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Professor appreciation

Kyra Garabedian, Anchor Staff

During the time I have spent at Rhode Island College, I have had a number of professors who consistently go out of their way to ensure the success of their students. As a preservice teacher, I tend to be more observant of how teachers go above and beyond what is required of them to help their students. To me, having a professor who actively articulates their support for students is what helps me connect with a class and improve my overall academic success. With all our professors do for us, what can we as students do to show them how much we appreciate their continuous support and hard work?  
Recently, I was thinking about how my high school dedicated a week to teachers by allowing students and other faculty members to recognize their efforts. Even small gestures from students such as a wall of appreciation consisting of handwritten notes would let teachers know they are valued. This would impact teachers in such a positive way, letting them know that what they are doing makes a difference in the lives of others. These acts of acknowledgment are crucial to the self-efficacy, or personal judgment of one’s actions. After remembering how powerful recognizing teachers was in high school, I began to wonder if RIC had a way of letting teachers know how important they are. 
I started asking both students and professors if they knew of any kind of teacher appreciation activities taking place on campus. I was pleased to find out from a student-athlete that each year, professors are selected by athletes and recognized as a “Most Valuable Professor” during an athletic event. This seems like a wonderful way to let professors know how they have impacted the lives of students. I spoke with a professor who felt extremely honored by the acknowledgment. The only problem? I’m not a student-athlete. I can’t recognize my professors on a large scale such as this because I don’t play a sport for RIC. 
Digging a little deeper, I spoke with one of my professors about ways students currently show their appreciation without being an athlete. He explained how even the simple act of students asking questions at the end of class and showing their engagement during class can show their appreciation. He also reported that students have often left him thank you notes at the end of a semester, or even written letters of appreciation to the Dean of the department. These are all wonderful gestures, but I still feel as though there should be a campus-wide effort to recognize professors for all they do. 
I keep imagining covering a wall in the Student Union or Donovan Dining Hall with small notes of appreciation students write for their professors. There could be a basket with slips of paper students could take a few minutes to fill out. They would be proof-read to make sure they were appropriate and put up on the wall. This would allow students to recognize their professors in a less formal way than writing a note, but also make a powerful gesture like athletes can. 
Our professors work tirelessly to make sure we succeed, the least we can do is let them know how much we appreciate them!