The story of how I was totally negligent but still managed to make friends with a teacher
It was my freshman year, in my first college-level philosophy class that I met Dr. Mustain. She had a tall, slender figure and a little flapper hat that covered her super-short boy-cut. She had a mischievous look to her, and was known to say things in class that were pure gold, although probably best left unquoted. Needless to say, she was (is) an amazing teacher; one of those teachers you try to pressure your friends into taking even if they don’t need to.
Anyways, it was the third day of class and we were about to start reading one of the Socratic Dialogues, but, as usual, I had not bought the book yet. I’m a procrastinator, and a chronic one. Before starting the lesson, Dr. Mustain asked if anyone had trouble getting the book. From the back left corner, I raised my hand, then noticed that my hand was the only one in the air.
Had I had trouble getting the book? Of course not, I just hadn’t done it yet. Did Dr. Mustain know that? Probably; if everyone else had managed to get it then why on earth couldn’t I? She’s a smart lady, I’m sure she had me figured out.
"Talk to me after class."
Rarely good words to hear. During the lecture, I logged on to Amazon and rush-ordered the book and tried to find an electronic version somewhere online.
After class, I sheepishly approached the podium prepared to offer the biggest apology of my life and beg her not to fail me or request the university kick me out immediately (that was a little joke). However, instead of interrogating me, she simply smiled, asked me to remind her what my name was and invited me up to her office. On the way she asked me why I was at St. Mary’s and if I liked it and other professor-to-freshman questions.
Once there, she picked our text book off the shelf, then personally photocopied every single page of the chapter for me. It came out to around 20 pages.
Anyone who has used a copy machine knows that this is a great act of kindness, especially when it jams a few times.
Three semesters later, I still drop by her office every other week or so and we just talk about life or whatever we feel like talking about. Family life, friends, why Facebook is so friggin’ popular, etc. I consider her a friend of mine.
Moral of the story: small class size matters. Professor X at State University Z is not going to take the time to photocopy things for you because you’re negligent. He’s not going to know your name and might not even remember your face. It’s not that Professor X is a bad person, he just has 1,600 students to deal with, and keeping up with that many on a personal level is impossible.
All but a few of my professors know me by name; they stop to talk to me outside of class, and we have casual conversations. I’ve had lunch with professors before, and not just at the cafeteria. If you put forth minimal effort to get to know them, you will, and they will be greatly appreciative and very willing to go out of their way to help you.
Education was never meant to be done on a 200:1 ratio, and it’s not how St. Mary’s does things.