Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ten Things I Wish I Could Tell My Students

In honor of the first day of the new semester, some words of advice from a teacher to his students:

1. If your primary email address is something like “hotbabe01” or “always420” you probably ought to consider getting a new one. Or using your official school email address for school purposes. You know, I’m just not going to open any email from an address like that.

2. I can see you. Really. I can. Consider the physics – I’m standing up in front of the room and you’re sitting down in the back of the room. The optics work in my favor.

3. Whether I choose to do anything about what I see is entirely up to me, as is the timing of whatever I choose to do. And remember, it’s a long semester.

4. Part of the reason why I require frequent hand-written short essays is that I get to know your writing style that way. Consider that if you’re thinking of using someone else’s writing style for one of the bigger essays.

5. If you’re honest when I catch you doing something, I’ll probably go easier on you.

6. Attendance and good note-taking skills can overcome a lot of academic shortcomings. Ninety percent of life is showing up, and grades are part of life.

7. The reason I don’t remember your name is that there are a lot of you and only one of me. Don’t take it personally – if I knew you well enough to make it personal, I’d remember your name.

8. I’ll remember you better if you drop by and say hi once in a while. This won’t help your grade any, but it will make the semester a lot more enjoyable for both of us.

9. I have an agenda – to get you to learn certain material and skills. You have an agenda – to get the maximum credit for the minimum amount of work. These are not compatible, but you’d be surprised at how painless total capitulation to my demands can be in the long run.

10. I do this because I love it. I don’t expect you to go into my field and I’d be pleasantly shocked if you ended up loving the subject as much as I do. But if I can get you at least to understand why I love it as much as I do, I’ll count that a success.


Janiece said...

David, speaking as a professional student, may I say how eminently reasonable I find your advice?

Perhaps that's what differentiates and adult student from a teen one.

David said...

You may indeed! :) Thanks, Janiece.

Most of the teen students get it, too, but there is always that contingent of 13th-graders who need a little more coaxing.

Unknown said...

I almomst made it to my forty-fifth birthday without knowing what four-twenty meant.