A while back a student came into my office in order to complain. I listened, and then I asked, “Is there anything else?”
He then launched into a far-ranging an disjointed tale of how he was being followed, photographed, and that his microwave oven was talking to him.
There were a variety of thoughts that went through mind at that point, the details of which I will leave to the gentle reader’s imagination. What I did was to pick up a phone and put the student in touch with the university’s counselling center and they were able to help him.
While I’ve always been aware of the strengths of the faculty at this university, as I’ve worked with a broader spectrum of our students, I’ve gained a greater appreciation of the system we have at the university to support our students.
Counselling is only one part of the picture. The folks over in Career Services can help students put together a resume. In the Writing Center, they can help your student with–get this–writing. And I could go on, but my purpose is not to give you an exhaustive description of the system in place to help students at this university, but rather to tell you there is one.
As they said in Close Encounters, we are not alone.
We are a part of a system and it is part of the job to learn about that system and the ways it can help us do the job better. Yes, this is in addition to actually teaching classes, doing committee work, and, heaven help us, do some scholarly activity.
While the university does provide orientation for new faculty, there are limits to what can be done in that setting. We are independent, self-directed learners and must apply that to learning about the structure of the university. One way of doing that is by asking questions. Ask your department chair; ask fellow faculty; heck, ask me.
Although, there is nothing more important than what goes on in your classroom with respect to student learning, you are a part of a larger community. By learning about that community and availing yourself of the resources it provides, you can do your job even better than you do now.