I can still remember my thoughts the first time I got up in front of a class to teach. The shock and dismay. No, not the omygodI’mgoingtothrowuphowcanImakesuretheycan’tseemeshaking part. That was pretty predictable.
What I remember most clearly is the appalled moment where I thought, “Oh. My. God. I had no idea teachers could see so much of what is going on.” Because I’d just realized that all the looks and moves and sneaky stuff that were supposed to be below the threshold of noticeability when I was a student actually weren’t. And that if teachers weren’t reacting to it, it certainly wasn’t because they weren’t aware of it.
I’m still teaching post-secondary classes, and since then I’ve been shaking my head over a lot of things that could be filed under “memo to students” advice, and I plan to post more of them over the next months. But that discovery so many years ago has got to be my first memo: we see a lot more than you think. We know when you’re making faces or exchanging disparaging glances about the idiot teacher. Or have your earbuds in during a lecture. Or are texting or facebooking or tweeting or playing poker. If it’s not directly disrupting the class for others, we may not bother to do anything about it… but we are certainly aware of it.