Adjunct Instructor, Center for Transitional Learning
As the years go by, teachers meet many students. Some of these students do not believe they belong in higher education. I recently met one of those students. The enthusiasm she showed at the beginning of the semester turned into despair and drudgery.
I tried to encouraged her to not give up on the class. I wrote paragraphs of feedback on her compositions, focusing on positive aspects. I avoided right and wrong in favor of how she could improve certain areas. I greeted her everyday and tried to include her in class discussion. Yet, I was losing her. Absences began to increase and assignment deadlines were missed. When she did turn in her assignments, they felt incomplete and lacking any voice. It was as if she had removed the author from the writing.
The patterned continued past the mid-term. It was obvious she was now heading for failure. I finally cornered her and asked if anything was wrong. What started as a non-answer brush-off, became a confession. She did not want to be in school. She had a full-time job she enjoyed. She felt she was being forced by her mother to be here and she was miserable.
I told her it was OK. She did not have to be in school. LCC will always be here and she could come back anytime. I told her she could learn much in the workforce, but one day she will realize an education is necessary to reach a higher position. I told her it was OK if she wanted to leave school, but she could not burn a bridge while she did it: “Everything you start, you must finish.” She needed to finish the semester with decent grades. While school will always be here for here when she is ready, so will these grades.
I never saw her again after she walked away. I did, however, see every missing assignment and a complete portfolio. While the work still lacked a unique identity, I could see the return of the writer’s voice. I am pretty sure she did not return to school, but I know she will one day. The ability to become a lifelong learner has been cemented into her character.