Monday, June 05, 2006

Teaching is not all fun and games...

I want to be a professor--that is why at 40+ years old I am returning to academia, studying, writing, and taking tests. After being an adjucnt for 12 years, I know the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a professor.

The good
I know how much I love sharing what is new knowledge to undergraduates as they try to find their place in the world. I love listening to them figure out how to solve problems in marketing, or in business, especially ethical problems.

The Bad
I don't particularly enjoy the grading process as there are always students who will fight with you no matter what. I try to be fair and show them how I got their grade, but there are always students who think they deserve an "A" no matter what. On the flip side, there are sometimes students who don't even care what their grade is, and that is equally frustrating.

The Ugly
An article today in Inside Higher Ed discusses one problem I have encountered as a professor: student suicide. During my time as an adjunct, I've had a handful of students who are suicidal. Some have opted to tell me why they are missing so many classes, and some just disappear, leaving me to wonder when they won't return my emails or phone calls. One student went back home and his parents helped him finish his semester. I think they were surprised that I would send his assignments to him long distance, but I wanted to give him hope that someone cared and that it mattered that he finish. Another male student (the article says more of these depressed students are male), confided in me and I kept tabs on him, making sure he was not being too hard on himself, yet making sure to provide the listening and nonjudgmental ear he needed.

All of this was not in my job description, and is not the prettier side of being a professor, but after having my favorite cousin commit suicide when I was just 11, I don't ever want to be accused of only wanting to be a professor for the fun of it--I want to be there for all of it.


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