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How Are You Serving?

Anytime we approach the middle of an academic semester, workload challenges begin to accumulate. Some of the challenges can include additional deadlines, fatigue, and the potential for burnout from students or from faculty. Any type of burnout can unfortunately lead to the temptation to cut corners. It’s not something that just students can be guilty of, but faculty can also find themselves struggling with this challenge. Perhaps it reveals itself by turning in homework that is not up to par, or lax lesson planning, or just feeling so overwhelmed that certain types of plans and ideas simply get set aside or cancelled altogether. Granted, there are students and faculty who will always give their absolute best and will make the sacrifices needed to achieve quality work that most hope to accomplish, but even then, some unexpected challenges could get in the way of making those plans achievable.

During the mid-semester, everybody's schedules tend to become overcrowded and the pressure to get everything accomplished can begin to affect the way we serve others. On top of regular workloads, the extra obligation of additional critical meetings can really begin to take a toll on everyone. This is where it can be beneficial to consider how our students are truly doing and how they are actually being served. There have been many situations where students have felt that they are burdensome to their instructors and are made to feel as if the instructor is doing them a huge favor by being available, even if that is not deliberately intended by the instructor. Having the ability to handle stress is key to making sure our own stress is not being transferred onto our students. Take, for instance, those students who are working with a dissertation committee. Getting the schedules of numerous people to coincide can sometimes become a miraculous feat, but never should a student feel as if the meeting requirements are a huge inconvenience.

How we act as instructors can teach interesting lessons to our students regarding how to do things the right way or how to do things the wrong way. These lessons will carry forward and influence how they teach others and treat others because they will always remember how they were treated by their own instructors. Did they always feel welcomed and embraced as part of a team, or did they feel that there was always a disconnect and that they were burdensome?

Think of positive customer service experiences that made you feel valued, appreciated, and respected. Doesn’t every student want to feel that way? And we are not speaking about entitlement, which is something entirely different. Individuals should not possess a sense of entitlement because that brings about other issues and challenges to not only the workforce, but to personal life.

Let’s all just try to remember that at points in our academic year, we all experience additional demands at the very times that we are most fatigued. It can be so very easy to view the needs of others as burdens and to make things even more difficult for them. But working to keep an attitude of willing service towards others can go a long way in leading students by example, helping with their achievements, and creating grateful lifetime memories.


How can everyone best handle mid-semester challenges?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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