Teachers Are Stressed: Trust me, I’m married to one! by @johnkaiser13

Students typically feel during the semester that they are the only ones who are “stressed out”. Well, I can safely say that this is NOT TRUE by any measure. How do I know? Because I am married to a professor of chemistry. Here are a couple of ‘end of the semester’ observations for students to ponder.

Professors Don’t Care About Students?

I hear this often while walking the halls of the university I work at. This could not be further from the truth. I often find myself smiling and chuckling in disbelief when I hear a student express these views among others. The reality of the situation is that ‘preparation’ for class (course curricula – tests, assignments, grading) takes an enormous amount of time. Time off of the professor taking part in a weekend bicycle ride. Time off from attending a favourite sports event. Time off from attending family events during the semester due to conflicts with tests needed to be graded and turned around to the students. Now, you might be thinking the following after reading this: “That is poor time management.” Nope, you would be wrong again.

A typical test with multiple choice questions along with a couple of work out questions (free response) can take hours (3-6) on a great day. Yep, say goodbye to that movie you had planned to chill and watch on a Saturday afternoon on a busy weekend. Not to mention, the time needed to work the test out and come up with answers. How about grading?

A quiz might take a couple of hours to grade depending on the length and type of questions. Writing assignments can take exponentially longer depending on the feedback that the professors would like to give each student. I am not writing this to gather sympathy for instructors in any way. I would like to call the students attention to the “hidden time” spent on preparation and execution of a ‘good class’ during any given semester. Students might be motivated to study a little harder if they knew that their respective instructor is currently working on material for their class at the same time they are studying.

This time does not include the time spent at the ‘copier’ machine to get a copy of the exam or worksheet to each student. Teachers need to rest too. Also, teachers need to eat right and save energy to stand and talk before your class multiple times a week. The time spent to prepare and energize oneself is separate from any other source of energy drain — such as life problems – bills, work, family, health, etc.

Teachers Need Sleep?

Sometimes students send e-mails in the middle of the night expecting the professor to respond or notice before class the next day. Well, big surprise, professors are human — without sleep, they will die too. Do professors dream? Yes again. My wife has complained about waking up to a nightmare which typically involves the following situations during the semester:

1) Not being prepared for a class lecture
2) Not being on time to the class and missing the class
3) Showing up to the wrong class
4) Oversleeping.
5) Not accommodating all students.
6) Forgetting a deadline to turn in administrative paperwork.

These are just a few of the many stressful dreams/nightmares which have occurred in our house during a semester.

Conclusion

Again, why am I telling you this information at the end of the semester? The reason is to have you realize (ponder over the information during break), that professors are humans too. Furthermore, they are extremely concerned about your well-being. More than you think. Their stress levels are much higher on average than students. The same is true of the staff — I can speak to that — since I am a staff member. But, overall, we want you (the student) to succeed and go on to be successful in life. In fact, there is no other hope than your continued success on our mind.

The next time that you find yourself wondering the following about a professor you have for a class:

1) Does he/she care about my well-being?
2) Does he/she understand the stress that I am under currently?
3) Would he/she understand and excuse me if my situation was made known to them?

The answer to the first is a big YES. The answer to the second is that each professor was once a student and expressed similar views as you are expressing currently (in a state of frustration). Each professor cannot understand the totality of your situation — since they are not you. Each person is unique and has a unique life. We are not clones. The answer to the 3rd question is that if a student (you) were to go talk to them during office hours, your situation would be better understood. That does not necessarily mean that the desired outcome on your behalf will be displayed. Understanding and showing empathy for a given situation (which entails a series of choice – life choices or obstacles) is completely possible. Although, ultimately, you are responsible for your education. Remember though that each professor is ‘batting for your’ success in life.

With this in mind, have a great vacation and see you next semester. Cheers!

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About john.kaiser@csun.edu 12 Articles
Hello Everyone, My name is Mike and I am an instrument manager in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at California State University at Northridge (USA). I am interested in the dissemination of science knowledge to the public at large. Part of the motivation behind blogging is to demystify the life of a scientist to the public. This includes how scientists view various statistics and facts that are presented in the popular news. Furthermore, to verify the statistics and facts through approximations using publicly available resources on the internet. I believe that elevating the scientific knowledge of the public will result in a more environmentally friendly (sustainable) citizenship on the planet and better science policy on a local governmental level. A more informed public is a healthier public. My twitter handle is @johnkaiser13. I write at the blog site: www.jmkthought.blogspot.com. Please feel free to comment and share concerns and thoughts on future blog topics. I look forward to sharing my blogs with you in the future. Have a great day! Sincerely, J. Mike Kaiser

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