Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why do we do what we do?

We are all well aware of how tired our students are at this point in the semester.  However, we need to remember to take care of ourselves as well as them.  Most of us are probably feeling a little "shop-worn" as the semester slides into final exams.

Have you noticed that almost every committee is trying to get one or two more meetings in before the end of classes?  Are many of your deadlines converging to the same one or two days?  Is there at least one dinner, reception, or other end-of-the-year event scheduled every week?  If you are a student organization advisor, are you involved in semester wrap-up and training of a new set of officers? 

Yes, I have accomplished many things already in this last rush to hooding ceremony.  And, I have a number more to accomplish.  I am often glad that my profession gave me skills for time management, stress management, and project management.  But, I must admit that I would not mind a slower pace at the moment.

However, just as I begin to tire, I am reminded of the importance of what we do each day as academic support professionals.  If I get really drained of energy, I pull out a file that I have added to over the years.  The file includes thank you notes, Christmas cards, e-mails, and other items sent to me by students who wanted to let me know that I made a difference.

I really enjoy my law students - not only as learners, but as people.  Being a cheering squad of one when they need it has definite rewards.  Their accummulated successess (even the tiny ones) remind me of why I do what I do.  Just this week, my students gave me several reasons for ignoring my tiredness and waking up with new energy. 

All of you have the same reasons for an infusion of new energy in your role.  But, in case you are wondering during this frenetic time why you do what you do, here are some reminders of what makes our work so rewarding:

  • Seeing a student smile for the first time in days because an exam study schedule has emerged during an appointment.
  • Having a student drop by to relate excitedly that the grade on the returned midterm was a good one.
  • Creating solutions with a student for a problem that was believed by the student to be insurmountable when the appointment began.
  • Providing a student with an awareness about learning styles that has immediate practical implications for success.
  • Helping a student keep perspective on grades in the scheme of life.
  • Sharing the celebration with a student who has gone from less than a 2.0 GPA one semester to over a 3.0 GPA for another semester several academic terms later.
  • Seeing a stressed student's pleasure at finding a Laffy Taffy at the bottom of the candy bucket in the study aids library.
  • Having a student drop by for a five-minute pep talk because academic support is seen as an encouraging place.
  • Eating cookies, cakes, chocolate, and other unexpected goodies left as thanks.
  • Drinking morning coffee from a mug presented as a thank you gift.
  • Watching a student who has struggled finally walk across the stage for the traditional hooding ceremony.
  • Talking with grateful parents who know that academic support helped their student survive first year or finish law school successfully.
  • Greeting new babies, seeing wedding photos, hearing about vacations, learning of job offers, and sharing all the other joyful moments in students' lives.
  • Remembering what it was like to go to law school when academic support professionals were few and far between.

So, have a good night's sleep tonight.  Indulge in one of your favorite meals.  Wear your favorite outfit tomorrow.  And, get ready for making a difference one student and one day at a time.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

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