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College Instructors Can Be Distracted by Personal Issues

College Instructors Can Be Distracted by Personal Issues

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By Dr. Mark Friske
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

As a professor, I hear all kinds of issues from my students. These student issues include:

  • Health concerns
  • Changes in family status
  • Military deployments
  • Added tasks either at home or work

I try to be giving and work with these students as much as I can. But is there a different set of rules for instructors? There can be.

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Both students and administration sometimes expect their faculty to be available almost on call like a doctor at a hospital; some professors do rise to this task though.

Schools Need Instructors Who Can Teach and Grade on a Schedule

Granted there are items that do need a quick answer and care, but other items, depending on the need, could wait. Schools need instructors who can teach and grade on a schedule, especially in an online learning environment. For students, feedback is critical to their levels of success.

Most instructors teach because it is what they want to do, and they love the work even when things get busy. Do instructors have these same types of issues? Absolutely. We are all human and these concerns can affect any of us at any time.

Can a teacher struggle with a personal issue? Again, absolutely.

Most schools are usually helpful when an instructor lets them know they have a personal problem.

However, some instructors do not share their problems like their students do. Why? Perhaps because they may feel that they are held to a higher standard of professionalism.

The Same Advice that Instructors Give Students Might Also Apply to Themselves

Can instructors also add to what they know and share it with students who might be struggling? Yes, in addition, that the same advice that instructors give their students might also apply to themselves when they are struggling.

Recently, I found myself in one of these situations. I also had to have some self-reflection and remind myself about some of the things I share with my students almost weekly. While not going into details of an issue like the passing of a family member or a serious loss, I think it is important to recognize an opportunity to learn even as a professor.

One of the most important things to remember is that we should all be in a constant state of learning new things. We can all learn and grow even when we might be facing a difficult issue. The issue also reminded me of the time when I was the student. Even though the roles have now changed, the concern and focus should not.

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About the Author

Mark Friske, Ph.D., is a part-time instructor in the School of Business at APU. He holds a M.B.A. in business administration and a Ph.D. in organization and management, both from Capella University. In addition, Mark has a B.A. in pre-law from Bob Jones University.

Mark is a U.S. Navy veteran and has 25 years of management and leader experience with Apple, Citibank, UPS and other companies. He is a management and leadership consultant with Disney.

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