Mike, a tenure-track professor at a private college in Milwaukee sends along these suggestions:
You can call me Mike. I'm five years into a career and I've been reading this page with real interest for a couple of weeks. It occurs to me that some simple and straight forward thinking might be the key for getting students and faculty on the same team. I confess that I've been cheering on a lot of the posters here. I, too, get frustrated with students, their insolence, their lack of respect, their lack of desire. But, I'm at the start of a long career, and I'd hate to think it will get worse instead of better. So, let me make 3 modest proposals.
- Students will take their leads from us. If we coddle them, they will learn to run over us. If we expect little, that's we get. If we try to win their friendship (in lieu of respect), we'll be friendly but not effective. So, whatever it is you want to be, be it. Whatever you really want out of class, lead that way.
- Students have short attention spans. There's no use denying it. But, long term learning requires a different sort of approach. If our field interests us, we have to find a way to plug our students into it. Maybe it's more technology. But at the very least it means we have to start each semester strong, impressing upon each student that there is work to be done, that it will be rewarding, and that we will all need to do our share.
- Even though I only have a few years in the business, I know that I walk into a new class with ghosts of the old classes haunting me. My own main goal for next semester is to go in fresh. I'm not going to let disappointments from previous students or semesters weigh me down. I'm going to go in with new eyes, with a new heart, and see if I can make it work.