Javier Diaz Castro (Granada, 1980) has a legion of followers among his students. His instructions to face an exam and, above all, what to do afterwards became a viral phenomenon after a student spread them through social networks. Ask to laugh and learn from mistakes. The little free time he has – he is able to fit in tutorials on weekends and birthday parties – he dedicates to reading and playing sports. He is a professor at the Department of Cellular and Human Physiology at the University of Granada.
What does it take to be a good teacher
I am not trying to tell anyone what to do. But my experience has worked for me. The University has students who are digital natives. The information is on the net. We must use the master class to focus the interest in the subject. Use emotional intelligence. The student gets excited in the classroom and sees that he is a main actor in the learning process. You have to focus on the interest of the student. I do not propose that everyone get good grades, but that everyone enjoy.
-Talk about the emotions of the students. I remember anguish, stress, anxiety…
-Of course. When exams come I remind them how harmful cortisol is. It blocks the learning and memory process. We have to know how to interpret each other’s emotions. It shows in their faces.
-That’s not overprotecting
them -It’s getting the best out of each one. We must get graduates who have to face a tough labor market. Here we must know how to guide them. No one has taught them to deal with their emotions. We know that millennials are people who get frustrated easily because they are used to having it all. We talk, I don’t overprotect them.
-Do they confess if they have made a mistake
-If you create an environment in which they feel comfortable, they tell you why they have failed. You reach an agreement and they know what they have to improve on. The idea is that they know where the fault is and manage that frustration.
-His advice on how to face an exam became very popular thanks to social networks. Did you apply them when you were a student
-I had a lot of anxiety. She studied a lot. In the degree he had no life. Many times a break, having a coffee, helps your neural circuits perform better. The brain is just another muscle. Nobody told me.
-Did he have good teachers
-Yes, yes, yes. I had a good time. I also had teachers who were disastrous.
– Where does the bad reputation of the university professor come from
We have a double obligation, research and teaching. There are those who dedicate themselves more to the former and leave teaching in the background. We must never forget that our first assignment is teaching. Bureaucracy, overload in research projects… make you come to teaching tired.
-Do you use power point
-Yes, as a tool. Many times with a slide I spend 40 minutes talking. I don’t use it as a text font. It is a very good support for teaching.
-How do you tell an 18 or 20-year-old student who has just arrived at the university not to be in a hurry
-I tell them that degrees are long-distance races. Not everyone learns at the same pace. Everyone has their conditioning factors and I try to calm them down. When the first courses arrive they are arid subjects and many are disappointed. I can see its progression. At first a suspense is a world and then it relativizes.
Is there fear of failure in college
Many suffer from family pressure. They come to class, they study and the result is not what they expected. Sometimes I have to explain to parents that the subject is difficult and they have to repeat it. It is a matter of empathy with the person.
-Speak of empathy, is it possible as the grades are structured
-It would be much easier with groups of 30 or 40 students. How do I
adapt my schedules and have tutorials on weekends or holidays… I understand that we owe it to them. It is very difficult. Doing individualized activities with a class of 80 people is very complicated, but you try. I don’t know if it will get better. How we are is how we are.
-When you tell a classmate about your tutorials on Sunday… what do they tell you
-There is everything (laughs). Some that I’m crazy, others that it’s fine… I don’t consider myself a reference. It works for me. It works for me when I receive emails from parents or grandparents who tell me that their children or grandchildren had thought about leaving their degree and have followed…
-Do you feel different
-There are many people who like teaching . It fills me in a way that, I don’t know… teaching is a prize.
-Would a MIR be necessary for university teachers
-It would be controversial. You can be a teacher being an excellent researcher… I don’t know if a training process would be necessary. That is a question that should be dealt with in another area.
-Does the vocation
-Very much. 90% of skills are better developed if there is a vocation.