I am preparing for my first graduate school teaching experience. I don't think the 12 yo me who decided that I would one day become a 'doctor' ever anticipated that part of that meant I would teach Master's level students. It didn't matter if she could predict it or not because here I am. So while I could write for days about my anxieties and fear about teaching for the first time--I'd rather talk about the emotional involvement and investment I'm making. I don't know if I'll be a 'good' teacher. I don't know if I'll be cognizant enough to connect with each student at the level I want to, in order to, identify where I'm failing them. I do know that I will be emotionally invested in the content I share and outcomes they have. Down to the syllabus I've created.
AND HOW WAS I EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED IN THAT CREATION. Ok, well, so there are some things I told myself--I'll get to it through the semester and just upload, update, or watch it later. Including the documentaries I'm allowing students to watch as an assignment. Today I figured I better start watching the ones I haven't seen so why not start with "I Am Jane Doe," a documentary about sex trafficking. Five minutes into the documentary I'm crying. I'm not crying because it's so insurmountably sad (it is) but it's the content, the story, the advocacy behind the movement for basic human rights and protection for children to have the ability to grow up without the chances of being a victim of sex trafficking. It is in these moments where I get to reflect on what I do and why I do it.
The purpose of watching these documentaries isn't to make an audience (or the students) feel helpless and hopeless but to empower and move individuals to help a society to make moves and change. I hope the students can see the power in that message. That a struggle will burn you out and you will almost always feel like David facing off to Goliath with the near certainty that you will lose. But there's the chance that you will win even if not at first. I hope students can feel the importance of their role as counselors and advocates for the individual that feels they don't have a voice. The truth is I really did invest my own emotions to ensuring that these students are impacted by every little thing they do. Will it actually happen? Probably not--I'm a grad student and I play the grade game in most of my classes. That doesn't change my emotional involvement or intention as an instructor.
I also hope they cry like a baby like I did watching most of these documentaries.