Stop. Please, just stop.
That’s the simplest thing i can say to you. Stop doing things the way you currently are, it’s not working, its annoying, and, most importantly, I don’t like it.
I just started my 5th year, and last semester of college here at the lovely University of Hartford, and I must say, some things never change, especially professors, and the way they teach/treat their students. This is sad, because professors have a big impact on students.
I’ve made a list of some things I think professors need to stop doing, and a few they need to start to do. Because there’s more don’t’s, and I’m in a negative mood, I’m gonna start off with those:
On the first day of class, DO NOT read the syllabus to us word for word. For some reason, every single professor feels the need to spend the first day going over the entire syllabus back to front, letter for letter. There is nothing worse then to go to class, only to be forced to sit there and listen to your teacher read to you, like you were in 1st grade again, isn’t that just a bit degrading to students. You are assuming that they don’t know how to read, and if they do they won’t read it. Well, let me assure you, we can read. If we couldn’t read, then you should be asking who did we bribe/sleep with/kill, to be admitted into this school.
Instead why don’t you hand out the syllabus to your class, give them 10 minutes to read it over, and ask any questions they may have. At that point you can get on with life, be it class, or letting them out early, whatever you choose. I’m paying something more then $300 per class, please don’t fucking read to me.
You can no longer assume that you are smarter then your students. Period. End of sentence. With the advent of the internet, (well, mostly Wikipedia), anyone can learn (nearly) everything there is to know about anything. This is especially relevant for web programing, and programing in general. Also related to this, do not assume that you’re students don’t know anything about the course. While it’s probably true for most classes, most of the time, it is not 111% true 111% of the time.
I have had teachers assume that they are automatically smarter then me, no matter how much i demonstrated that I knew the material, I knew shortcuts, and I knew more efficient ways to do what they wanted. Not only did i feel like i was treated like crap, i got the impression that the professor really didn;t know what he was teaching, and that is NEVER something you want to convey to your students, ever.
Do not require students to do things your way. Ever. This goes for writing homework assignments, writing papers, coding (especially coding), doing equations, and pretty much anything. Regardless of what you were taught, that was at best 10 years, and at worst 50+ years ago, things have (probably) changed. Calculators were invented for a reason. Just because you were forced to use a slide ruler to do your math doesn’t mean you can force us to use it. It’s like saying a paper needs to be typed, but you can only use a typewriter, pointless right?
As soon as a professor tells me “This is how I was taught,” “This is the way i prefer you to do it,” or “You should do it this way” I immediately come up with my own way to do it. Even if my way takes twice as many pages/lines and requires more time to do, I will insist on doing it my way, and that it’s easier. Just to be different then you.
I cannot tell you how frustrating this is in coding. I’ve had teachers tell me that my variable names weren’t specific enough. I used “t” to represent time. He wanted me to use “timeItTakesToFall”. I’m sorry, but no. I could list a thousand things wrong with your variable, and I will, because I hate you, and if you so much as even think of failing me, I will have the Dean on your ass/job (if not tenured), and you will learn what a proper variable is, when we play Russian Roulette…with a semi-automatic…and you go first…
Do not get the new edition of a book. You don’t need it, your students don’t need it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the current version, copyright 2007, no need to get the version copyright 2008. Cause guess what, the only difference between those two versions (besides the obligatory different colored cover), is that date. Everything else is the fucking same.
On the subject of books, do not require books for the class, if you have no intention of actually assigning work out of them. Those can go in the recommended reading part of the book list. There is nothing I hate more then spending $80 on a book I never used, and then not being able to sell it at the end of the semester because you’ve decided to get the new edition of the book you wont use.
Power Point slides. This is a tricky situation. On the one hand they are useful because you can do so much with them. On the other, no one knows how to properly utilize Power Point. Do Not read from the slide. This is more of the same as the first point, but also, just plain boring.
If you say that you are posting these slides online somewhere I can guarantee you you have lost the attention of at least 75% of the class. You have lost mine. Because I am assuming that you are just gonna read from the slides, something I can do myself thankyouverymuch, I’ll be good just downloading them before the test/quiz and read them then.
Well, those were the bad things, now, onto the good things
Be fun. Joke with your students. Be politically INcorrect. Trust me, any class I have where the professor starts out with a question like “How many of you all are Jews?” (from a class on the Holocaust) makes for a fun time. Especially when the teacher knows how to take a joke. This is important.
Spend some time not doing something related to class. Show us a funny video you found online. Class doesn’t always need to be serious all the time.
Know when your class starts, and ends. Show up on time, and let us out on time/early. Unless there is an exam, there is really no excuse for keeping us late. I’ve gotten up and left classes while the teacher was still talking because time was up, and I had somewhere else I had to be. If/when that happens, don’t get mad.
Tangents. Like Power Point, tangents can be both wonderful, or deadly depending on how they are used. Good tangent: humorous story about your weekend. Bad tangent: 20 minute discussion about the football game that only you and one other student watched. Talking about sports is good, but only if your class likes sports. I hate sports, I don’t care about it. You can ask if anyone watched the game last night, and then what did they think. And thats it. No discussion as to how so and so played, who was better. Nothing. The only exception is for the school’s actual game, and only when an athlete on that team is in your class.
There, that’s my list of things that professors need to start doing, or stop doing. School life would be so much better. I hope someone listens to me…