I sat down for class and was talking with my classmates when my Chinese teacher arrived. I looked up to see probably my most favorite teacher on campus and cried out, “Ooh, Mu Laoshi!” (“Teacher Mu!”) The other teacher in the room and interpreted the incident as me being unhappy that Mu Laoshi was teaching. Mu Laoshi went the rest of the day harping on the fact that I had “dissed” him. He gave handouts to everyone in the class except me. He told a story over lunch about how he didn’t teach a lot during the January Term because someone (me) had complained…But when I finally got to clearing up the matter by talking to my professor, he said “it kinda stings to hear a student doesn’t like you.” It was a reminder that teachers have feelings too. So often students see their teachers/professors as these unreachable entities that are open during office hours. In a great talk by Ken Robinson, he cracks that professors’ bodies are just a means of transport for getting their heads to meetings. But in many ways, it’s true about how we perceive professors. One rarely thinks about how professors react emotionally. At worst, we see professors as assigners of work/oppressors and at best, we see professors as partnering with us academically. Sometimes, professors become good friends too but that usually is secondary.
How should we as students be considering teachers’ emotionally?