Is not only class time

At 24 years old, I have taught seven courses, from basic algebra to finite element analysis, being an open course, assistant professor or professor. But with the singularity that I am living that process being also a student -even as undergrad student-. So, it is very interesting how I lived sitted in class, and in front of the class.

This situation made me understand some student-teacher issues in both perspectives at the same time. Things that students or teachers complain about and do not understand or they forget, respectively. Today I will speak as a teacher, trying to give some perspective of how or job is to the students — which I am too.

Many could state that being a teacher can be a stressful job, but one of the most beautiful/stressful parts of being a teacher is to prepare your class (class-prep. Starting with a syllabus (or class calendar, call it as you want), and trying to figure how you will spend one and a half or two hours in a single topic. Thinking what they need to hear, see and think, but in an effective, yet simple way to make them capture the idea. Imaging how the students will take what you present on the screen or what questions could they ask.

Being an undergrad student, I used to think that class-prep was easy. That my teachers just needed to take their chalk and write the things that flow out of their minds into words, numbers and sketches. Even when some professors can do this (which is amazing, #teacherGoals), how wrong I was…

Class-prep can be harder than the topic itself. Just think in a calculus course. The derivate is an abstract concept, now try to figure how to expain it to another person. It is not something you develop in a few minutes, it takes time to make this magic happen. Sometimes, it takes me about two hours to prepare just one two-hour class, and that is when is an easy topic. Complex topics could require even four to six hours in front of my computer, reading, simulating, finding resources to try to make a great class. Even when I should be focused in something else, I am thinking what can I ask, new topics, new test ideas, how can I state something to not mess what I said previously in the class. This thoughts came into me anytime and anywhere, at class, before sleeping, exercising…

Maybe there is a huge investment of time, effort and resources in class-prep, and I think students do not get that part of the class. And I dare to say this, because I did, and sometimes, I do it right now as a graduate student.

Now I see that a class is somehow like music, painting, and other types of art. Because the teacher is sculpting minds, and composing structures of thought. And as many artists, our work is ofter underrated, giving to a teacher this beautiful/stressful relation that needs to keep us getting better and better to make better mind sculptures.

If you are a teacher, do not stay in the same course that you have been taught many years, improve and get better; if you are a student, value your professor job, it is not just the two-hour class that you assist, there much more behind it; and if you are not in the academy right now (studing or teaching), thank the work that your professors did for you, send them an email, or a Facebook mesaage, they will be happy to know about you.

And for all: be grateful with your teachers, your mind is the sum of all of what you learned.

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