Monthly Archives: July 2008

2. Respect your students’ privacy

When you do something bad you don’t want anyone else to know about it. The same scenario applies to students’ grades. If a student got a bad grade he doesn’t want anyone else to know about it as well.

  1. Don’t write grades for exams, assignments, projects, etc. on the first page. If the paper is multiple pages write the grade on the last page, and tell your students where you write the grade. If the paper is one page only write the grade in the back of the paper or in a small font bottom right. Writing the grade in a very big font in the front page is not advisable. In a class with many students it is difficult to hand out papers to students one by one. In such big classes, instructors usually hand the papers to one student to pick his paper and pass the pile to a neighbor student and so on. In such case, students will only be able to read the names on the first page but not other students’ grades.
  2. If you are posting grades on your website or on your door don’t use students’ names or their IDs. I remember during my bachelor degree, in Jordan, professors used to post grades along with students’ IDs. Since students’ IDs are not private it is not a good way to post grades. Some professors ask their students to send them special names or nicknames that no one else know. Of course the better way would be using special software like WebCT or BlackBoard in which every student has an account and students log in to see their grades.
  3. In a case a student is absent when you give back students’ papers don’t give the paper to a student who is a friend to the absent student. Assume nothing!
  4. Believe it or not I took a class with a college professor who likes to arrange the exam papers in descending order. The last student to get his paper has the lowest grade. I am not sure what this professor was thinking but it is by far the most stupid way to give back the exam papers. He is telling the students and now the most stupid of you is …!!!

1. Know your students

The students like to be called by their first names. In the US, calling students with their last name is considered formal and hence not recommended. In Jordan, calling students with their last names doesn’t imply formality and some times it might be better than calling a student with his/her first name.

So how to memorize students’ names?*

  1. A very good tool to help teachers remember their students’ names is that my university provides a roster accompanied with students photos. Since this is not the case in all universities continue reading.
  2. You can invest two minutes of lecture time by asking five students to introduce themselves; their names, majors, hobbies, something they plan to do or something good they have achieved or did. Doing this every class has great affect on students; they will know each others and they will feel you care to know them.
  3. Every time a student come to your office hours ask him about his name so you remember it next time he comes to your office or ask a question in class.
  4. When a student correctly answers one of your in-class questions ask for his name. This has twofold; it will help you memorize his name and the student will feel appreciated and is doing a good job.
  5. Spend some time and make an effort to memorize your students’ names.

* Although memorizing students’ names is not applicable in classes with more than 50 students or so at least memorize the names of students who like to participate or regularly ask questions.

How to be a good teacher

This summer I am teaching an introductory programming course for college students. It is very intensive course since we have to cramp four months of rough materials into two months. Although, the two months were very hectic I liked it. I love teaching since it involves two things that I like, interacting with many people of different backgrounds and not working in a cubical.

Although, I taught in Jordan but I learned a lot about teaching here in the US. I liked very much the teachers-students relationship. Contrary to my former believe before I came to the US, students here respect their instructors very much. I have been in the States for six years and I have never seen any student tries to disturb or make any foolish behavior in class. And this is because they learned, in schools, to respect their teachers.

To help myself improve and learn more about teaching I am going to start writing some posts that are related to teaching college students. I will write some useful tips, philosophies, and strategies of teaching I learned from other instructors, read it, or experienced it probably by chance.

This I Believe

This is a very nice project by NPR. Ordinary people from all ages send their essays to NPR. The good ones get the chance to be published accompanied by an audio of the story told by the essay writer.

Every week different story and different believe.


Some rich Jordanian students are demanding an increase in the college tuition!

I haven’t read or heard that such a thing happened anywhere else in this world at least not in the past 20 years. You can only imagine that such thing might be happened in the dark ages but not in the year 2008 and not in a poor country such as Jordan.

According to the Middle-East online some rich Jordanian students are demanding that their university become accessible only to them by increasing the tuition. Otherwise, god forbids, both poor and rich students will be in the same room. Imagine how weak the quality of learning will be if poor and rich students studied in the same place.

The article is in Arabic but here are some excerpts:

  • Rich students demand an increase in the tuition to prevent the poor from entering their university.
  • The poor, according to statistics, make about 77% of the population of Jordan.
  • Jordan is one of the poorest countries in the world in natural resources, industrial and economic development.
  • College education is one of the greatest challenges facing the Jordanian families.

I wonder where those students live to think that education is exclusive to some wealthy people?!

I hope this thing is just another rumor and not true.