A Word on Student Success: Reinforcing the Joy of Teaching

From Stuart Dees—

Arguably one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is when an educator sees their students succeed.  At this intersection, it is not only the student who has succeeded but the educator as wellOf course, this event may not always take place in academia—student successes may appear at any given or in response to a variety of real-world rhetorical exigencies.

When success takes shape within our classroom, though, I think it is especially rewarding for us because it further reinforces our joy in doing what we do as teachers.

I think many of us will agree with Mark Edmundson’s words in Why Read? that “the test of a book lies in its power to map or transform a life.” Just as we read because we enjoy it, we teach because we enjoy it.  We are drawn to a profession that allows us to positively transform others’ lives through writing, and we cherish the not-so-common opportunity to surround ourselves with those like us, who invest in the future and in the practice of knowledge-making.

Student successes may appear as singular, well-definable moments or as an array of smaller, less conspicuous moments: the after-glow from an insightful, student-initiated conversation about rhetorical constituents or witnessing a student become wholeheartedly excited about writing and research—these moments act as catalysts for motivating students’ success and excellence.

As we watch our students transition from basic writers who may be unsure, and oftentimes unaware, of their own capacities for achieving success into confident, authoritative writers, we as educators are privileged to share and facilitate these moments, acting as the trusted producers of, in the words of David Bartholomae, accessible “commonplaces” that our students need to succeed in the practice of writing.

I believe that facilitating students’ successes begins with ourselves, our teaching philosophies, and our ability as educators to encourage and promote academic and intellectual transformation—the transformation of “student” into “lifelong learner,” and “basic writer” into “author.”


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