Dear Professors, Please Be Better!

Professors

   I have been going to college for a few years now and have had some great  professors and some awful ones. To the amazing professors I just want to say – Please keep up the good work! And to the horrible ones – Please see some tips below, because you are hurting your students in more ways than one.

     A great professor/educator can often make all the difference in a student’s life. I have recently spoken to my younger brother about him hating history and anything related to it. As it turns out, I was lucky to have great history teachers in school and enlightening professors later in college, he, on the other hand, was very unlucky with the history teachers he had encountered, which is just sad. As a result, my brother knows very little of any history and any new facts I mention to him come as a shock and wonder at the same time. Therefore, I can’t help but think – what would have happened with his interest in education if he did have some inspiring teachers when he was younger?

     So, dear professors, please consider some of my suggestions for your future courses, because for some of us, you can still make all the difference between failure and success.

Tip 1: Give more than 2 exams.

     Most students probably love the idea of only 2 exams, however, not having a point of reference of how this particular instructor structures his/her tests before a midterm is a huge disadvantage. Midterm is way too valuable to do poorly on as it contains a large chunk of your final grade.  For example, I just took a midterm exam in this exact scenario and even though I had a study guide, it barely covered any of the material from the 7 chapters we had to study for the exam. I would much rather prefer if an earlier test was given just so I would have a reference point as to how my professor executes his exams. Since that didn’t happen, I only learned at the time of the test that he likes to pull questions from between the lines, minor details that any normal student facing a 7 chapter study marathon would over look. Instead I focused on major definitions and concepts while I studied, but in reality if I just read all 7 chapters cover to cover I would have been better off.  This is something I would have been prepared for if we had an earlier test. So, dear professors, please consider working in an extra quiz or a test before the midterm exam.

Tip 2: Avoid participation as a large portion of the final grade.

    This one is a huge issue for me, as I absolutely hate talking in class. I often find myself biting my lip not to yell out the correct answer to a simple question that some other student has been trying to shell out for 10 minutes. First of all, I was taught to raise my hand before I speak, so yelling anything out I consider to be inappropriate and disrespectful. Secondly, from what I have seen, the majority of the students do NOT like to talk in class, not because theyoption1 are unprepared, but simply because they are uncomfortable or just too shy. For example, I am mostly prepared for all my classes and have plenty to say, however, unless the class is ran as a question-raise-hand-answer scenario I will not even bother because the shout-out-any-words-that-come-to-mind-from-your-seat scenario just overwhelms me.  Just because five students in a 30 person class believe that everyone needs to know their opinion and continue to talk through the whole class to each other and over the professor, this doesn’t qualify them for a higher grade. So, dear professors, please understand, just because a student doesn’t talk in class it does not mean he or she is unprepared, most likely he or she is just uncomfortable in the class environment that you created and considers interjecting his or her opinion to be disrespectful or rude. So please consider creating a friendly classroom atmosphere for all types of students or providing options for presentations or extra credit, where we, the shy kids, can make up the participation points.

Tip 3: Be prepared for class!

     I cannot stress this enough – if you expect your students to be prepared and even go as far as taking away our valuable points if we are not, then how dare you come unprepared to class?? I have seen this more times than I thought was possible. For example, last semester I had a horrible grammar professor (perhaps you can tell by my grammar?), every time this lady opened her textbook to go over our homework assignments I swear it was the first time she was looking at it. Not only was she guessing half the answers in the book, she was also wrong the other half of the time and when she didn’t know the answer (yes, really) she would ask the class for the answer! Needless to say we didn’t learn any grammar there, which is something I was actually looking forward to. Anyway, please, dear professors, be prepared for class, because if you are not then you are just wasting our time. I pay for college out of pocket, so I really hate throwing my money away on an education that I am not getting. I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this.

Tip 4. Edit essays and let us re-write if necessary.

     Even in the English major, where writing is supposed to be extremely important, for some reason professors do not like to correct the mistakes, edit or comment on the essays in any way.  How are we supposed to learn if no one tells us what we, the future experts of the English language, are doing wrong? I understand that 40+ essays to read is a lot of time and effort on your part, but you chose to be an English professor, no? I understand if Biology or Geography professors skim option6over the research papers, because it is not their job to correct grammar and punctuation. English professors, on the other hand, please give us a chance to learn from our mistakes. For example, mark up anything that you liked or didn’t like in a student’s paper, but give him/her a chance to correct those mistakes and to resubmit the corrected paper for a higher grade.  So far, I have learned the most from those professors who really take the time to read their student’s work, who comment on everything they like and don’t like, who mark errors in sentence structure and grammar, because for next time I will at least know what I did wrong or what I can do better. If I get my essay back the same way I handed it in, the only difference being a grade of “A” at the end – does it mean that EVERYTHING was perfect? I doubt it, so please point out the errors to us so we can learn and be better.

Tip 5. Hush the rude students, don’t ignore them.

     Every single class has this one (at least) person that just won’t stop talking. Why is it so difficult to ask a student to stop talking in class during a lecture or kick out a student who is definitely being disrespectful to you? For example, I currently have a professor with a slight stutter and the other day he had a problem getting through some word because people kept talking over him. As he struggled to finish the word and to gain his composure, a girl behind me (loudly) chocked: “Would you spit it out already?!” Everyone heard her, the professor heard her because he turned his head at her, but said nothing and continued the class. I am not sure that ignoring such disrespect teaches anyone anything good. Therefore, dear professors, please stand up for your selves as you would do for us. 

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Since I plan to be a professor myself someday, I take my own advice seriously and plan to implement these and other techniques in my own classroom sometime in the future. What are some of you pet peeves regarding your teachers or professors? What advice would you give them if they asked you how they can do better? Please share in the comments below.

Matrix

For a printer friendly version of this post, click here: Dear Professors, Please Be Better!

  • Liza

    Liza from 6birds.net wrote:

    1. I do believe that more exams need to be included in
    college! Sure, there are tests and all, but the exams are just too much. I
    /also/ think that we should be allowed to leave if said exam takes a while,
    because staying in the class waiting on other students can get to be too
    intimidating for those still taking the exam. I’ve been on both sides of that
    equation.

    2. I always hated when teachers included participation as
    the large portion of the final grade, or almost any other grade, if that! It
    makes everything more stressful, and I just get nervous. I end up spending much
    more time preparing myself to not stumble over my words (I have social anxiety,
    am an introvert and stutter) or to speak loud enough for everyone in the class
    to hear. It just makes it more difficult. I mean, I’m one of those students who
    prepares to work, and then raise my hand when I’m called on. Otherwise, I
    completely lose my focus. Actually, when the teacher calls on me off guard, I
    often lose all of my focus, and said teacher just assumes that I wasn’t paying
    attention. I just really hate that. 😡 I have to doodle to pay attention. I
    can’t focus on speaking in front of the class. D;

    3. That. Is. Ridiculous. Teachers should know their
    stuff. #endofstory

    4. English teachers /should/ allow students to rewrite
    papers! I don’t understand why they haven’t always. I’ve considered tteaching
    English, but I’d be too scared to teach it the wrong way/in a way that was too
    harsh in other’s eyes. I just don’t want the English language failing because
    students didn’t/don’t receive proper help on essay writing, and other types of
    writing. Blah.

    I think teachers should consider their students’ needs as
    well. Not everyone learns better via hands on activities, all lecture, notes,
    reading, etc. So many of my past teachers have taught a certtain way simply
    because that’s how /they/ learn better. They should really consider the
    students’ needs.

    If I’m ever a teacher (still wishy-washy on that), I
    figured I’d have a questionnaire at the beginning of the school year with a few
    questions, then one at the end of the year (or term(s)), asking how they learn
    better, what they like(d) and/or didn’t/don’t like, etc. I think
    student-teacher feedback is very important in helping the other excel. I mean,
    teachers are technically students, too. They continue to learn with each new
    class they have. At least, that’s how I see it.

    • Julie

      Hi Liza!

      Great point on learning preferences. I had a professor once, who during the first class went around the room and asked everyone how they learn better and what types of class scenario works best for them. Through the semester she tried to incorporate something for everyone and was always available for extra help if you needed some, which is so great in itself. I ended up taking her for 2 different courses, even though she’s tough, she really pushes you, thus, i learned so much with her. I wish more professors were liked that.

      Thank you for stopping by! :))

  • Julie

    Hey Jules 🙂
    I agree – dealing with the bad, as well as the good, does prepare you for the real world. And yes there is always a silver lining! 🙂

  • Danielle

    Hi Julie! It’s kind of crazy that a professor or a teacher can shape our subject preferences. It actually got me thinking… Do I hate science classes because I genuinely don’t like the subject or because I had sub-par science teachers/professors in both high school and college?

    I completely agree with your tips for professors, especially the exams and participation tips. I never liked speaking up in class (not because I wasn’t prepared) but because I didn’t think it was necessary to try to speak over all the other students to make an impression with the professor.

    One of my main pet peeves about professors is when they are very secretive about the contents of an exam. They don’t have to provide a study guide or any specific problems, but when there’s 15 chapters of material, students need some sort of basis to go off of, rather then “everything is fair game.”

    Great post! 🙂

    http://cravingcognition.com

    • Julie

      Hi Daniel and Oh so true about the secretive exams! I am not sure what they are trying to accomplish with those, it’s not like any of the information from those 15 chapters we had to memorize will stick in our brains after the exam for long. Focusing on the important topics would be much more useful in the long run. Those sneaky-sneaky professors 🙂

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: