Semester after semester, you have your share of the strict, the weird, the laid back and the frustrating professors.
You talk and complain about them to your friends, and maybe even take the time to review them on sites such as Rate My Professors. Sure, you’ve got your thoughts about what you think of your instructors, but how about this: What do your professors think about you?
Try and see things the instructor’s way—as much as you don’t want to. Their thoughts can be predicted, I’m sure, but they can also be pretty surprising. As a current graduate instructor, it’s been interesting to view the classroom environment from the eyes of an instructor, and my fellow grad instructors and I, like you and your friends, have had our good share of storytelling about the students we’ve come across.
So here’s eight things your professor might be thinking about you.
1. “Do they even care about this class?”
Do you, though? Professors can definitely tell when you’re interested in their materials, and when you just could not give a rat’s ass.
Sleeping will surely do it. Being on your phone, on your laptop (laptops are the ultimate tricksters for instructors. They generally assume you’re on social media, when you truly could be taking notes), eating an entire Burger King meal in front of everyone. Ya know, the good stuff.
2. “Are they even listening to what I’m saying?”
Professor: *explains what class needs to do for homework*
Student, five minutes later: “What do we need to do for homework?”
Oh my lord. The things instructors want to say but will not when a student doesn’t listen. When you don’t listen, instructors are already pegging you as someone who isn’t paying attention, ever.
Lots of judging goes on the first day of classes between the students and the instructor. Don’t get off on the wrong foot.
3. “I’m about to score some major brownie points with these guys.”
Instructors know that you won’t mind at all if class gets cancelled, and they know you certainly won’t mind if they push back an exam, project or essay deadline. Sometimes, they’ll throw you a bone.
Trust me, your instructor won’t be sobbing in bed if they have to cancel a class. They’re just as excited as you are about it.
4. “Believe it or not, I want to get to know you.”
They do! They genuinely do!
I’ve had several classes in undergrad where the instructor would ask a “question of the day” everyday as part of taking attendance, and as a student, I loved it. As an instructor, I now do the same. I’ll come up with a list of different questions to ask my students and it always goes over so well. The other day, I asked my students if they were a My Little Pony (kudos to my former instructor Abby for this one) what would they want as their cutie mark. My students immediately erupted in laughter, and actively participated.
Last year, I asked a student if he could do any good impersonations, and he told me he could do a decent Herbert from “Family Guy.” I told him I could impersonate Tricia Takanawa (also from “Family Guy”), and if he did his impersonation, I would do mine. The two of us had the class laughing for several minutes. Asking an attendance question each day is an instructor’s perfect way to get to know their students, and usually sets a good mood at the start of the class.
5. “Oh, God. They saw me out in public looking like a normal human being. They’re judging. They are hardcore judging.”
I’ve run into students many times outside of the classroom, and I’ve heard stories of professors running into their students at places like bars. I won’t lie—if I’m out and about and I look terrible, I’m always praying that my students look the other way.
Last fall, I had to pick up my brother from the campus library. I drove over in Coors Light pajama pants, a Hannibal T-shirt, Osiris shoes and a ratty old grandma sweater (it was 9 p.m., I like to be comfy). My phone died as soon as I got to the parking lot, and I dreaded the thought of having to get out of the car to try and find my brother, mostly for the reason of running the slight risk that one of my students would see me.
I finally talked myself out of the car, telling myself the odds of running into one of my twenty-five students, when campus held close to 17,000, were very slim. As soon as I started my trek to the library, one of my students was walking straight towards me. I looked away in shame.
6. “This kid just does not want any help whatsoever.”
It’s incredibly frustrating when students don’t look into the feedback their instructor is giving them on writing assignments. Hey man, instructors are just trying to help you out!
But, I digress.
I was someone who hated the idea of getting help on something. Looking at my instructors’ feedback on my essays brought me down and made me feel like I couldn’t write for shit. Being in the other role opened me up to my old viewpoints quite a bit.
Instructors aren’t trying to make you feel like you can’t write to save your life; they’re genuinely trying to help you out. Now, I’m always telling my students to look at the comments I provide for them. I want them all to be amazing. They’re like my children. I look out for them.
7. “My students challenge me more than I thought they would.”
And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. I’ve learned a lot through my students, about myself, about teaching strategies and about their generation.
Sure, they make me feel old at times, but they help me to improve on how to work with them, how they learn and how I can help them to improve on their writing skills. It’s a glorious learning process all the way around.
8. “Damn, I miss those guys.”
No, really. You’re probably excited to never see your instructors again once the semester ends, but in all honestly, they’ll miss ya. Well, some of you, that is. If you gave your instructor a hard time, they will be quite the happy pandas.
To be honest, I get sad when the semester comes to a close. I miss my kiddos from last fall and spring and all the laughs and donuts we shared. But of course, I am eager to see my students flourish and become wiser, and another step closer to their desired futures.