Thursday, April 5, 2018

The People are the Work

It's a crazy week for me.

I was out of town last week, so I'm playing catch up on marking papers.

I've had a bunch of extra meetings for different committees and commitments.

It's registration season for the next semester, and advisees are coming out of the woodwork to ask me to weigh in.

Visiting student teachers, keeping up with my two students working on independent study projects, and--oh yeah--I have classes to teach(!) means it's a full, full week.

And then, a student stops by, and just asks if I have a few minutes to talk.

So, with a bit of an internal sigh, I put a smile on my face and turn away from my laptop, gesture toward the ramshackle little couch I have in my office, and turn in my chair to give her my full attention, even as I think to myself, "I have things to do..."

This junky little couch moved in to this office the same day I did.

At my welcome, she drops her bag and flops on the couch, and the words just come spilling out as she shares excitedly about how much she is loving her classes this semester, and the excellent book she's reading for this one class she's taking, and how much she's looking forward to taking a class with me in the fall, and the fantastic job she's secured for this summer as a camp counselor, and how much she's enjoying a new extra-curricular activity she recently started, and, and, and...

And then, this:

"Remember when I was a freshman and I came in here and was telling you how I was pretty sure I was going to drop out, but you took the time to talk me through it, and I decided to stay? Remember that?"

And, with a little grin at the corner of my mouth, "Yes, I remember."

"Yeah. I'm really glad I stayed. Thanks for taking the time for me. And thanks for listening now too. I know you're busy, but I just wanted to share--my life is pretty great!"

And she was out the door again.


I shared this story with a colleague later in the day, who was also sitting on that same couch as we talked about our work...and her response: "Thanks for doing that, Dave."

And I shrug, and grin. "It's what we do, right? The teacher in me...when a student comes asking, I make the time."

But her next comment got me: "Well, yes, of course. But this is a good reminder for me: the people are the work."



That's going to be my mantra for the next bit, I think, when I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the meetings and marking and emails to answer...

The people are the work.


  1. That's so cool Dave, really a good reminder for us to keep focused on PEOPLE. I ended up here while reading BOLT 101 blogs, and am just feeling like I don't have anything worthwhile to add as a comment to the posts other students have made. I am in way past my technical ability in that course, and feel like these last two modules are going over my head. I didn't know what level of tech/computer skills would be involved when I took this position or I probably would have asked God if I could put another fleece out. I just knew He was asking me to serve young people. I'm not good at the rest of this, but I do care about that part because I know it's what He cares about. Your post was really right on time for me, I needed a reminder that the tech can't ever replace relationship.

    1. RIGHT ON, TOM! Even though I'm viewed as the "techie," your comment really resonated with me. Tech can't replace relationships. For all educators, I think this is a central truth: we have to see the humanity in our students first, connect with them at a human level, be human ourselves. I'm glad you're here with us, my friend!