Photo by Kyle West

By: Rida Pasha

Whether it’s the real world being brought into the classroom by a professor, or the ease in explanation provided by a teaching assistant, there is no doubt that a good learning experience is a product of the time and energy of professors and TAs.

However, these educators are often overlooked and underappreciated for their efforts to bring life to course content. It’s time we become more active in acknowledging our professors and TAs.

The 2019 Teaching Awards Ceremony, an event run by a subcommittee of McMaster Students Union Macademics, was held on March 15, presenting nominated professors and TAs with awards for their excellence in teaching.

As someone involved in organizing and attending the event, a common remark made by the winners was that the greatest compliment they could receive was hearing appreciation from their students.

Although we generally view professors and TAs to be confident people in positions of authority, it was interesting that many of them discussed how even though it’s their job to lecture or run tutorials, they still feel a sense of nervousness before the start of each class.

Though instructors are strongly educated and qualified, it’s reassuring for them to hear that they’re doing a good job from their students.

Let’s take the time to compliment instructors that incorporate memes into their presentations, relate class material to our generation, take feedback seriously and actually make course improvements based off of them.

It’s easy to take their efforts for granted, but if you really enjoyed a class, let your instructor know after class or send them an email with follow-up questions.

Trying to be actively engaged in class is a great way to show instructors that what they’re saying is interesting. Although three-hour lectures can start to drag on, it’s great to ask questions or give your professor a nod of understanding when they look in your direction.

With course evaluations now open, spare a few minutes to describe what you like about your classes so far, and provide suggestions if you have any.

Not only is this an opportunity to give your input, it’s also a great way for professors to cater their class to their students’ needs, something many professors genuinely want to do.

When it’s Teaching Award nomination season, make sure you nominate professors and TAs that are doing a great job. The process takes no more than five minutes and can make all the difference for the educators you’re nominating.

Besides the fact that appreciating your teachers is a kind gesture, it’s also important to remember that beyond the course they are teaching, professors and TAs have industry knowledge and professional experience that could benefit you.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about the field they’re in, getting advice about graduate school or acquiring volunteer opportunities, it’s not a bad idea to start building a relationship with your instructors by showing them how they’re making your learning experience better.

Of course, be genuine and mean what you say, but recognize that sharing your thoughts and opinions about a class can result in a really great professional relationship.

There are classes you will love and others you will hate. But amongst the many that are boring, annoying and difficult, we all have at least one class that we look forward to attending, even on a rough day.

As students, let’s take the time to show our appreciation for our beloved educators that make a positive difference in our lives.


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