Mid Term Meditation

Read this.

It’s the first thing I’ve ever read that describes the full scope of what it is like to teach at a community college, and it is full of little gems that capture all the complications of the work we do and the complications present in every single classroom for students and instructors.

Ever had this thought?:

“Am I enabling them,” Greg writes in an e-mail, “by meeting this lack of effort halfway?” In some cases, he thinks, it would be cruel to punish it.

I have. Captured there is the difficulty and paradox of being both advocate and judge for our students.

Pick a sentence and post it in the comments.

10 thoughts on “Mid Term Meditation

  1. Oh this is brilliant. Thanks for posting, Dave.

    “Nobody sits in the front row.”

    “Who knows what a syllabus is?”

    “The class struggles with commas” … !

    🙂

  2. “Here in remedial English, students often need help with more than homework.”

    I believe it’s true of every class.

  3. Great article. “Starting today he will be their coach, champion, stickler, judge. ”

    “But a community college enrolls anybody who shows up, i’s dotted or not. Instructors here often must be social workers, too. If you take students in, Greg believes, it’s your obligation to support them.”

    “A second chance meets students only part of the way. “You’re not forced to learn,” Kenneth says. “You decide if you want to learn or not.”

  4. “Anxiety can derail a fragile student, and so can any interruption, even a substitute teacher for one class.”

    “A few paragraphs down, he smiles. ‘A beautiful sentence,'”

    “A second chance meets students only part of the way. “You’re not forced to learn,” Kenneth says. “You decide if you want to learn or not.”

  5. He is the only white person in the room.
    First he must learn their names.
    Later, Greg lugs the folders, bound with thick rubber bands, back to his apartment.
    Instructors here often must be social workers, too.
    Sometimes a little self-deprecation puts students at ease.
    Maybe they didn’t speak English as children.
    To succeed in the future, he says, she needs to stop playing with her phone and socializing in class.
    In a course built for second chances, how many chances should students get?

  6. “Nobody wants to be here.”

    “As the semester begins, Greg knows he can help some students make it. Not most, maybe not many, but some.”

    “Of the 25 who started, 13 have passed.”

    “He always grades in green or purple ink; red looks angry.”

  7. Later, he ponders that decision. In a course built for second chances, how many chances should students get?

  8. I could really just copy-paste the entire essay. It’s easy to feel like we’re toiling alone, and gratifying to know that we’re not. Thanks for the read, Dave!

    • I felt the same way even without teaching developmental English; well put.

      And, my pleasure!

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