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Great story: Gaining strength from student connection

A few weeks ago, I was having what felt like a series of hard days. I was going through my days feeling fatigued, unmotivated and a little defeated.

These feelings were stemming, in part, from the experiences I had been having for a few weeks now. I would schedule a time to meet one-on-one with a student, spend some time preparing my meeting notes by reflecting on past conversations with the student, text and email them reminders of the meeting, and when it came time for the meeting I would find myself once again the sole participant of a Microsoft Teams meeting.

I found myself wondering why I was having such a hard time getting students to engage in their one-on-one meetings, and I thought a lot about how fatigue from virtual learning and the worlds’ current events must be affecting them. Thinking about my how my students must be feeling made me reflect a lot on how I would be handling life in today’s world as a junior in high school. When I myself was a junior, I wasn’t half as prepared as a lot of my students are for their futures.

When I am lucky enough to get to spend some time chatting with my students, I am in awe and extremely proud of their maturity and their forward thinking. I often find myself listening to students talk about their volunteer work in their communities, or the time they’ve been spending attending virtual college tours, or the new job they are about to spend. I’m always in awe of their energy, motivation, and openness amidst a global pandemic and civil unrest within the country.

Even as I reflected on the grit of my own students, I still found myself frustrated for having to reschedule the same meetings over and over. I went into a meeting with a student who had missed our first few scheduled meeting times, and I was somewhat expecting it to be hard to get the student to engage with me.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

Our conversation reinvigorated me as a coach as this student described to me the college research they had been doing since our last conversation a month prior. They spoke about attending virtual tours, contacting admissions counselor officers and their excitement about potentially studying abroad in their undergraduate education. At the end of the conversation, I thanked the student for sharing with me and that I was extremely excited about their college list.

My student then shared with me that they were thankful for having joined College Possible. I went into the conversation fatigued and unmotivated, and left feeling reinvigorated and excited to reconnect with other students. After this meeting I was able to pause and reflect, and I’m now making it a goal to be a bit more patient when I’m unable to connect with students the first time, so that I can be a better coach for those students in the long run.

This story was written by Anna Brigden, an AmeriCorps high school coach at College Possible Washington.

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