Monthly Archives: August 2008

3. Building rapport with students

First day of class means a lot to both the students and the instructors. But I think, being a student for a long time myself, it means more to the students. They want to know what they are getting themselves into. They are anxious to know if their instructor is going to make this semester easy and smooth on them or not. Is he another [stupid] boring professor or smart and funny?

The culture of building rapport in the first day in class in Jordanian universities is rarely practiced. In its best scenario it involves the instructor explaining the syllabus and telling the students what textbook is used as a reading material or reference. Also, if the class size is manageable the instructor reads the students names as a way of breaking the ice and knowing their names. In the four years of my bachelor degree I never knew anything about any of the professors other than their names. Believe it or not, many of them don’t even bother telling their names to students. They don’t think it plays any role in the advancement of learning.

In American universities, the issue of building rapport is well practiced but of course it varies a lot from one instructor to another. But mainly, it involves the instructor telling or revealing to students more about him/her than just his/her name. Some instructors tell their students how long they have been teaching, where did they study, where they came from, etc. This information helps break the ice and establishes some kind of socializing with students.

In the first day of class I use the world map and tell students that I am from Jordan and show them where it is in the map and complain how far it is from here. I tell them that Arabic is my first language not English “if you are wondering about the accent”.

Back home I used to think that my instructors were from a different planet because most of them rarely socialize with their students.

2. Respect your students’ privacy

1. Know your students

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Stroszek (1977)

This is a script of a scene from the German movie Stroszek (1977). The movie got 100% positive reviews from approved Tomatometer Critics.

Thank you Netflix!

Bruno: Here you see a schematic model I have made of how it looks inside Bruno. They are closing all the doors on him, and oh, so, politely. Now we’re in America and I thought everything would be better and we’d reach our goal. But no. Bruno’s getting pushed aside as if he didn’t exist. …

Eva: Nobody kicks you here.

Bruno: No, not physically. Here they do it spiritually.

Eva: What do you mean?

Bruno: In the reformatory it was just like here. If someone wet his bed, this was under the Nazis instead of hanging the sheet on the clothesline; they used to make the person who did it, stand holding it up like this all day and the teacher would stand behind him with a stick and boy, if his arms started getting tired from standing so long he got a beating. … They hurt you openly then. Today they do it differently. They don’t go like this, or like this (beating). They do it ever so politely, and with a smile. It’s much worse. You can smell it in the air, and you can see it, too. Who knows what fate will bring?