Sometimes I forget that my students are people. Not like I treat them badly, or anything. That’s not what I mean. And I do try to think of them as more than only students. But there are times that I get so wrapped up in lesson planning and grading that I forget. Today I got reminded in two very striking ways that my students are not just math students.
First, we had advising conferences, and just looking at the schedules of my advisees jolted me back into reality. These students are taking a lot more classes than just math, and when I mentally think “why didn’t you just learn the material the night I presented it?”, I sometimes forget that these students are juggling with a lot of teachers all of whom are probably saying the same thing. Not that what we assign them is unmanagable. But it’s not an easy life for them. It’s much easier from our side of the teacher’s desk, looking through the spectacles on the edge of our noses, muttering “when I was your age…”
But it was hard for us then too. We just have had the luxury of forgetting.
Second, today was opening night for the school musical. It was HAIR and it was risque and long and clearly took a lot of preparation to stage. The students in it have worked their tails off to pull off another successful production. And a fair number of my students are involved with the musical. I was impressed by the amount of effort that the kids put into the production, yes, but it was also great to see students outside of the math room context. And outside of the hallway context. And in the theater. For many, the stage is their context, and I’m on their turf. It’s nice to see a student who generally struggles in my class get out on stage, grab the microphone, and belt out a tune.
My students are people.
We really do know it. We just need to remember not to forget it.