My favorite student texts from Spring 2015 semester

betty ming liu Relationships 14 Comments

Relief, at last! The sweat of herding college students through Spring 2015 is over. We’ve made progress along the path to enlightenment. The final grades are in. Which means that as I enter my first free week of the summer, I am nostalgic about the most trying moments.

To give you an idea of what my world has been like, I’m sharing some of my favorite texts. If you’re surprised that we text, well, it’s on me. Texting is much more efficient than email. If they’re going to be tardy or absent, I insist that they give me a timely heads up. That way, I can tweak the lesson plan and hold off on the meaty stuff until the latecomers straggle in.

I feel it’s important to be strict on attendance because students are incredibly busy these days. They carry full course loads along with working or interning — or both simultaneously.

work excuse

Many of them are also juggling the stressors of modern living: family problems, chronic medical issues, personal anxiety. Very intense.

family problems text

Attendance is usually pretty good for the first few weeks. But then, students start getting sick for a variety of reasons.

feeling ill

food poisoning copy

sinus
fever copy

Yup, it’s disappointing when they don’t show up for guest speakers, which are a pain to arrange.

On the bright side, they know I really care about them. And I’m not really judgmental about their explanations — although the next one is my favorite. You know it’s real because it’s so over-the-top.  

uber excuse

The hardest part of the semester is the middle. That’s when I give out the worst grades. They’re struggling with figuring out what I want and how to deliver it. I’m usually exhausted at this stage too. Sometimes, I feel like a failure.

But then, like magic, the semester creeps into the remaining few weeks. We rally. And for the most part, everything turns out pretty okay. This is when I get the texts that make me happy. Here’s one from my communications course on public speaking:

thanks textAnd this is from one of the writing/journalism classes:

another thank you

Aw!

Every semester, I learn so much from my students. This spring, I got a big lesson on the value of personal interaction. Many of them told me that our initial one-on-one conversations were scary. But we all found it highly useful. Definitely, I plan to do more private convos with each of them this fall.  

What’s happening might be a generational shift, according to a New York Times article that I found very informative: Here Comes Generation Z. Forget about Baby boomers (born 1946-1963), Gen X millennials (1964-1979) and Gen Y (born after 1980). We are now dealing with Generation Z (born in the mid-’90s to ’00s).  According to the article, here’s what Gen Z is like:

To start, they tend to be independent…Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions…Despite their technical proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in-person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are prepared for a global business environment…Gen Z is also diverse…they are often a mix of ethnicities. 

In other words, they are going to keep me very, very busy.   

How about you? Are you dealing with any Gen Zers or students in your life? I’ll bet you have tales to tell too.  :)

Comments 14

  1. I love this!
    What a great observation you made about people getting sick mid-semester. I’ve seen it a few times; it’s happened to me a few times, too (but I wasn’t faking!)

    Thanks for sharing the Times article about Gen Z. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Betty, I agree with your students. You have a gift of encouraging the individual voice. You don’t only help students find their voice, you help students embrace their voice and find their courage. xo

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      Skye, we’ve all done that school-sick thing. Every semester, I’m in danger of getting rundown mid-semester. I hope you do check out the Z story. It was really interesting. And Skye, my students help me find my own voice. I learn a lot from being around their creative energy. :)

  2. In one of her essays, Roxane Gay writes with great faux-seriousness and concern about the epidemic that’s killing off the nation’s grandmas, because so many of her students had to miss class to (supposedly) attend their grandma’s funeral.

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      You know what Hillary? I am hearing more about family deaths these days. But it’s real! Also real are the medical problems among students and, the health problems of their aging parents. A lot to juggle. Thankfully, Spring 2015 is behind us.

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  3. My all time favorite excuse for missing class: “Dear Professor Grace, I can’t make it to class today because the dog got into my parent’s laxitves.”
    That certainly conjures a picture, doesn’t it?

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  4. You are a warm and caring person. I think this is why I like to read your blog because you are real and funny. I find your blog because I was searching about Jeffrey Yuen, and I read all your posts about him because I am an acupuncturist, and I am his student. I think your students are lucky to have a teacher like you!

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      Why thank you, Mandy! And I’m delighted that you found me through Jeffrey. He’s the best. I also appreciate you stopping by to drop me a comment. It’s good to meet you. Thanks again and please feel free to comment any time about anything. :)

  5. Betty, I still remember when I called you the night before a reporting assignment on our beats was due because I had just found out I had a virus, two strains of the flu, and mono! You told me mid-semester you didn’t think I’d get an A because of all I had missed from being sick, but I ended up surviving your class and getting one. Like your students this year, I was and am forever thankful for your generosity and understanding, and I’ll never forget all you’ve done for me, even after I graduated (like four years ago now!). I’m graduating with my MFA this Thursday, so let’s meet up again!

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      Courteney, did I really say you might not get an A? Ugh. I feel bad about that! But glad you survived. You’ve shown such passion in everything you do. And CONGRATS ON THAT MFA!! So proud of you. Let’s definitely meet up this summer. xo

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      1. Thanks so much, Betty! And don’t feel bad about what you said. You motivated me to do my best by saying it! By the way, I thought you’d be happy to know I’m teaching a journalism class for precollege students this summer. We’ll have to meet up before then so you can give me some tips!

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