I try to remember every semester what it was like to be a student new to class.
Some of the anticipation my undergraduate generation experienced is gone, now that syllabi are online, but there is still the moment where you walk in the classroom door for the first time, arm and arm with fear of the unknown.
I heard this prof was hard or disorganized or bossy (or another B word–yes, I have gotten this one).
The class holds no interest but is a requirement for my major. I’m new to my major and this is my first class; what if I hate it?
I had this prof before, and I love him. I had this prof before, and I hate her.
This class is early. This class is late. This class is long. This class meets a lot of times during the week.
So for my incoming students, I wanted to take a minute to dispel (or confirm) some of the questions and concerns (based on feedback from other students) you may have coming into our classes:
- Our classes are hard: True.
- I have very high goals for all of you, and work together all semester for you to succeed at a high level. That means working hard and pushing yourself beyond some more conventional efforts. Journalism and communication require hard work to do well–and that hard work brings much reward.
- It’s time for technology: True
- Understanding and utilizing tech has become a big part of journalism, and we will use it here. You will learn to expand and professionalize your use of social media, multimedia and mobile devices. Pedagogically, I believe using tech appropriately can augment and personalize your learning experience, to make it one that suits your learning style and needs.
- I am also a ready volunteer and first adopter. To that end, we are piloting a potential new learning management system called Canvas in three classes, and in the fourth will use iTunes U. You will be well-trained before being expected to use, and I am ALWAYS here to help.
- I am mean and play favorites: False (but I know why student believe that.)
- I am actually a pretty nice person, but I am not here to be your friend or your parent. I am here to be your teacher, editor and writing coach. There is nothing I love more than working with engaged students, helping them maximize their potential and develop skills, and helping them figure out what career and life skills best suit them.
- But my classes are modeled after the real world, and I need students to learn to behave in ways that would make them successful in the real world.
- In the real world deadlines are strict, excuses don’t mean much, personal accountability is imperative. I know adhering to those standards does not always make me popular.
- Your grade is the most important part of class: False
- Unless you are applying to graduate school, NO ONE will ask you for your grade-point average. Trust me, I know how you feel about your grades. I felt the same and my husband still tells of my hysterical crying when I got a “C” on a political science exam. I only wish I could back and tell 20-year-old me that it was not the grades that indicated success. It was how much I learned, how much I could apply when I got a job, it was how I let each class experience shape the career I wanted to pursue and the person I wished to become.
- Please know I will always talk about how you can enhance your learning and skill development, but discussing how to “increase your grade” will be a pretty challenging conversation.
- I am bothered when you want to meet outside of class: COULD NOT BE MORE FALSE
- Every semester, I feel like I beg students to come to office hours or make an appointment to meet for coffee (I’ll even buy!), and every semester, I often sit in my office alone only to face a press conference worth of questions in the 5 minutes before class.
- I WANT to answer your questions. I WANT to get to know you. I WANT to see photos of your dog. I WANT to hear about your clubs or sorority or hobbies or the movie you saw or the book you read. If you are on a sports team/club, tell me when and where you play so I can go see you. Are you acting or singing or speaking? I’d love to come to that, too. Sorority having a dinner? I’m there! In short–I CARE about the things you care about–the good, the bad, the overwhelming, the scary, the personal, the practical. To do that, please let’s get to know each other away from the glare of the class spotlight, where time is friend not foe.
- (By the way, did you know Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences will pay us to go out to lunch together? It’s called Take My Professor to Lunch, and it’s one of my FAVORITE things to do all semester. Check it out and invite me or some other prof!)
I cannot fully convey how exciting, overwhelming, stressful, fulfilling and entertaining this semester has the potential to be if we work together.
There will likely be moments you love and moments you hate (class and me), but please know every session is prepared and executed with the goal of helping you accomplish your academic goals and your career dreams.