I Know What Works for Me

By Yamila García

I really wish we could have options at school. The class I thought was going to be the easiest one, became the hardest one. Not because of its content, but because of the rigid structure that did not allow me to find a way to learn it properly.

There are times when professors catch my attention easily and are very organized. Those always became the easier classes, even if the content is the hardest. For example, in one class, I started attending lectures with the professor, but since they explained a little too fast for me, I got lost many times and had to watch the lectures again after class. Recording classes is definitely one way professors can help us. But that is not all. They also can post videos of another professor explaining the same topics. I think that shows an acknowledgement that we all learn in different ways. And in one class, it turned out, I understood that teacher much better. So, I stopped attending lectures and my performance got better since I was using my time more efficiently and could study more. The professor never took attendance, never tried to convince us to learn in any specific way. They understood that we are all adults and have our own ways.

On the other hand, some of my previous professors have not been flexible at all. Other professors often don’t record classes, don’t have alternative material, take attendance (that isn’t even graded for participation), and make us fill out  a form explaining the reasons for absence. I have even received an email after missing 2 classes in a row. In one class, the moment I noticed that the professor’s classes weren’t working for me, I didn’t want to tell them. I didn’t mean to be hurtful or rude. So, I did what I was supposed to do. I attended classes anyway and that wasn’t the best decision. If I had to do it again, I would tell my professor that the classes were not working for me and that I would prefer to use the little time I have learning the content in some other way. Maybe going to the tutorial center, with videos I could find online, just from the book, etc. It is just that some professors are not open to “other ways.” I wouldn’t say the professor’s teaching methods weren’t right, they are just not what works for me.

When things like that happen, I get stuck.  It is as if I cannot see good there. I don’t feel comfortable, so, I don’t like the class (even though it is something I would like in another situation), I don’t like the building, and I don’t like anything related to it. I feel so limited, I feel that I can’t do anything that could help me feel better about it. If I had possibilities, things would feel different, of course. In one class, with all the stress it caused me — with all the discomfort, pressure, and frustration I ended up with got a huge amount of stress that is affecting my health now.

I wish we could have options. I know there will always be difficulties, and nothing will ever be perfect, but there are practices that make things simpler. Programs and classes that present their complete schedule from the beginning of the semester, have a consistent methodology, offer different materials, recorded classes, etc. I don’t know if they do it consciously or if being organized is their standard operating procedure, but even if they don’t know it, they help us a lot that way.