It’s the end of another semester. I’ve one more paper to turn it, but I can’t seem to get myself to do it. It’s like celebrating an achievement, and then realizing you have one more thing you need to complete for it to be legit.
This semester was very interesting. Since I am working on my teaching certificate, most of my classmates are either career changers or experienced teachers who are with us as part of their continuing education. In every class, every day, I always felt like such a noob. And it wasn’t fun.
So I worked my back off. With every assignment we had, the rest of the class seemed to get along fine. I had to go an extra two or three miles just to catch up. Those A’s didn’t seem so certain anymore, and I wasn’t a happy camper.
But I learned a lot. Way beyond grades, I know I’m a better person for having stayed up and worked so hard on every paper or requirement. And I’m blogging for posterity, and as a reminder that no effort, when exerted for a good purpose, ever goes wasted.
1. Let me start by stating something obvious: If I get bad grades, it’s because I’m lazy.
I keep telling the hubby that back in UP, the challenge lay in finding resources to help you with your studying. The library may have the books, but you had to be quick about it. And then, five copies of the textbook for forty students meant having to make photocopies. Which can get expensive. Which could mean the difference between eating at Langhap Sarap or Ellen’s Fried Chicken. And then of course, you had to go to a “Computer Center” to write your paper. Despite the air conditioning, this too can get expensive.
As a student again, I never take for granted having all the resources I need. Thanks to my grades, I get book allowance (which is partly the reason why I work hard to get good grades). I can purchase all the textbooks I need. There’s also the library, which for convenience, I can access from home. So there’s really no excuse. If I fail, I’m really just plain lazy.
2. I must choose to respond to the expectations of my teachers, not my own. There is a reason why I’m the one sitting in that chair and they are the ones standing before me. It takes humility to regard others as better than you and to be willing to listen to what they have to say.
I know someone who, after receiving a bad grade on an assignment, complained and said s/he was being discriminated against because of his/her English. In a society where being politically correct is the safe way to go (or the best way to avoid getting sued), that person received a better grade. I listened to him/her laugh about it and thought, what a waste of a learning opportunity!
It also made me think of a teacher during my freshman year at UP. A classmate was complaining about a grade. The teacher, known to be really smart and never boring (he was really good looking, which could partly be the reason why he was never boring) looked that classmate up and down, then told him clearly, “That’s the grade you deserve according to my standards.” His words challenged me to do good in his class, and I did. I guess I responded to the challenge, and emerged a better person.
Many people choose to be defensive when corrected, they feel threatened instead of being challenged. I was that kind of person at one point, and I hated how shriveled up my soul became after listening to my voice alone.
3. No matter how many resources I have at my fingertips, nothing will beat experience. So I must choose to learn from those who have it.
The fly in the ointment. In one particular class, I was the newbie and the only immigrant. So I sat in my seat and learned from my professor and classmates. I listened to their stories, I wrote down their insights, I even asked them for advice. I didn’t use my being an immigrant as a crutch. Instead I admitted that growing up in another country meant another set of challenges for me, and I needed all the help I could get. They were all very helpful, taking care to make sure I understood their explanations. I can say I learned more because of them than I would have just by reading a book on the subject.
4. Finally, I believe learning starts at that point when I admit I am lacking and in need of something more.
I know now to never enter a classroom with the assumption that I already know what we’re going to talk about that session. I enter with the expectation that something new will be offered to get my creative juices running, or something old will be revisited to challenge me to either defend or discard it. In many ways, I’ve discarded old ideas and made room for new ones. And many of my non-negotiables are more defined in my mind. They’re not going anywhere, and I’ve discovered more reasons why.
So I’m still waiting on my grades. I’m hoping for straight A’s. But if I get some B’s, I will at least know I learned. And my grades will stand for something more than just my pride.