Friday, September 20, 2013

Advice for Proffies. From A NJ Times Opinion Piece.

So, here’s my list of things for professors to remember as we start a new school year:

1) Your job is to teach whomever is in your class. This might not always include the most engaged and eloquent students. Deal with it. Try to be creative and flexible so that you can help those students become more engaged. If this isn’t your strong suit, seek help. There is no shortage of great journals and books devoted to enhancing teaching skills.

2) Being empathetic to students’ issues and problems does not make you weak. Rather, trying to understand why a student might be struggling and, when appropriate, making accommodations, is a sign of respect. When you treat students this way, they typically respond in kind.

3) Students’ lives outside the classroom can be an important part of their education. We are constantly socialized through our lived experiences. It behooves us to be aware of what is happening on campus so we can help students see the connections between their work, their family lives, even their campus activities and what is happening in the classroom.

4) College education should be about preparing students to create a better world. This is the most important of the four. If we continue to teach the same content and in the same ways as we were taught, we are preparing people to live in a world that is like ours today.


FULL ARTICLE.


--Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the department of sociology and criminology at Barry University

40 comments:

  1. So we're supposed to take advice from someone who cannot use the indefinite relative pronoun correctly?

    ("to teach whomever is in your class")

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't know why, but her little essay reminded me I still haven't read "The Wisdom of Psychopaths", which is supposed to be interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I know. It's the photo, the Michelle Bachmann look.

      This is the kind of person who either becomes an adminiflake, or ends up working for the consultants who produce the Powerpoints that are shown in adminiflake retreats. These people are dangerous. If you recognize a young one in the early stages of "bring cookies" syndrome, don't tenure them.

      Delete
    2. People sometimes complain about blurry graphics...I never have, and, after seeing this, never will.

      Delete
  3. More and more, I lack the energy to respond to these little essays. I know I should make jokes about her advice - it would be the easiest (and possibly most widely read) thing I write today - but it's getting too depressing. This is somebody who could be my colleague? Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? Seems our careers fall into a surprisingly predictable pattern:

      1. Idealistic, enthusiastic
      2. Enthusiastic, disillusioned
      3. Disillusioned, bitter
      4. Bitter, hateful
      5. Hateful, tired
      6. Tired, despondent/depressed/alcoholic

      At some point, it just doesn't seem worth it anymore. What surprises me are when you see senior academics who never seemed to get past step 1. What weird unguent do these people smear all over their bodies every night?

      Delete
    2. I always get the impression that they are simply people who have managed to get into the job without ever having thought very deeply about anything.

      Delete
    3. Dr. C, that rings true and it breaks my heart. I'm too young to be at stage 5!

      Delete
    4. Mid-career here: between 3 and 4, with occasional flashes of 2 (for research).

      Delete
    5. Dr. C you summed it up perfectly. I am somewhere between stage 5 and 6 (and Ben, I am also too young to be that far gone). And I know it must be bad because my chair called me in to hir office and suggested I apply for a sabbatical--"Charlotte Anne, I am worried about you, have you considered taking a sabbatical?" (Read: "Dude, you are scary. Maybe you should go away. No, really. We will pay you to go away.")

      Delete
    6. I'm somewhere between 2 and 5 (disillusioned, tired) but without the bitterness and hate. Is there room for "resigned, amused" in that career arc?

      Ditto on the weird unguent, though.

      Delete
    7. At my old job, I'd gone from 1 to 6 in just a few short years. Now I've switched institutions and am back to 1. I hope it takes longer this time...

      Delete
    8. at what point do we become bemused (as in "tolerant amusement")? Or is that because I jumped back into the party late?

      Delete
  4. If "we are preparing people to live in a world that is like ours today" than the rest of the article can be ignored. In my world, I show respect, do the work, and never make an excuse.

    What I don't do is bring cookies to class, literally or metaphorically.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's a bunch of brownie cookie proffies on Twitter today.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This woman is crazy and I'm with you all, but...

    Is it that awful that I usually bake cookies and bring them in on the last day of class? We usually have a potluck of sorts during that day of review, and I invite other students to bring in food to share as well (students have baked cookies and cupcakes, others have made empanadas, and I even had one student go to McDonald's and buy 40 cheeseburgers, which was absurd but gives me an amusing story to tell each semester).

    I don't accept late work or excuses. I don't lower my expectations for students who are juggling too many other responsibilities (that's life!). I don't cater to their every needs, desires, and whims throughout the semester. But dammit, I like baking cookies, and it's nice to have other people to give them to (especially so that I don't eat them all myself)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your question very much. In the tweets this morning, some of the professors were bringing sweets "just because," "as she was handing essays back," etc.

      I am a strong anti-cookie proffie, but your situation I see differently. At the end of a term, I don't throw them a little party / review session. I still think of it as school, you know? But I think my view has softened a bit, and your example wouldn't weird me out.

      Delete
    2. There was a fair amount of cookie talk on RYS. I'm a non-cookie guy, too, but the divide was pretty sharp. Here are some old comments that riled people up:


      I would bet you're not liked very much by your students. That's a shame, because the relationship between teacher and student can be so rewarding. My students call me "Mom." We get along and we do great work together. I have the very highest standards, just as if they were my own children, and even though people in my own department jealously make fun of me, my students are behind me and support our shared learning environment. Maybe you like to be an unfeeling information conduit, but many of us TEACH in the classroom, and make lifelong relationships with the most treasured people we'll ever meet - OUR STUDENTS.

      I love bringing little baked treats to my students. I have a really powerful relationship with my students, and since I'm great in the kitchen, I like to share that special part of myself with my students.

      I don't know how anyone can not see the bringing of food or "treats" to college students as anything other than pandering. How desperate and lonely are these people?

      I don't care how you parse it - giving out cookies in class is something that is correctly associated with elementary education. When you distribute baked goods to your class, you signal to the students that this is not a mature exploration of knowledge conducted by rational adults; rather, you indicate that the college classroom is no different than Ms. Thistletwat's kindergarten classroom. It's one of the those little things that speaks great volumes to students, just like the way you dress and the way you speak. I know that tie-dyed mouth breathers like you can't bear the thought of putting on a nice skirt or a clean pair of pants, but surprisingly, young adults act more like adults if you act like one (instead of acting like a "cool aunt," which is what morons like you ultimately aspire to).

      Delete
    3. Wow. That's quite a divide! Thanks for sharing! It's funny because I don't like any of those comments, pro- or anti-cookie.

      (And anyone who has seen Avenue Q knows that Mrs. Thistletwat would never bring in cookies for her students!)

      Delete
  7. Being empathetic might not make you weak, but reading this column (and its ilk) and taking it seriously certainly does...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Some flava from her students at rate my professors--they looooove her.

    She was really nice, so sweet baked like 2x during the course for us which was so awesome and she was really down to earth. the work was really easy.

    Great teacher! Her class is so easy and you watch movies/video most of the time!

    Exams are in groups, quizess can be revised for a better grade. Exams are open book also. They can be complicated but I got an A.


    YAAAAAY! EASY CLASSES AND COOKIES AND OPEN BOOK TESTS!!! YAAAAAAAY!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, Stella. Not that I'm surprised, but always good to have data on our side! Though I hate to admit that I am sooo disgruntled at this point that watching movies and having group exams (screw that- let's do group papers too-I don't want to grade 100 of those crappy things!) seems like a nice change of pace.

      Delete
    2. I neither bake cookies nor assume that RMP comments are reliable and valid.

      Delete
  9. Every thing will be Free, Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, Twitter Tweets, Twitter Re-Tweets, Twitter Favorites, Google Plus Followers, StumbleUpon Followers, Youtube Views, Youtube Likes, Youtube Subsribes, Pinterest Followers, Pinterest Likes, Pinterest PinIt, Free Website Visitors.
    Just Join now and Free Increase your Social Media Networks.
    GetLikeFast.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. #1 - "Deal with it." Give me a fucking break. The unengaged students are snot-nosed mouth breathers who whine with unrealistic and unreasonable demands. Damn right I "deal with it", I tell them, in polite and professional words, to fuck off and do their work if they intend to get a good grade in the course.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "I tell them, in polite and professional words, to fuck off and do their work if they intend to get a good grade in the course."

    Please put this as the subheading to the whole website

    This is classic advice alongside beaker ben's "don't care more than they do."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd change "good" to "passing". No reason to promote grade inflation.

      Delete
    2. Ahhh, but the wording doesn't mean they're necessarily going to get the good grade.... See? Softer language to mollify the jackasses, without giving in to them...

      Delete
  12. This woman appears to be pushing 40. It says a lot that she dyes her hair with a streak of unnaturally bright red, in the manner of a teenager. Never criticize a teenager's hair or dress, of course, one reason being that they love it, but when one gets to be an adult, one really ought to put away childish things. Easy classes, cookies, and open-book tests are also all symptomatic of her being the kind of colleague we all love to hate: one whose coddling of the students makes it hard on all of us, especially the students when they eventually go to work for real bosses in the real world. I thought Katie quit this blog? The point of higher education is not to be BFFs with our students: it's to TEACH them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps this is a rare moment when Brother Frod is playfully giving science the middle finger. I'm not aware of the vast research proving that dyeing their hair reveals lots and lots of bad stuff about adults. I have no problem with being drunk past 40 or dyeing one's hair when "pushing 40." I only wish I could do both at the same time.

      Delete
    2. It's not so much dyeing the hair in general as dyeing the hair in an unnnaturally bright, saturated shade in the manner of a teenager that worries me. As should be clearly obvious by what Laura Finley writes, that hair dye is clearly toxic to the brain. Also, as no less than Martha Stewart has commented about tattoos, "That looks awful, especially when you get older."

      Delete
  13. Good. If she ever needs surgery, I hope that she gets operated on by someone who got through medical school by having the medical school professors practice what she preaches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Harriet: I can think of no more effective a critique to this approach to education. Laura Finley amazes me all the more so since her field is criminology, and yet (2) and (3) clearly show that it simply does not occur to her that students lie, even when they don't have to, all the time.

      Delete
  14. Stella FTW. What a load of condescending crap. Laura Finley is the frizzled, try-too-hard, out-of-date hip, pandering lady-prof I hope never to be.

    And when men start bringing home-baked cookies to class, it will be something students and colleagues respect. Until then, fellow female professors, just don't.

    ReplyDelete