(Note: This is the second part of a multi-part series of blog posts, which break down my 2014 Faculty Conference presentation and add in the "deleted scenes." You can view the first post at the following link:


My husband is a licensed therapist, so as I've read through the literature from his field that is all around our house, I have noticed many experts quoting the World Health Organization's report that "current predictions indicate that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease burden globally," so handling human emotions with care is a concern/focus of mine.

My question for everyone in this community: 

What activities/strategies have helped you to lift, encourage, or ameliorate the emotions/feelings of students who initially approach you with feelings of frustration, anger, or anxiety about their school work?

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  • I am still working on this too. I tend to be more lenient because of experiences I had as a student. As a student I was really turned off by a couple of professors who I liked otherwise because they had no empathy and called me foolish when I had to miss a couple of weeks of class for something I had to do for work. I very much realize that sometimes life makes otherwise good students do poorly.

    Because of that, if I see students just showing up and doing minimal work or no work, I always proactively reach out to them asking to help. I let them know I care and always phrase things positively and assume the best.

    It doesn't always work but I tend to get more students to try harder because they know I care. Also if they do try hard and turn in quality work I give them the benefit of the doubt. 

    I never excuse students from completing work, and I don't allow perpetual "issues" with the same student, but I do allow flexibility. 

  • Jess, thank you for chiming in. That is why I undertook the study for this presentation--because I began noticing that when my students feel loved by me, they aren't as threatened by my high standards or the point deductions they receive for below-standard work. Instead, they are motivated to do better!

    But students who don't connect with me or feel loved by me just show up, do minimal work, then earn bad grades and write unhappy course evaluations. I need to do more to seek out the silent ones!

    Jess, how do you balance showing empathy while holding students accountable for their work? I'm still working on this!

  • Sorry, Joel--all this "organic management" study has left me weaving daisies in my hair and singing songs about inner peace while I contemplate my course; surely that is an effective use of my on-the-clock-hours, too? ;)

    But seriously-

    You and your wife's experiences are definitely representative of the trends I'm seeing--I'm getting a lot of feedback from my younger students that video chat is a preferred mode of communication. In addition to getting over my camera-shyness, I might need to set up a schedule so my students know when is a good time to call, then maybe I can make sure I'm in business attire during those hours each day.

    Also, I wouldn't want the students to ring in during my daisy-laced kumbaya-singing . . . (haha!)

  • Hey!  enough of this mumbo-jumbo chit-chat.  Now back to grading or we'll cut your rations and double your workload!   I can't help it, I'm a product of my mechanistic environment  ;-)

    So on a serious note, I have called my students with great success.  I have also spoken with a number of you this semester in our lunch-time-instructor-calls from our Online Instruction office team.  These calls--both with you instructors and with my students--go a long way for me in helping connect in a more human way.  

    Watching my wife use Skype this semester to talk to probably all of here students at some point was was impressive, and inspires me to try a similar thing.  They also call her frequently on Skype.  She frequently doesn't answer (she has work time one non-work time), but it's nice to see her have a relationship with them where they do call throughout the day and evening.

  • The best strategy I have found for helping students with these feelings is empathy. Having been a student myself not too long ago while working full time and trying to meet family and church responsibilities, I often felt the same way. I let them know I care and I try to be as flexible as possible while still holding them accountable for their responsibilities.

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