Posts

Is Your Teacher Burnt Out?

If I gave you a five page speech on any topic, asked you to memorize it and then had you repeat the speech regularly for 5, 10 or maybe even 30 straight years, your head might explode into a fiery ball followed by a simmering sizzle. This phenomenon is called teacher burn out and it’s caused by repetition. Remember when you were a kid and you repeated the same word over and over until it sounded unrecognizable. You see where I’m going with this. Teachers are in the business of presenting similar material consistently each semester.

Can’t teachers just change-up the lectures and format? Yes and no. Teachers are required to teach the core material as outlined in the syllabus. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there. (I’d be hard-pressed to get through a semester without reviewing basic marketing concepts with my students.) Teachers can, however, add new and updated information to supplement the basics. But even then, your teacher might, after years, become robotic in their delivery.

Here’s my question. How can you, as a student, help prevent the inevitable teacher meltdown? It’s easy. If you want to snap your teacher back to the present, bring your own material to class. This can be in the form of questions, experiences, internships, and good old-fashioned curiosity.

d2bd

See me in this picture? I’m with two students – Dan Clark and Khalid Michel-Simms. They’ve launched their own line of clothing under the brand Dare to Be Different (D2BD) and their hands-on experience added a new dimension to my Marketing 101 class last semester. My standard lectures soon turned into interesting conversations about their business. The whole class benefited from their shared entrepreneurial spirit. And I got a much needed slap in the face and a renewed sense of purpose. I love the topics I teach and these students’ genuine energy reminded me of that fact.

A big thanks to the Dare to Be Different business partners –Dan and Khalid. Please visit their site and check out their stuff. http://www.d2bdglobal.bigcartel.com

 

5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Business Professor

Here are 5 things students say that make me cringe.

1. I’m terrible at math.

2. I don’t understand why I have to come to class on time.

3. I never read, watch or listen to the news.

4. Why would I want to dress up for my presentation?

5. Office Space? It’s a movie? Never heard of it.

I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but if you plan on pursuing a career in business, it will be hard to avoid math, getting to work on time, the news, a professional dress code and at least one reference to a red stapler.

Comments?

 

 

 

My Five Favorite Words

 

If you really want your professor to like you, try these five words.

 

“What else do you teach?

 

Like a fine bottle of wine, this question needs time to age. If you throw it in too early, it won’t ring true. I recommend saving it up until the end of the semester. Why? Because it implies a tangible action that benefits the professor. Registration is open and you’re about to pick classes. Teachers’ need to fill their classes, especially electives. Your question is exactly what they want to hear.

 

Consider this –compliments are perishable. They’re gone the minute you walk out of the classroom. Asking a teacher what else they teach is a compliment with a complimentary commitment. It’s like down payment and timed correctly, it will leave your professor with a positive feeling about you.

 

And that can’t hurt during final exams. So mark your calendar now.

What’s The Point Of Teacher Evaluations?

 

Twice a year, most schools ask students to fill out a teacher evaluation form. These standardized forms  give students the opportunity to rate their teachers on topics such as clarity, organization, level of difficulty and responsiveness.

 

Whenever I mention that the forms are available, my request is met with a bunch of eye rolls. It’s like a bag of marbles fell out of someone’s backpack and I’m stuck trying to justify the significance of teacher evaluations while tripping over a green agate.  I’m sure from a student’s perspective, you start to wonder where all that survey information ends up. Does anyone even look at the results? Do the results matter? What happens if I say something mean about a teacher? Will they know it’s me?

 

Let me tackle the topic of anonymity first. If you just fill in the bubbles, then I won’t know it’s you. However, if you choose to write something in the comment box like, “She hated my paper on the cultural impact of rap music,” then I can probably guess it was you. What can I say, I’m just not a rap fan. Luckily, teachers don’t see the results of their evaluations until the next semester so your grade is safe, but your paper is still lame.

 

The surveys really matter when the teacher you are evaluating is not a full time faculty member or possibly an un-tenured faculty member. In this case, a teacher’s job could be on the line and any input you can provide is helpful, as long as it’s honest. So what about those tenured professors.  If you’ve never heard of tenure, think of it as a life sentence with no chance of parole. Tenured professors become Teflon professors during the teacher evaluation process. There’s nothing you can say in those surveys that will threaten their position.

 

On the flip-side, I’m a tenured professor and I do read and consider students’ comments. Early in my teaching career, a student said I favored male students. It was an important comment and I worked hard to fix that perception, especially since I thought I had favored the females!  Another student said I wasn’t open to interpretations other than my own.  Wow! That’s totally me. I’m a ‘my way, or the highway’ kind of teacher. I’ve since attempted to correct for this, but only in a way that gives me complete control of the conversation.

 

The one thing I refuse to do is give students extra credit for filling out a teacher evaluation survey.  This is a common practice, but it feels like I’d be paying you to say something nice about me. Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider this last point. While I’m thinking about it, maybe you can take a look at the photo I chose of a teacher favoring a male student. This might be the worst stock photo I’ve ever purchased. Why is the teacher’s ponytail on his shoulder? Why does she even have a ponytail? And don’t get me started on that creepy baby hand reaching for the guy’s back.

Interpretations about the photo are welcome, because as you know – I’m open-minded. And by the way, please fill out your teacher evaluation forms!

 

 

 

 

Earbud Oblivion

An editor was recently reading my college blog and offered the following comment.

 

“I don’t like your mean posts.  You’re not a mean person, but your sarcasm is biting, and I think some of your posts might turn off readers.”

 

Since my goal is to keep readers and not lose them, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep it light. For this post, I asked students to pitch me a topic in hopes their perspective would keep my sarcasm in check. Unfortunately, this particular student-generated topic seems to have brought out the worst in me.  Sorry, but here goes!

shutterstock_131186051

 

 

Nothing says, I don’t want to be here, more than wearing earbuds to class. I can hear the music thumping as you walk by, and although I assume you’ll power down, I’m not entirely convinced. Maybe it’s because you’re not laughing with the rest of the class or moaning when I announce a test. You’re just kind of sitting there, in your own world, wires dangling from your ears. I’ll ask you to remove your earbuds a few times, but then I start to look like that teacher.

 

At first I thought the earbud thing was just me. Turns out, your fellow students also have an issue with earbuds in class. In fact, they asked me to write this post to let you know it bugs them too. Forget the anti-social message it sends. The real issue is your music, which can be heard within a two-desk radius of your seat. According to your classmates, even songs they like can sound annoying when filtered through a classmate’s headphones.

 

To test this complaint, I had my son pop in earbuds while I stood within listening range. We chose a favorite song of mine, ‘So Lonely’ by The Police. The frustration of hearing squeaky snippets of Stings’ already high-pitched voice was nearly as torturous as hearing parts of a song I disliked. For that test, I chose “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.

 

I nearly lost it.

 

In summary, be kind to your fellow students and take the needle off the record before entering class.

 

 

 

 

Eating Your Way to an F

shutterstock_152763050

Last week a student took a test with a basket full of fried chicken fingers on his desk. You know the sound that greasy paper makes? Crunchy and wet all at the same time.

“Are you really going to eat that while taking the test?” I asked.

“Don’t worry, I can manage it,” he replied.

Hmmm, I thought. I wasn’t worried about your eating skills. In fact, I had always hoped all my students had mastered the art of eating before entering college. I was more concerned the rest of the class would be distracted by the food choice — a choice that is loud and likely to cause to uncontrollable cravings. Just what you want when taking a test.

In my opinion, greasy chicken fingers in a paper-lined basket are as bad as the dreaded bag of chips.  The sound of a chip bag being opened in a quiet classroom is akin to finger nails on a chalkboard. Worse, I find the offending chip-eating student will then try to chomp each chip slowly, as if that lessens the sound. It doesn’t. It only prolongs the madness.

As a compromise, I asked my students to recommend low auditory, low olfactory foods for in-class snacking. This easy recipe for blueberry muffins was suggested by Nicholas Esser. Nick, a self-proclaimed foodie, highly recommends these easy to chew muffins as a quiet, in-class eating option. I recommend bringing one for your teacher too.

 

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-of-the-best-blueberry-muffins/detail.aspx

The Late Teacher

Late teachers come in three varieties ranging from disoriented to disconnected. Here’s my take on teachers who can’t tell time.

shutterstock_166289546

 

Professor Rat’s Nest

 

This teacher looks like they crawled out of a clothes dryer before the fluff cycle beeped.  With a pencil or two stuck in their hair and piles of crumpled, coffee stained papers, you wonder how they got through college.  If you really want to freak this professor out, encourage your fellow students to change seats every class. Don’t worry – since Prof. Rat’s Nest comes late, you’ll have plenty of time to execute this strategy.

 

Professor Paparazzi

 

This teacher thinks they might be famous. They are soooo busy living their pseudo-celebrity life, they couldn’t possibly be expected to arrive on time. Any you, the lowly student, should feel honored they’ve shown up at all. Here’s a quick way to deflate Professor Paparazzi’s ego. Pick a day and have the entire class show up exactly 30 minutes late.

 

Professor Dude

 

This teacher thinks it’s the first day of class every day of the semester.  They tend to saunter aimlessly across campus as if the college had rearranged the buildings over the summer. If you are walking faster than a toddler, you often pass them on the way to their own class.  Professor Dude is likely to peek into the class first to see if they recognize anyone, and then Professor Dude will check the door number more than once. My suggestion – about halfway through the semester, change the door number and act surprised when they poke their head in.

 

College Procrastination

shutterstock_156983240(1)Welcome Guest Blogger Giovanni Peguero!

Procrastination must be a drug because once you do it you can’t stop and when confronted about it by someone else you get defensive. We know it’s a downward spiral, but we can’t seem to stop.  My dream job is to write a procrastination script for a commercial that follows the DIRECTTV 2012 ad campaign. It would go something like this…..

 

When you have college work to do, you procrastinate.

When you procrastinate you lose sleep.

When you lose sleep doing work, you go to class sleepy.

When you go to class sleepy, you sit in the wrong class.

When you sit in the wrong class, you fail the final exam for a class you are taking the next semester.

Don’t fail the final exam for the class you are taking next semester.

Get rid of procrastination and upgrade to doing work early!

 

Now back to studying 🙁

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spell Check Shucks!

Calling all business students! Here are some common (and uncommon) misspellings that I’ve taken a red pen to in business papers. Some, I see regularly. Others come out of left field. Regardless — they’re, their, there — good for a chuckle.

 

SWAT Analysis – unless you’re planning on batting me over the head with the paper, the business term is  ‘SWOT Analysis.’

 

Costumers – Although there’s an outside chance your paper is truly about circus folk assigned to dressing clowns, I’m think the correct term is C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R-S.

 

Two Million Three Hundred Thousand Dollars – I realize the game here is to stretch the page length to meet the minimum required. However, business professionals tend to be efficient. Try $2.3M.

 

Tack Ticks – If I have to say a word out loud to understand the meaning, you have a problem. My advice – change your writing tactics.

 

The 8am Class – Where Dreams Go To Die

Welcome Guest Blogger!  – Nick Piccora

 

 

The 8am Class – where dreams go to die. I mean that quite literally. Dreams do die when students have to wake up to report to class, which is usually around 6:30, just to get a reasonable start to the day. In most cases, students do not get the required 8 hours of sleep per night, and usually wake up in the middle of the REM cycle, leaving them groggy for the rest of the morning; which may be the reason why so many students are seen falling asleep in these classes.

 

 shutterstock_91930403

 

Although some argue that an 8am class is a good thing, mainly cause it allows one to start their day early and be done with class early, the majority of students agree that the 8am is nothing to be desired, and especially at a commuter school such as WCC. My commute usually takes 25-30minutes on a good day, which means I would have to leave my house at 7:20 to make it in time for class, luckily the parking lots are not full at this point. However, if I were living on campus, or off campus, I would be allowed to stay asleep that much longer, in extreme cases till 7:50, as I will be allowed to explore the wonderland of my dream for that much longer, as I could be saving a damsel in distress, hitting the game winning homerun, or flying throughout space.

 

 

It is also interesting to note that for the 8am class, the way students dress shows how much appearance matters to someone waking up at 6:30, and usually because they are groggy and just thankful to make it to campus without sleeping at the wheel, they are dressed very comfortably. This means they are wearing PJs and a jacket. If these students were reporting for a later class, say at 12pm, then they would have the opportunity to take a shower, pamper themselves, and will show up for class the way they wish to look and not like they just rolled out of bed, although most students who do this are usually too tired to care that they look like they are still sleeping.

 

 

But now here comes the more interesting question, do students actually learn this early in the morning? Well let’s take an example of a student who wakes up at 7am for an 8am class at WCC. They must eat, dress, brush their teeth and be out the door by 7:30 to make it in time. In most cases, they will have to skip one of these in order to have enough time to make it in time, and usually that means skipping breakfast, the most important meal of the day and by skipping this step you are already at risk of not learning at your optimal capacity. When the student finally reaches the classroom and sits down, they then realize what they are in for, a 2 hour lecture about a topic they are not interested in. This is the ultimate storm, as now sleep is beckoning the student back to it’s domain, and in most cases, it wins.