Everyone Has A Dream

Jo Macek
Political Science Adjunct Faculty

Educators try to classify students into neat learning categories, but quite often they are not successful. These categories do not reveal the uniqueness of the individual experience, background, and motivation. All students, whether traditional or non-traditional, working or not, multi-cultural or native-speaking, visual or auditory, impaired or challenged, are individuals with personal goals and educational needs. I have been teaching for many years and have had many students who affected my understanding of teaching. I had many small step adjustments to my teaching, but no singular epiphany.

Providing high quality education, encouraging skills development, and promoting community involvement is not only the mission of Lansing Community College but my mission also. I taught students who were homeless, in a violent relationship, had cancer, took care of parents/children/spouse with cancer, in a gang, worried about money, over the age of 60, parent at 16, and the list goes on. Even the best and most dedicated student sometimes runs into problems or obstacles and falls down mid-class. What is the commonality here? Everyone wants a connection, everyone wants someone who will listen, someone who will treat them as a person not a category. The important word in teaching isn’t flexibility, but understanding. Understanding each individual student.

Great pictures, awesome videos or lectures don’t mean anything if a student can’t see, hear, or be in class. So, what have I done to be fair, equitable, and promote learning the mission of LCC? I haven’t written best-selling books, or founded an organization, or appeared on a talk show. Instead, I allowed additional time for assignments, used alternate assessment methods, developed small group collaborative activities (we applaud after sharing), made videos, paid for hands-on activities materials (even in political science), explained assignments in detail (over and over and over) and provided examples, answered phone calls and texts past my bedtime, met students not during office hours to explain assignments and course concepts, lent my personal resources, and listened. I do this not because of a requirement, but because I value each student’s learning and I understand that sometimes they need understanding.

Students are not Millennial or Generation Z or ESL or transfer or degree-seeking or high-risk. Students are not a category. Students are individuals pursuing an educational or career dream, that as community college faculty I can turn into an attainable goal, then hopefully into a personal accomplishment.