Hey, profs: How not to be a jerk in class


Earlham College via Flickr

Great lectures include showing up on time

It’s all about simple reciprocity, writes English professor Billie Hara in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Did your professors make you suffer through boorish behaviors? There’s no reason to continue that tradition,” she writes.

(Sounds like she’s trying to break the hazing mentality.)

Remember, they are looking to you to be the model of professional behavior. Or, to put it simply: students look to you to be the grownup.

Here’s an edited list:

  1. Having a bad day? Don’t be a jerk and take your frustrations out on your students.
  2. Do you have course policies for your students (attendance, tardiness)? Then abide by the same rules. Don’t be a jerk and saunter into class five minutes late.
  3. Do you have a policy that you don’t accept late work from students? Don’t ask students to do anything you can’t do. The worst are professors who go nuts about due dates but who themselves are continually asking for extensions for their own work.
  4. Do you have a Ph.D. (or other terminal degree)? Don’t tell students that your degree allows you to treat them any way you wish.
  5. Remember when you were a student? Try to remember what it was like not to know something. 
  6. Do you have a rockin’ personal life? Then keep it to yourself. Sharing a little of our personal lives can be a good thing in the classroom. Over-sharing, on the other hand, breeds resentment.
  7. Do you use humor in your classes? Great, but don’t ever let your students be the butt of your jokes.
  8. Do you ever make mistakes in your classes? Admit it, apologize (especially if the mistake was aimed at students), and move on graciously.
  9. Do you assign work for students to do outside of class? Then return it in a reasonable amount of time.
  10. Do you say things like “I can’t bear to read that crap” about student effort? Don’t talk trash about your students outside of the classroom.