I've started thinking that, perhaps, I don't actually enjoy teaching. Which is to say, there seems to be quite a bit about being a teacher that I really don't care for. Or I'm doing it wrong. Perhaps this is just how it all goes... nothing's perfect, right?
I love learning (my own, I'm not sure I can sense others'). I love reading. I think I enjoy meeting with individuals, or with small groups, who are truly motivated to learn something that I can help with. Not motivated in the sense of finishing an assignment, but in understanding material for understanding-sake. Perhaps it's content I already know, or something I can join them in learning. That might just be where my joy in teaching ends. Sadly, this doesn't seem like much of what school is (or, like I said, I'm doing it wrong).
I want to help individuals learn something that they are interesting in learning. I have no interest in talking to a classroom full of students about things few of them care about. I have no interest in trying to motivate them to care. I have a hard enough time with my own motivation to encourage others in that regard. And, looking back, I know that when I was a student, I didn't care about most of my classes, and don't expect I was interested in being told I should care. I didn't try to learn the material for its intrinsic value. This is especially true outside of math and computer science, but I expect even in some of those classes I was just getting through assignments (at least sometimes). Now that I'm about done with taking school, I'm finally ready to learn just about anything.
Probably I should just suck it up. There are always at least a few students who are paying attention, who are learning something, right? I should focus on them, right? I should figure out how to make things so exciting that people just can't help themselves but want to learn? I should continue giving homework and exams and playing the grading game, without it helping my students much at all. I should humor the notion, hinted at by award nominations, that I'm a "good teacher", despite knowing that I'm hardly doing anybody much good.
I should continue playing this game.
But I think I've realized about myself that I don't like other people's games. I like my own games. I think I might go find some of those...