Perks of Being a Grad Student

As a student in Salem State’s MA/MAT program, I am somewhat constantly studying, reading, and writing about new things in the world of teaching, literature, and composition.  Mostly because of my position as a student and minimally because of my age, many of the pedagogies, theories, technologies, and ideas that I am engaging with are pretty new and relevant.  The net result here is that, without much independent motivation or initiative, I stay pretty up to date on what is happening in the world of education.  I am trying new software, reflecting on new pedagogical ideas, and constantly challenging what I think I know about teaching (which, admittedly, is essentially nothing); I’m doing all of this in the company of dedicated, brilliant, and passionate teachers and aspiring teachers.  It is unquestionably amazing; I can see and feel my relevance, ability, and versatility stretching and expanding.

Enter stage right: the problem.

At some point in the hopefully near future, I am going to complete my degrees and graduate.  At some point in the hopefully very distant future, I am going to age right out of my twenties and into a time in which instinctive harmony with technology and modern adolescent culture is a distant memory.  I’ve hung out with my mom; I know how this works.

While I look forward to the wisdom, experience, and tempered stability that comes with age and years of classroom time, I can’t help but entertain an uneasiness in the back of my mind.  How will I stay relevant?  How comfortable should I get with certain pedagogical ideas or theories before I decide to update or adjust them?  How much of my time should I divert from one-on-one work with students or reflection on student work to research in my field or to challenge my current ideas?  Is my rate of growth and learning intended to decline to some degree once I transfer out of graduate studies and into full time teaching?

I recognize that the answers to these questions are different for everyone and that I may be unable to answer them for myself until I progress further along on this path.  I just want to be sure that I am developing the habits and lifestyle necessary to sustain at least some level of constant growth and expansion throughout my teaching, even once growth and expansion are no longer academically required of me.  I always want to be equipped to meaningfully address the academic and personal requirements of students who enter my classroom.




3 thoughts on “Perks of Being a Grad Student

  1. Anne says:

    Danah, you bring up one of my biggest fears: graduating! I have always told people I am going to somehow make a (paying) career out of being a full-time student FOREVER. Granted, I realize this is not possible, so I have instead realized I need to think of how to continue to learn and stay up to date with my field without being a full-time student, and I’ve realized I can always take courses non-matriculated in the future (PDPs). I also think I know you well enough to know that you will welcome learning from your students, and that is huge! If you are willing to admit where you lack skills (technology–we will always be behind as “older”), then you will have students who will be excited to teach what they know to you and the class!
    This is such a great post!


  2. Megan says:

    In terms of ensuring continual professional growth, a blog like this (or some other kind of teaching journal) is a great way to do it. Metacognition and reflective praxis is, I think, the best way to NOT get stagnant. Another strategy may be to just ask your students! In college and grad school, we give our instructors feedback at the end of each semester. I’m sure our high school students will have equally insightful things to say about our teaching, if we ask them. 😉


  3. Danah Rae says:

    That was definitely one of my thoughts as I was writing this. Starting this blog is really developing a behavior that I could use to maintain relevance and growth even after grad school. It’s also a great idea to incorporate student feedback into my teaching regimen. I am going to start thinking on/compiling some ideas of different ways to do that. I like the college-style end-of-semester review, but it would be a pretty cool thing to integrate it regularly throughout the academic year as well.


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