The Education Frontier

One Teacher's Journey in Online Education

The Education Frontier - One Teacher's Journey in Online Education

On Being a Sucker

It’s Spring Break week here in the beautiful state of Colorado.  Last Friday I gleefully set my auto-responder and looked forward to ten blissful days of being unplugged.  No sooner had I shut the laptop than the email alert dinged on my phone.  I sighed and checked the notifications.  No one wants to start break with something hanging over them, right?  It was one of my students who desperately wants to pass my course, asking me if I could take a look at a first draft before break so she could wrap it up during break and keep working on her late work.  Ugh.  This paper was already two weeks late.  But, wanting to support my student, I powered back up and gave her feedback on the draft.

Then, on Sunday, in a thoughtless act of habit, I opened the work email on my iPad.  There was an email from a student with a 6% who desperately needs to pass my class in order to graduate in May.  She asked me what she needed to do to get there and, oh, by the way, could I send her a place to start so she could work over break?  Sigh.  Of course I can.  How could I leave her hanging?

Sunday evening, while I was cooking dinner, the text message alert went off on my phone, again another student.  This time one of my students who tends to skim all emails and directions in the course who had no idea that the due dates were different over break.  He was asking for an extension on an assignment that isn’t due until next week.  How could I not answer?  Poor kid was panicking.

So, here we are three days into break, and I haven’t unplugged at all.  Would these students benefit from a lesson on boundaries and when it is and is not appropriate to ask for help from an adult?  Probably.  But is it the most important lesson I could teach them right now?  No.  Right now they need the loving support of a caring adult.  These are all students who wouldn’t pass my class without it.  And so I help them…and feel like a sucker.  But also, I  feel like their teacher.  And that’s worthwhile.

Category: Reflections
  • Hannah Brown says:

    I know this is an older post but I felt I needed to comment anyway. I relate so well to this battle of “Do I teach them this is unacceptable behavior or do I help them succeed?” and often feel like a sucker because I almost always choose helping them :). Also I received my copy of your book today in the mail. It looks wonderful! I’m so glad to be a part of it.

    June 25, 2013 at 4:39 am
    • newkipp says:

      Thanks Hannah! I struggle with the same question. Ultimately, I choose helping them succeed in almost every circumstance. Yes, I have high expectations for performance and I hold them to those expectations but if I need to be inconvenienced to get them to that point, that’s ok. (But I always feel like a sucker when I do it!)

      June 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm

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