Gratitude 1010: How to show your professors you love them

On March 1, I wrote a column urging students to speak out about bad professors here at the U. I consider that a very important duty of each student. However, I spoke recently with a professor I had last spring. She pointed out that it is equally imperative to recognize the excellent teachers here at the U.

So, my friends, please consider this the sequel to my tirade from last week. Whether by evaluations or word of mouth, it is important to tell your fellow students whose classes they should take, not just whose classes they should avoid.

But there is another very important step students can take to let outstanding professors know that they appreciate their efforts. Students can nominate a favorite professor for a Student Choice Award.

As this year’s application states, “The Student Choice Awards are a way for students to honor outstanding professors here at the University of Utah. They represent a unique honor in that they are completely student driven. Students make the nominations and students select the winners.”

The Student Choice Awards applications are due this Friday, March 12, in the Associated Students of the University of Utah office.

In order to nominate a professor, students have to get an application and write a one-page essay describing the professor’s teaching skills and methods, personality and various personal attributes. The goal is to have professors nominated from a diverse variety of classes in order to have every department represented.

The Student Choice Awards will have been held at the U 11 years when the awards are presented at a banquet April 13. Last year, only 30 to 40 nominations were entered. This year ASUU is hoping for more than 100 nominations, as it should. The U is a large, prestigious university and we have more than 30 or 40 outstanding teachers. The only problem is finding students willing to make the effort of thinking about who they want honored and filling out the application on that professor’s behalf.

I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t speak up about a bad professor, and I don’t know why students are so hesitant to recognize their good professors. Maybe it’s some subconscious holdover from elementary school-the desire not to be seen as a brown-noser.

However, we’ve all seen the amount of butt-kissing that goes on when the pre-meds are on the prowl for a good letter of recommendation. It’s absolutely shameless-but it’s what you have to do if you really want to get into medical school, I suppose.

Face it-if you thought you were going to get something out of it, you’d probably be willing to shell out a few compliments, regardless of the 6-year-old in your head taunting you with the chant, “Teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet.”

If we’re so willing to swallow our embarrassment for our own benefit, why can’t we swallow it for the benefit of others?

I know it sounds like something Barney the purple dinosaur would say, but people really do need to receive the praise they deserve. Our professors aren’t multimillionaires and they won’t ever be on the cover of People magazine-they just educate the future doctors, nurses, lawyers, businesspeople and politicians of this country. I’d imagine that it doesn’t take much to make a good teacher become cynical about their job. When that happens, everyone at the U feels the adverse effects. An observant student body becomes a much more legitimate student body.

If we are recognizing the good along with the bad, both our praise and our complaints become more valid. Everyone knows that the kid who claims all his professors have been bad is just a whiner who won’t take responsibility for his own bad GPA. Similarly, it is hard to reply on someone’s opinion who indifferently remarks that all of her teachers have been “OK.”

Along with being vigilant about reporting bad professors at the U, we need to make sure that the excellent professors in our midst are also recognized.

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