It's the first day of the semester. Welcome! And congratulations on your good judgement in choosing to take Intro to Psychology. If this is your first semester of post-secondary education (that means "college"), then a particularly hearty welcome to you! I am sure that my faculty colleagues join me in wishing you success. Please know that we are not the enemy; we are your advocates and we look forward to the day you attend your Graduation Ceremony and we get to line up and clap for you as you go by.
There are several factors that contribute to your success in college: emotional support from others, skills in time management, note-taking, test-taking, study techniques, stress management, goal-directed motivation, willingness to seek, find, and accept help from others, perseverence, a sense of humor, and finally, an easy rapport with your faculty. Today, I would like to offer a few suggestions that might make that last factor - relationships with faculty - more likely to be successful. These are some tips for interacting with me and they might be applicable to some of your other instructors.
Some Tips to Maximize Your Success
- You should probably know right up front that I don't give As in my classes. I also don't "give" Fs and I don't give Cs or Ds either, for that matter. I give my time, my expertise, my effort and my encouragement. You will earn whatever grade you earn. Let's hope you reach your goal in our class.
- Please do not walk up to me and ask out of the blue, "Did you get my email?" How can I know if I got your email if I don't know who you are or what it was about? Say, "My name is Sally Student and I wondered if you got my email about needing to miss class during the third week of the semester."
- When you speak with me before or after class, please use complete sentences. Your speech should include a subject, a noun and a verb; that's what a sentence is. So don't just hand me a piece of paper and grunt something about "my paper." Say, "Would you please look over this rough draft of my paper?" You might want to formulate your full sentence before you get up from your seat.
- Remember the manners you learned in grade school? They apply in college. I really appreciate those old fashioned courtesies such as "please," "thank you" and "excuse me."
- Please don't ever say, "I missed the last class session; did you cover anything important?" Really, now, what would you expect me to say to that? "No, not really, in fact it was an entire waste of everyone's time." I don't think so. Perhaps you could ask, "Did I miss any announcements?"
- While I care very much about your academic success, the fact that you may lose your financial aid because of your low grade in my class is not really my problem. You plead with me - during week 13 of a 15 week semester - as though if you sound pitiful enough, I will somehow be persuaded and "give" you a higher grade. That's not going to happen. However, if you talk with me after the second test and you express concern about your performance in the class, I will work with you to develop a strategy for your success, not my capitulation (look it up).
- Please do not concern yourself with any special accomodation you believe I have made with another student. That student's situation is not your business; remember that you don't know the whole story and you are most likely about to make the Fundamental Attribution Error (we will cover that in the Social Psychology chapter or you can look it up now).
- I can forgive a multitude of sins, so please just be honest and confess your transgressions. Take responsibility for the fact that you missed class, you didn't turn the paper in on time, you weren't listening in class, you didn't sign the attendance sheet, or you didn't follow the directions. The minute I hear even the slightest hint of not taking full adult responsibility for yourself, I begin to shut down in judgmental disdain. When you begin the conversation with, "I screwed up," my heart chakra opens up and I begin to feel compassion and a willingness to help.
No one ever said, "I want to be rich; I think I'll become a teacher." I certainly didn't. In fact, I didn't really consciously choose this career. This career chose me. I believe this is a sacred contract that I made and I am just showing up to keep my Promise about how I would use some of my gifts during this lifetime. I love teaching. I love it when you love to learn. I even love it when you don't particularly care about psychology, but you show a desire to be a good student and a good person. I want to be a good teacher and a good person. Let's work together - 'cuz I really can't wait to go to your graduation and fuss over you and gush about your success and clap as you go by...