Want Happy Professors? Show Them Some Respect

Dozens of studies have shown that employees who are treated with respect are the happiest and the most productive. And it makes sense – who would be happy if they’re constantly treated poorly?

The same truth applies to professors (who are also employees). When professors feel disrespected by the administration, the unions, and by their students, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be happy.

Unhappy professors almost always have unhappy classrooms and office hours. There’s no scientific data on that, but anecdotal evidence from everyone who has ever had a cranky professor speaks to its truth.

As students, you can do something to help. You can show your professors some respect.

How You Can Help Your Professors Create a Better Classroom

The best way to show professors respect isn’t to treat them irreverently or try to become their friend. Rather, it’s better to be a good student. Here are three ways to do that.

  1. Pay Attention

Professors are in the classroom to teach, to impart their expertise on students, and to guide young people with an interest in the subject they’ve dedicated their lives to. So, standing in front of a classroom of students who are clearly not paying attention and not giving any clear indication as to what the professors could be doing better, well, that will make a professor upset.

Imagine spending four hours preparing a lecture to share with a group of students only to realize that many of those students aren’t even willing to hide how much they don’t care. How would that make you feel? Now, imagine doing it week after week.

We’d all be cranky.

  1. Be Honest

The second best way to show your professor some respect is to be honest. Professors get wild emails filled with incredible excuses that seem to imply students think their teachers are stupid. Avoid being too honest, but don’t make up an absurd lie. And if you’re going to provide a lame excuse, own it and apologize.

  1. Don’t Be Demanding

Asking for recorded lectures, detailed PowerPoints, class notes, practice tests and extensive feedback is often confused with being a good student. But it’s more akin to asking the professor to do your studying for you.

Professors are happy to provide clarification and help you overcome obstacles. But you’ve bought an expensive book and have access to your notes and the library – all those resources provide everything you need to pass the class.

Professors are balancing their teaching, research, and administrative duties all while having their jobs threatened on an annual basis. You can help keep them happy by being a decent student.

What else can students do to improve the classroom environment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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