When students make you roll your eyes, here's what to do instead

Students these days get a bad reputation.

Reports of poor writing skills and social media obsession fuel unflattering stereotypes about today's students, Rob Jenkins writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

While it may be tempting to gripe about perceived generational differences, higher ed leaders should put student behavior into perspective, argues Jenkins, an English professor at Perimeter College.

Pulling from more than three decades of teaching experience, Jenkins explains how to turn frustrating students moments into learning opportunities.

1: Be optimistic

Despite the many unflattering stereotypes about today's college students, most are remarkably bright, versatile, and open minded, Jenkins writes.

Yes, technology makes it easier for students to get distracted during lectures. But who hasn't spent some class time caught in a daydream? Before you blame students for perceived bad habits, it's worth remembering that previous generations had their own ways of goofing off in class, Jenkins argues.

What success means to your students, in their own words

2: Recognize the high stakes

Unlike previous generations, today's students face higher pressure to succeed both academically and professionally, Jenkins writes. To prepare for the current job market, students have to consider their career path much earlier on, he adds.

While you should continue to expect excellent behavior and performance from your students, don't pile on outdated or unrealistic expectations of what their success should like, he argues.

3: Look for learning opportunities

If you're open to your students' perspectives, they'll teach you much more than the latest slang, Jenkins writes. Students offer insights into what's working in the classroom, or how society is really changing, he notes. And if you're listening closely, they may even surprise you, he adds (Jenkins, Chronicle of Higher Ed, 11/3).

Related: 3 strategies to engage faculty in student success initiatives


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