Teachers Need A Deputy

One of the big lessons I learned this school year was that an effective teacher needs a deputy in the classroom. I had never thought about this before until I was watching a Champion's League soccer match during the spring. One of the commentators began discussing one of the teams in the match's game that weekend. Their star goalie had been injured, but the commentator noted "he has a really good deputy behind him, which is very important" or something like that.

As I sat there watching the match, I got to thinking about how that related to the classroom. I realized after a few minutes that a lot of my best classes while teaching were the ones where I had a student I could rely on as a sort of "deputy" in the classroom. My first semester at BCC, I taught three classes. The morning class was decent, but took a lot of work on my part to really get the class going by the end. However, my afternoon classes both did really well and I think one of the reasons was that I had a good student deputy in both classes.

In the noon class, a Composition I, I did not have one until around the middle of November, but it eventually happened. A young lady who did well in the class, but had been stuck with a bunch of high school friends that dragged her down a bit (I am sure we all see this all the time unfortunately). She suddenly made a strong break with them  and really took the initiative to not only perform better, but also help me and other students. At our peer reviews, she moved around the room like a second teacher aiding students I had not gotten to yet.

My class after that, a Composition II, had a student deputy from the first day on. There were some issues with student concerns along the way and she was able to check in with them, report her findings back to me, and then I could implement changes to the class. I would have had a more harder time with my first semester without these students.

This year I had a good deputy in almost every one of my classes that worked well. Without realizing it, I look for this kind of student leadership unconsciously. In the future, I will more actively seek it out and guide other professors who come to me looking for advice to do the same.