It's been seven week since I started my part-time position as "faculty" (I put that in quotes because I can't consider myself faculty with a straight face) with the nursing department at Hope College. I've been a clinical instructor for senior nursing students in their internship rotation, something they all complete in their last semester. It's a half-semester rotation, so I just wrapped things up with my students from the first half, and I'm starting anew with a fresh batch.
I've never been so humbled in my life...no, I take that back. I remember feeling this humbled one other time: when I was a brand, spankin' new nurse. And not humbled in a breathy, "Oh, I' m so honored..." kind of way. Humbled in a "Holy cats, I feel SO incompetent" kind of way. I remember being a new grad, BSN in hand stating that I AM prepared to function in the clinical setting...and coming home every night from work and throwing myself on my bed and crying. Then I'd get up and study for boards, and end up crying more. Little did I know HOW LITTLE I KNEW.
So that's kind of how I feel in this role. My students work side-by-side in their respective clinical setting with their preceptor (the nurse who works on the unit who is mentoring them), and I drop in on them once a week or so to see how they are progressing with their independence, how they are going about acheiving their goals that they've written for themselves, grade their papers, etc. I really don't spend nearly as many hours with them as the instructors for the other clinicals who are on-site with them all day twice a week.
But I obsess over grading their papers as much as if I were writing it myself! I hem and haw and hem and haw...is this the kind of work I'd expect from a senior nursing student? Is it in correct APA format? Did they correctly cite their research? Are they demonstrating critical thinking? Do I REALLY want to deduct THAT many points? Aughh!!!
I thought I had to be really strict with due dates. There are dates in the syllabus that I thought I had to strictly adhere to. So I freaked a poor student out when she turned in a paper late and I told her I may not be able to accept it at worst, and her grade would significantly drop at best. Then I find out from the other profs that the due date is flexible per the number of hours the student has completed on the unit. But the syllabus said...oh never mind.
I meet with them and their preceptors for mid-way and final evaluations. Are you SURE you want to assign that student a 100% in that category? Because that's assuming they're ready to jump into a nursing role and fulfill it with flying colors. Do my standards match the standards of the preceptor? Is the student really doing that well or that poorly?
I'm taking on my new crowd of students in the next week. I just found out today that they needed to go through a quickie orientation at the hospital, and I had no idea. So I'm busting my tail to Human Resources trying to set this up in the next few days, get them into computer training, and I feel like a complete idiot with egg on my face. But what else can I do? I'm not going to provide a litany of excuses - I don't have any. I'm learning this role and it totally slipped me that this was also required. So you drop the ball, you cry because it hurt your toes, and you pick it back up. And hope that your students can make it to the computer-documentation orientation class at 1:30 on Monday that the computer lady at the hospital begrudgingly told you she would do. *Thank you, computer lady!*
I have no idea how my students will evaluate me. I'm not sure I really want to know. I obsessed over their grades this week before I submitted them (they passed! *whew!*). Is THIS what it's like to be a teacher? Because I have so much more respect for educators than I already did have.
I've made it my regular prayer that God will scoop the junk out of my heart and show it to me for what it is. Well, He's come up with handfuls of pride over and over again, and I think this is one way that He's getting the message across. I can't do anything on my own. I can only receive my strength from Him. If I do something that makes me look like an idiot, well so what. Making mistakes and fessing up to them is part of being real and transparent..and I know I still have a long way to go in being real and transparent. I've just felt very silly in this role over the past couple of months, and hopefully in the next couple of months, I'll feel slightly LESS silly.