Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Week




Sometimes life just sort of knocks on your noggin to remind you to look up and look around at that blue light flashing in the life lesson department.

This past week at school has been a busy one. I teach at a community college and our classrooms are packed this first week. The students who attend our college run the gamut from honor students straight from high school and first-time students straight from prison

Teaching can be an insular activity. We teachers get used to our own long lists of rules and regulations. We tend to teach the same things semester after semester and so, often times, we can get complacent about explaining things to students. After all, didn’t we just go over this information 18 weeks ago?

However, sometimes students have never dealt with a syllabus before. They have never purchased textbooks before. They may not know what a scantron, print card, or a blue book is.

As we walked away from our son, a freshman, at the university a week ago, I turned one last time to see him concentrating on entering the key code for his dorm room. I knew that he had a lot to learn as he maneuvered the college system. I prayed that he would have kind and patient teachers who would understand the transition from high school to college. I hoped he would have teachers who would look out for students who are struggling and would reach out to them.

I would like to think I am always sensitive and considerate to my students, but I know sometimes I am not as patient as I should be. Sometimes I assume too much, rush through the classroom rules and regulations too quickly, or give late students the stink eye on the first day.

This semester though, I remembered that boy I left at the university and how I wanted him to be treated. I gave my students a few more minutes to get to class; I explained the way the class would work more thoroughly. I stood beside computers and repeated the same information over and over until my students were able to master the online portion of our class.

Exhausted? Yes, I am.

My throat is sore from talking. My feel hurt from walking around the classroom. My brain is scrambled from trying to remember 150 new names.

However, I’ll go back next week and do it all again, always remembering to do it the way I would want it done for that son of mine, who, though far away, continues to teach this teacher.


57 comments:

Jules said...

WOW, if only everyone had a son to draw their strength from. Go get you some candy, sit down and soak those feet. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Mamma has spoken said...

That first week is always a doozie. Here's to both you and your son for having a successful first week.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And your students will love you for doing that!

Shelly said...

Excellent, excellent post!

Leanne said...

Oh, how I love this. You've left me with that warm and cozy feeling that your posts often leave me with. It's a pretty wonderful moment when we stop and see things a little differently, and I love that your sons transition is causing you to take a few extra moments in your own life, with your students. It's so good! I wish I could take one of your classes, Betty. I think it would be fantastic!!!!

Flartus said...

No matter how long one teaches, there are always lessons to learn and re-learn. Good for you for being open to them!

And...how did his first week go?

Cool Gal said...

Hats off to you, Betty.

I once had a Logic teacher who was so unorganized and rather manic. I struggled in her class (Wonder why?) but needed it to graduate. I hired a tutor to help get me through. When it came to exam time, I was always the one who had to work out every equation - it's the only way I understood. Of course, this took me forever to do and when exam time was up, exam time was up. Done. Pencils down. Well, guess what? My test was usually complete on the front side, but hardly ever the back which of course always brought down my grade - obviously if you're not getting a point on the back because it's incomplete. I remember having to go into her office and begging her to let me finish the final as I needed to pass the class. She let me, but it took some convincing. You see, it wasn't that I couldn't do it, I just needed more time - perhaps I was LD in Logic.

Thank you for being that teacher who understands there are all types of different learners and who doesn't assume everybody "gets it." Thanks for your patience.

Shrinky said...

What a beautiful and heart-felt post (hugs). I sure hope karma returns the favour of you looking out for these mothers son's.

Talli Roland said...

How lucky your students are to have such a wonderful teacher like you, Betty. I often think back to my teaching days and wish I'd been more patient.

Isis Rushdan said...

Wonderful post. I greatly admire all teachers. Takes such dedication and passion.

Leah J. Utas said...

Rest and recharge. You are doing good in the world.

Velvet Over Steel said...

What a wonderful teacher you are!! Yes, I too work at a community college and this was our first week back too. (I'm an office manager for the Aviation program, instructors and almost 40 students this year... along with working for the SBDC Director, also housed in this building.) Anyway, I am always amazed with how Diverse our students are each year. And how set in their ways the instructors are or at least were. When my youngest son, with Asperger's, started at this Community College 2 years ago, it seemed to open up their minds (and hearts) to how everyone Can learn despite their challenges and how 'treatment' makes a Hugh difference for students like my son. Love the fact that we both see the 'lessons' from our children and helps others with what we've learned. :-)

Good luck with your's and your son's New school year and all the learning experiences!
Big Hugh Hug to you!!!
~ Coreen XO

Hilary said...

Everyone's child should have teachers and parents like you.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

The learning curve is steep. Hope the year goes well!

Pat said...

This warmed my heart. I'm sure those students will appreciate your kindness.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love this post. I love that you're being more sensitive to this time of transition for your students.

Being parents makes us better teachers. I didn't really get 5th-graders as well until I had one. I didn't really understand the mind of a middle schooler until I had one.

EmptyNester said...

I always hoped (and still do) that the lovelies would have teachers who treated students the way they wanted their own children treated. This has not always been the case BUT, for the most part, it has. And I have been truly grateful to all of them for their consideration and kindness towards their students. These are the teachers who get thank you notes from me and letters to their principals/deans AFTER they taught my daughters- not during. It means so much!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi BB .. have a good recuperative rest and lets hope kids and teachers get the best fair deal possible with lots of care thrown in for good measure .. cheers Hilary

Eva Gallant said...

I loved this post. It brought back memories of when I was teaching. I loved working with students and putting in that extra time and effort to make my class interesting and informative!

Old Kitty said...

I so wish you were my teacher!
:-)

Take care
x

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Beautiful post. There should be more teachers like you in our schools. Hoping your son does well!

Linda said...

I think you were already a fine teacher, but you might be just a little bit better one this year because of that boy of yours. Doing what we do a little bit better each year is something we should all strive for.

Madi and Mom said...

BB what a thougtful post. Not everyone learns at the same speed. I'm 100% sure your good deeds to others children will be repeated for your son!!!
We're bracing for Irene on our coast...our daughter and sil live 10 miles from the Atlantic. I keep hoping it will turn more easterly out into the Atlantic today...
Hugs Madi and Mom

jenny_o said...

LOVE your opening line! So true. Have a good weekend, Teach.

Donna said...

Wonderful post!
I always wondered about the teacher who never looked at the back of the room at Those students who Wished they had the nerve to sit at the Front of the room...scared out of their minds and thinking no one cares Anyway.
I know you're Not one of those teachers...Your heart is too big!
Here's to a Wonderful and fulfilling school year Betty and may you have laughter and happiness in your school room All year long...
hughugs

Marg said...

If only, more teachers would take that extra few minutes to help the students start out. It must make a huge difference for a lot of them that you realize that they need a few extra minutes. Glad you just dropped your son off. Have yourself a restful week end.

Ms. A said...

You are the kind of teacher I would have wished for my kids and I'm still wishing for with my grandchildren. Bless you!

Liz said...

I feel like the experience teaching at the college level is so different than younger ages. You are dealing with a bunch of adults, each with a different path to get there. The ages vary widely, as do marital status and whether or not they are parents.

Vodka Logic said...

A sweet post and bless you for being a teacher. I could not do it.

My daughter lived at home when in college, I would have missed her so much...she has graduated now..thanks to people like you. :)

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

I'm willing to bet that your students have already called their Mommas and told them about 'the best' professor they have! ☺ Enjoy the weekend break. Happy Friday ☺

Sara said...

You have such a kind and gracious soul ♥

Daisy said...

Betty, I can't imagine you being anything other than a wonderful teacher. Being a mom has made you an even better one, though, if that is possible. Speaking as the mother of two sons, I thank you for taking that extra time to care about your students. I appreciate your efforts, and I'm sure your students will too.

Susan in the Boonies said...

As a Mom of a guy who is entering a school where I am very fearful (for any number of reasons) of how he's going to do, and how he's going to be received, this post makes me want to throw my arms around your neck and hug you good. What Mom doesn't long for mercy for their child? (Whether or not that's what their child actually deserves, or even needs!)

I'm so grateful for the teachers who are willing to look at my son with compassion, and consider his individual needs.

Betty, I have no doubt there are Moms who are giving thanks that you are their child's teacher.

Golden Girl said...

i wish that more teachers took the time to do things like your doing. It really does make a difference in your learning when you have a teacher that is interested in your learning also.

Nicolasa @ {My}Perspective said...

You have some lucky, lucky students in your course. Get some rest this weekend and rest the feet and the voice! :-)

Brian said...

I can think of one good thing about the first week...the weekend!

Gigi said...

As a mom who will be sending her "baby" off next year, I applaud you (and all the teachers like you)! I know he will need that patience and understand. While I will need a Xanax....

Ann said...

I hope that your son has teachers who are as caring and thoughtful as you are Betty.

Lin said...

I guess you son going off to college came at a good time. I think we all need reminders in our jobs after awhile. It's perfectly normal to fall into a rut and not think about the simple stuff. Good for you in recognizing it!!

I'll bet your students love ya!

karen said...

Amazing how it gives you a different perspective, huh? I'm sure you're an amazing teacher, and there sure aren't enough of those! Take a minute and give yourself your treat of choice!

Joyful said...

Thank God for patient teachers. May God give you strength as you start your new year!

Retired English Teacher said...

God bless you! Some parent is so glad you are the one who will teach the student they sent off with such high hopes.

Teaching is hard work. Freshmen. Uggg. Every year I get asked to teach Eng 101 at the college level. I always say, "the only thing worse than taking 101 would be teaching it.". You are a better woman than I, Bossy Betty. I admire you. Have an awesome semester.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's always good when the first week is over, your son sounds like a God send. I have two sons, one I won't mention, the other one would be like your son......but he lives in Spain.
Have a great day,
Yvonne.

lisleman said...

More should have your great attitude. You don't know what it is like until you walk in another's flip-flops.

KleinsteMotte said...

Wow Betty it's an emotional one. Excellence in students and parents is reflected by those who care the way you do. Glad to be your blog follower. Keep well and recharge this weekend.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I really appreciate this attitude, Betty. All of those kids are someone's son or daughter... :)

Lydia K said...

What an inspiring post! Your students are lucky to have you. As is your son. Hugs!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Everytime I read about your work, I think "Her students are so lucky!"
xoRobyn

Peggy K said...

I was over 40 when I took my first college class. And I vaguely recall that I didn't know what a syllabus was at that time.

What a nice feeling I have reading this post. I hope your son has teachers like you.

That Janie Girl said...

How beautiful that you were reminded by watching your own son, to take the extra time.

That's what makes you so good at what you do. Happy new school year!

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

What I like about you is that you never stop learning or teaching. I've been enjoying your "Daddy" posts today. I'm slowly coming to that place where memories of my Dad make me smile rather than tear up.

That Janie Girl said...

PS - Did you know you've won a prize on my blog???

Annie said...

Wonderful post Betty.A great example for every teacher.

Catherine said...

I think that's an excellent live lesson Betty. Always treat people like they are someone's baby. Because they are!

Good for you for giving that extra care and attention. You are a good teacher.

Have a happy week friend!

xo Catherine

Unknown Mami said...

You are a good person.

Shan said...

Such a good perspective. Mine, in moments of desperation, has been more along the lines of "treat your kids like they're someone else's." Important in some circumstances, but I think I'll check out yours more often, too.

Baby Sister said...

This was a great post Betty. :) You are the type of teacher I would LOVE to have!!