Being an educator for the first time can be daunting, especially when you are unsure what to do and where to start. The goal of every professor is to prepare their students for life-long learning. Understanding what your job entails in and off the classroom is essential. That way, you will have a better chance of success in your career as a professor. Here are nine tips for first-time professors.
1. Introduce Yourself
One way to get the students to know you and your goals is to talk about yourself. Be honest and upfront in telling them the things you hope to accomplish. You must also be confident with what you are saying and make it personal.
You don’t want to be that professor that learns a few weeks into the term that the students didn’t get their grades because of careless mistakes. Guarantee them that you will be a reliable teacher and ensure your students know what to expect from you from day one.
You can also consider sharing your academic journey with your students. This makes it easier to connect with them as they build a bond with you. They will appreciate this more than anything else you can do for them.
2. Research the Course
Researching the course before joining is vital if you want to succeed in your job as a professor. Many things help give students a head start on their coursework and apply what they have learned to their future jobs.
While you can always refer back to the syllabus, giving them something to reference after class is essential. Deep knowledge of the course will help you prepare for lectures and make you aware of what is most important to your students.
Using graphical abstracts is also a unique way to help your students understand the course content. You can use these charts as visual reminders of what you are trying to teach your students as you go through each lesson in the course.
3. Speak Up
It is good to speak up in class, but you must be careful not to be unnecessarily wordy or too rapid with your delivery. You want to ensure the students are engaged and fun during these subjects. Be sure you know where you stand on the material, so everyone has a level playing field before the lecture starts. Use this time for discussion questions, group small group work, or quiz questions.
3. Set Goals
As a professor, you are held accountable for the way your students learn and the work they produce. You must set goals based on the course you teach to ensure your students are on track to succeed. You can refer back to these goals as you go through each step of the course and review them before classes start each term. These points will also help your students know what is expected of them and how they can advance in their future endeavors.
4. Prepare Student Assignments
Assignments are a great way to help students understand what they have learned and develop their critical thinking skills. These assignments should be well thought out and relevant to the coursework.
Thoroughly explain their expectations and how you will grade these assignments. Remember, at the end of the day, you want your students to get better and know what they are doing in class.
5. Grade Exams and Assignments Quickly
It is your job as an educator to grade exams and give students feedback on their assignments. Giving students feedback on their work as soon as possible will motivate them to do it and may save you time in the long run. Start grading exams immediately after class and give students feedback on their final papers or assignments at the end of each term.
6. Encourage Students
Encouraging your students is one of the best ways to see improvements in them and their career paths. It is also a great way to build a good relationship with them as they go through your courses.
Try to develop a relationship with your students and use this to help them along. Take note of their performance in class and give constructive criticism when needed.
7. Create Positive Expectations
It is vital to have expectations of your students while in your class, but this should be positive. Taking note of their life situations or difficulties will provide insight into what can affect them in the future and will give you ideas on how best to help guide them along.
8. Learning Your Students’ Names is Key
While this might be a little cheesy, knowing your students’ names can go a long way in building a relationship with them. Try to take note of the name they would like you to call them by and use this in everyday life. This will make it more personable and more fun for everyone.
9. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Many professors take themselves too seriously and forget how important it is for them to have fun too. If you are too serious about your teaching, then you might lose some aspects of this that are essential to being great at your job.
It can be hard at times, but try to focus on the good in your job and all the good things you get to do. This will help you be successful in this profession.