a journal of a researcher

Sunday, February 22, 2009

March Break!

I was exhausted after last Thursday course. I need a break. Never so little food in my refrigerator. I need to cook some good meals for myself. I also need to go to gym. And look for my DVD player – it seems I did not watch movies after I moved to my new apartment.

I spent most of my time in teaching this term. I have to postpone my research agenda for a while. It is very difficult to do research when your weeks are occupied by teaching activities. However, I need to be a professor first in this position. Here are I think about my teaching:

First, this is not a professional environment where people are matured and know how to do their work. Students need to be trained. Though they are not babies, you still need to tell them in details what to do. Because each can bring a different idea in their untrained minds, you need to specify your requirements and expectations in very detail. Otherwise, you will find someone gets lost.

I am really afraid that I will become trivial. I miss a professional environment where I can jump my mind without being distracted on trivial things.

Second, I have to be always precise and correct. Any mistakes I make will cost me double time to correct. And mistakes/ambiguities really confuse the students.

Third, master teaching strategies. I am too used to the presentation style in a conference. But teaching is not only a presentation of contents. You need to check the acceptance of your contents. Then I have to adjust to their speed and their way of understanding things. So slow is better than fast, simple is better than complex. Examples are better than descriptions. Interaction is better than lecturing. You really need to spend a lot of time thinking how to put your knowledge and skills into their brains. You first have to gain their trust and respects so that they follow you. Second, you need to have skills to make the knowledge simple and easy so that they can absorb. Terrible, isn’t it? CS is supposed to be hard and boring. But the students want to learn it without taking any pain. I hope I could have had this in my own training. Well, I should say university professors are amateur teachers – their teaching skills are not so well polished. Will I be a different one?

Fourth, be a professor first. I do not like to behave as if I am a big shot. But I then found my students act like a big shot before me. Young minds! - they really do not know a lot about the world. They only know themselves – very ego centric and self-confident. They do not know they know little and they experienced little. They complain too much, expect too much and work too little. They want to learn without taking pain. They want to get good marks without working hard. They think a lot of things are granted without a cost. And they are young kids without disciplines and respects. Though I do not believe in disciplines and authorities myself, I realized that I have to act like a professor – control the disciplines and establish my authority before them. It is a conflict before we can set up a trust and collaborative relation. At beginning the relation is to wrest a control over the classroom. As a professor, I have to clean up the classroom for teaching and learning. I have to be tough and insist on my way of doing. Hopefully, I am not lack of this. Sometimes, the students take a wrong image that the female professors are weak and gentile. But they do not know in this CS and engineering discipline, we are the winners of endless competitions throughout our study and career. They will learn I can be kind and tough at the same time.

Fifth, I prefer to do things in the right way – not too tough or too easy to the students. My criteria are the requirements of the industry where they will find their jobs. I won’t ask one more things beyond what the industry asks. I won’t ask one less thing causing them not being hired. They should be properly trained, especially on good attitude in working. That is why I cannot tolerate students who act sloppy in my class. You can make mistake and be stupid. But you have to be serious in what you are working on. They are too young to know attitude determines many things. I hope I can bring some impact on them.

I will take some private lessons to correct my English accent. I hope I can make my classes enjoyable. Too many things to do and too little time I have.


  • Being a good professor is actually not easy! You must be good at both research and teaching. When I did some something good, or made some progresses in my research, I get lots of praise from my supervisor. When I forgot to do sth, or made some minor mistakes, what my supervisor told me is "Don't worry about that"!

    By Anonymous SHANE, at 8:47 PM  

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