what about the professor’s honest and best work?

This is a really good question actually, and it’s probably not asked often enough.

What does it mean for a professor to be doing his or her best and honest work?

First, I think it means that the professor continues to learn.  We cannot be effective and relevant teachers of anything if we stop studying our content areas or pedagogy.

Second, I think it means practicing what we preach.  If we are asking students to do “honest” work – don’t cheat, don’t steal ideas without crediting the author, don’t half-ass your work, don’t copy stuff from the internet without citing it and so on – then we should also do honest work.  If we use information from the internet, we should cite it. If we take an assignment idea from another professor, we should give them a shout-out.  If we use photos taken from the internet, let’s first check to see if we are allowed to use them and if so let’s give credit where credit is due.

Third, I think it means being honest with our students in our teaching as well as in our relationships with them.  I think there is nothing wrong with admitting that I do not know the answer to a question.  I think it’s okay to investigate and learn together with the students.  I think we need to very clearly and honestly explain how the course is designed, with what purposes and goals, and how they will be assess – the last is very important to the students.

So, there you have it.  You thought this blog was about attacking the students and telling students what to do.  I’m an equal-opportunity nag.  (And I strive to be reflective regarding my role and my effectiveness as an instructor in a college classroom.)

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