College is a place in which students undergo a variety of learning experiences. However, the common misconception is that only the students should be doing the learning. I, along with many fellow students, can vouch that professors can learn a lot inside and outside of the classroom by really listening to their students. In no way at all am I intending to discredit college professors, for we know how hard you all work. Despite this, college professors may be able to learn a great deal by taking a few of these things into consideration…
Thank you for everything you do.
We know we don’t show our appreciation as much as we should and know we are mostly viewed as immature kids at times. College is the time we try to work on growing to the best of our ability. We know we don’t show the effort you all expect of us at times, but we are really trying. You hold us accountable when we slip up on an assignment or sleep through your class, and we apologize for that. Without you, we would be nowhere near close to becoming adults; with your help we can be.
We also know the countless hours, or even days you spend perfecting your lessons. You work hard you try to teach us something new every day and we know that. We know how much you value each and every one of your students (we value you too, really). We know how much you invest into preparing us for the real world. For all of this, we are eternally grateful. Thank you. Thank you for everything.
It’s not that we’re uninterested in your class but…
Sometimes we just don’t feel like participating, especially if we are not familiar with what you are teaching. Personally, I will not raise my hand or join in on an open discussion in class if I’m not comfortable with the material. We feel bad at times for not engaging ourselves in the class, even more so when you are passionate about what you are teaching. If I’m being completely honest here, there’s no worse feeling than being lost in a discussion simply because we can’t keep up with our professors’ knowledge.
But it can get even worse. We students may not participate based on previous bad experiences in class. Whether we were discouraged by former professors, have had a generalized fear of making a mistake, or didn’t want to be perceived as “nerdy” or “annoying” by our peers, we have endured it all. Professors, please don’t take it personally when we don’t volunteer to speak every time you ask the class a question—we may just need some time to adjust.
If you want us to be interested in your course, you need to act interested too…
You know how people say sometimes you can literally feel positive energy in the room? It’s true. My fellow students and I won’t act excited about a particular topic unless we are convinced it’s something to be excited about. Truth be told, we are more likely to dread coming to your class if you, yourself, act like you don’t enjoy being there. So what can you do to assure a healthy and happy classroom environment? It’s simple.
Try to involve us in your lessons. Ask us questions out of the ordinary. Invest your energy into your lectures. There’s nothing we love more than when we can see the passion in our professors’ eyes; it’s like a small glimmer of hope that gets us through the day. When you give off positive energy, it will typically be reciprocated, it’s that simple! Now, we can’t promise to be a ball of energy all the time… but you get the point.
“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Anonymous)
If we don’t excel at first then…
Why don’t we get the chance to try again? Yes, we understand that failing is a part of life, but sometimes we need a little push. Though we may not vocalize it, we students really do appreciate as much feedback and critiques as possible. After all, how often is it that student’s power through a challenge on their first try? Not offering your students a second attempt at times can be detrimental to their learning progress and, over all, discouraging. How are we supposed to improve when we aren’t given the opportunity to, and when we do not receive these opportunities, why are we expected to be confident in our work the next time we are assigned work? We know you have lives outside of the classroom too, but it is important to take these small, yet critical factors into consideration.
So… what now?
Really try to learn from your students. Often times, when we are doing the teaching, it never crosses our mind that we may gain something valuable in return. Try to take these points, and try to understand your students’ behaviors with it. Engage your students. Better yet, excite them! Change up your teaching style every so often. Keep in mind that students deserve second chances when they work for it. Most importantly, know that it is okay to not be the perfect professor all the time, we are only human after all.