This time of the semester those of us in higher ed are pretty focused on the “problem” students… i.e. the ones who want a higher grade, or those who are failing. I think it’s time for a student success story…
We’ll call him X…
X was a student in my logic course. Early in the semester, it became clear to me that X was “special” — and perhaps not in a good way. He asked strange questions in class, he seemed not to be paying attention and he was generally spacy.
One day X came to class wearing dark sunglasses and a “legalize it” t-shirt… he was also, quite clearly not paying attention. As is the case with many students, X seemed to be majoring in pot & guitars.
Later that day, during poofie at the ‘boo, I complained to Andy about him. When Andy asked if I was going to talk to X about it, I told him that X would probably just fail… but, after seeing the look on Andy’s face, I knew that I was actually going to talk to X about his pot use and how it just doesn’t get along with doing well in logic. He didn’t say anything, but his look said, “hun, you know the right thing to do… now, do it.”
It was then that I knew I was going to have to have an incomfotable discussion with X…
A few days later, X happened to be wandering by my office when I siezed my opportunity…. I begain by asking him if he smoked pot (a safe question since he was wearing one of many t-shirts advocating legalization). Then I mentioned to him that I agree with Andy… that pot probably should be legal and that I wasn’t interested in judging him for what he does on his off time, but I was concerned about how his pot use was hurting his performance in logic.
After that was out of the way, we had a discussion about what he’d missed while he was baked in class. I gave him some new ways to think about the concepts, told him to go do some problems so I could see that he understood and wished him well.
That was in early October. Since then X’s attendance has been excellent. He’s passed all of his quizzes with flying colors and he’s asked good questions in class…. and, he’s clearly been sober in class.
I know that Andy’s gentle influence on me prompted my action…. we really are a good team :). So much of my job is technical, dealing with large groups of students and enforcing policies and procedures — sometimes I forget that I can make a difference in the lives of indivudal students and that the extra effort necessary to do so is a good investment.
Recently, X earned his A in logic. I’m so proud of him and quite happy that Andy and I could make a change in his life.
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