Monday, July 2, 2018

Revisiting Professor Petrillo

As my summer class draws to a close, I'm discovering that the end-of-semester crunch isn't unique to fall and spring semesters...nor is the sense of being "done" that arises just before the class officially ends. The last two Mondays, it has been challenging to get my students to rise to the occasion.

My motivation, too, is slipping and, today, I did a great job of upping my play ratio, but not such a great job of getting to everything on my list. So, tonight, as I post this with less than an hour left in Monday, I'm sharing a prior post. This one first appeared in November 2017.

It has taken me a while to determine my professor persona. I went in as a stock character -- who I thought a professor ought to be -- and it took me a few semesters to settle into the role. Now, I am comfortable (for the most part) with the role I play and the expectations I set.

Then this morning, I made a connection. I'm Sophia Petrillo.

Okay, so Sophia wasn't an instructor and I'm not 80-something. But, picture it -- a college classroom somewhere nearby. An instructor who's feisty. Honest. Possessed of an adventurous spirit and aware of her age, but unwilling to let it slow her down. Passionate about the people and things who matter to her, and the first one to tell them when they're resting on their laurels, but also willing to lend an ear (and some humorous advice) when the need arises.

Wouldn't you sign up for her class?

Sure, Sophia's a little over the top; she is a television character, after all. But, when it comes to personality traits, she possesses quite a few that are worth emulating. And this morning, my concern for an underperforming student was what led me in Sophia's direction.

As an actual instructor, I might need to dial back the Sophia humor and use a more deft touch with those in need of a nudge in the right direction, but a small dose of both of those traits can go a long way when it comes to establishing connections with students and pointing them in the right direction. Sophia was passion, wisdom and tough love packed into a compact package.

My students could do a lot worse.

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