Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Squeaky Wheels

I happened upon a review of me on ratemyprofessor.com, and all it said was "unprofessional." I am curious what this means. If I had to guess, I would say it is because I tend to think of and treat my students as junior colleagues, so we usually have a pretty shallow power structure in the class. OR, maybe it's because I sometimes sit on one of the desks to talk with the students, rather than standing at the blackboard to talk TO them. OR, maybe it's because I joke with students that joke with me. OR, maybe it's because I still sometimes dress like a grad student. OR, maybe it's something sinister and terrible that I am not even aware of.

Or the student simply didn't get the grade they wanted.

Also, there's a student in one of my classes this semester who has a reputation for being pretty disruptive, and I'm nervous about this because I am not particularly hard core. I usually get dinged on my course evals for "not keeping everybody under control". Obviously it now occurs to me that it's because I'm totally unprofessional.

But, then, today in class the students asked great questions and we had some good discussion, and somebody stayed after class to tell me about something related he'd recently seen on TV, and I came away feeling upbeat.

It's kind of a shame that so much of teaching seems to come down to personality. I just don't have a discliplinarian's personality. I'm not scary, and I'm overly casual with my students. Is that just the way it is, or should I try to change to satisfy what may be just a vocal angry minority?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

One item on ratemyprofessor.com? Move on.

Average Professor said...

I know! It's stupid. (But something that's sticking in my head is that there were only 10 students in that particular class, so now I'm morbidly curious who it was and what they didn't like. What can I say? I'm a sucker!)

Anonymous said...

This is college we're talking about? If a student is disruptive, just tell them to leave...

Average Professor said...

If a student is disruptive, just tell them to leave...

Just to prepare myself, what do I do if the student refused to leave? (This is what happened to a colleague of mine with this student, and said colleague was even newer to the teaching scene than I am, and he had no idea what to do about it. The whole semester long he felt terrorized by this student.) One of the other profs in the dept has even suggested we need an intervention of sorts, and get some folks at higher levels than we are involved. At the moment it's just "every professor for himself".

Ms.PhD said...

I agreed with anonymous.

And there should be someone you can call, the equivalent of security or the principal's office, who can come and escort an unruly student out of the building if needed. If you can threaten to kick them out of the class and give them an automatic F, that would help too. Or do what they do in elementary school- tell them they get dropped one letter grade for each time you have to tell them to be quiet.

Natalie S. Brown said...

"...because I tend to think of and treat my students as junior colleagues..."
Personally, I prefer professors who use this approach. I recently had a professor who started a lecture by telling his students (undergrads) how much he resented that he was always given the dirty work of the department, such as teaching undergrad classes, and how he *deserved* to be teaching grad students and should be given more funding, etc. Somehow, I never had a desire to go to his office hours when I had a question about the material.