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Selling your own "cult of personality" through a web page as away of recruiting students.

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Selling your own "cult of personality" through a web page as a way of recruiting students.

Students know that classes are only as good or bad as the professor teaching them. Certain types of professors suit certain students as well. Most importantly, no student wants to travel hundreds of miles to a campus to study with a major adviser who they won't like or by whom they won't be inspired.

A good professors interests are therefore best served by self advertisement of those features which make him/her interesting, inspiring, amusing, and amazing.

The personality of the professor is part and parcel of who he/she is as both a human and a teacher. This is not something that your web page should be hiding. On the contrary, it is important that any site you use to advertise your classes, should also advertise YOU.

Include information on your philosophy of teaching, and your ideas about how people in your discipline best learn. Include descriptions of how you work as an artist/researcher/scientist/etc. in your field, and your feelings about your work. Why are you a specialist in your field? I do this in these humorously titled sections of my site:

"Idea Stealing"

"Faking Creativity", and

"Deep Theory"

Include detailed resume information. Your students have a right to know what makes you an "expert" that they should trust for information, further, most students have no idea how impressively over-qualified for "expert" status most of their professors are.

Personal information makes students see you as human, and therefore a person they can talk to in advising appointments, classes, and labs. Including stuff about hobbies, your last vacation, your pets and favorite ice-cream flavor may sound bizarre, but it amuses people, and makes students like you better. My site includes detailed information and photos of the costume shop cat (my ), lists of my , photos and stories of my year in , and a hyperlinked

Shoelacefavorite likes and dislikesRussiaresume.

Do not be shy about including photos of yourself. If you want to let people know you are not overly dignified, make sure you have some . If you are conspicuously good looking, flaunt it. Students are as susceptible as anyone to charm and nice looks. These things can be used (as actors use them) to rivet attention to what you say.

If you have work that can be shown in pictures, do so. Like your resume, this underlines your qualifications to students. Besides which, pictures make web sites more interesting in general.

When you write

silly ones articles, or present papers at a conference, make sure you put these online as well. Students are more impressed by seeing what you went off to a conference or sabbatical for, than by just hearing you did something that they will never see.

If your students do projects that can go online in the form of photos or papers, put these up too. This will get your present students to look at your pages to see their own work, and get future students to they will be doing in your classes. Students are also more likely to work hard on their projects if they are aware that they will be seen by folks back home, their friends, and surfing strangers. It makes their work feel more important.

The writing style of the personal part of your site should reflect your personality. It need not be viewed in the same way as academic writing, but can use the more comic, poetic, and more casual habits of your speech. Ideally it should replicate the way you speak in class, so students will come to you later and say "I could just hear your voice when I was reading that".

Ask yourself, what it is that most impresses students about you once they get to know you? What do students like in your speaking, appearance, and actions? Do you always dress in embroidered peasant shirts? Do you have great jokes you tell to make a point in class that students repeat? Do you juggle to demonstrate gravity? Are your chalkboard notes filled with useful diagrams or evocative pictures? Do you raise mutant plants? Is your office Aladdin's cave for books? These are all things that make professors interesting.

Put your most interesting features forward, shamelessly flaunt your qualifications; and always remember that teaching is a performing art.

Tara's Cheap Tricks, Copyright 1997, Tara Maginnis, Revised 2002.

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"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis