For faculty and students, Spring semester is in full-swing. Students are balancing multiple assignment deadlines, work commitments, and family life. Faculty face these same issues. I believe one of our responsibilities during intense times of the semester is to balance support versus challenge for the students in our classes. Yet, knowing when to push students and when to offer an empathetic ear is no easy decision. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach.
Furthermore, the digital age fundamentally changed how faculty engage students. As an undergrad, my options to interact with my professors were limited to class times and their office hours. With the adoption of email, social media, and learning management systems, students seemingly have a digital umbilical cord to faculty members. In our 24/7 culture we face the struggle of wanting to help students as we try to maintain some sort of work-life balance. I’ve included a picture of me working from home because I think we’re all doing more work at home after our day at the office has ended.
So, back to my initial quandary. How do we determine when to support versus challenge students? For me, digital platforms are the biggest challenge. I want to help students. I want to respond to emails. I want to be available to them. However, I’m beginning to realize that 24/7 access to me sometimes enables procrastination and other poor work habits. We all know that employers continually express that they want employees with excellent communication skills. This factor compels us to build practices in our students that reach beyond the classroom. Maybe that means we let them struggle a bit on their own to complete their work. Yet, faculty must also be in tune with their students to step in when help and empathy is needed.
In short, navigating each semester is complex. As students and faculty partner to acquire communication skills, consider using OCA to help you through the process. We have excellent resources for both faculty and students. Our annual conference is a great way to connect with others in the discipline as we continuously work on becoming better communicators and scholars.
Want to keep the conversation going? Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org