Teaching Lessons Learned In Classics

How long is a few days in blog years?

I haven’t done a post since Monday morning, where I might have sown the seeds of college and university staff making iPod socks.

Then I got caught up in school and doing things at the last minute this week as I started teaching the summer course at the community college. I think it will be the last time when I write a syllabus and a gradebook and all the good things at the eleventh hour. That privilege belongs to college students.

I am all caught up. My new habit: get papers graded on time. There’s nothing students resent more than a disorganized instructor. They don’t know what to expect in class, they get their papers back late, and they don’t know where they stand. And, if the teacher is a harsh grader, then they despise him or her even more.

When I was in college, I took a Classics course with a stuffy, condescending professor who could have easily been portrayed by Bob Balaban (the music teacher in Waiting For Guffman comes to mind). He was often disorganized, and the exams and the papers often came back late. One day, he discovered no one read one of those ancient Greek poems in the syllabus through trying to conduct a discussion. He was incapable of it, but I have to commend him for deviating from his lectures. I remembered his travelogue stories more than anything he had to say about Greco-Roman history, literature, or art. Getting back to the anecdote, his prissy ass was outraged no one came prepared for class and he abruptly stormed out of classroom.

The moral of the story? Perhaps there’s a few. Show your students respect and be on task, especially if you are to demand respect from them and expect them to be on top of their assignments. Having an advanced degree does not get you respect by default. This guy was a professor with a PhD and I didn’t give a damn. He was never on task, but heaven help anyone who turned in a paper late. I still don’t respect him even though I took that class over 10 years ago.

Week 1 of the Summer Course is over. 5 to go. Stay tuned.

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