… and so will your students!
(First let me say that, no, I am not ignoring you. It’s been pretty hectic this semester.)
One of the worst things you can do is ……. I think you know this …. anything that will cause studenta to come to him or her with an emphatic, demanding, negatively emotional, even argumentative student complaint. That happened to me earlier this week.
I hope to learn something from this experience that I can share with you in an upcoming article. For now, let me remind you of the importance of:
- arriving at class on time, but ideally a bit early;
- being prepared to teach;
- sticking to your syllabus, especially where assignments and grades are concerned;
- treating every student with respect whether they treat you that way or not;
- never saying or doing anything that you would not want others to hear or see (you dean, your college president, your spouse, your child, any one!)
- giving students the full amount of instruction they paid for (a.k.a. not dismissing class early);
- looking yourself in the mirror and asking yourself if you are proud of what you are doing; and
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER display disregard for your students.
I didn’t mean to suggest that you, one of my readers, would not know all of this. Sadly, however, there are some adjuncts who apparently don’t. What is so sadly disturbing to me is that this instructor has gotten good evaluations in the past and always been extremely congenial in all his dealings with me. What happened? Perhaps he is struggling with personal issues. But my job is to see that our students get good instruction. No excuses! 🙁
Why Good College Instructors go Bad
Based on my speculation, one lesson comes to mind. While I don’t know it for a fact, I am concerned that my adjunct may be struggling with things that don’t relate to his class. The lesson would be that if you are having problems in your personal life, don’t let them spill over into the classroom. But the reality is that personal issues may need take priority over your part-time teaching position, and justifiably so.
If you cannot give your teaching position your best effort, don’t ignore the matter or try to hide it. These approaches never work. Go to the person to whom you report – the dean, the associate dean, the department chair, the curriculum coordinator, whomever. Seek help for getting through the situation. You may not want to divulge specifically what it is in your personal life that is keeping you from doing your best. That is your choice, but the facts you share may have a profound influence on whether you are hired again. Your supervisor may be able to help, or together you may come to the conclusion that someone else needs to take over your course. It is all about doing what is best for the students. If you are unable to give them the quality education they paid for, so beit.
One thing is for sure. If this situation proves to be as bad as students portray it, this man will never teach for our college again. Sad! He had been a valued resource. 🙁
P.s. I have phoned and emailed my adjunct, but have yet to hear back from him. When we do speak, and we will speak even it it means showing up at his next class unannounced, how should I approach this? “How are you doing?” “How are things going in class?” “Tell me what’s going on.” “We need to talk. Here are things your students are saying. Are they true?” Or should I use a quote attributed to several people including early 20th century French philosophy Simone Weil and ask, “What are you going through?”
© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
Revised February 26, 2011