This morning I participated on a panel discussion for new faculty entitled "How to Engage Xavier Students." It was very helpful for me, as I desperately need to get my teach on as Editor B put it. It's sort of an attitude adjustment that happens at summer's end, and it's time for me to get back in to the frame of mind necessary to be an effective teacher. I absolutely love universities in the summer when there are no students, I'm sad to say. And I love not having to grade papers and explain to students why their hero Oprah is going to hell. But it's that time of year again, and I need to be reminded why what I do as an educator is important. It helped me to hear some of my talented colleagues talk about what successes and failures they've had in the classroom. Xavier is a pretty special place. This is my seventh year there, but the first for me with tenure and an Associate Professor rank. Xavier and I have had our share of problems and differences over the years. I was especially upset after they fired many of my tenured colleagues after Katrina. But all in all I'm proud to be part of Xavier.
There is something simple that I can do to better engage students. I need to learn their names. I typically have about 120 students a semester, and since Katrina, I have not forced myself to learn them as I did before. I start "engaging" students, at least in theory, next Thursday. But everyone's watching to see what Dean will do.