As some of you know, I use my first two weeks of classes to schedule face-to-face meetings with individual students in my classes so that I can get to know them better. This is one of my top strategies for increasing participation in class, and it really works. But this week I had a first time thing happen–I was the one who with tears in my eyes as I talked with a student. I have a student who I’ll call Jonathan who has a stuttering disability that makes it hard for him to speak–especially now, through a mask. In spite of this, he contributes to class discussion without fear or anxiety, and he has incredibly insightful things to say, to boot. In our meeting I was thanking him for participating, because I imagine it would be easier for him to stay quiet. So I had tears in my eyes as I told him how he will never know how encouraging this will be to other students. If he can speak up, why can’t they? Jonathan has so much emotional and spiritual maturity, and he is simply a delightful human being. I told him that I have a son on the autism spectrum, and that he could not possibly know how much he made my week just from participating in class. I’m sharing this story because this is why we do this called teaching. Not just for them, but for us. And we get to stand by and watch people overcome obstacles to be the best version of themselves that they can be. What is better than that????
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