500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 14

“Time for a come to Jesus moment,” is a phrase I hear a lot on campus. The gist of the phrase is where a professor speaks clearly to the students about their performance or lack of performance. The hope is that the students take the chastisement to heart and fix the problem. I.e. their lack of performance. In my experience, most professors are too nice in their “come to Jesus moments.” A punch to the gut may hurt, but that hurt will motivate most people to do more, if nothing else not to get hit in the gut again. Plus, the world will punch them in their gut a lot more than one time. I am not a professor. I punched in the gut.

I make no apologies. I should have been more “me” from the start, but I opted for “I am here to help you, just tell me what you need.” I should have been, “you are representing yourself, this school, this department, and me. You will need to have a good dose of pride, thick skin, self-motivation, and a willingness to try more than you ever have. Because you are about to go on a journey of self-discovery and there will be people watching.”

The difference between poor and good work is a chasm. Not a lot of effort has to go into making something good. Most poor work is because of a lack of effort.

The difference between good and great work is a fine line. Making something great requires more effort, attention to detail, and a desire to succeed.

The difference between great and outstanding (exceptional or any other word) is passion, pride, even more effort and attention to detail.

These students are hovering around good. One or two cross over into good before retreating to poor. They are not trying to make an effort. They are trying to meet what they feel are the objectives as told to them by the professor. Except that the professor has stated repeatedly that there is no single objective. Do the assignment to the best of your ability demonstrating your skills for all assignments. The problem is that the students are just doing the assignments.

Make an online portfolio which should have A, B, C, and D. Along the way make it yours. They have A thru D and made it theirs by putting their name at the top. Okay, workable. Except after getting feedback from three different people, nobody did anything since the last time I looked at them. WTF?

Make a print portfolio…what do they do, copied their online portfolios and put forth little or no effort. Feedback was honest, but brutal only due to the amount of work we expected to see vs what was presented.

This class has resources no other class has had access to and they are not using them. They are also not working nearly as hard as they need to be working. So today was a variation on the “come to Jesus” talk, except they got to hear from former students what they thought of the work they were seeing out of current students. There is time for the current students to take the information, advice, suggestions, and criticism to heart and create projects that showcase their skills and make them shining stars.

Only they can take that next leap of faith and try.


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