Instructors deal with disrespect, though they shouldn’t have to

April 16, 2012


by Michael Holcomb

She’s not a good lecturer.
Why does it seem like I know than what my professor knows?
He is always late to answer my E-mails, calls, everything.

College lecturers, professors, whatever title any employee may go by, always seems to be on the receiving end of student disrespect. There could be a multitude of reasons why students hold disrespect towards their teachers, whether over a serious issues or not. What is apparent, though, is that no matter the reason, students will show levels of disrespect.

“Students witnessed me blow up one day in creative writing because a small group of students with a special interest continued to talk amongst themselves as I was speaking,” English instructor Terri Lowry said.

Talking is but one thing students can do to show disrespect. More vocal actions have been taken as well.

“I had a student a few years ago that got repeatedly upset and created a scene in class,” physics instructor Anne Nienhueser said. This did not occur only one time, as the student kept making trouble for the instructor. “I scheduled an appointment for both of us with the counselor in the building, and told the student that needed to show up.”

Instructors, however, are not giving up the fight and want to bridge with students who may have frustration over their lecturers and classes.

“I have experiences for sure,” biology instructor Keet Kopecky said, “but I’ve almost always been able to bridge the gap between the student’s level of frustration and their ability to maintain a respectful demeanor. In the end, the disrespectful student found the class fulfilling and enjoyable in large part because of strategies I used to bridge the gap. I continue to use such strategies now, and am in the middle of an effort right now with a student.”

“Nevertheless, even negative experiences don’t always have bad outcomes,” Kurt Canow said. “The most difficult student I ever had came back to visit me years later not only to apologize for her atrocious behavior and to thank me and the class for putting up with her, but tell me she has completed her Master’s degree and had been hired at a prestigious women’s college to teach the very same subject she had taken in my class.”

There will always be students that possess these feelings about their lecturers, whether they believe they have a claim to or not. However, for those with problems that can be most certainly addressed, it is important for bridges to be built so that issues can be properly dealt with, and the student can succeed.

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