This past fall, I had the pleasure of teaching an English 091 course for GCC. I had a wonderful experience, and I am pretty confident that my students did too (at least, many indicated that on their end-of-semester classroom evals).
I learned a lot by teaching the course, but one interaction with a student stood out for me the most. One Friday morning, I was more tired than usual as I was up late the previous night due to my own schoolwork as I am also in a doctoral program. As students walked into class, they could tell I was not my normal self, so I explained I am taking my own classes, had to stay up late to finish some work, and was still waking up this morning.
After class, I walked with one of my students back to my office since he had a brief assignment to complete. This student had missed a few classes already in the semester, so I asked him how things were going and if he’s able to keep up with our early start time for class. He proceeded to explain to me that he works the night shift from 7 pm to 3 am, and he tries to just stay up after his shift ends to do homework and come straight to class. So, he missed a few classes as he fell asleep at 4 am, and was just not able to get up in time.
Well – that put things in total perspective for me. I was a bit cranky that morning because I had only five hours of sleep, yet here was a student who had not complained once to me in the first few weeks and was coming to class with no sleep. I was so impressed with his dedication and persistence. More importantly, I was impressed with his grit; his ability to make the best of a very difficult situation and make his education a priority.
I am pleased to write that this student did very well in the course and enrolled in Eng 101 this spring semester. Honestly, I think this student taught me more about keeping it all in perspective than I taught him about subject and verbs.