EDITORIAL: Your attitude affects our attitude
Students want enthusiasm, connection and empathy in their professors
On Sept. 12, we published a profile on communication faculty member Alysa Lucas.
This is worth noting because of the positive response and high engagement rate we received from online readers who enjoyed the story.
The reason the reaction was so strong, we believe, is because Lucas embodies the things Central Michigan University students love about CMU, when CMU is doing it right.
The story features her students discussing Lucas’ ability to connect, relate and engage with them. One student in the story calls Lucas a “mentor” and relays how Lucas would talk about subjects like mental health and check up on her students.
This is what students at CMU want to see from their professors: the ability to relate, a willingness to empathize and an effort to connect.
We understand when we hear that professors get frustrated because students don’t listen, use their phones in class or just outright seem disinterested during class. We also see that from our peers.Although we might seem disinterested, we could just be focused on all the other stressors in our life — graduating, paying rent, tuition or another personal issue.
Have faculty ever considered this might be because they seem disinterested as well? You can’t expect your students to be enthusiastic about classroom material, if you seem uninterested in presenting it. You're not excited about being there and we're not excited about being there.
We know teaching us isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like professors dissociate from students. We understand there is a decade or two difference in our ages, but we can still find common ground.
When a faculty member does try to connect with us – even with the simple task of telling us about their day or family – it feels like they are trying to get to know us while they also are sharing a part of their lives with us.
Understandably, college isn’t just about having a good relationship with your professors — it’s about working toward and earning a degree.
But through all the times we attend classes and try to learn and retain this information, the least our professors could do is try to make it seem like they are as interested in our success as we are. Lucas is an example of someone who has found a way to connect with students. Someone who makes students look forward to coming to her class.
On Twitter, we tweeted out to students asking them what stands out about their favorite professor. Responses included the terms “passion,” “willingness to help students” and “commitment to students.”
We as students want to be excited about our classes and what we are learning. We want to see our professors excited, engaged and eager to engage with us.
We want to give our best effort. We also want your best effort.