I never know how to take students until I get to know them a little. I have a woman in one of my classes - she is clearly a non-trad and may even be older than I am (I am bad at judging age and I still look a little young for my actual calendar age so it "feels like" she is older than I am, and I also get the sense this is someone coming back to learn the ropes of a second career in life, and I'm still on my first....)
Anyway, she was struggling in class. And wanted to make an appointment to meet with me. This all came on the heels of the athlete (in the same class) who seems to think they are the most important person in the whole wide world, so I confess I was nervous about another unhappy student.
This was different. She came in and talked a bit - part of it she's been having BAD money problems, like, problems I've never had to deal with myself. But that's straightened out, apparently. She also noted that she had access to the online book but no physical book (a lot of students do this to save money, it is something like $120 more to buy the paper book) and she noted, "I'm a book person and I don't like reading online."
And I can totally sympathize with that - I have taken to printing out the articles I find on JSTOR because I find when I read an article printed with laserjet ink on paper, it sticks in my head, but when I read an article printed with electrons on a screen, I don't. I don't know why. Brains are funny.
I was able to tell her that we have a copy on reserve in the library, and even failing that, I'd loan out my copy for 30 minutes or so at a time during my office hours, for use in the building. (I think this is someone I can trust). She seemed cheered up by that.
The other thing - I don't know what her instructors were like before (she came from one of the community colleges near here) but apparently she was not used to faculty holding office hours where we welcome students coming in for help. I made a big deal about that, that I sit here ten hours a week and I'm happy to go over notes or answer questions or even re-teach some topics if she can tell me specifically what she's struggling with.
She seemed a lot happier after the meeting and told me she was going to go catch up on the homework and that she'd definitely come in to go over her notes with me when we started the next topic. So maybe, just maybe, I reached someone today. And even if she doesn't wind up earning a passing grade at least I was able to let her know that I was there to help.
She shook my hand before leaving the office and thanked me, which made me feel good. Too many of the students I've had seem to take whatever I do totally as their due. I know I shouldn't expect to be thanked but it certainly makes a difference.
it was nice to end the week with a positive interaction.
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