I know I upset one of you today, and goodness knows whether I will upset more of you tomorrow when I actually hand back homework.
The student I talked to today worked very hard and felt he got robbed on his score. Unfortunately, he just got the math wrong. Scores in general were lower than I would have liked them to be. I know I caught some students out — they were not thinking that 2 weeks to do homework means 2 weeks of homework to be done. I know others got caught thinking that if a few problems were easy then they all would be easy.
I don’t know if I’m harder or more conscientious than other instructors. I do know that I believe that all of you can master this material and get it right. I know that I am going to push you to get to that level.
If I tell you that you got something right when you really didn’t, I am leading you into complacency when you are capable of doing more and doing better. I would rather have you angry with me and have you figure out how to make a stronger, better effort to get things right and understand why you are right than have you satisfied with your grade and mediocre at solving problems.
Would you rather believe a pleasant lie or know a painful truth? I have always lived on the side of painful truths. Today feels like one.
Honestly? I want you to like me. I want you to enjoy my class. I want you to learn a lot. I want you to grow. I know that all those things go together. If you hate me, and you hate my class, learning a lot and growing are less likely to occur. But if I have to give you a false sense of the merit of your work to make you like me, that won’t work either.
So, if you get this homework back and you need to be angry with me, I encourage you to be angry with me. Anger at me that keeps you motivated and working is better than anger at yourself that is paralyzing and makes you think, “Why should I even try? Why should I even bother?” Or worse, fall into inaction because of those thoughts.
I am a grown woman, with a strong soul. I can handle your anger.
That said, I hope that I can bring honesty and encouragement and grace and motivation to you. I hope that I can be someone who helps you to believe in yourself. I hope that I can hold you to high standards, and motivate you to hold yourself to high standards and help you see that you are capable of meeting them. Even when the work is far, far from easy.
That’s what I want for you. That’s what I want for me. That’s what I want for this class, and every other class that I teach.
With sincerity, and encouragement, and even, yes, with love,