For my new students: navigating quirky profs (and a little about me)

Hi there, new JMC 1013 students. As a college professor I believe part of my job is to acclimate you to the college scene. Yes, my first job is to teach you about media, and I’ll be doing plenty of that this semester. But, another lesson I’d like to impart is that professors are weird, and we have quirks.

A totally normal photo of me at my recent 40th birthday party.
A totally normal photo of me at my recent 40th birthday party.

You’ll have a more successful first year experience if you pay attention to how your professors are different and know that not all the same behaviors are OK in all your classes. Looking at the syllabus rules for each class is a good start to learning what your professors like/don’t like, but I’m going to help you a bit more. Here are some things I like/don’t like concerning student conduct, but also just about life in general.

I like . . . 

  • when students visit during office hours or other times we agreed on via email.
  • when students take responsibility for their mistakes. I am likely to be much more forgiving if you take responsibility and don’t blame other people.
  • when students pay attention in class even if you don’t think the subject will be interesting to you. Every moment is a chance to learn, and you never know when you will learn something useful.
  • to write. Here’s a list of some of my work.
  • a good book.
  • ethical journalism.
  • my husband.
  • my dogs.
  • iced vanilla lattes with half the syrup.
  • teaching.

I don’t like . . .

  • when students hound me about grades just a day or two after they turn something in. There are many of you, and if the assignment was writing-heavy like the blog posts or your research paper, it’s going to take some time with 100+ of you in the class. Yes, I have teaching assistants who help me, but it’s still a lot. Give us about two weeks for the writing-heavy assignments.
  • when students start an email with “I stopped by your office, and you weren’t there . . .” Unless it is during my posted office hours, I may not be in my office. Professors have a lot of other work to do besides teaching like research, running conferences, creative projects, and committee work (so many committees!) If it was during office hours, and I wasn’t there (and there’s no note about where I am) feel free to call me out!
  • applesauce, or other foods with applesauce-like consistency
  • Oklahoma in the summer. Ugg, so hot!
  • Large ocean creatures in captivity for corporate profit.

And a few other little tips I couldn’t quite fit into the like/dislike lists:

Something that doesn’t bother me much, like if your phone accidentally goes off in class, might drive another professor crazy. But no matter our quirks, each professor has something important to offer, even if it’s that a certain subject isn’t for you.

Go to class most of the time. An occasional absence (I’m talking one or two a semester) won’t usually put you in a difficult place (although if a class is difficult for you, maybe skip the skipping). What it the point of being here if you aren’t going to be part of the environment?

And finally, there are a lot of you and only one of me. I will try to learn as many names as possible, but there’s a chance I won’t know your name. Please know this doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I do, and I want you to succeed.

More photos which may indicate additional quirks…

My dogs! Chaco (left, 4 years old) and Echo (right, 10 years old) are my newly adopted pups. Chaco bites toes to show his love, and Echo is a fierce hunter of locusts.
My husband, Ted Satterfield, and I at last year’s Austin Revolution Film Festival. We have been writing and submitting scripts for indie film festivals for a few years.

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