I attended a student-faculty workshop called “Transforming Learning Environments via Student Partnership,” where we were seated around different tables, which consisted of a combination of students and faculty, each table included a facilitator that drove the conversations as well as the activities. The activities mainly aimed to help us critically think about the ways in which we can build a student-faculty partnership that would produce a beneficial outcome for both parties.
Things I learned:
- That it is important to balance the partnership with the professor in terms of keeping it both friendly and professional.
- The most effective professors are the ones that are passionate about their course, and care more about students understanding rather than just giving them information. We spent much of our time discussing how much students end up enjoying these courses rather than just working for their grades.
- The relationship must be two sided, both sides should be willing to build a partnership. I explained to my table how I believe that the professor or faculty member should initiate the friendship as students aren’t always comfortable with doing so at first.
- We were socialized and disciplined in school to always listen to the teachers instructions, they had a lot of power and the control was very authoratative (teacher, secondary head, british section head, principle, etc) we barely created friendships with teachers. Especially at the beginning children aged 4-8 it’s very scary and intimidating to deal with teachers and if teachers don’t work on building a friendship and build a foundation or environment for such a relationship children adjust to being friends with peers only. So after 14 years of our education of not doing so, it’s difficult for students to start changing this mindset. We also went on to explain how despite that this partnership could be built, students will eventually start going to work and will face the same school problem with their employers, where they will have to follow orders the majority of the time.
- Many professors do not really care about building the partnership. Only a few of them do and they are usually the ones with art related courses – the facilitator told us that it is important for professors to make the students comfortable with the course and the classroom and create an atmosphere for students to easily interact and I explained to them how that happened in a theatre course that I took because the professor was very cautious about building such a friendship to help us all get out of our comfort zones.
How I felt about the workshop:
- One of the faculty members explained how it takes some time and effort from both sides for the relationship to develop and that at first students may feel reluctant or uncomfortable with the idea, but towards the end it improves and she said that this is what happened during our discussion, that at the beginning the students were shy and the conversation was lead/dominated by faculty but towards the end we started to explain how we truly felt about different situations – and this is exactly how i felt.
- I felt however that this partnership isn’t really possible because many courses require a lot of concentration and hard work and don’t give space or time for this kind of relationship. And many faculty members aren’t interested in the needs of students.
- I feel like in many cases students may take this partnership for granted or take advantage of it, to use it to their own benefits in order to improve their grades for example or decrease the amount of work they have to do.
- It was very useful, the faculty were very wise they made me feel that apart from the information we are taught in class, there is so much that we can learn from professors outside the classroom concerning all different subjects and at the same time professors have a lot to hear from students and learn, help them with viewing different perspectives and ideas.
How this may affect me in the future:
- I feel like this pushed me in a way to interact with my professors more – even if it is just in classes, but to become more comfortable with participation and visiting professors during office hours when I need to.
- I also feel like it’s important to differentiate between professors who are willing to establish such a partnership and those who don’t, before initiating any sort of friendship.
- I realized how important the role of senates are, and I believe that we should I have a bigger number of representative students to work as intermediaries between students and professors because as I mentioned above a lot of the students are likely to take advantage of such a partnership.
What I found unclear:
- I don’t think that implementing this idea is going to be an easy task, because it’s like changing the culture of an entire community and many students/professors – especially those who have been teaching for longer years and have seen almost all actions/excuses of students will be reluctant to create this friendship.