With the hustle and bustle the first week of school, students fill the busy halls with many faces who are new to the campus looking seemly lost, while there are the returning students who rush to class because they fear being dropped. With students being the school’s top priority, often times the professor’s struggles are overseen when they share just as much anxiety and fears on their first week of school.
When preparing for the new school year professors are faced with many obstacles, whether it be from planning their course agenda or trying to add students to their class, their list seems nearly endless.
“As a new instructor at PCC I have to do a lot of planning although I taught this course before many times,” said political science professor Azzie Mekhitarian. “I need to adjust to the campus culture and see what the student body is like, so, I do a lot of planning prior to getting here.”
For Linda Hintzman, a Math 150 professor and course coordinator for her department, preparation is key for her first week of school.
“Because I am coordinating this course I make four different schedules, so for the Monday, Wednesday friday,and for the Tuesday and Thursday teachers,” Hintzman said. “Normally a teacher will make it for themselves, but because of the way we structure this course, I make the schedule for all of them.”
For Spanish professor Viviana Hong, she likes to prepare for her course a month in advance.
“Getting ahead start in everything really makes the semester go smoothly so I prepare as much as possible on the assignments and lessons plans,” Hong stated. “Preparation gives me confidence so I tend to over prepare so my summers are pretty busy.”
Professors are always looking for room to improve to ensure student success such as with online resources, surveys, or simply taking constructive criticism from previous students when moving forward into the next semester.
When accepting constructive criticism, Mekhitarian takes students comments into consideration when it comes to improving for her future classes. She informs, “If students don’t feel engaged I have to figure out how to get them in engage,” she adds, “If some of the material might be dragging out I have to be creative about how to get that material out, and keep them engaged.”
For Hong, she like to make surveys for past students to take when finding loopholes of what works with her class and what does not. She said, “ I create my own questions and I sent the students the link, and it’s an anonymous survey.”
When it comes to online resources like Rate my professor, unlike students, professors will avoid it due to bias opinions student may comment on the website.
According to Professor Hintzman, “ I am not a big fan of Rate my Professor primarily because it’s not a good use of statistics,” she said “If you are going to take a sample, you’re going to take a survey you want to make sure that you are asking a well rounded representative group of people.” She later stresses, “Rate my Professor.com you’re only getting the people who absolutely loved or hated their teacher because they are volunteering to do this so it’s not statistically a good resource, but I recognize it’s a tool that our students use.”
When it comes to the site, Professor Mekhitarian voices, “ I have not been on there, except for when I first started because I was curious but I try not to do that because i’m modifying based on popularity.” She later adds, “I want to do my job well and want to be liked but I don’t want to play into modifying things just to be liked, I wanna be effective.”
Beside the pressure from students, professors share common struggles they could relate with others. They struggle with first day jitters and wanting to be liked and respected.
Fortunately, Professor Mekhitarian, Hinzman, and Hong don’t seem to have an issue with parking like the average student here at PCC.
Professor Hinzman lives not to far from campus so she is able to walk to school. While Professor Mekhitarian has a 7am class -yes, professors must wake up early for a 7am, not just students- and does not have a hard time finding parking because of how early it is.
Professor Hong shares her parking expertise by parking on another parking lot (on bonnie street), and not the closest one to her.
Maybe parking may not be a common issue professors share with students on the first week, however they still share the same nerves you feel when going to your first class of the day.
Even with preparing for their classes in advance, professors are still faced with many fears when coming into the first week.
“I’m always nervous the first day of class because there is one of me, and thirty of you, so I am a little outnumbered,” said Hinzman, who fears that her students will not click or get along when she groups them together on the first day of class.
For Mekhitarian her fear was being able to adapt to the campus and understanding the student body, considering she was new to the school. But within her first week, she found PCC to be a place she likes.
“PCC is such a beautiful campus, and there is something very pleasant in the way people
interact with each other,” she said.
Beside the nerve racking fears, professors have experienced some of the good and bad moments when coming into the new school year.
For Hong, her worst first week moment was when she forgot to bring her water bottle to class.
“So last year I started teaching here at PCC, my first day I forgot my water bottle, and I spend the entire day without drinking water,” she remembers. “ At the end of the day, I had this huge headache because I was so dehydrated.”
For Hintzman, seeing students success early into the school year is one of her most cherished moments coming into the first week.
“When students have success early in the semester then that can set the tone of success for the rest of the term,” said Hintzman.
Professor Hong’s advice for any professors on their first week of school is fairly straightforward.
“Just breathe, and self care is important, drink water, don’t forget your water bottle, and everything will be okay.”
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