our students themselves. They didn’t hear us laugh at their misspelled words or poorly constructed sentences. Yet, 10 years later, I’m haunted by the thought that I might
have spent more time complaining about my students than championing their success.