As another semester draws to a close, I realize how lucky I am to be a community college teacher. I feel blessed that I get to forge relationships with remarkable adults over a sixteen-week period and I can help them progress from various stages of writing (dis)comfort to polished, prepared writers for their next semester. The last official class before exams is a significant presentation day, as students deliver interactive, multimedia presentations about their research projects, and it is a brief moment of calm before I get a deluge of research essays to grade (hooray!!).
For my students' research projects (which includes extensive research, drafting, revising, and a culminating class presentation) I encourage them to choose topics that are meaningful to them-- meaningful because of a personal connection or a professional responsibility. This semester was no different, as students discussed policies relevant to their professions and issues that resonated in their hearts. The best part of these presentations, however, was the visible engagement my students have with each other during and after each presentation. They asked thoughtful questions, ("I never thought about that; what should I do?" "Then what happened?") and they show their nervous classmates that they really care about the work they did, and that they genuinely want their classmates to be successful. They remind each other that they are in the same learning community and are bound by shared learning experiences in our classroom and on campus.
One of my favorite times as a teacher is when I learn from my students-- either by gaining a better understanding of an issue based on their research or on the intangible appreciation I have for humanity when I see my class come together for one last communal moment. While I am quick to praise them for their efforts and insights, they will never truly know how much they enrich my life.
This week I am taking a drive back home. I hope the road leads me where I want to go.