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

6 thoughts on “3. Building rapport with students

  1. This factor you’re addressing is part of the reason why I chose one graduate program over another. The school that I ended up choosing was initially only a “backup” but when I visited and met with the would-be instructors they were so personable and friendly so I just got a warm feeling about the program as a whole. They give and take from the prospective students and it eases your nerves, makes you comfortable, and just makes you feel more confident around them.

    Good luck!

  2. Assom, I think you are not the only person, although few, who decided to choose one graduate program over another because of the program’s instructors. Your decision was very mature and I truly believe that the more lovable the instructor is the more the level of learning effectiveness and quality will be.
    Good luck to you also.

  3. I’m not teaching this semester, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!
    like really, yaaaaaaaaaay! LOL
    Anyway, I find myself never interested in knowing anything personal about my professors. But it certainly does makes a difference when she/he is friendly and humane.

  4. secratea,
    No teaching, Lucky you. I sometimes envy graduate students who have research assistant fellowship.

  5. Why would you envy them? You think that it pays that much if you are a TA? May be in some universities but the average stipend is about $1000/month. Could be little higher or lower. You know the bills here? Some of the TAs live on coupons, what I call coupons stipend for lot of work by TAs.
    No don’t envy them, while they have to maintain grades, they got to teach, grade, keep office hours, report grades and manage classes then study for themselves or lose their assistanship. It’s not a joke man.

  6. Marius,
    I know exactly what you mean. I am a TA myself. But I meant I envy research assistants over teaching assistants because RAs don’t have to teach, grade and maintain office hours. They simply get money for working on their research.

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