How close are we from our students?

When watching the TedTalk video together at class, it reminds me of my friend who was a graduate student at VT and also was a student of this class one year ago! Now, he’s an assistant professor at a university in my home country.  When I met him after teaching one semester, I asked: how was it?  What you think you did differently from others given you just graduated and took “Contemp Pedagogy”?!. What was your achievement?

I was impressed by his response that five students of his class got internships (which is very difficult and unusual at my home country) with the help of him although he doesn’t have a communication with the industrial field and has not yet built a profile with industry.

The secret is that he assigned one hour of his schedule for his students who need any help that is not related to the class such as reviewing resumes and consultations. Although one hour in a week is nothing to him but it means a lot to his students. He also started giving his students non-classical assignments such visiting the industrial field and attending the career fair and then he asks the students to give a presentation to their colleagues at class. This is not just to help the presenter but the class as a whole. To sum up, it is important for new faculty to think differently and be the ideal professor that he was thinking of when he was a student.

To me, the job of the professor is not just teaching but it’s being a close friend and a true consultant for his/her students. This is the great advantage of face-to-face learning that online learning cannot do. If a student fails in a class, then it’s a failing of the professor FIRST!

10 Replies to “How close are we from our students?”

  1. Hi Mohammed!

    I love that story about your friend’s success! I wonder if he and I were in the same class together. I’d have to check my schedule, but I’m pretty sure I took it this time last year. Anyway. What I really wanted to say is that you bring up an excellent point about teaching as more than just delivering content and doing work for the institution. The students are the lifeblood of what we do and without them, we have no work! One hour to build relationships with students and help them with their personal achievements is a great way to serve in our position outside of the typical duties. I love hearing about teachers who either take their students somewhere or create an environment that provides direct experience with the topic at hand. Learning by doing is such a powerful tool and I am happy to hear that these GEDI practices are helping your friend touch the lives of so many students.

    1. Thank you,Sara, for your thought. Teachers, and professors specifically, can do much more and affect positively in varies ways of the student’s life.

  2. I really appreciate you sharing this story. One of the main tenets of my teaching philosophy is not only ensuring student success in my course, but helping them to succeed during their time at university (recognizing that not all students’ best interest includes a college degree). It’s clear that your friend also cares about his students and their goals, and it’s great that he’s taking a less traditional approach to help them succeed.
    The only thing I would note is that sparing an hour a week can be a tough break for anyone, especially a new faculty member!

    1. Thank you, devlnedm, for elaborating on the blog. Yes, one hour is challenging but the reward is inspiring! It could even make the students more comfortable in class and thus maximize their input and output.

  3. This is an awesome story. When I think back to the truly special teachers I’ve had, they all made time for me beyond what they were obligated to provide. These are now the people who have had the greatest influence on what I value as an aspiring educator. It’s easy to get caught up in the academic bubble, and operate as though your classes are the only things going on. I’ve certainly felt this way as a student, and as a first-time teacher this semester can see the analog from the opposite side of the desks. Remembering that we all have dreams and ambitions and being aware of why your students are in your class in the first place definitely contributes to your authenticity.

    1. Thank you Carter for sharing your experience. Yes, getting into the academic bubble is problematic and many never realize and get out of it.

  4. I think your friend’s success story is super inspiring! It is important for those in teaching positions to be more than just the person who assigns homework and gives tests. That is part of the reason why it is so important to think about the type of professor you want to be and what types of relationships you want to have with your students. Any relationship you want to develop with your students requires intentionality. However, I do agree with ‘devinedm’ that sparing extra time can be really difficult or even impractical for a new faculty member. I wonder if there is a way to build it into the regular class time in a similar way to how this course has built in professional development components…..

    1. Thank you, Cherlce, for your comment. I feel a teacher/professor should have a clear statement of purpose addressing their vision and mission of teaching besides delivering the materials. As Carter mentioned, once a teachers start teaching, he/she would get caught into the academic bubble and will be swamped with many never-ended deliverables tasks.

  5. Thanks for sharing your friend’s story. I love the idea of giving students non-traditional assignments. I think hands-on experiences like internships are really what prepare students for life beyond university.

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