Organizational Behavior in a College Classroom

by Leigh on January 29, 2012 · 0 comments

in College

Working as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Management Department at the Zicklin School of Business within Baruch College is a labor of love.  I love what I do and enjoy the role of helping undergraduate students be prepared for their careers as managers and leaders, especially teaching “Organizational Behavior” which I define as how people act and interact in a particular setting.

When we met for the first time on a day in late August of 2008, my supervisor told me the amount I’d be paid for being an Adjunct.  I looked at him with a smile on my face since I had previously been an Adjunct at another CUNY school and knew the range.  He said words to the effect, “Being an adjunct is an intrinsic experience, not an extrinsic one.”  Meaning, it’s about the rewards of imparting knowledge to those seeking it and not the monetary value of the work.

A previous post, Teaching – The Most Important Job in America, describes how I feel about standing up in front of a classroom two evenings a week to share the knowledge I’ve gained through consulting, coaching, and working at some very interesting companies—plus reading the required textbook:  Organizational Behavior 14th Edition by Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge.

My pedagogic philosophy is centered on one thing:  meeting the needs of my students so that they will succeed in their academic endeavors and career development.  Below are suggestions and behaviors to make the spring semester of MGT 3300 a very good experience for everyone involved.

Journey.  My students and I will be together for 2,175 minutes spread out over 29 sessions from January 31 until May 22nd.  The major behavior students will experience in my classroom is moving out of their comfort zones.  During Baruch’s 46th Commencement ceremonies, Provost James McCarthy spoke of the many reasons why I was soon going to receive the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching from President Mitchel B. Wallerstein on the dais in front of a sea of graduating students.  As I remember, the Provost said more than once the reason my students nominated me was that “Prof. Henderson moves her students out of their comfort zones” while my soon-to-be student alumni in the audience nodded their heads.  Being open to growth is not just a behavior in the classroom; it is one that companies expect.

Show Up.  Since I started teaching at Zicklin in the fall of 2008, I have be present at every class until last October when for medical reasons, I had to miss eight classes before I was able to return to finish the semester.  I expect students to be present as well.  Those that do not show up over a period of time lose the flow of the classroom but also the learning that has been gained.  My suggestion is that each student has a “Class Colleague” to contact when they miss a class or want to clarify the assignment.

On time.  My routine is to come to class around 15 minutes early to be organized for a prompt start to class.  When I say, “Good evening, class,” it is time to start and a good percentage of students are in their seats.  Those that come in late repeatedly are duly noted in my attendance sheet; being late many times impact a student’s participation grade.

Prepared.  There is always an assignment for our next class and that is usually to have read a chapter in the textbook.  Not just read but prepared to have a question or to answer a question during class.  There will be four guest speakers during the semester and students are expected to read their bios, find out information about the speakers’ companies, etc. so that they can ask relevant questions of the speaker.

Participate.  The experiential learning approach I use in the classroom has been honed during a long career of being an educator.  Each student is expected to learn the names of the other students in the classroom and get to know where they work, what they do, etc.  Debates are part of the curriculum as is a chance to recite lines from Shakespeare.  Interaction with class colleagues is a way to learn, expand awareness, and understand other company cultures.

Present.  Everyone needs to be fully present during class.  What that means is that smart phones are turned off or are put on vibrate then put out of sight.  They are not to be on a desk, in a lap, or anywhere why they can be seen.  My eyesight is still good and I have seen students looking down at their phones thinking that I can’t see what they are doing.  Our class is 75 minutes long and no one, not even this instructor, is that important that e-mails or instant messages can’t wait until after the session.

Resources:  During the semester, there are four written assignments that require critical thinking, situation analysis, proper grammar, etc.  To help students, a librarian from the Newman Library comes to class to share with my students how to find the research they need for their papers.  Baruch College’s Writing Center helps students to improve their composition and grammar skills.  Students can request an appointment online.  The Counseling Center helps students talk about what might be keeping them from functioning at their best in class.  One of my students began the semester by earning a grade of C on papers.  After appointments with the Writing Center and the Counseling Center, she earned an A- as her final grade.

By the end of the term, my students are grateful for learning from and interacting with their classmates and I am proud that one more cohort of students gained the opportunity to be part of an experiential learning adventure.

P.S.  Two more things about classroom behavior:  I have a good sense of humor and will be sad if the New York Giants do not win the Super Bowl!

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