I have been given the gift of first-year students this term. By “gift” I mean that after 22 years of teaching, I have a room full of fresh-out-of-high-school minds. These students are unique in many ways and I could spend the rest of the term writing posts about their uniqueness, but today I’m going to focus on one feature that unites them: FMOOWMP, or “Fear of Meeting One-On-One With My Professor.”
I didn’t come up with this roll-off-your-tongue acronym but I do believe it describes MANY students, not just those in their first year. Watch this 2-minute video produced by ASU (I showed it to my class) and tell me if you agree that the cure to FMOOWMP is FOH.
If I think waaaaaaay back to when I was an undergrad, I can totally relate. I was struggling in many of my lower division science classes and although I had an inkling that my professor might be able to help, the one thing that kept me from taking advantage of them as a resource was that I didn’t even know what to ask. I didn’t know where to start. I was so baffled and confused and couldn’t risk my professor believing that about me too. So…I waited until things were almost beyond repair to visit an office hour, and low and behold, things started to turn around.
I queried my first year students, “how many of you have been to a faculty office hour?” About a quarter of them raised their hand. “Here” I added. All of them dropped their hand. I had them discuss why that is, among their table groups. Responses ranged from, “I don’t know where their office is,” to, “I don’t even know where to start.” All familiar. I asked the class if they would be more likely to sit with their professor and ask questions at a table in the dining hall. Their eyes lit up, heads nodded, and smiles surfaced. They clearly liked this idea.
Many faculty have already figured this out as evidenced by the tables full of students gathered around them at various hours throughout the day in the dining hall. Faculty who do this report that “coming to the students” telegraphs to them that “I am meeting you where you’re at” both literally and figuratively. I’m on board.
When I have had students sign-up to meet with me for 30 minutes in my office as part of my WIC class, the feedback was that I needed to do that more! I’m not sure my schedule could handle that but I think students are telling us that they might just need a little nudge. If all of my students are “required” to spend time with me, then it takes the risk of feeling like an imposter out of the equation.
Edit: I forgot to give Jenna Goldsmith credit for this awesome post idea and Dianna McGinnis for sharing the NPR article that Jenna references in her comment below!
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