Working Together for Success

Gloria Shirey
Writing Instructor

It was fall semester, and Lansing Community College started the week before Labor Day.  I was in the basement of the A & S building, starting my first class of the semester of Writing 121.  We were far into the introductions of students in the class when Chris walks into the room.  He was 45 minutes late.

With no regards for who was talking or what the rest of the class was doing, Chris proceeded to lean back in his chair and took out his cell phone.  He was oblivious to his surroundings and didn’t care.

During class introductions, going over the syllabus, and a short writing assignment, Chris barely stayed focused with his head down.  I noticed he struggled with the writing prompt, which was odd because it was about them.

After class, I called Chris up to the front and asked him to sign in and started a friendly conversation as to what was going on and what he had missed.  Very curtly he stated he had some family problems and he was involved in athletics.  Then looking me square in the eyes he let me know he hated writing.

A couple of weeks went by where Chris sometimes came to class on time and times when he drifted in.  He was very detached from peer discussions and class participation until the class started working on their first essay.  At that time, I received an email from Chris’s coach about his academic performance in my class.  We emailed back and forth a few times as I expressed my concern for his failure and family addiction to drug problems.

Over the course of the semester with help from his coach, Chris and I worked on topics for research that would help his circumstance such as how to cope with family drug addiction.  His coach was able to put the pressure on Chris to stay connected academically, and I was able to apply his academic research to real life problems.

Chris passed Writing 121 with a solid 3.0 and found out how to help support his family through their addictions.  He also learned that writing was helpful in his everyday life.