Whew! I just completed week 3 of my first 7 week course as a full time faculty member. Teaching University Studies, University Writing, and Critical Thinking to students just starting their college experience – or perhaps back from an extended break – is a true joy and privilege. Over the next year, I intend to share my experiences here. I will leave the data crunching and success metrics to the experts at University of Phoenix. What I wish to share are impressions, interesting anecdotes, and light advice for anyone interested in the college experience, particularly that fraught first year.
My first piece of advice? Work in a community you care about. I am fortunate to say I have been able to serve students from Inland Southern California (aka – Inland Empire, aka – Inlandia, aka “that place east of LA”) since 2004. I tell my students the first day:
“Listen, I’m here for selfish reasons. As members of my community, if I help you finish your degree, you will likely be happier with your career. That career happiness translates into economic improvements for where I live. Which in turn improves revenues which can be used to improve schools, services and infrastructure. I help you, my community wins, I win!”
My first observation? The less I talk, the more they listen. When I start the discussion and pass it off to them, they pay attention to each other. Here’s how they helped me build MY faculty schedule. At the third hour of a four hour class!
My first lesson? Set your expectations high. I erroneously assumed that since I would be teaching freshman, they may not be well prepared and need MANY HOURS of work just to get them up to speed. I have found myself in the enviable position of seeking out advanced activities to bring to the classroom to keep them from becoming bored! Thanks to the book, An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi (free plug, I am not a paid hack – www.bookofbadarguments.com) I know that was the logical fallacy of a Hasty Generalization. Thanks Ali!
I could go on, for pages, but will stop here. Thanks for listening! Next week we are discussing learning styles, study habits and ways analyze and discuss the writing of others. Any suggestions to help those topics? Most welcome!