Throughout my college career, I’ve come across some good professors, but in all of the classes that I’ve taken, I have had only two truly great professors.
Including the courses I’m in now, I have taken 43 classes. Assuming there was one professor per course, that’s 43 people that have been in charge of my learning here at Baylor. And of the 43, only two have made the cut. To put that into perspective, that means 4.65 percent of the total number of educators that have been above average and fall into my category of great professors.
I suppose it’s important to explain the distinction of a good versus great professor. I would say a good professor taught what was expected when coming into a course. For example, the material that is easily found when you open a textbook.
While learning the required material is important, with an above-average educator, there is an added layer to the experience that you gain when in their class.
In theory, what you learn in a classroom is supposed to prepare you for situations that arise in life. A great teacher is someone who teaches you how to apply the knowledge, instead of simply memorizing it.
There are other things to learn in a classroom besides what’s in a textbook, and the two professors who were great, who took my educational experience above the average, had some similarities in terms of personality.
According to the National Education Association, “Showing students you care about them helps create a positive, supportive relationship and helps build an environment where learning can flourish.”
I have come up with four traits that overlapped between the two professors: empathy, humor, competency and compassion. These teachers had empathy for understanding that school is a temporary stage of life and for many students, “real world situations” are already occurring — Familial problems, money problems and relationship problems to name a few. Their humor to address issues, some of which did not even pertain to course material, made them seem human and relatable, as opposed to a teaching robot. They had competency in the subject matter they were teaching. Both professors were well versed in their subjects and when they taught, students could tell they really cared. Their passion allowed them to be better educators. And lastly, they both displayed compassion towards me, which I think is the trait that is most vital in taking an educator from good to great.
Both of the professors cared how I was doing and, at times, were ok with my course work taking a backseat in priority when I was simply, just not ok. In those moments they understood that life happens and tried to make it easier for me to stay healthy and sane. I hope that at some point in your college career you too can experience “great” in a professor because you may just learn more than what you signed up for.
As stated before, there is more to teaching than meets the eye. An educator that does their job and truly cares about their students can be a rare find. And to me, they have made all the difference.