At the beginning of the semester, I find it useful to write my students a letter. Not only does this help students get to know me better personally, it helps me to set expectations and the overall tone for the course.
Below is an example of one of my letters to students. Feel free to share your own letters or messages to students in the comments below.
Many times students enter classrooms with the fear their teacher may not be approachable. I want to minimize these worries so you can have a successful semester both academically and internally. To do this, I want you to know about me as a person
I received my B.S. in Biology, with an art minor, from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri; my M.S. in Biology with an emphasis on herpetology (amphibians and reptiles) from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, in Monroe, Louisiana; and I have my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Orleans.
My interests include the teacher’s influence on students, and specifically the difference in student attrition and grade distributions between online and face-to-face biology courses.
I am currently a Full Professor in Biology at Delgado Community College in New Orleans where I teach a variety of biological courses. I also serve as the Canvas Administrator for the College.
I love exploring different educational theories that may help me improve the retention in my classroom and help my students develop better learning styles. I have an academic crush on John Dewey and Howard Gardner. If you are ever interested in either theorist-GOOGLE.
So, that’s enough about my academic interests, let’s get to the interesting stuff. I am the “crazy dog” lady. I am so passionate about animals that until recently five animals lived with me. In May and in September, two of my fur-babies passed away. I still have three lovable babies, though: Phareaux (a Miniature Pinscher), Osiris (a Doberman), and Squeaks (a Chihuahua). I love fostering Dobermans until they can find a forever home. I also lease a horse that I ride and jump with almost every day. His name is Dandy and he is a beautiful Appaloosa Gelding.
I am very active. I love to hike, kayak, and play most sports. I never miss a Saints game. Since art was my minor in college, I paint when I have time and have even sold a few. I am a devout believer in giving back to others. I participate in many charitable functions, from cancer walks to pet adoptions.
I am a firm believer in work hard/play hard; however, to reward yourself you have to dedicate yourself to your studies. I am available to help you every day during my office hours or by appointment. If you are having difficulties, do not wait until the end of the semester. Grab the bull by the horns early on and we can start addressing your concerns as soon as you have them. I can only open the door, but it is up to you to enter the room. Since we are all different, I attempt to present the material in a variety of ways. Hopefully this mosaic approach will help you grasp the concepts and even promote critical and application thinking.
Never assume I know if you think something is wrong, and never be afraid to ask if you have a question. Since I am human, I do make mistakes and I do not know everything. But, I do know how to help you find the answers.
Any course that is computer-based (hybrid or online) is time consuming and you MUST commit time daily to be successful. This is not a course that you can cram for or be successful in without trying. Biology is a notoriously difficult course and you are choosing to take an online version, which makes it even more challenging. Please set yourself up for success and be realistic on your time management and the personal commitment needed. Never forget, I am here to help you if you need help.
I hope this letter helps ease your concerns about myself and the course. I wish you luck, but luck is only part of the equation--tenacity and dedication are more valuable. Secrets to success do not work unless you do!
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