Ten of my 21 hybrid students turned in homework this week. Though, if you count the fact that, of those ten, none of them actually wrote the three to four paragraphs I asked for – and one student sent me an incomplete sentence as an answer to the assignment – I’m pretty sure I have nothing to brag about here.
Kizz mentioned to me the other day that perhaps I should rethink my role for these students. Instead of being solely a teacher – someone who facilitates learning – she wants me to expand my self-image to include seeing myself as being someone who offers these students a valuable opportunity to spectacularly fail.
Her contention is that, for a lot of kids, this is the first time they’ve been on their own. They are learning to make their way in the “real world” and, as such, have never really had a chance to fall utterly and completely on their faces. A lot of college students flame out in particularly breathtaking fashion – I, personally, know a few who did (and who turned out just fine) – and I need to come to grips with the fact that it may well be my job to provide a venue for some of my students to crash and burn.
I really don’t take any of the students’ performances personally. I recognize that I’m working against a lot of things – student apathy, a failure of public schools to attend to these students’ needs, an insufficient class schedule (if ever there were a group of students who needed more than one-day-a-week classes…) – and there’s only so much that one person can do in the face of that. I have a lot of confidence that I’m doing the best job I can for these students; I know my material, I’m enthusiastic and energetic in the classroom, I strive to make my lessons relevant and interesting, and I truly love the work that I do. Caring for my students – and the integrity of my work – also means that I care enough to stick to my policies and deadlines.
I really do care about my students and desperately want them to be successful – regardless of whether they believe that or not – and it’s painful to watch them commit academic suicide right in front of me. They’re adults, though – or, at least, they think they are – and they get to make those choices. I respect them enough to let them make those mistakes; I just really hope that they turn out okay in the end.