I have been teaching for the past 2 quarters. That was why I was missing for this whole time. Will update the recipes I have tried perhaps soon (notice I used “will” and “perhaps” in the same sentence).
By this time you would have already known that I am a female blogger. I don’t know if my experience also resonates with male lecturers and professors, but the following is my experience.
Students want to test their boundaries and push you
If you haven’t read this article, you should. More mature students (mostly senior students) will accept your authority more easily, for juniors or younger, they like to push very hard and test your limits. Even if you wrote everything in a guideline, they will scream for their lost points, even if you reason with them, they will blame you. Now, I don’t know if it is because of my shorter stature or me being young or female, but I have to spend extra time to establish my authority with my students. This included wearing high heels that give me annoying discomforts for 2 hours walking about in the classroom and dressing up for every class.
I highly recommend not to argue with the students. Tell them you were fair with everyone, tell them it was written clearly in the assignment guidelines and let them vent. There is nothing else you could do but telling them you were there to help, and they could have checked with you earlier before the assignment was due. And hopefully you established the reason for the assignment well when you give it to the students.
One problem I had in my class was that the students were on their computer and phone in the class. I don’t even know why they bothered to come to class in the first place. I tried asking questions in class to make the class answer, but few students responded. When a question was posed to everyone in the class and if nobody answered I tried calling on the students who were on the phone or computer, basically they were just digging a hole for themselves after they realized they didn’t even know what question they were supposed to answer. However, if you had better advice, please share with me! Next time when I teach I will make participation part of my grade. I really hate to have students not use their electronic devices because some students use them to take notes.
The REALLY uncomfortable feeling when students might have a crush on you (and said inappropriate things)
Students don’t know it is uncomfortable to an instructor or TA when the students have a crush on them since their flirting actually undermines the authority of the instructors or TA. However, there is an unfortunate culture encouraging students to rate the professor/TA’s appearances, such as the “hotness” meter on RateMyProfessor.com.
A male student has been constantly showing his lack of respect for a friend of mine (also had short stature and was young) in the class. Although he did not attend a lot of lectures, he would ask her questions on a tangent that is not really related to the class material. Toward the end of the quarter he wanted to meet with her to talk. When he told her his issues, he asked her not to do anything for him. And during the review the day before the final, he and other students stayed for more questions. When she mentioned that students were copying from the solutions manual for their homework so she was a bitch to create assignments to make them work for the points, this particular student asked her if she needed a hug to which she answered no but he (much taller) still bent down and gave her a hug, of course there were still other students present. Right after the review when they bumped into each other after leaving the building, he mentioned he thought she had a nice butt and it was distracting but added he was kidding. And before leaving he asked for her number.
Signs to look for
- When students are asking you to meet privately without any particular reason or requested action on your part
- Close proximity to you
- Sudden friendliness toward you when few people are around
- Inappropriate comments about your features
- Asking personal information about you
- Knowing some of your information that you have not shared with the class
- Possible stalking (when the student shows up everywhere you go or leaves notes for you)
Possible actions to take
- Of course, keep the door open when meeting students individually. If students insist on a private meeting, meet with the students in a large open area or in a hallway or ask them to walk and talk with you while you are getting a coffee so people can see you
- To keep a distance from students, or rather make them keep a distance from you, I personally don’t take any mint or gum when meeting with a student, that seems to make them want to keep a distance from me (wink)
- Friendly touch can be interrupted by repeating your protest again if you voiced it out earlier, or just mention it is inappropriate to give the students a warning. This is the same with unwanted comments, warn the students that it is inappropriate first, if it persists, then you have to talk to someone like the department chair or supervisor
- When asked about personal information, you can simply state that you don’t talk about it with students or you don’t share it with people. When asked about contacting you outside of class, stick to e-mails, it leaves a record and it is usually a public knowledge
- If students know information about you that you didn’t share, you should inquire calmly how they acquired the information, depending on their answer, the action taken may include a warning to the students and/or informing your department chair or supervisor about it
- When you think someone is stalking you, don’t confront them head-on for your safety reasons, it is best to talk to your department chair or supervisor about it first and then determine the action you should take to warn the student and/or other options