Doing the Job

Last Friday I had an 8:00 am meeting to discuss the revision of the core. Got there early and was reading the newspaper. In walks a colleague, so I rather automatically asked how she was. Tears came streaming down her face. "I so want to quit this place," she responded. It seems someone had said something cruel to her and she was feeling utterly bereft.

Later one of my senior students came to see me in my office. He had turned in some work filled with errors, and I had growled back in my paper comments that this was unacceptable for a 400-level course. He sat in the chair opposite me filled with remorse. He knew his writing was beset with problems, but he had managed to get to his senior year in spite of this. I reassured him that his problems weren't fatal. There was still time to take action in the Writing Lab. He left my office feeling a little better and resolved to tackle the issue. Then, just before noon, I strolled over to the book store, bought a card, and jotted a note to my bereft colleague. I wanted her to know that she was valued for her passion and creativity.

Another student showed up at my office door a few minutes before 1:00 pm. She's a quiet one and never says much in class. Even so, she has one of the sharper minds in the room. Enigmatic, though. I can't always read her. Anyway, I had gently called her out about "phoning it in on me" only the week before, and her most recent work has been much better. Something must have struck a chord because now she was asking me to write her a letter of recommendation for a scholarship opportunity. I told her I would be delighted.

It had been a long week and I so wanted to leave early Friday afternoon. My wife has been sick and I have not been feeling so great myself, but I happened to see another student as I was making my way across campus to my car. She's an art major in my capstone seminar and her senior show was opening last Friday afternoon.

"You will come, won't you?" she asked with a lip already starting to pout at the expectation of an excuse. I said I would be there, which meant hanging around until 5:00 when her reception opened. So I doubled back to my office and some more grading. At 5:00 pm I walked back across the now-deserted campus to her reception. I spent some time asking about her work and complimenting her on a very nice print.

And so that was Friday.
I didn't do a single thing that will ever show up on my annual faculty up-date, didn't publish anything, didn't use any newfangled teaching techniques, or even--for that matter-- have a very good 1:00 class. Still I can't help thinking I was really doing my job last Friday.

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