The Chronicle of Higher Education has a series of articles for community college teachers in today's edition. In one titled, "A Dozen Teaching Tips for Diverse Classrooms," Piper Fogg notes that, "Community-college students require teachers who are engaging, creative, responsive, and energetic — and who understand their students' needs. Professors have to be up on the latest teaching methods, know which of them work for their students, and be flexible enough to change when something isn't working."
Obviously, that's true of four year college professors also. I was asked to contribute tips for the article and Piper included this one:
While setting realistic expectations is important, you must also share them with your students. If you are a stickler for grammar, let it be known on Day 1, advises Delaney J. Kirk, a professor of management at the University of South Florida at Sarasota-Manatee. Tell students if you give grace periods for assignments or if you will not tolerate tardiness. "Have a rationale so the policy is seen as reasonable," says Kirk, the author of Taking Back the Classroom: Tips for the College Professor on Becoming a More Effective Teacher (Tiberius Publications, 2005). After explaining your philosophy, take time to learn what students expect of you as well: Teaching is a two-way street.
I like to explain to my students that just as I expect them to come to class on time, turn off their cell phones and turn in their assignments when due, they can have similar expectations of me. Thus, I promise to:
Be fully prepared for class (including all handouts and Blackboard up and running) and ready to start the class on time.
Turn off my cell phone and make sure that I make the class time valuable to the students who attend.
Grade quizzes, papers, and exams promptly with the goal of returning these to the students by the next class period.
Encourage students to ask questions during class, by email, or during my office hours and responding to these quickly and completely.
Treat all students with respect.
I find that by spelling out both sets of expectations, the students are more willing to be professional in their approach to my classes.