Your Grades Do Not Define Who You Are

I am drained from the busyness of the day. From editing tips, revision shortcuts, and coordinating conjunctions to graded essays and misplaced modifiers— my students are running me ragged these days. I spoke to a class today about “code switching,” so in light of that conversation, I will say this— Y’all done wore me out.— For real. Straight up. — but, it’s all good.—

I wonder if you lay awake at night thinking about us, your professors. I wonder this, because I know what I, and other professors, do at night. We try to go to sleep. We pray for rest, for understanding, and we pray for you. We pray that God will give us the perseverance to go back into the classrooms tomorrow, and we pray that God will bring you back tomorrow also.

Sometimes you wonder whether I noticed you were absent or whether I noticed that you were sleeping. I imagine that you wonder what the point of going to class is when the professor might not even call on you once during the entire period. I imagine that you think we do not care about you because your essays have been sitting ungraded for far too long.

We expect you to attend classes, to pay attention, and to ask questions— but, the truth of it is that we expect more of you than you expect of yourself. Half the time, I think you expect yourself to fail and that you are pleasantly surprised when that doesn’t actually happen. Other times, I think you expected an ‘A’ when you only worked to earn a ‘C,’ and you wonder how we could see right through your act.

So, trust me when I say we care more than you know. We care about who you are more than we do about your grades. You were knit together in your mother’s womb by an Almighty Father who created you in His own image, and your grades do not define who you are or what we think of you. We care what you believe, how you act, and where you’re going in life— more importantly, we care where you’re going after this life.

And this is not simply lip service; it’s the truth. We may not always speak your language, but we will always try diligently to help you learn our language. We may live in a different generation than you do, but we will work tirelessly to bridge the gaps between where you are and where you want to be.

It angers me to hear, on nearly a daily basis, that teachers are leaving the profession. It’s not that they are leaving the profession, but rather that they are abandoning students— this bothers me tremendously. Students are beginning to expect very little of their high school teachers, and college professors are no different in their eyes. — They see teachers leaving all the time, teachers who saw a hundred reasons to “get out” — and so they did.

But college professors, your college professors— we are different. We pour ourselves into your future. We do not look for every reason to leave. We lay awake each night reminding ourselves of the only one reason we need to stay— it’s you. You are the reason we exist; without you, we are nothing. So, stop wondering whether we notice you, and get to class. Stop making excuses; get your act together, and know that we have studied many, many years just to be able to share what we know with you.


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