To my students, I don’t hate you but . . .

I am also not your buddy. I am your instructor, your professor, your teacher, whatever you want to think of me as. For almost two decades I have been teaching college classes of some sort. Be it leadership development to higher education I have taught everyone from freshmen to doctoral students. And one consistent complaint I hear from students who confide in me at all levels is their professor hates them, that is why their grade or class performance is so low. Well, fret not students, it is usually not because we hate you, its because you simply did not perform as well as you should have. 

However, I used the term buddy on purpose because as your professor I believe I can also be your friend. And friends are different from buddies. While friends can be fun, uplifting, and affirming; they are also honest and will have that difficult conversation with you. As members of the faculty we will range in terms of our friendliness but I have yet to meet a faculty member who willfully harmed a student academically because they simply hated that student. That is not to say sometimes we will dislike a student or like some students more than others. Yea, it happens. Students and faculty are people so that is a thing that happens. I dare say I have at least five or six personal friendships which arose from meeting the student in class and forming a bond that extended past the end of the course.

But frankly we don’t have time to harbor hate for individual students. Even if you annoy the hell out of us the most we are going to do is shake our head a bit. After all we have been taught and dedicate ourselves on assessing student learning fairly because to do otherwise would call into question our integrity. And did I mention we just did not have time for it? I have about 40 graduate students in my class this fall. Together they will turn in over 1,000 pages of material for me to read and evaluate, not to mention the hours of prep for each class lecture, and my normal day to day job. I love the work, it is lots of fun, it is interesting, but it is time consuming. So I don’t have time to hate you. Sorry.

BUT

There are a few things I do hate. As a professor I just want you to do these few things and help me be the best I can be for you.

  1. Schedule a time to meet with me outside of class. While this takes up some more time, most of us faculty types usually work better one on one and I want to get to know each of you. But I won’t force it so take the initiative.
  2. There are dumb questions. Almost always these are not based on course materials or theoretical questions but are because you did not read the syllabus or were not listening in class. So, read first then ask questions.
  3. Yes, this may be on the test. Then again it might not. I am not teaching to a test so who knows what will be there.
  4. If you need to be out of class for personal or professional reasons tell me. I hate guessing and I notice when you are gone. A heads up helps with course planning.
  5. Yes, this and every class is important. I don’t schedule unimportant classes. Please don’t make me have to have that conversation.
  6. Class is not over yet, please don’t pack up. I know you want to go, I do too but I try to maximize our time together. Maybe not pack your stuff up. One of my pet peeves is the sound of zippers late in class.
  7. Help your other students out. Higher education is not a competition and every student has their strengths and weaknesses. Share notes, consult on homework, be there for each other.
  8. If you earn an A, you will get an A. And most of my students do get an A for the course. It really is not super hard but it is a time management challenge. But I don’t give any grades, you earn them.
  9. Don’t get mad when I grade or criticize you. part of my job is evaluating your work and there will be stuff I find needs criticism. This is done out of care for you and to help you get better.
  10. Participate in class. It makes the class more interesting and challenges me. I am not afraid of your questions or comments. Let’s do this together.

Look, college is a time to really challenge yourself. Let’s take on that challenge together but remember, I am your friend, not your buddy.

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