A Lecture for Professors

I believe that teaching is a respectable and humanitarian career. The world needs teachers and many are so great at what they do. However, every so often, I find a professor who I feel needs some kind of syllabus or lecture on what students need from them. I've compiled a list of things I think professors need to be reminded of.

If you expect us to turn in assignments on time, we expect you to get them back to us on time too.

It's not always a matter of us being impatient and wanting to find out about our grades. Sometimes, it's necessary for us to get our work back so we know what mistakes to fix for our next assignment or so that we can have review material for an upcoming exam. We understand that professors have lives too, but it feels too often that we're left in the dark about exactly when we'll receive our graded assignments back, or at least why it's taking as long as it is.

We can only write so fast, especially when it’s by hand.

Many professors often begin the quarter by saying that writing notes by hand is much better than writing them via laptop. While I won't argue the validity of this statement, I still find myself typing in class because I can't keep up with the lecture otherwise.

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We shouldn't have to suffer if you didn't plan your lectures well.

It's understandable if every once in a while a professor finds one of their lectures is much longer than expected, but we, as students, shouldn't have to deal with the consequences of a miscalculation that was out of our control. I've seen professors speed through lectures, not going as in depth as they should about the subject matter, solely because they ran out of time. Then, they proceed to have it be a vital part of an exam or paper.

Treat your Rate My Professor rating as your GPA.

Just like a GPA, your rating doesn't reflect you as a person or how intelligent you are, but it can indicate how well you're doing as a teacher. Of course, not every student will like you or your specific style of teaching, but maybe you'll find a lot of students feel your exams are not representative of what was taught in class or that your instructions for papers are unclear. Consider comments about aspects that you can improve on so that both you and your students can have a better time.

We can't always provide proof.

There isn't always a doctor's note for when we're too sick to move or documentation for when there's a family emergency. Mental health can often be a difficult issue to have proof of as well. Be open to giving students the benefit of the doubt, especially when the number of students who are being honest outnumber those who are trying to deceive you.

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What's common sense to you isn't always common sense to us.

As a professor, you've been intensely immersed in your field of study for years, and it's important to remember that just because the subject matter comes naturally to you, doesn’t mean it’ll come as naturally to us. If you're teaching a class that is open to non-majors, be especially considerate of how much or how little students know about the subject you're teaching. After all, knowing the material extensively isn't what makes you a professor, but being able to teach what you know does.

How you treat the class will determine how your students treat the class.

Lastly, set the example for what you want the environment of the class to be like. If you show respect to students, make the lessons interesting, and create an open space for discussion, then students will respect you more and be more enthusiastic about coming to class. While this isn't necessary for professors to do, it just helps everyone involved have a better learning experience.

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