Thoughts on My First Semester as a Professor

by - Thursday, May 09, 2013

Last night I walked into the journalism building at Maryland, proctored my students' final and officially wrapped up my first semester of teaching.


And this morning, I woke up thinking that I can't believe it's over. I have so many mixed emotions about my first semester as a teacher.

There were days when I absolutely loved teaching and days when the thought of grading another paper wanted to make me pull all my hair out.

Sometimes the semester seemed like it was flying by, sometimes it seemed like it was dragging.

Some days I wondered if it was worth it, if I was actually successfully teaching anything at all, and other days, I knew it was 100 percent worth it when a concept I was teaching just sort of clicked for one of my students.


A lot of times I worried I was a horribly inadequate teacher and my students would have been better off in someone else's class. My biggest fear was failing them --that I wouldn't teach them what they needed to learn to successfully move forward in their classes.

On top of all that, balancing teaching with my full time job was hard. A lot of times, I felt like I was spread too thin. My social life and training definitely took a big hit because hey, there are only so many hours in the day.

But the experience was really rewarding.


I was lucky that I got a great group of students. I had 18 kids who all seemed eager to learn. They asked questions, they were engaged and they seemed to care about the stuff we were talking about. I really looked forward to spending Monday and Wednesday evenings with them.

Last night, when one of my students was handing in her final, she also handed me a thank you note card. Inside were two messages from two of my students thanking me for teaching them and telling me how much they enjoyed the class and looked forward to coming every week.

I was so touched reading their messages, in part because I had these crushing doubts that I wasn't actually a very good teacher and no one was really learning anything. But I guess all along they were.

So as much as I'm looking forward to summer and going back to only working one job for the next several months, I'm really going to miss my kids.

This semester was a huge challenge for me, but at the end of the day, it was an amazingly rewarding experience.

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  1. It sounds like you did a great job, and your students appreciated it. Way to take on the challenge!

  2. teaching is not for the faint of heart. It takes clear communication and patience, something most people are lacking. But when you know you do it right and you get to feel the joy in seeing others succeed, it's the best thing in the world. When I was in college, I also taught a radio production class for the student radio station. The best thing ever was when a former student aired a commercial that was better than anything I could have produced.

  3. What an incredible experience. I have to say that your post really gives you faith in "Kids today." I consider myself to be a very considerate person and I never once gave a professor a thank you note. I wish at had.

  4. Nancy2:45 PM

    Congratulations, Prof! It has been so cool to get to watch you work your way through your first semester of teaching.

  5. Congrats on making it through the semester. When Mrs. Viper was teaching, she expressed many of the same doubts and fears. We take for granted what a challenge teaching really. Cheers!

  6. It's really kind of nice to hear the other side of the story. As a student, I feel like our professors go unappreciated. I often hear unbased criticisms and insults for mistakes that are merely human! This makes me want to go out and buy some thank you cards just so I can show more of my professors I appreciate all the hard work and effort they put in to trying to give us the best education!

  7. Wow! What an experience! I've considered teaching, but, most of the time, the idea of it terrifies me. Maybe it's not so bad!

    I'm planning to tutor high school students this fall. Hopefully it goes as well as your experience. Thank you for writing this, it's really making me feel like I could really do it!