So I have a newish friend, who was one of my students this past year. She was an extraordinary student, and also one that I ended up in a sort of mentor- or even counselor-type relationship with, as she had quite an emotionally difficult year. (Which I don't recommend, but you live and you learn.) And now she and I have become friends. We stayed in touch, seeing each other for coffee or dinner when I was in Uni City or she was in Home City. She stayed with me for a few days in June, when she was looking for a place to live in Home City. She came to my little going-away party - twenty years old and confidently holding her own among the thirty- and fortysomethings. Very impressive. I'd never have imagined I could have what feels like a real friendship with someone that age.
Anyway, we're in close email contact right this minute because I am trying to hook her up with a job in Home City. (She is taking a year off school, which is the best possible thing she could have done...) And so today I finished a draft of my first-year course syllabus, the one for the 90 students for whom I'm having to do some complicated assignment-designing. And I wanted a pair of eyes to look at it, to see whether my explanations of Complicated Assignment and my new 5-days'-grace late policy made sense. So I sent it to Student Friend.
Within just a couple of hours, she sent me back the longest, smartest, most helpful feedback. Lots and lots of it - pages and pages. Detailed and well thought out. I'd asked her only for advice on these two elements, but she had thoughts on all sorts of things. It was amazing - so helpful to be seeing the syllabus through a student's eyes. She even suggested language to use for it.
This is a good thing about leaving Dream Uni. Some of those amazing students can now become friends and resources, and I don't have to worry about feeling compromised.
It also makes me think again about the value of student consultation. I really do think it can be a great thing. And in my experience, it doesn't have to mean students narrowly and selfishly looking out for themselves. In this case, Student Friend offered a suggestion of reworded language that was about protecting me from the perception that I am a softie.
I'm all about the student consultation - I think it makes me a better teacher.