Blogging, college campus, learning, Personal growth

5 Lessons teaching has taught me

Another semester is winding down. As exam week nears, I’m prompted to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned through teaching college students for the past few years.

I should preface this by saying, I never imagined myself in a teaching position. Getting a last minute request to help fill in for a professor on family leave, I agreed. Little did I know how much I would love it. I quickly realized the opportunity and honor it is to positively impact the lives of so many young people.

Honestly, I often feel like a student myself. I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. The discussions and questions posed by students in classes force me to think deeper, consider opinions I haven’t, and help me to see things from beyond my own perspective. The following list includes some of the lessons I’ve learned so far. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with every class of students.

5 Lessons learned from teaching

  1. Have an open-mind. Students are growing up in a world very different from the one we grew up in. Knowing this helps in understanding how and why they think differently.
  2. Everyone can be successful, if they want to be. Passing my classes is not hard, it requires commitment. Most students have it, sadly some do not.
  3. Listening takes practice. Learn to listen, I mean really listen and not think about whether you agree/disagree and how you’ll respond. Biting your tongue and focusing are a lot harder than you think.
  4. Recognize your personal biases, and get past them. We all have them, but we don’t all recognize them. Once you do, you will no longer judge others. An important step — in teaching and life.
  5. Be humble. I may have years more life experience than my students, but I don’t know everything … not even close. Every day students open my eyes to things I never knew and would not know if not for them teaching me. This keeps me humble and grounded.

Before entering the classroom, I received a piece of sage advice from a long-time mentor and now fellow colleague. It’s something I remind myself of regularly … “you can only teach the ones who want to be taught”. This relates to lesson #2 on my list above … they’ve gotta want it. This stands true in all of life, actually. You know the old saying … you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It is true.

This is perhaps the hardest of all lessons in teaching, and one I can’t say I’ve “learned” yet. It’s hard to not feel responsible for every student. And, I tend to take it personally when a student does not do well.

Admittedly, I need to get over feeling whatever a student does in my class has to do with me. If they’re on their phones, laptops or have earbuds in, I feel disrespected and frustrated. But, I remind myself as hard as I work to reach every student and present lessons in a way that is relevant and interesting — I can only teach those who want to be taught.

I know I will continuously work on learning this lesson. If you are or have ever been in a teaching role, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned.D

Audiobooks, Blogging, Personal growth

Rising popularity of Audiobooks proves our love for storytelling

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My love for storytelling started before my addiction to podcasts. It actually began about 25 years ago. I was making the two hour trip back to Mt. Pleasant from metro Detroit. Our oldest daughter was strapped into her carseat in the back, asleep. I popped a cassette into the player and I was soon fully engrossed in a book — an audiobook.

I can’t recall the exact title of that first audio book. But, I know upon reaching home, I wanted to keep driving to finish the story.  I realized why children love bedtime stories.

Audiobooks are not a new form of media. In fact, back then there were retail stores where you could rent an audiobook. Much like the Blockbuster method, you could rent an audiobook for a few days and return it to the store when done. I frequented a small chain called Talking Books in the metro Detroit area.

The audiobook industry has evolved over the years. Nowadays, it’s much easier to listen to audiobooks. Thanks to sources like Audible, you can download more titles than you can possibly consume. Easy access for sure; available for a fee. The cost can add up, depending how many books you choose to download.

Audiobook listening is growing in popularity. Recent figures from Nielsen Bookscan show sales of audiobooks doubling in the last five years. A group of 18 well-known authors are bypassing print and going directly to audiobook format with a new collection of short stories. Could be the sign of a new trend.

In my constant quest to find things for less, I recently discovered an abundant collection of audiobooks for FREE. Our local public library is an incredible resource. The Chippewa River District Library – Veterans Memorial Branch offers far more than just the titles it owns. By tapping into public libraries throughout Michigan via Digital Media Zone, users can borrow hundreds of titles through the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative.

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Checking out an audiobook can be done without ever walking into a library branch. There’s an app for that, of course. OverDrive app makes it simple and fast to search titles, select an audiobook and download it to your device – aka … cell phone.

If the book you’re interested in is not available, you can place a hold on the book. Once the book on hold is returned to the library, it’s added to your “shelf” ready for downloading. An email alerts you to the book’s availability. You’re allowed two weeks to listen to the book. Upon the deadline, it will automatically be returned to the library. A very efficient process. All done remotely. It doesn’t get much easier or more convenient, and the best part … not late fees.

I’ve always been an avid reader, however over the years, lack of time and exhaustion have limited my reading consumption. Listening to books is a perfect fit for my multitasking lifestyle. Now, while I’m driving, exercising or chores around the house, I’m “reading’.

I’m on my fifth audiobook since discovering freebies from our local library; almost caught up on John Grisham novels. The choices are endless.

Blogging, Habits, happiness, learning, Personal growth, Resolutions

5 habits for personal happiness every day

With all of content related to being happy hitting my radar lately, I’m feeling prompted to write about happiness. I’ve come across a few bloggers who’ve selected a “word for the year.” Perhaps happiness should be mine.

I shared a post on my Facebook page recently — 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People — and it caused me to consider my happiness habits. Looking at the list, I’m not in bad shape. Admittedly, I need to work on a few listed such as no. 4 exercise and no. 7 ignoring my itches. I tend to be a half-full person, and I’m told it’s contagious. I’ve learned you need to guard your happiness and never allow it to be determined by external sources. So, I guess I’m good on no. 3 .

The next article to hit my news feed was this one  from Fast Company6 Simple Habits to Keep You Consistently Happy Every day. While I am an optimist, being consistently happy every day isn’t always the case. However, I like the sound of it. In reviewing writer and founder/CEO of Buffer Joel Gascoigne‘s list of habits, I related to some and came to the conclusion that maybe daily happiness is possible.

Happy habits

In order for me to experience happiness everyday, I decided I ought make my own list of habits to help me get there. Here’s my personal list of happiness habits. It may not be possible to do each of these on a daily basis, but I’m confident practicing a few of them every day can make for more happiness.

  • Share yourself. I learned a number of years ago that my skills are gifts, and these gifts were given for a purpose. Sharing what I know and have learned over the years to help others grow their business or navigate life is the right thing to do. And when you’re doing the right thing, that makes you happy. At times I even get goose bumps, which confirms that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. That always makes me smile.
  • Smile. Smiling represents happiness and smiles are contagious. Flash a smile at someone and you’re sure to get one in return. And once you’ve received a smile from someone else, just try to not smile back. I wrote a post about smiling a few years back and just like Buddy the Elf, smiling is still my favorite.

Happy people

  • Surround yourself with happy people. I believe “you are the people you surround yourself with.” Like it or not we are influenced by the company we keep. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. So choose carefully. And be willing to weed out the Debbie Downers in your life. Kicking off this year I shared a post vowing to surround myself with more creative people in 2014. Happy to report I’ve been making strides on this New Year’s goal. Creative people are also happy people!

“Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness. Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”

  • Learn something new. Your mind is the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness, according to the U.S. News ebook, How to Live to 100, “When people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”  I find I’m in a happy place when I’m engrossed in learning, which of course doesn’t just happen in classroom these days rather online, in a book, an article or best… in a conversation.
  • Pray. Forgetting to practice all of the above can potentially impact the happiness of a day. Neglecting this one is guaranteed to diminish the possibility of any true happiness. I try to start every day by handing the reins over to the one who’s truly in charge. I tend to encounter the greatest challenges when I try to takeover the reins. Keeping myself clearly focused on my “true north” leads to happiness. It’s not always the path I’d planned, but it gets me there if I continue to follow.

Do you have habits that lead to your happiness every day? I’d love to hear them and possibly add them to my list.

happy people shine