A. I know that the world is a rapidly changing place, and that new technologies are emerging that can radically change education. I am not afraid to experiment with using some of these new tools such as video, blogs, wikis and podcasts.
Q. How much do you care about me and my success as your student?
A. How much do you care about your own success? I will bend over backwards to help any student who has been giving an honest effort to learn. Students who expect me to do all of the work for them unfortunately will be disappointed.
Q. Why do you teach when you are so obviously talented you could be doing a variety of other things that pay much more?
A. I ask myself the same thing from time to time. The main reason is, I like helping people, and I like feeling that I am making a difference in people’s lives. I want my students to look back ten years after finishing school and think, “That guy encouraged me. That guy taught me some useful things.”
Q. Why aren’t you teaching “X” in your classes? You are behind the times and should be teaching me “X” instead of what you are teaching.
A. One of the nice things that twenty years of experience with computer technology provides is recognizing that “X” will soon be obsolete. If I redesign my course and curriculum to be centered on “X”, there is a good chance that it will become obsolete before you graduate and enter the work force. I believe in teaching timeless fundamentals that will remain relevant throughout your career. Of course we should look at current technologies, but in the context of how they will relate to what will be useful to you throughout your career.
Q. Why don’t you just tell me the right answer?
A. I want you to understand the process of obtaining the right answer more than I want you to know the right answer. Of course, both are important, but if you can gain the confidence that you know how to find answers to questions that you don’t already know the answer to, you will have mastered an important key to success.
Q. What are your rules regarding classroom behavior, late assignments, etc.?
A. I really have only one rule in classes I teach and that rule is “Feel free to engage in any behavior that does not cause a problem for someone else. When problems do occur, the person who caused the problem gets to solve it.” The catch to this rule is that the teacher is a member of the class. If I inadvertently cause a problem for my students, it is my responsibility to fix it. If a student causes a problem for me, the student fixes it. Late assignments cause a problem for me because it is more convenient to grade everything at the same time, rather than trying to come up with a fair system of grading work that comes in late. However, if I am slow to grade assignments, it causes a problem for students and it is my responsibility to solve that problem. See how this rule works? I think it is really fair. If students think I am being unfair in any way, they should tell me and we should talk about it.
Q. What should I avoid as your student?
A. You should avoid projecting the appearance of apathy. I am not saying you have to be perfect, I am simply saying that you should be sending me the message that you have taken ownership of your education. If things aren’t going well for you, the worst thing to do is act as if you don’t care about it. Talk to me! I want to help you! But I have to know that you have a problem and you want to fix it before I can help.
Q. Why are you the way you are when you teach?
A. I think students learn better if they are having fun. I think they will trust me more if they see that I’m human, willing to have fun, and not afraid to be me.
Q. Any other advice for your students?
A. I think it is important to always move forward, always strive towards improvement. I have a Jim Fay quote on my door, “Building self-respect comes from struggle and achievement, not from being made comfortable.” I believe this is so true for students and faculty alike. It is why I like to try new things and set an example of exploration outside of my own comfort zone. It’s why I started a business with my wife, and why I do summer work as a faculty intern. I don’t ever want to become irrelevant in what I know and what I teach. Students who want a long, happy and successful career will quickly adopt an attitude of lifelong learning. I hope my example helps them to realize this.