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News: Talk about how to cope with chronic illness, disability, and other health issues in the academic workplace.
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Author Topic: First day of class: introducing yourself  (Read 28641 times)
Lucretian Praefectus
Senior member
Posts: 538

« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2007, 2:09:02 am »

After introducing myself, the course, going over the syllabus, etc., I reserve 10-15 minutes or so for the students to ask me anything they would like to know about me.  Absolutely anything.....I promise an honest answer to any question.  I get some good questions (and some stupid ones), but I answer them all honestly (and sometimes blatantly).

I find that my students generally respect my honesty and willingness to be completely open with them about myself/anything. 

Do any of you offer up yourself for 'any questions'?....no matter how personal?  If so, do you find it is helpful?  If you disagree with this approach, why?
Senior member
Posts: 300

« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2007, 4:57:23 pm »

I think people are successful with a wide range of teaching styles, so it may be that a very personal approach works for others.  For me, I want to be personable but in no way personal. I want to be professional and approachable, but my personal life, concerns, relationships, whatever, are none of their business.

My general philosophy behind this is I do students no favors whatsoever by befriending them.  They have friends, as do I.  They need me to teach them, guide them, give them meaningful feedback, and model how academic research and teaching can be done.  I think this is especially true for women - that we serve as defacto role models, and a little professional distance in the classroom helps.

Sometimes during office hours a student will ask me something personal (usually about balancing grad school/work and family) and I will answer specific questions.  But with care.  My point is to tell them things that will help *them* not just give me a chance to tell about myself.  For example, I would tell grad students, if they asked me, what my advisor told me - you can always stop a grad school clock but not a tenure one, so if you're considering babies have them now or plan to wait until after tenure.  But I wouldn't offer up the specifics of my own family life or other personal details.

I guess I'm now a VERY
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 23,767

When all else fails, let us agree to disagree.

« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2007, 5:01:12 pm »

I agree with arugula, and with arugula's reasons.  Save the personal stuff for the fora.  :)

People who do not understand numbers should not be allowed to use them for anything. - DvF

MYOB.  Y ense˝en bien a sus hijos.
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 1,705

« Reply #48 on: August 02, 2007, 5:35:05 pm »

For instance, if you're a famous author and your spouse has left you for a multi-millionaire, I would not explain the details of your marriage and its breakup to all your students. Especially not in an email you sent to everyone who knew you:


I mean, I'm sure that there's a lot to be learned from a mentor telling the story of his divorce and speculating on his wife's new love interest. You learn, for example, how low-minded many of us are and how cranky you yourself can be:

Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 15,814

« Reply #49 on: August 02, 2007, 5:57:54 pm »

Thanks to goldenapple for the best gossip I've read all day. Not hijacking this thread, and I agree with others that personal stuff isn't for class.

Our teaching should be about students, not about ourselves. Maybe I think that because I have a boring life.

The Fiona

The Fiona or Them FionŠ or Fiona the Sublime

Professor of Thread Killing, Fiork University
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