I had been teaching ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ in Quincy High school (through TEALS) for about 4 months now. And the only way I had been talking to the class is was through Skype. Yes! I hadn’t met the class in person even once in the last 4 months!
I had wanted to meet my students for quite some time now, but travel between US and Canada (since my husband was living in Canada at that time) was taking most of my time. In Oct, when my husband came to see me for a week (first time for that long a period), I grabbed the opportunity to drive down to Quincy. I finally decided to take the class of 23 Oct, 2015 in-person. So On Oct 22, I went to office, finished all the pending tasks, and came back home at 4:30 PM where my husband was waiting. We had our food and started the drive to Quincy at 5:30 PM. Since this was a last minute plan, we didn’t get a room in Quincy. We stayed in Ephrata, which was 10-15 min drive from Quincy. We were in Ephrata by 10 PM, had dinner in a Mexican restaurant and then went to Safeway since that was the only grocery store in the town. I picked up chocolates for the class and gifts for the newborn of our class team.
Next morning, I drove to Quincy from Ephrata and reached school in just 10 min. I loved the short and peaceful drive as there were no traffic jams and I got to see the beautiful and famous sunrise from my car’s rear view mirror. The view was breathtaking and very refreshing.
I had reached the school early – and realized that there was already someone waiting for me on the door of school. Looked like almost everyone in the school knew that I was coming and they were waiting for me. One person escorted me to the class I was supposed to teach in. Since I was early, there was no one in the class. I walked around the room quietly recognizing the parts of room I used to see in the camera. After 15 min, the class teacher came in and students started pouring in. It was overwhelming to see students response. Some of the students when acted entering the class as if they are trying to find something on the screen where I used to teach from and then say “Where is Mrs. Doomra?”, “Oh! Here she is…”, “Wow!!! You are here in person”.. and so on.. I was really energizing to see students enthusiasm and welcome. Everyone had their own way of introducing themselves. I was so glad that I came and met the class in person.
After meeting everyone, we went into the regular rhythm of lecture and then lab. The only difference was that this time I was there in person to help students with their labs. As I was passing every students, each one of them tried to talk to me and ask me something. It felt like they wanted to talk to me more and more. After we were done with the class, we had a small Q&A time for students. It was an opportunity for them to ask me questions about my work and life, which they were not able to ask on camera. One student asked about the work life balance, another about my current role at Microsoft. Questions were pouring in and we ran out of time for the class. But that was not the end of my visit. I had lunch time scheduled with my class so they could ask questions at that time and we all could get to know each other better.
The class teacher let me sit in for his next class as well and watch the students. Even that class asked me some questions, and the most famous question being what is my salary. It was funny but at that same time thought provoking. When I was in school, I never thought about how much I would be earning or what I would be doing. I was glad to see the interest and ownership students were taking of their careers and life, at such an early stage.
Then came the lunch time, where I was supposed to meet my class again. The school had arranged for pizza for the whole class. We sat there and students started asking me questions about my schooling, and the courses I had taken. My personal preferences about Microsoft products and so on. Definitely my salary was the most asked question.
After meeting the class, the school head also stopped by. We had an insightful talk about the future of the school and this class. I was surprised to know from him that most of the students in my class have never seen life beyond Quincy. They haven’t ever driven out of Quincy in their entire life. And teaching them Computer Science is a way for school to let the students explore new possibilities for them.
I must say that after visiting the school, my commitment to help the class had grown multi-folds. When I started teaching the class, it was just another project for me, but now it had become a mission where I had the sense of purpose – to improve the quality of life for every student in the class, to show them vast opportunities in front of them.
I was amazed to learn how we take so many things for granted and these kids cherish and celebrate every small thing they get in life. How wonderful and beautiful are these pure souls!!!