All of my classes at Byte Back are filled with remarkable, talented individuals. Every once in a while, I get to teach a group that also comes together as a team. At some point during the semester, students choose to take responsibility not just for their own learning, but for others’ development as well. From April to May 2012, I got to teach a group that did just that.
In my nine student, Monday through Thursday 9:00am to 11:00am Office Track class, I had one student with perfect attendance and four students who did not miss more than one day. Between us we spoke four languages including Spanish, English, Amharic, and Haitian Creole. Some of us came from other states or countries, while others were born and raised here in the District of Columbia. Our interests and personalities were diverse as well, and ranged as widely as the topics that students selected for their Power Point presentations: the state of Maryland, the dangers of smoking, fashion throughout the years, Nike’s marketing strategy, the benefits of volunteerism, and more.
Yet just as students listened attentively to each presentation, nodding along in appreciation of what we were learning from other students, we came to appreciate others’ differences and perspectives as we got to know each other over the six weeks that Byte Back’s Office Track course takes place. As I went through exercises each day I almost always observed students leaning over chairs to help when classmates were struggling with a task. Certain pairs sat next to each other regularly to benefit from each other’s help, and during his Power Point presentation at the end of class one student proudly proclaimed his seatmate as “my second teacher,” a friend who had given him extra help as needed.
On the last day of class, we took a field trip to the park near Byte Back for our class party. As we ate cookies and chips that students and I had brought, we chatted about our personal and professional lives and students continued to collaborate, sharing thoughts and suggestions about the job search and exchanging information about family and friends. With more space and time I could write a profile on each student; for now, I am deeply grateful to have met each and every one.