Leah Ghiradella has been a professor at MC since the fall of 1990 and retires in June.
Ghiradella said before COVID-19, she loved being in the classroom and interacting with the students.
Ghiradella said she enjoys it when class discussions, and her students develop more questions in the process.
“That's my favorite part, which of course, as you know we haven't had since last march,” she said.
Ghiradella said, “In the beginning, we did not have computers in our offices; computers existed in the world, but not personal computers for professors. So, virtually everything was hard copies of texts, so the bookstore had actual books and the students had to use them. There was no open resource, like library guides. There were no free resources.”
“Sometimes I would make copies of things that I wanted the kids to read. That was free, but the fact that we didn't have computers at all, for better or worse, that was totally different; much more person-to-person interactions. There were no emails between students because we didn't have email addresses yet when I started,” she said.
Ghiradella said students would come to office hours much more than they do now, which is another huge difference.
She said she can go on forever when it comes to the changes that have occurred since the beginning of her career up until now.
Ghiradella said in the last 10 to 15 years, more students seem to work part-time jobs that get in the way more now than it did before.
“I'd say it seems like the students were maybe, I don't know about the economy, but it seems like a lot of them didn't work as much. I don't mean work in school; I mean work for money outside of school,” she said.
She said, “I love and I have loved teaching always. My dad was a professor of English also, not at Middlesex but in a city college in New York. I (have) wanted to teach since probably ninth grade.”
She said she still loves it, and when she gets passionate students, it is as good as ever.
Ghiradella said her husband taught at MC as well, for 43 years. He is a little older and retired, so she didn't want to wait until they can't do things together, like go on trips.
She said after COVID-19, teaching via Zoom, which she doesn't love but she’s used to, that was it for her.
“Thirty years at Middlesex seems like a good amount of time,” Ghiradella said.
She thinks student-teacher interaction is essential for new professors and advises getting to know the students more than just their names.
“I think it works both ways, like the students usually feel like they're being recognized as not just students. Then I get to know stuff about you and it just makes it more interesting and a little more comfortable,” Ghiradella said.
She said to try to figure out what level students are at because there is a different feel to her morning classes than her evening classes. In her evening class, she has to work a little harder to get them interested than she does her 11 a.m. class, and it’s probably because they worked all day.
“Know who your audience is. Know what they need, so to speak. Of course, if you have 25 students, they all can’t need the same thing but, in general, how does that class feel to you as a professor? Do you need to be a little funnier, a little more serious? Do you need to go into more detail with one class because they seem to need it? Like that,” Ghiradella said.
She said for education majors, keep in mind that you were once a student, so you know what it's like to be a student, and it's sometimes more complicated than it seems when you're the professor.
Ghiradella said, “Keep in mind both perspectives.”
For students in college, she says to go to class as often as possible, even if it's not your favorite course because you miss a lot when you miss class.
Ghiradella said to keep up and don't waste your time.
“Find something you're passionate about and of course you should try different things,” she said.
She said to not stay in anything you don't like.
Ghiradella said this summer is the first time she won’t have to think about getting ready for the fall semester.
“My husband and I like traveling, so depending on COVID-19 restrictions, we'd like to go to a few places. We're going to go to Maine this summer with our son and daughter-in-law and grandkids, so that'll be a week in Maine. We want to travel, maybe to Europe,” she said.
Ghiradella said she wants to travel more, read more and does not intend to work a job, hopefully ever again.
“Maybe (I’ll) teach an adjunct class in a year or two because I'm probably gonna miss it,” she said.