I have taken many education courses that are suppose to help prepare me to become an effective educator, but my experience in a certain educational psychology course made me realize the fears, worries, and doubts students may face because of an ineffective teacher. I learned something that would help me become a better teacher, but it wasn’t part of the syllabus or the education department’s curriculum; instead, it was the result of a professor who didn’t care about her students.
In the fall 2007 semester at Queens College, I enrolled in an educational psychology course taught by an adjunct professor who was rude, conceited, unreasonable, unclear, and didn’t care about the well being of her students who wanted to become teachers. I dreaded going to the class because she made her students feel uncomfortable and inferior. Her assignment requirements were unclear, which reflected on the class average. There was clearly a misunderstanding and miscommunication between her and the students, but she refused to acknowledge it.
I was concerned because the grade I received had not reflected the quality of my work. And in order to get into the education program, I needed a certain grade in the prerequisite courses. With the current grade, my chances of entering the program were not looking good. The class wanted the opportunity to redo the assignment correctly, but our stubborn instructor would humiliate anyone who requested.
I knew it was pointless to try to reason with her, but I wasn’t going to allow a bad professor to get in my way of becoming an educator. I e-mailed the department chairperson to voice my complaint. To my surprise, the chairperson replied back to schedule a meeting about the situation. After listening to the issue, the chairperson agreed to speak with the professor. The following week, our professor allowed us to redo our assignments. There was a significant difference in the class average when everyone knew the requirements. There was a major difference in the tone the professor used and the atmosphere of the class wasn’t as intimidating as it was prior to the meeting with the chairperson.
I learned, first hand, the importance of constructing a safe and comfortable learning environment. Students will never learn if they fear their teacher and know the teacher has no respect for them. I learned the importance of establishing and maintaining a good rapport with students. Another valuable lesson is the importance of clear instructions. If I were to give an assignment and majority of the class does it incorrectly, I will not assume that the class doesn’t know what to do. Instead, I will acknowledge the possibility that my instructions were unclear. I dreaded every minute spent in that educational psychology class, but I walked away with a valuable learning experience that I will help me become a better teacher. It wasn't anything she taught, but how she conducted the class. I learned never to put my students through what she put hers.