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Teaching the Grown Up

by Jessica Lewis

I have the privilege of teaching the Nurse Aide Certification program for Capitol Community College (CCC). My students range from ages 16 to 54. In about a two month span, we hope to educate them on topics like infection control, bathing and feeding patients, and fall prevention. This will hopefully prepare them to find employment and maybe continue their education. They come to my course with a wide variety of experiences or lack thereof.

It can be difficult to teach when the proper foundation needed has not been laid. The beauty of teaching adults is there can be an exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experience. I have had wonderful philosophical debates in class on topics healthcare workers face.

Students describe in beautiful detail taking care of family members and a variety of other life experiences. They can keep you on your game by presenting their opinions and beliefs, at times leaving a teacher not sure how to correct errant ideas.

I walk around Central Connecticut, and see students much more privileged than mine. I wonder if most of them realize the advantages they have had. Adults often come to school ready to dig in. Though some of the youngest students are still finding their path, it is something they are doing for themselves. Older students are usually even more focused and motivated. Annoyingly so.

It is humbling to realize we can always be learning. I had the interesting experience once of going to an evening class I was taking after teaching all day. While I am teaching, I am also learning from many young people I am encountering at CCSU, like in the writing center where graduate students help you tweak your assignments grammar and structure.

Sometimes I wonder why more adults aren’t generally engaged in some kind of endeavor to expand their mind. I don’t see them doing anything to feed their brain. I am feeling energized by the new tasks I am taking on and the people I am meeting even if there is an Everest sized mountain of laundry on the couch.

As a mom, and someone who has worked with children and adolescents in different settings, it is amazing and gratifying to see little minds grow. I have also been brought to tears by the course evaluations my boss mails me with comments like, “We were the airplane and Miss Jessica was the pilot.” I definitely feel part of something big teaching adults.