Thoughts From the Front of the Classroom
With the semester winding down, I thought I’d share a little about what life is like from the front of the classroom and what it means for a professor. At this point every semester, it seems I get a lot of the same questions and comments, so here’s a few quick answers to save students some time and potential embarrassment (or harassment).
“Is this required?”
Is it on the syllabus? Then yes. I get to the point where I tell my classes that if they ask a question that can be answered on the syllabus, I won’t even respond. I go through the time to make a syllabus, so you can take time to read it. Heck, I even put a table of contents on my syllabuses … aren’t I nice?
“Will this be on the final?”
Let’s see … if I’m taking the time to talk about it, you better bet that it will be assessed in some way. Lots of professors hate having to list their learning goals and outcomes, but I find it very freeing. By listing those (on the syllabus, of course), you know exactly how everything in the class will fit together and work on your grade.
“Can I get extra credit?”
Did you do every assignment already? If so, then chances are you don’t need extra credit. If you didn’t do all the assignments, then that “extra” credit you seek isn’t going to be happening.
I’m a nice guy, pretty even and fair. I understand life happens, so let’s talk about that. But wanting me to create an extra assignment so that you can boost your grade when you didn’t do all the other work … yeah, right. Not gonna happen.
“The semester-long project you assigned—I started it at 5 last night and finished it right before class. Impressive, right?”
Uhm, no. The reason I assigned a semester-long project is so that you would spend a semester digging into the assignment, discovering new things about the topic and about you.
Often in the real world, we’re given tasks that take a while to complete. By learning how to budget time over a long period, you’re setting yourself up for success. However, just because you could do it overnight, don’t think that will always work out for you.
“I work best when the pressure is on.”
Good for you. I, however, like to avoid pressure when at all possible so I’d rather plan these things out.
I live by the 7 P’s: “Proper pre-planning prevents piss-poor performance.”
Yeah, the Apollo 13 mission proves that when the pressure is on, we can achieve some incredible things, but you know what is more impressive? Planning it out and doing really, really grandiose projects … like a pyramid. You don’t think that some pharaoh out of the blue said, “Hey, I want a pyramid tomorrow. Pressure is on guys, so get on it.” No, they planned that out, often starting before the birth of the pharaoh.
Students, you have to remember that faculty members want to be on your side. We want you to succeed and achieve your greatest dreams. But often, that means you have to do the work, work hard, do it well, do it on time and be accountable for when you don’t. But when you do, we can be your biggest cheerleaders and fans. And when you don’t … well, I think you know how that goes, right?