No, no, professor

I have said a first no to an assignment offered, and received a first no to an assignment I had wanted. People around me tell me that saying no is something I have to practice a bit more.

I have started my teaching at Simmons University (no longer a college I just learned). It has been a steep learning curve, especially the online part and the grading mechanics. I had started to prepare for this  back in May when I was in Mali. At that point in time there was an assumption I would teach over the summer but there weren’t enough students. Now I teach two online classes, one on Monday night and one on Thursday evening. This is the reason for the ‘no.’ I could not possibly veer too far out of my time zone. An assignment in Africa would simply not work.

I teach one class called ‘Leadings Individuals and Groups, and another on ‘Negotiation and Problem Solving.’ The first class are mostly new MBA students, the second one are halfway through their program. In the latter group I am the newbie, learning the ins and outs of online teaching. In the other group we are all learning at the same time.

Since I have never taught classes for credit and grades, I realize that I have to be very disciplined about evaluating student work. There are grading rubrics I consult, but there is still a lot of subjectivity and judgment.

And so I find myself studying along with my students, reading materials, Harvard Business Review articles and cases, watching videos and trying my hand at their homework, so I know what they are going through. It’s challenging. Especially since life goes on, including other assignments that are on my plate (and so the second ‘no’ came in handy).  I suppose this is no different than what my students are experiencing, since all of them have full time jobs, families, and some even have weekend jobs.

I am addressed as ‘Professor Vriesendorp’ or simple ‘Prof’ which sounds strange to me. I only know one Professor Vriesendorp and that is my brother who is a real professor. I told the course director that I felt it wasn’t quite right to be given that honorific since I know what it takes to earn a professor ship. I have done none of those things that are required for the title: earning a PhD, doing research, writing books and countless articles, etc.). She told me that is what students do and to simply accept it. However, I could not put it on my CV (as if  would!).

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October 2018
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