Gonna start talking about what I learned from teaching with the biggest thing about teaching that I think people don’t always consider: it’s a service.
I was actually just planning to link to Freddie de Boer’s essay on the topic, but his site seems to have gone down, and then been resurrected without the blog. I don’t know if it is archived anywhere. So I will have to say it myself: the biggest revelation to me about teaching is that it is not at all a “product”.
Your job as a teacher is not to be the fount of wisdom for the students to drink at. After all, as everyone keeps saying, information is free these days, and the library and the internet are a lot more accessible than college. You are not there to manufacture lessons. Maybe at some very high level of material, it actually is like that. But at the community college level, that’s definitely not the case.
Instead, your job is to figure out how to get the students motivated, learning, doing work, overcoming trouble, getting through specific questions. It’s also your job to figure out where a specific student is having difficulties, and tailor your teaching to that.
And doing all this makes a difference. Or at least, the only difference you can make as a teacher. This is at least one reason why MOOCs have so far failed to fulfil the promise that techno-futurists ascribed to them.