Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Farewell to This Semester’s Grossmont College Students

My daughter, as many of you know, is a college softball player at Sacramento State. As a softball mom of many years, I can testify that there is nothing more entertaining than the girls' cheers during the games. I won’t repeat all of them (many involve singing and rhythmic hand-clapping, along with a few amusing nicknames), but there is one cheer, in particular, that has always struck me as interesting. It’s the one where a player calls out to another player, “I see you, (Other Player’s Name here).” The girls do this whether the player has done something meaningful or not; it appears to be a term of endearment, as well as encouragement, and has always struck me as being particularly powerful.

At first, I wasn’t sure what this cheer meant. Does it mean that the player calling out is watching all the great plays the other player performs? Or is it an acknowledgement of the other player’s value on the team, a way of stating recognition – in other words, if I say “I see you,” it means that I am acknowledging that you are important and that you are worthy of being here.

I’ve thought about this cheer as I’ve been getting ready to turn in grades for the classes I teach. As some of you know, in addition to working as a publicist, I also teach business and marketing classes at Grossmont College, one of the many local community colleges here in San Diego. I enjoy teaching for a number of reasons – it forces me to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of PR and business, it allows me to give back by sharing with others what I’ve learned over the years, and it gets me out of the office a couple of afternoons a week, which is good for someone whose main job requires many hours of keeping her butt in the chair.

But one of the best aspects of college teaching is the awesome students I meet. This year’s batch is no exception. I taught two classes this semester – a Marketing class and an Introduction to Business course. Although I had a few students who decided to take both courses (gluttons for punishment, some might say), the two classes couldn’t have been more different.

My Marketing students were a boisterous, outgoing, and expressive lot. A few of them were downright opinionated, but in a good way – they had thoughts about the government, the world of business, and the education system in general (as well as their experience at Grossmont College in particular), and they enjoyed sharing those views, quite frequently. A few expressed observations about my teaching style (one fellow thought I gave too many reminders about assignments, tests, etc.), while others stayed after class to share struggles they were experiencing with their families, significant others, or the jobs they held. No matter what they chose to disclose, I enjoyed talking with them; their perspectives have enriched my own in ways they can’t imagine.

My Intro to Business students were different – quiet, thoughtful, and in some cases, analytical. Many of them were first-year students in college, and a few of them were trying to manage their own businesses while they took classes at Grossmont. These students had a softer, gentler approach to life than their Marketing colleagues. Many of the Intro to Business students rarely made a sound, and a good number of them spoke up in class only when called upon or when forced to interact in groups.

I love both types of students – the boisterous go-getters, who demand attention and repay those who give it to them with witty observations, humor, and a general joie de vivre that is a pleasure to be around, and the quiet ones, who defer to their peers in class, but always answer questions thoughtfully and with great insight when asked. Both of these classes were pleasures to teach this semester, and I will miss all of these students more than they will know.

So, to this semester’s Marketing students, I say bon voyage, and thank you for an entertaining and lively semester. I won’t forget you.

And to my Intro to Business students, I say thank you for teaching me that not all of the learners in this world are outgoing speakers. Some prefer to sit quietly and listen, and that is a great skill that many of us will never master. I see you, Business students.