5 Things I Learned from Teaching University Students

As another term starts, I can’t help but reflect on the last term. When I started teaching I was fairly confident that I would enjoy it.  And, I do – very much in fact. Last term was particularly enjoyable. In part it was because of the subject matter and also in part because I was more in tune with the process. It also helped that I had a number of students who were in my class last term. It’s always nice to see a familiar face or faces.

Learning, STU, Students

COPP 3023 Ethics Class (Thanks to everyone!)

My goal of course is to share my experience and knowledge from my 20+ years of marketing and communications. When doing my first and even second Undergrad degrees I always craved and loved when Professors were able to share their real-life experiences versus just discussing what was in text book. Learning however, is a lifelong endeavour and while I hope that my students learn very useful information from the courses I teach, I also learn from my students. Here are *5 things that I learned from teaching University Students.

5. Passion Starts Early

I had the pleasure of getting to know many, many fantastic students who were filled with passion. Whether it was learning something new or sharing information about what was learned during the day or in another class or event, nearly every person in my Ethics class was extremely passionate about his or her learning and beliefs. It made for great conversation; and great conversations get you thinking. When you think, you challenge your own beliefs. When you challenge your own beliefs you learn. The best part? You don’t have to be in a classroom to do this. Anyone can do this as long as you are open and willing to have a conversation without judgement.

In reviewing the final exams, I can’t say how rewarding it was to read about students who have done just this. They have learned. Perhaps most rewarding is reading statements made by mature students who discuss how much they learned and the tools that they can now leverage in the careers. You can’t get much better than that.

4. Silly Jokes are a Necessity for Filling Wait Times

I absolutely loved that when we needed to fill time when students were setting up for presentations, that students were willing to fill the void with silly jokes that made the entire class laugh. It was both funny and enjoyable. To me it was a demonstration of a group of students who were respectful and caring. People listened and laughed together.

3. Respect is Alive and Well

I don’t have many rules for class, aside from the regular ones like come to class, be prepared and participate. I do believe strongly in being respectful to all. That means when a person is speaking, whether it is me or a student, we respect that person and listen: one conversation at a time.

I would have to say that overall this was one of the most respectful classes with people doing just that: “listening.” Additionally, people were very respectful with asking questions and participating in discussions with other students. This shows how mature these students are and it truly lends to a great learning environment.

2. People Crave Real Experience

I already knew this, but this class really reinforced this concept for me. Learning about theory has its place, but learning about theory and understanding how it fits into the work environment and why it is important makes learning much more relevant. The more we talked about real events and issues the more the students engaged. The more they engaged and wanted to know, the more I wanted to share with them.

1. Age Has Nothing to Do with Anything

One of the things that really stood out for me was the diversity of my class this term. It was wonderful to have a good mix of Canadian and international students. It was also rewarding to see a fantastic mix of younger and mature students. Each group brought such unique experiences and learnings to the class. I could see numerous examples where the younger students learned from the mature students and I could also see numerous examples of the mature students learning from the younger students. This is perhaps the perfect mix which results in learning happening in numerous ways. Learning is lifelong and being able to learn from people of all ages and backgrounds makes for a very rewarding experience for all involved.

These are just 5 things that I learned from my students last term. They are the ones that really stand out for me. Of course there are more. In the end, I want to learn too and I believe that this adds to what I can bring to my class next term and other terms in the future. I am thankful to all the students in this class that just wrapped up. They inspired me to continue to develop my classes so that all students get the most out of the class.

*For my students reading this and wondering why I used “5” and not “five” as I taught them was the right grammatical way to use numbers, this is an exception for the purposes of blog writing. I know it is not actually the right thing to do :).

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