What Students Need. What We All Need.

I regularly meet with students during office hours as part of my job.  Students come to talk about an essay, a speech, or a grade that they received, but by the time they leave, we've often also talked about their home life, a relationship, or some other aspect of their life unrelated to class.

When I first started this job nine years ago, I only thought of these scenarios from my side of the desk.  I wondered how my students were perceiving me; I worried whether I seemed polished and pulled-together and knowledgeable. 

As I've matured, I've consciously worked to switch this mentality and instead focus on them: What do these students most need from me at this moment?  Direction?  Someone to listen?  A challenge to step it up?  Words of encouragement?

It's flipped how I teach.  Daresay, it's flipped how I think and interact with others in most situations. 

Of course, I still wonder how I'm perceived at times.  I still want to be liked.  I'm still affected by criticism.  I'm not immune to any of these things.  Because of this, I remind myself that my students, like every other human, feel the exact same way. 

When I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore taking a 400-level rhetoric course, I once met with my professor after class.  I certainly don't recall every text we read that semester, and I can't remember the bulk of what we discussed during that exchange.  But I vividly remember one specific detail: that afternoon, beneath the towering oaks outside of Sackett Building, she told me that I was smart.

She pinpointed what I needed to hear at that moment, and I've never forgotten it.

I hope that I can do the same.

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  1. Amazing post Robin. I'm sensitive to what others want/need in the moment as well (perhaps it's my 20 years in the early childhood profession). I love how intentional you are.

    Wishing you a lovely evening.

  2. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm still learning and growing with this. It's always a process, isn't it?


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