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This piece is written by Athena Lin (firstname.lastname@example.org) on recent reflections about teaching that she hopes will serve as the basis for Big Beacon’s first Twitter chat this fall.
I was recently asked to serve on a panel of undergraduate students for new faculty in the College of Engineering at my institution. I thought carefully about what I would share with the faculty based on my experiences with professors and courses thus far in college. I wanted to share with them something that they could only hear from students. I asked a friend of mine (who I met this summer during a research program in engineering education) for her thoughts. She shared with me one of the most poignant and beautiful pieces of writing I have read about education, in which she described the feelings of urgency that often feel absent in higher education. She described the perception that some faculty may hold that if they care about their students, some students will still fail, and if they don’t care, some will still succeed. This may cultivate a lack of urgency in understanding the impact they have as professors.
From her words, I drew inspiration for what I would share with the new faculty:
I’ve been in classes that teach to students who will be successful no matter what type of classroom they’re in, classes where professors may feel the impact of their teaching depends on each individual student. I’ve also been in classes that engage the whole class, where I feel more welcomed. I feel that what distinguishes these two types of classes is how much professors show that they care about their students.
My advice is to teach with empathy. Always strive to be the best teacher you can be, for your students. It makes more of a difference than you might think. Some examples of ways my professors have shown care are:
- Making themselves available to students whenever they can, because not everyone who has questions will be willing to speak up in class.
- Listening to students.
- Being understanding of what it’s like to be a student and all the pressure that comes with it.
The last thing I want to say is, be intentional with what you say and what you teach, because the messages you convey run deeper than the content you teach. These messages are where care comes from. And the classes where I have felt this care are the courses and the professors that I remember most fondly.
I have shared this story with you in the hopes of bringing a greater audience to this conversation about empathy in education and how meaningful care from professors can be to students. Please join me and Students for a Whole New Education for our Twitter chat next Wednesday and share your thoughts on empathy in education!
Big Beacon invites students to join in our Twitter Chats focused student-centered issues! We want to engage students in our conversations to transform engineering education. We want to bring student voices to a platform that listens to students’ ideas and experiences and cherishes them. Big Beacon values student voices as professional voices and are as valued as those of teachers, professors, and administrators.
About Students for a Whole New Education
Students for a Whole New Education (SWNE) is an initiative Big Beacon launched this year to empower students to become change agents in engineering education. We want to keep students central to change efforts and encourage students to be active in conversations about transforming education. SWNE aims to bring together students from around the world who are united by the challenges they face in an education system that resists change.
How to Twitter Chat
If you’ve never Twitter chatted before, don’t worry; it’s very easy! First, get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and log in. At 8 PM ET on Wednesday go to twitter.com and type #BigBeacon into the search box on Twitter. Thereafter all the tweets with the hashtag #BigBeacon will show up on your Twitter page. To participate, simply express your opinion by sending a tweet, and be sure to append the hashtag #BigBeacon so other members of the Twitter Chat see you are posting. Alternatively, automate the hashtag search and append feature by using the free service Tchat at http://www.tchat.io.