Teaching A College Class

I Taught A College Class This Semester And Let Me Tell You, It's A Lot More Rewarding Than You'd Think

The rosy image of professors judging students and determining final grades on a whim was a far cry from reality.

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This past semester, I had the great honor of being an adjunct lecturer and instructor for our BIO 204 class at Stony Brook University, in which I led a section through its respective activities in order to learn the nuances of scientific research and discovery. I was fortunate to have such a wonderful opportunity to pass on the knowledge that I had accrued when taking the class three years ago, and I looked forward to the challenge of being a guide for the bright students under my wing.

I remembered the struggles that I had dealt with as a student in that class, and I aspired to teach in a relaxed style in order to easily mediate the line between expecting quality work and being too demanding of my students. While I was excited about this opportunity, I was also completely unaware of the hectic time-frame of a graduate instructor who had his own classes on top of teaching duties, and so I embarked without a clue of the responsibilities expected of me.

My experiences as a lecturer for a class that I had already taken as an undergraduate showed me the clear reality of education from an instructor's point of view. BIO 204 is known at Stony Brook for being an extremely disorganized, difficult lab course replete with misleading instructions on how to handle procedures, a plethora of lab reports seemingly designed to frustrate students based on structure and content, and supposedly inconsistent criteria for weighing points based on the instructor of a specific section.

When I took the course in 2015, I felt just as frustrated as anyone else would have as a student — despite my best efforts, I wasn't performing up to my standards, and yet I felt as if it was the fault of the various TAs in the class (with their ever-changing advice) that I was doing poorly. As an instructor of the class, however, I finally saw the flip side of the situation, as myself and other instructors were bogged down by the various assignments we were supposed to have completed before and after labs in order to seamlessly transition from one activity to the next every week.

From grading multiple lab reports over Thanksgiving to answering exhausting emails regarding quizzes and assignments, my fellow instructors and I were shown that the rosy image of professors judging students and determining final grades on a whim (as was my thought process when I was a student) was a far cry from reality.

Our head professors and we adjunct lecturers were frantically working against the clock to manage a class of well over 1,000 students in order to approximate a fair grade distribution based on a plethora of assignments. Every lab report, every assignment, and every performance grade was checked several times over by multiple instructors as well as by the head instructors of the class to ensure an even playing field — a task that had most of us exhausted from sheer stress alone.

Worse still was the flurry of emails I would have to attend to from students regarding their grades. I tried to maintain my patience and remember that I was once a student just like them trying to prove myself at a top class university (and I truly admired their efforts to stay ahead and work hard for the grades they felt they deserved), but by Thanksgiving break I had essentially burned out from constant panic of those taking the class. It felt frustrating to have to explain the numerical breakdown of why some received the scores that they did, so much so that I was forced to take a step back and reevaluate the reasons as to why I had wanted to teach in the first place.

I felt that everyone (myself and other instructors included) was simply caught up in the numbers and that no one was paying attention to actually disseminating the knowledge that the course had the potential to provide about scientific inquiry and discovery of the natural world. I could see the stress begin to pile on my own students' faces as they would trudge into class, beset by the strain of the workload accumulating from their BIO 203 and organic chemistry classes alongside this one.

For this reason, I tried to be as flexible as I could be with deadlines such that my students could eat properly, sleep properly, and have some time for themselves without self-destructing. I made a concerted effort to preach self-care above all else so that the bright minds under my wing would remember that their health and happiness were worth far more than an arbitrary assignment of a letter grade.

With whatever power we could, my fellow instructors and I tried our best to make learning the material of the class as interactive as possible, to help inspire these undergraduates to become the best version of themselves that they could be.

Despite the struggles of BIO 204, I was proud to be an adjunct instructor, especially so because I was able to see the students under my wing grow throughout the semester into seasoned professionals of scientific innovation and discovery. I am proud of what all of them were able to accomplish, and I learned firsthand why so many academics pursue teaching as a profession above all else. I am very thankful that I was able to have this opportunity to pass on knowledge to others.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.

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To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.

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" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.

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3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.

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4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.

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5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs

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6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.

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7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.

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8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.

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9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.

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10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.

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11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.

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12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout

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13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.

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14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.

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