Non-traditional student

What I do has been given many titles: Professor of Practice, Teaching Professor, Clinical Professor, Instructional Professor. I am not a classic academic, although I do research.

My intentional student has always been the non-traditional student. Why? Because I have never felt greater, more immediate power to effect social change than when I teach. Not merely in the information I may impart, but in the professional behaviors I may teach. The disciplines of maturity and scholarship. Many students I teach may not have had a professional in the home growing up, so how can we begin to expect them to understand professional behavior? Why and how?

When a student gets angry at me, rarely, I make them an offer. Let’s not do this now at the beginning of class. I have to start class. Come see me after class is done and let’s make an appointment to discuss this. Come see me in my office during office hours and let me show you how to disagree with your boss and not get fired. Then, I will reconsider your grade (and, likely improve it if they accept my offer).

I am a first generation college student. We didn’t have a dictionary in the house when I was in grade school, and I am the youngest of six. My parents had to buy me a dictionary because I needed it and wanted it for school. Lovingly, my parents and my brothers would make fun of my interest in school.

I refuse to allow in my classroom what call “Stinkin’ thinkin'”. I can’t. I’m not good enough. I don’t have what it takes. Others are better than I am. They belong here. I don’t. “Imposter syndrome”, call it what you like. I don’t allow, and I will pause whatever is going on privately, and make the student say, in the words of the (joke) great Dr. Stuart Smalley, who teaches at SNLU, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, gosh darnit, people like me.” They don’t get the points until they say the magic words. And, when the bad habit rears its ugly head again, the magic words, or no points.

When I took my students on a field trip to the Motorola system staging area where they could see all the engineers integrating all the equipment before shipment, one of my students paid me a great compliment and said, “Mr. McCormick, that was tight.”

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