January 2017 archive

Happy Professors Series: 35 Years of Teaching, Traveling, and Pursuing Passions

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“I never planned to be a teacher. In fact, my mother (a teacher) steered me away from the profession. In college, my interest survey said I should be a catholic nun/teacher. I thought the survey was screwy – I wasn’t catholic and had no plans to be a teacher. After I finished my masters program I was asked to teach an accounting class at the local community college.  I knew almost immediately that I found my calling and never looked back.

Teaching is rewarding and SO MUCH FUN!  I’ve been teaching for 35 years – 34 years in the classroom and now all online. I love my time with the students and I love the flexibility teaching has given me to pursue my other passions – traveling and grandchildren.”

~ Connie
Department Chair and Accounting Instructor

How to Get Into ‘Coffee Shop’ Work Flow (When You Just Feel Like Spending the Day at Home)

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Mondays are the days that I pack up everything in my life around 9 am to head to a local coffee shop (usually Panera). As many people know, there tends to be a bit of Sunday night anxiousness that’ll remind you about everything you need to take care of on Monday, and that feeling each week is what gives me the motivation to get out the door when I wake up.

I pack up my laptop, headphones, folders, snacks, waters, and gym clothes (for an evening kickboxing class nearby), and get out the door before the usual crowd of busy college students, families, and location independent workers typically show up.

It’s a solid routine, but that doesn’t always mean I make it out the door.

Today I lingered, got some household things taken care of, and ultimately decided that I would work from my kitchen table (which is easier said than done).

I procrastinated, checked my emails again for no reason after I’d already done my morning email check, did some laundry, started writing this blog post (everything that was in no way urgent or related to the papers that needed grading).

Eventually I got into some semblance of ‘work mode.’ I pulled up a comfy chair, poured a cup of tea, put on my usual jazz music, pulled out my planner, and faked the ‘coffee shop’ feel enough that I just simply got started (a few hours later, of course).

It may not have turned out to be the perfect work day, and I didn’t feel like the unstoppable force that I normally do when seated by my usual coffee shop window from 9 to 6, but I did get done what I needed to, and for today that’s okay.  

Happy living :).

College Classroom Technologies: A Look at Their Use in the Future

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In the article, Top 10 Education Technologies that Will Be Dead and Gone in the Next Decade, faculty members voiced their opinions about what classroom technology they believe will be gone within the next 10 years, which ones they hope might become obsolete, and what they believe their role as instructors will be versus the role that technology will play as the classroom continues to evolve.

Personally, I disagree with some aspects of the article, but it did make me think, so I appreciated many of the insights.

The way I see it, the use of technology will continue to grow, and the systems we all ‘hope’ will go away will just change to become more conducive to the classroom (any instructor knows that what we currently have is a far cry from perfect). 

I think technology is here to stay, will continue to play a bigger role, and will change the way instructors are used (I’m already well aware that my job in the classroom and my job as an online instructor are remarkably different from each other).

I do agree with the chart in the article, showing that our role as instructors will be minimal. Even now, online students can learn material, take quizzes, and see what grade they received in an online grade book, all without us lifting a finger.

I love the face-to-face college classroom. It’s where you feel the impact you’re making much more strongly, and teachers are a much bigger part of the inspiration and learning that happens. 

But technology is helping students learn more efficiently, on their own time, and without distractions, and as someone who appreciates progress, I kind of love that, too. 

Happy teaching, learning, and changing.

~

To read more about technology in the classroom, read the article Top 10 Education Technologies that Will Be Dead and Gone in the Next Decade.

The Best Mistakes

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The other day I was reflecting on some of the ‘mistakes’ I’d made in life that I no longer see in a negative light. Instead, I now feel pretty lucky that some of these things happened, and I’m sure if other people took a look back on the events that led them to where they are today, they might come to the same conclusion that I did. Odds are you can trace plenty of your mistakes and regrets to successes and opportunities later on.

What mistakes have you made that ended up resulting in something surprisingly positive a ways down the road?

The first person I thought of was my dad. He used to regret not working harder in high school, since this led to missing his shot at an impressive college education. However, the misstep also resulted in him being so frustrated with his subpar post-high school jobs that he started learning to think for himself and became a successful serial entrepreneur.

Here’s another example: My good friend’s parents could only afford to send her to community college. Although it was hard for her to accept at the time, she became determined to make the most of it, excelled in her classes, made connections with professors, got a huge scholarship, and then created a successful business around motivational speaking to community college students.

The bottom line is that most success stories(regardless of how you define success) start with regrets. Here are some from my own life:

  • Feeling like I didn’t fully take advantage of my time in high school led to a decade of taking chances and living outside my comfort zone- with dating, singing, music, writing, taking leadership positions, and making sure I didn’t regret a moment of my twenties.
  • As college was ending, I believed I had ‘missed my calling.’ I had always regretted not majoring in Education, since I had secretly wanted to teach since the days of ‘playing school’ with my little sister. Then once I started taking grad school classes, I learned that I still had opportunities to get teaching experience at the college level, so I jumped at the chance and ended up teaching at the level that probably suits me best.
  • My early twenties and a streak of bad boyfriends led to a love of writing music, and resulted in writing a number of songs that I’m proud of, and that have helped some good friends get through rough times.
  • I moved to Orlando, Florida to attend graduate school based on plans I had with my college boyfriend (and then, naturally, we broke up two months into the semester). However, I stayed in Orlando, and this is where I met my now husband.
  • The final ‘misstep’ I’ll share here is adjunct teaching. Instead of looking for more traditional jobs, I decided that I’d make teaching teaching work because I loved it so much, even if I wasn’t making much money. However, living on a budget as an adjunct led to learning more about saving money, enjoying the simple things, appreciating (free) outdoor activities, and teaching efficiently for multiple schools- leading to books, helping other instructors find jobs, and the Happy Professor brand.

Life is full of moments, opportunities, and the best mistakes you can make, so love every minute of it.
Happy learning and happy living :).

Revisiting an Old Post: “Getting Back to Basics in 2016”

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While I was trying to come up with ideas for a blog post today, I thought it would be interesting to re-read my New Year’s resolutions from 2016 that I had shared here on Happy Professor (copied below). So instead of coming up with and sharing new goals for 2017 (honestly, I really just want to continue with my 2016 goals since they’d led to such a good year!), I decided to just take a look at the progress I made with last year’s resolutions:

“1. Spend more time with friends and family on a weekly basis.
2. Workout and run consistently (consider doing another half marathon).
3. Take advantage of working from home by taking as many small and big trips as possible.”

The list might not look all that intimidating, but as someone who found herself buried in work for the last few years (which was fun and satisfying, but didn’t leave room for much else), it was hard to take a step back and start making the above changes, but here’s where I’m at today:

1. I spend quality time with one or two close girlfriends every week for a few hours without fail, and it is beyond amazing.
2. I lift weights at least 3 times a week at the gym or in my home office (I was running regularly, but a recurring foot injuring might be enough to keep me from running in the future- more weights and cycling, here I come!)
3. I work from Panera at least 2 focused days a week (meaning 8-10 hours each day), and deal with other minor work issues for a few hours from home during the rest of the week, which leaves my weekends uninterrupted so I can spend more time with my husband and friends.
3 (part 2!). I made the occasional day trip to see a good college friend who lives a couple of hours away, visited North Carolina (as usual), spent a month exploring Thailand, LA, San Diego, and Arizona, and I already have some upcoming vacations planned for the new year.

As I look at this list today, I can tell you that I once again have my priorities straight and I’ve learned that spending time with loved ones, taking care of yourself, scheduling in some free time, and going on the occasional adventure are good for one’s soul and great for maintaining a healthy balance in one’s life.

I’ve done everything I set out to do and I look forward to more of the same in 2017.

Happy living :).

~

Original Blog Post:

Getting Back to Basics in 2016

I know it’s not very original to write a blog post about one’s goals during the first week of the new year, but I’m okay with that. I’ve always been a huge fan of setting resolutions just hours before the ball drops on December 31st, mostly because I tend to set goals that I can accomplish and be proud of.

This year my goals involve getting back to basics, to the things that matter.

Somehow during the last year (and I’m not even sure when it happened), I cut out a significant chunk of my social life, sleep, every bit of working out, and any healthy foods that I used to eat because I started working more. What a terrible list of bad habits to accumulate right before someone turns 30. When I read (or, rather, listened to) the book Essentialism a few months ago and this list of my bad habits hit me, that’s when I started making small, positive changes to all of the above.

I’m happy to say I’ve already cut back my workload significantly (which is much harder than it sounds- it’s not the pay cut I mind, I just hate goodbyes to good schools and colleagues!), started spending more time with friends, working out again, eating better food, cutting out caffeine, and sleeping more (something I didn’t realize I’d missed so much).

There’s a semi-depressing list of ‘5 Regrets of the Dying’ that I keep in a box somewhere. I read it in an article years ago, and apparently so did a lot of other people. Every once in a while I’ll see that someone has posted it on social media again.

This year my goals are about not being able to relate to that list, and to be sure I fill my life with the things that will matter in the end. I do a pretty decent job at living without regrets and living life to the fullest, but I want to be sure that by the end of 2016 this list in no way resonates with me.

Without further adieu, the ‘5 Regrets of the Dying’:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so work.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

At this point, I’m very much on track. I already have monthly standing dates set aside to spend time with family, and friends, and a plan to be more honest with people who have expectations of me that don’t match up with my true self.

In our society, it’s not always easy to do what’s best for you, especially when it becomes increasingly harder to determine what that even is. It wasn’t easy realizing that I was working too much (my work is where I hide away- and it’s very cozy there, easier than facing thoughts and feelings that have somehow been buried and need to be dealt with). I wasn’t way off track, but to truly live without regrets and without feeling like time is slipping away from me, it was important to make changes and to vow to the following in 2016:

  1. Spend more time with friends and family on a weekly basis.
  2. Workout and run consistently (consider doing another half marathon).
  3. Take advantage of working from home by taking as many small and big trips as possible.

To most people, this list might not look like much, but it’s my 2016, and I’m excited to see what I can make of it.

Happy living, and Happy New Year!