I was finishing teaching my Tuesday hybrid class today when a student, who had been standing just outside the computer classroom door, stepped inside as my class let out.
“Are you Dr. Ramos?”
Considering that this person wasn’t currently my student, and considering what those students usually mean when they ask me that question, I already knew why this student sought me out.
“I heard really good things from you, and, you see, I took English 1301 before and…”
As I said, I heard similar explanations before, and what I have gotten from such encounters are that 1) my classes are really easy to understand and therefore, 2) my classes are such that students who have failed English before can pass in mine.
I always have mixed feelings when student seek me out for that reason, for my reputation as the “second chance English professor.” Are my classes really that easy? But my gradebook, although often filled with plenty of A’s and B’s, also have a fair share of C’s, and a few stray D’s and F’s.
Am I just too nice?
If “nice” means “being human around my students”, then I’m guilty as charged. My work and home life are too hectic for me to cultivate a “sage on the stage” teacher persona — whatever I am outside of the classroom is what I am in the classroom, for better or worse. For a few students, that may be an absolute turn-off, but, from what I gather from these encounters, as well as what my actual students — past and present — tell me, such an approach to my teaching duties they find appealing.
Maybe it’s because I teach in a community college, and I am always mindful that my students are not only just adults, but also working and parenting adults –in other words, people just like me. And if my mind were in a thousand places that need my attention but I find myself in a classroom instead, I would need a teacher to acknowledge that fragmented life that I lead.
Often it is clear that my students would prefer not to be in class — sure, perhaps just to goof off somewhere, but also for very legitimate and sometimes dire reasons. I know how that feels like, and it is not something to make light of or disregard.
But back to that student — I gave him a copy of my syllabus, and he thanked me, saying, “You’ll see me in the fall.”
I suppose I will. And I hope that my class will give him that second chance… provided he does his work, that is. 🙂