June 2015 archive

Summer Breaks

IMG_9572cI’ve been camped out on my living room couch for most of the summer, writing, reading, and sleeping longer hours than normal.

A needed respite, and a much-appreciated perk of having summers off.

Yesterday, however, marked a return to campus to teach a 6-week-long Summer class at my usual 8 am time. Despite having to adjust the lazy morning routine I’d become accustomed to, returning to the classroom was a different kind of break.

The opportunity to share ideas, meet new students from various backgrounds (a bonus that comes from teaching my international students), laugh, and share in that unique energy that one can only find in the classroom- that can only be truly appreciated when you’ve been gone for some time- was a relief of sorts.

It was the opportunity to connect with new college students, full of ambition, the desire to travel, and nothing to stand in their way. There’s a motivation and a welcomed naivete that’s characteristic of 18-year-olds college students.

I learn from these people and, hopefully, they also learn a little something from me.

They see their dreams as their future, they’ve already decided to change their major, and they’re ready to be responsible- but with the lingering immaturity of youth that adds a refreshing balance and perspective.

Not everyone gets to be inspired by the people they work with on a daily basis, so I acknowledge my good fortune when I can.

So there you have it. I’ve got an escape from my natural introverted tendencies, and an escape from the outgoing part of myself that loves to stand at the front of a classroom and discuss ideas.

Take a moment to reflect. What’s your respite?

Online Teaching Made Easy, Effective, and Fun

IMG_0150I love it when the faculty development courses I take during the summer not only help me to teach classes more effectively and understand more about technology, but also help me with what my friends have lovingly deemed my “side hustle” (a.k.a. writing, blogging, and working on the Happy Professor brand).

It seems everyone has a project, hobby, or business in addition to their 9 to 5 job these days, so here are some ideas to help your own project stand out (I know you have one), if you haven’t found these resources already.

For anyone who teaches online, uses Instagram for their business, has a personal website, and/or creates YouTube content for their own personal channel, the following tools can add an artistic yet professional touch to your own photos and videos.


Getty Images

Photoshop substitutes:

Camtasia Studio
Jing Project

You may have heard of many of these before (as I had), but I figured a reminder never hurts.

Happy teaching, learning, and “side hustling”!

The 3-Step Speech and the Value of Change

IMG_3159It’s been in the works for a while.

I had the urge to write another book, and the urge to add a new element to my public speaking courses. Then it occurred to me that I could do both at the same time.

The 3-Step Speech: How to Build a Message, Feel Confident, and Have Fun was born.

When I wrote the post The (Almost) Seven Year Itch, I was in need of a change. Not because my current classroom methods weren’t working, but because they’d been working the same way for too long, and I was looking for a new way to teach with heart.

I decided I would change my classroom (slightly), and spend more time teaching my students how to get the most of public speaking, rather than how to write outlines and ‘try-to-get-through-the-presentation’ part.

There’s an aspect beyond the research, organization of content, and relaxation techniques that public speaking classes don’t tend to spend a lot of time on. It’s the ‘enjoy-and-keep-doing-this-for-the-rest-of-your-life’ part that really helps to make the class valuable and relevant.

So that’s my adventure for the upcoming school year.

I’m beyond excited to see what my students discover about themselves with this new perspective.

I love a new chapter.

To learn more about The 3-Step Speech, check it out on Amazon.com.

The Mountains

IMG_3466There’s something about being in the mountains.

As I sit here looking into the woods from my makeshift office space, the familiar smell of wood and the sight of trees, as far as the eye can see, put me into a different frame of mind.

There’s a calmness about it all that makes every part of this mountain feel like home.

As the leaves and branches sway ever so slightly in the cool breeze, I am perfectly content to sit and watch from my warm spot here by the window.

For now.

The bliss of North Carolina in June.

Happy living.

Lessons in Teaching: What is Authentic Assessment?

IMG_3587As a student, did you ever Christmas tree a test (ie. choose answers at random so your scantron bubbles took the shape of an evergreen) and receive a decent score for not knowing much of anything?

Did you ever finish a course at the end of the semester and wipe your brain clean of all the memorization you did in that class, for material that still doesn’t make any sense to you?

A friend of mine who majored in Accounting recently confessed that despite her good grades throughout college, during her first accounting job, she didn’t know how to do anything she was assigned to do. She finally had to really learn accounting once real life set in.

Authentic assessment may be the answer to this higher education problem we’ve been looking for.

I just took a faculty development course appropriately titled, Authentic Assessment, and it really opened my eyes.

For those that don’t know:

Definition of authentic assessment– Generally open-ended questions that allow for some gray area, and test your knowledge as it can be applied to real-life scenarios

This is what we need more of.

Sure, it doesn’t leave student answers and scores as ‘clean’ as us teachers might prefer, but actual learning takes place. Longer-lasting learning.

You may already be using authentic assessment in online discussions and projects with your students, with the help of a rubric that measures the quality of the answers.

Bring it on. Create more of them, and help your students get more from their education.

Happy teaching, and happy learning.