While it might seem that I have only complaints to air about students, there is the occasional bright moment with a student that makes this teaching gig worthwhile.
At the beginning of the semester, I had a student come up after class to indicate his extreme trepidation at the prospect of going back to school. He had lost his job of some 20 years, and was now returning to school under a special grant to help retrain displaced workers. He hadn’t written a paper in decades. Based on the quiver in his voice and the tremor in his hand, his nervousness was quite genuine, and not a ploy to elicit my sympathy.
Well, he absolutely nailed the first assignment. He understood all the parameters of writing a narrative, and selected a topic that was absolutely on prompt. As a result, he got one of the few A s earned in the class. He was shocked. Stunned. And of course pleased.
Today, he stopped by to talk about his next paper. He indicated he is using the on-campus writing center that we have, which includes both peer evaluators and tutors. This time, his voice was strong, and his hand steady.
He comes to class daily; he enters into discussions willingly. No excuses, none of the ennui that typifies too many younger students.
I have watched this student changing from a middle-aged man who had the stuffing knocked out of him through his job loss, to a man who sees the glimmer of a new future on the horizon. His demeanor shows someone who has gained new self-confidence.
One bright shining moment! That’s what keeps me teaching.