Image Credit: “teeter-totter” by Junichiro AOYAMA

Like all semesters, Spring 2011 had its ups and downs. Here are a few things I learned, in no particular order:

  1. I was impressed with the writing and design skills of many of my students with their blog assignments. Some of them went far above and beyond my expectations, notably Cindy Cromeans, Amber Sakis, Sarah Allen,  Kyle Ashcraft and Megan Getter. I must remember to share these outstanding examples with students in the fall.
  2. I should not bother to hold any office hours for the first 3/4 of the semester, and pack them all into the last 1/4 — as this is when most of my students decide to stop by. (Okay, I probably won’t do that. But I am tempted.)
  3. I may need to be more specific in my assignment directions. For example, even though we had multiple discussions in class about the assignments, some of them still had a hard time understanding that the “Topic of the Week” for their blogs was due during a specific week. (Any idea how I could be clearer in writing about this one?)
  4. I was beyond delighted when students would share links via Twitter or bring up current events or PR news in class. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, I was thrilled.
  5. I need to reinforce our department’s attendance policy several times, especially early in the semester, even though it’s plainly stated in the syllabus. Some students were “surprised” when their grades were lower than they had anticipated. Since so much of what we cover in my classes is based on class discussions, being physically (and mentally!) present is critical. It’s also good practice to show up to class just like they will have to show up to work once they graduate.
  6. I will need to be clearer that when I put a hyperlink in a blog post, it’s for a reason. That reason is to provide amplification or examples about the points I was writing about. I fielded many questions about information that I’d linked to.
  7. I need to remember that not all students in my PR classes are as passionate about public relations and social media as I am. (We have a combined PR/journalism major at my university, and many students are much more interested in the journalism side of the major than the PR side.)
  8. I should continue to attend students’ outside activities often. It was great seeing them notice when I showed up (often unannounced) for campus and non-campus events, including one wedding proposal!
And here’s one final thing I learned that I definitely need some help with.
  • 9. I may need to lower my expectations that students will be fully prepared for class by reading the assigned materials, listening to the assigned podcast or writing the assigned blog post. I need to come up with an alternate plan (other than dismissing the unprepared students or the entire class) when they are unprepared for the discussion I had expected to have.
    What are your thoughts about this one?


    3 Responses to 9 Things I Learned From My Students, Spring 2011 Edition

    1. Melissa says:

      This is a great list!

      I empathize with and appreciate your sentiments in number 9, and I think it’s a good idea to have an alternate plan. I’ve learned to do this, and mine usually involves some kind of in-class work that culminates in product (writing, answering questions), which means they are forced to engage with the topics I’m trying to teach.

      My simplest way to be prepared for this is to carry copies of a relevant article or two with me at all times, it’s my easiest “go to” when they haven’t prepared for the activity or discussion I had planned. I also usually choose something relevant but not wonderfully interesting — I prefer not to think of it as “punishment” (though I’ve been known to tell them that class discussion would have been lots more fun than the task at hand). And, sometimes, i find a way to have the students who did prepare earn a bit of extra credit for their work.

      I encourage you not to lower your expectations for class preparedness. If we’re preparing them for life and career, one of the most important things we can teach is the importance of completing tasks as assigned. As I like to tell my students, I continue to believe that they are fully capable of exceeding my expectations.

      Have a great summer.