Now that I'm on the other side of the student-teacher dyad, I've realized that my teachers always knew when I wasn't giving them my best work. All through school, I really thought that I'd pulled it off--the term papers written the night before the deadline, the projects thrown together after weeks of procrastination, the MA dissertation that I wrote in about 3 weeks--I thought I had them fooled because my grades were decent. But now that I've had a student do it to me, submit something well below what he/she is capable of, I realize that they must have seen through me, too. I really felt disappointed (even slightly insulted--did he/she think I couldn't tell it had been carelessly thrown together?) and had a hard time figuring out how to word my feedback. In the end, I kept it brief and gave specific instructions for our next meeting. Let's move on and pretend that weak effort didn't happen--just make it better next time.
Overall I loved my extended student years and I don't regret much, but I do regret not consistently giving my best. I used to try harder for teachers I liked, for example, or for subjects that I liked better than others. In practice, this meant I gave brilliant book reports in AP Spanish literature while I scored a one (failing grade) on the AP Calculus exam. In my first term at UW, I scraped through linguistics with a TA I didn't like and I aced a history of science elective with a lovely British professor.
What if I'm teaching the class the student doesn't like? What if I'm the teacher they don't like? How do I get them to do their best work while also staying likable and approachable? This is much more reflective experience than I ever thought it would be. I love working with students again, and it's teaching me a lot about education & life in general.
In other news, today I've submitted an abstract for a symposium at University of York. My proposed paper is on the political impacts of study abroad participation. I got quite into it when I was coming up with the abstract so I'm going to turn it into an actual research project, whether or not it gets accepted for the symposium. I was recently rejected for the Oxford Junior Research Fellowship and a Sheffield postdoc position, so I've been meaning to come up with a new research project proposal and this one sounds quite interesting so far.