a simple phone call

Posted by Debby on 9th July and posted in Teaching and Learning

I had an opportunity to talk to a student yesterday. He is retired from the Navy, working on base, running his own business, and already has a BA degree. He’s back in school taking his first ever online classes, taking advantage of his GI Bill and considering possibly a business degree. I noticed that he hadn’t logged into class for a number of days so I sent off a short message asking if he needed any help and offering to chat or call if he wanted. The response was almost immediate, with his phone number, so we set up a time. Turns out that he had planned on dropping both of his classes (mine and another) during his lunch hour that day but my email caught him before he could go. He had trouble with his other class in getting the right textbook from the bookstore and wasn’t getting much of any response from the teacher other than telling him to go deal with the publisher. I offered him some ideas about what to do there and then we talked about my class. He was greatly relieved that I had sent the email because he didn’t want to drop the classes, but he couldn’t take a hit to his GPA because of the requirements of his funding. He appreciated my flexible deadline policy (everything due at the first test). It took some of the stress off of him knowing that he wasn’t behind by much and that he could get caught up without penalty. It made me sad to hear his story because it is one that I hear on a regular basis. I gave him my cell number and told him to call if he needed anything.

These are the kinds of students that we want in our classes. They are motivated. They want to get down to business. They want to be contributing members of our society (and by extension, our economy). And sometimes, they need some personal attention to let them know it is safe to ask questions, that someone actually cares who they are beyond their value as an FTES, and that someone is there to help them find their way in an unfamiliar and often complicated system. It was only 30 or 40 minutes out of my day but hopefully it was enough to give him the boost he needs to stay connected and in school. They are the reason we are here. In the overwhelming push towards accountability and busy work, I hope we never forget who we are here to serve… these students… all students… They are THE reason why we have a job in the first place. If we don’t do right by them, they won’t come back, and we will all suffer the consequences.

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