As I prepare for the start of another term, I try to pass on bits of advice to my adjuncts that will help them have a successful semester. I call these my Would-be Words of Wisdom. My adjuncts usually appreciate my advice … I think. 😉
How Teachers Can Learn Students’ Names
Memorizing students names goes from doable, to challenging to impossible as the class size increases. However, don’t use class size as an excuse for not even trying. Some faculty members assign seating so they can refer to a chart. Personally, I always preferred to let students sit where they wished. If you take this approach, you can create a seating chart after the fact. Once students stake out their territory, they seldom change.
Use mnemonic techniques to memorize names. When I taught a course on study techniques, I covered mnemonics and included a section on memorizing names. Basically, pick a physical feature of a person and mentally tie that feature to that person’s name. Sorry, this topic requires much more explanation than I can provide right now. I will come back to it in a future article.
Why Teachers Should Get to Know Their Students
Those of you who have been following my blog know that my mission to to help college instructors avoid the many pitfalls that can bring a promising teaching career to an abrupt end. Staying out of trouble is the lowest level on Hummel’s Hierarchy of teaching needs, and getting to know you students helps. They will be much more likely to open up to you with problems and concerns and less likely to take them to your dean or department chair. And you will be less likely to be blindsided by critical student evaluations at the end of the term.
When an instructor knows something about his or her students, he or she can make the course real for the students. If you know the hobbies and interests of students, you can relate those to course materials. For example, if a member of the basketball team is in you statistics class, you could create an example problem that relates to field goal percentage. If you know students’ majors you can emphasize course material that relates to those majors. If you have pharmacy majors in your organic chemistry class, make references to synthesizing drugs.