Students with/who are problems
Often, students come to their TAs asking for academic advice. They might want to know about other math classes, the math major, or some other major entirely. Although you may know something about other courses that you've taught, or professors you've taken or taught for, you are not to be an academic advisor. There are places you can send the student for answers.
- The Math Major: Send the student to the Undergraduate Program Assistant (currently Kate Barrett) in room 203 Van Vleck. Outside that office is the Guidebook for Math Majors, which is also available online here. The guidebook has a list of Math Faculty Advisors who can answer more in-depth questions about the major and coursework.
- The College of Letters and Science: Send the student to room 70 Bascom Hall. He or she will be able to speak with an Assistant Dean who can sit down with the student to discuss college requirements and point to other places on campus to get advice about particular majors.
- The College of Engineering: Send the student to the Engineering General Resources (EGR) Office in 1150 Engineering Hall.
- College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS): Send the student to the CALS Office of Academic Student Affairs in room 116 Agricultural Hall.
- School of Education: Send the student to the office of Education Academic Services in room B117 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall.
If nothing else, all students have their own academic advisors. Tell them to go talk to whomever that is.
Occasionally, you will have a student in distress because of some personal issue. The student may come to you directly, or you may just notice that something isn't quite right. You should urge that student to seek help from the Dean of Students office in room 75 Basscom Hall. They always have an On-Call Dean who can speak with the student and find appropriate assistance.
If you want to speak with a dean yourself to find out how to handle a specific situation, you can call 263-5700 or stop by room 75 Bascom Hall. More information on crisis situations, may be found here.
Occasionally, you will have a disruptive student or a group of students who seem to be out to make you miserable or show that they know more than you do. They may interrupt you or take the discussion off course. They may enter and leave the room at inappropriate times--and very loudly, or they make just talk to each other while you or another student are speaking to the entire class. They may just show up to class, sit in the back, fold their arms and go to sleep.
You can really help this by working to set a good tone early on; the very first day of class you can let your students know how you want them to relate to you what your expectation of them are. Going to that first class meeting prepared (to talk about mathematics, or do introductions, or go over the syllabus) is crucial. If a student or group of students starts to become disruptive, they are not just bothering you; they are interfering with the learning experience of all your other students. This needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
The one thing you should avoid doing is confronting the disruptive students publicly. Although the other students in the class may be annoyed with them, they do not want to see you lose your temper or waste valuable class time reprimanding them. Ask them to stay after class, or send them an email asking them to come to your office (not during regular office hours). Let them know that their behavior is unacceptable and disruptive to the other students. Often that individual conversation is all it takes to calm things down because the student may not have been aware that anything they did was noticed by you or by other students. If the disruptive behavior continues or escalates, you can tell the student to leave the room. If they refuse, you can dial 911 to have the University Police remove the student.
Sometimes there may be some other underlying problem. If mental illness or an emotional issue seems to be the problem, consult the On-Call Dean at 263-5700 before confronting the student. Also, if there's a situation, contact Sharon Paulson to let her know what's going on.
If a student's behavior is in any way threatening (to others or to her/himself), call 911.
For more detailed information on handling disruptive classroom behavior see the Dean of Students' Guide for Instructors.