Encouraging and Caring for Public University Students

 

There was a line of students to see me after my “Reading, Writing & Inquiry” class had ended. I had been commending the class’s written assignments and half a dozen college students wanted further comment on their work. The group had been given an assignment to discuss their favorite book, writing, or activity. One young man had contributed a tremendous piece on race car design. Showering encouragement on his work, I suggested that his input demonstrated a care for human life. Some students wrote about overcoming trauma. Others wrote about their deepest care for others.

One young woman wanted a bit more of my time. She asked to see me after class. We found a table outside the classroom.

Sitting across from me, she gushed, “I just have so many ideas for the next assignment, I just don’t know which one to pick! Would you help me?!”

I smiled, responding, “Your writing today was tremendous! Why don’t you unpack some of the other thoughts you have?”

The ideas tumbled out of her. One after another, her excitement barely contained, the swell of her voiced inspirations filled the hallway where we met.

Star Wars was one area of exploration, a statement she had punctuated by wearing a Luke Skywalker shirt to class. I shared her enthusiasm at every turn. “You sound like me,” I responded at one point. “Having too many ideas can be both exhilarating and frustrating.” She agreed, still bubbling with anticipation of what she would write.

Then she asked me a question for which I was unprepared.

“Why do you care so much?”

Surprised by the query, I asked, “Care about what?”

She pointed at herself, “You know, care about students and what we think.”

I smiled (again, through my mask), saying, “Oh! My answer is always the same: you are the next generation. You will make a difference in the world. My care for you all as students is to serve the future.”

Then, I took my answer a bit further, “I really like college students.”

“You do?!” She was incredulous.

“Yes! That’s why I like to teach at the university. My job is to inspire you, to encourage your participation in the world.”

We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

“Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

[A snapshot of one class, one student, one conversation in my teaching life from yesterday.]

Picture credit: unsplash.com/@sincerelymedia]

Published in Education
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  1. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Your job sounds rewarding.  And fun (probably except for the inevitable drudgery in any job).

    • #1
  2. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    • #2
  3. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    And to you! I was a high school teacher for 20 years out of my 38 in teaching. When interviewed for a university position I made sure that those asking the questions knew my history. Why? Because seniors in HS become college freshmen months later. I believe folks like you and I best understand the 18 year old over against the prof who has only taught higher Ed. Kudos to you for maintaining the course, valuing your students.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    In case I didn’t say this closer to mid-July, welcome to Ricochet!

    • #4
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    In case I didn’t say this closer to mid-July, welcome to Ricochet!

    Is there a Rico teacher group? 

    • #5
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    I suppose the above could be taken as “get a room” but that is not my intended meaning. 

    • #6
  7. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    TBA (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    In case I didn’t say this closer to mid-July, welcome to Ricochet!

    Is there a Rico teacher group?

    I did start one on ideas in education. 

    • #7
  8. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Here is Teaching as a Craft and Issues in Education.  (For anyone passionate or curious about the world’s most interesting profession.)

    • #8
  9. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    TBA (View Comment):

    I suppose the above could be taken as “get a room” but that is not my intended meaning.

    Ha, ha. 

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    TBA (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    We continued our conversation on the short walk down the hallway until we parted ways.

    “Thank you for your time professor,” she had begun to make her turn. “I’m glad I’m in your class!”

    As a high school teacher your story resonates with me; conversation is how we extend value to others. It sounds like your students understand their value to you because you speak with them, even in the context of whole class interaction, rather than at them. Respect to you, sir!

    In case I didn’t say this closer to mid-July, welcome to Ricochet!

    Is there a Rico teacher group?

    Red Pill Faculty Lounge?

    • #10
  11. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    @markeckle  I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    • #11
  12. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    A general…can’t remember who…remarked that you can’t be a good officer unless you *really like soldiers*…and that it can’t be faked.

    • #12
  13. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    JoelB (View Comment):

    @ markeckle I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    I have wondered about this as well.  Particularly, in what age group is the church most likely to have the greatest impact or alternatively, lose them?  (I have taught college freshman/sophomores in a community college setting and it was rewarding for the 15% of the class that truly wanted the education, the rest were already “lost” to just going through the academic motions and checking off the requirements).  I have taught young children in church and that is fun – silly songs, stories, games etc – all with a purpose of course.  I haven’t taught in a while. I am thinking of going back into teaching at church – as our pastor says – someone/some philosophy gets the next generation – is it us (the church) or do we leave them to the toss of the cultural winds to fend for themselves?  But as I step back in, I am wondering what age group is the tipping point?  I am thinking around 8th or 9th grade.    

    • #13
  14. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    JoelB (View Comment):

    @ markeckle I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    Hi Joel. Not sure where to go with this comment. My focus began in junior and senior high in a Christian school environment. I have taught in undergrad and grad Christian programs. Now I teach at a public university. If there is a question of methodology I could share a book or two. I also teach adults in my church for the fall quarter.

    • #14
  15. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    JoelB (View Comment):

    @ markeckle I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    An example is the finest of instruction and the one we often fail at, especially with children.   Humans of all ages are watching and listening.   It’s something we don’t think about, even to the point of this post, but I think the story of this post is in part about being an example. 

    • #15
  16. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    JoelB (View Comment):

     

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    I have a lot of thoughts regarding children’s church/Sunday School, having worked in classrooms and church environments. I’m tempted to drop all these specifics on you, but I’ll discipline myself to five general principles, and then you could ask for more detail where needed.

    1.) Predictable structure is important. An agenda on the board, tailored to the age group, can be your template for each class session.

    2.) Students like to know how they are expected to interact in your class, and like to be held firmly and kindly to your expectations. With first and second graders, I have drawn eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and heart symbols on the board. We discuss what each symbol means (“Eyes are looking at the teacher when she is talking.”)  Then I give them feedback on a brief “check-in” after each agenda item. I give lots of praise for raising hands to participate and not interrupting the teacher. I promise that kids like this better than what can be chaos.

    3.) Solid content is crucial. Have a strong curriculum that walks to the kids through the Bible in a way that they can see how the small stories fit into a whole story of God’s redeeming work. Very young kids–such as emerging readers in first and second grade–are capable of learning a great deal, as long as it is explained on their level and reviewed.  Thus I have a “Words to Know” section every week, concepts are emphasized, and we start learning the books of the Bible and looking up and reading references from the lesson.

    4.) Visuals will keep the whole class tracking, whether written agenda, fill-in-the-blank on concepts, lesson props kids make when they come in the room, coloring page from the lesson, timeline, and more.

    5.) Keep all students involved by giving them the impression that they’ll be called on to participate at any time: having a gesture to show when you want the whole class to answer, doing friendly cold-calling, drawing names on popsicle sticks out of a cup, playing review games involving everyone, having them fill something simple out while you’re talking, asking for hand signals to indicate answers, etc.

    So much for disciplining myself to a few principles!

    • #16
  17. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Dominique Prynne (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    @ markeckle I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    I have wondered about this as well. Particularly, in what age group is the church most likely to have the greatest impact or alternatively, lose them? (I have taught college freshman/sophomores in a community college setting and it was rewarding for the 15% of the class that truly wanted the education, the rest were already “lost” to just going through the academic motions and checking off the requirements). I have taught young children in church and that is fun – silly songs, stories, games etc – all with a purpose of course. I haven’t taught in a while. I am thinking of going back into teaching at church – as our pastor says – someone/some philosophy gets the next generation – is it us (the church) or do we leave them to the toss of the cultural winds to fend for themselves? But as I step back in, I am wondering what age group is the tipping point? I am thinking around 8th or 9th grade.

    @dominiqueprynne  Our church provides mentoring for teenagers, which I think is a good idea. So there is both a Young Men’s and a Young Woman’s Discipleship Group. In the young men’s group, they include challenging muscle-building workouts along with teaching. I believe in the young women’s group, they spend time cultivating individuals. Wow, I would have taken great encouragement from that as a teenager. I think that’s the right strategy. We’ve just resumed Sunday School post-Covid, and there is a couple working with our teenagers who are really drawn to that age group. I think the older kids have a more discussion-oriented setup, with maybe a catechism as their curriculum. The teens have also formed their own group led by one kid. They get together to pray after church. This is a small church, but we’ve had a growth spurt recently and have something like a hundred kids! 

    • #17
  18. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Dominique Prynne (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    @ markeckle I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but my reasons for teaching in Children’s Church echo some of the thoughts expressed in the post. I don’t know whether you have taught in a Church environment, but I expect that many of the principles and techniques are similar or adaptable. If you have any thoughts along those lines, I would be interested.

    @ sawatdeeka, with your background as an MK as well as a parent, I believe that you might have some good ideas for a Children’s Church/Sunday school environment also.

    If there are any others reading this with experience and thoughts along this line, I would be interested in reading comments and posts.

    I have wondered about this as well. Particularly, in what age group is the church most likely to have the greatest impact or alternatively, lose them? (I have taught college freshman/sophomores in a community college setting and it was rewarding for the 15% of the class that truly wanted the education, the rest were already “lost” to just going through the academic motions and checking off the requirements). I have taught young children in church and that is fun – silly songs, stories, games etc – all with a purpose of course. I haven’t taught in a while. I am thinking of going back into teaching at church – as our pastor says – someone/some philosophy gets the next generation – is it us (the church) or do we leave them to the toss of the cultural winds to fend for themselves? But as I step back in, I am wondering what age group is the tipping point? I am thinking around 8th or 9th grade.

    otoh, it is at the very end of high school that they will most need powerful tools to resist the spiritual assault that is college. 

    • #18