Who is responsible?

Let’s be fair: I was a teacher’s kid, so my view of education was always a little skewed. I knew there were deadlines and expectations, so I was told to adhere to them all through my K-12 education.

Then came college.

Like a lot of students, I found my first semester to be a real challenge, largely because it overturned nearly everything I had experienced in high school. As a teacher’s kid, I was used to someone being over my shoulder telling me if I was “on the right track” or to remind me there was a deadline approaching.

That didn’t happen in college.

When the instructors handed out the syllabus, policies, and schedule, they expected me to know and understand that on my own. My job was to ask questions or confirm deadlines.

WHY!? What had I done that would make them so callous as to not care enough to let me know when something was due or to go over the assignment details all the time?

Truth is, they had. Those documents WERE my reminder. They provided the instructions and guidelines. It was my responsibility to meet with them by appointment to ensure that I understood their expectations. I had to learn to put dates in my calendar, to break down assignments with smaller deadlines, and to stay on top of reading WHILE doing it.

But, my younger mind screamed, surely they know how HARD these assignments are!

Yes, they are a challenge, but college is a challenge. So is every grade level as you go through school. Think back to Kindergarten now–looks pretty easy from here, but ask a 5-year-old how tough learning to read can be.

I had to learn, too, that my instructors ALSO had done a lot of assignments to get where they are now. It wasn’t about punishing me as a student, but challenging me to expand my brain.

While my instructors provided me with assignments, policies, and guidelines, it was on me to do the work. Now, I’m the instructor, and I appreciate how hard it is to step back from a student’s work, to let them learn it on their own, and to then evaluate it. It’s exciting for me when a student excels, but devastating for me when a student falls short or submits an assignment they clearly didn’t try too much on.

The takeaway here: DO YOUR BEST.


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