pameladlloyd: icon from <lj comm=musesrealm> (Not All Who Wander Are Lost)
Hello, Everybody!

Recently, I signed up with SoulNeeds, which describes itself as "the conscious social network." I'm not particularly active on there (no surprise, there, huh?), but I do enjoy receiving their email newsletter, "The Daily SoulFeed."

Today's newsletter started with the following:
To be the best in anything you have to be curious about everything and take nothing for granted.

Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the last century described himself as "neither especially clever nor especially gifted." Then he added, "I am only very, very curious."

Be eager to learn. Be fascinated by the strange passions of human beings. Always ask questions. Be in pursuit of the strange and unusual. Discover and explore always!

As someone who has always enjoyed learning—even when I didn't enjoy school, which was the usual case while I was in elementary school, and all too often in high school—I can really appreciate this sentiment. My curiosity has even been noticed by my coworkers, here at the Learning Center. When I shared today's message with them, one of the other tutors commented on my willingness to find out more about anything that comes up that is new to me. As a tutor, it's really great to know that I am modeling this behavior for the students I work with.

I believe this is also a quality usually found in good writers. Certainly, many of my writer-friends have discussed the lure of research, which may, if not held in check, take them on paths that wander far from the intended goal. When time is precious, and when isn't it, we may feel that we are being self-indulgent in taking wandering research trips. Perhaps this is so, in the short term, but over the length of our lives, I believe that much of what we gain from these unplanned journeys into knowledge will prove to be serendipitous in ways we might never guess, beforehand.
pameladlloyd: icon from <lj comm=musesrealm> (Not All Who Wander Are Lost)
I'm at the Learning Center, between students, and getting ready to brush up on my algebra skills (I've started helping students with math, as well as writing), and I came across the following quote in an algebra text:

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

I love the quote, but must acknowledge that there's a bit of irony in my use today, since I'm attempting to remaster something I had previously mastered, but have since forgotten.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Kitty Call Out)
A friend of mine, Paul Tumarkin, is involved with producing a Cyber Summit on 21st Century Skills in association with The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Cyber Summit is being held in conjunction with the National Summit on 21st Century Skills in Washington, D.C. on June 12. It's free to register and the events will include a series of free live webinars, to be held between June 1-10, as well as online discussions on multiple topics. If you are involved in education, come join in the discussion and help shape the future of education.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (child's play)
The course I teach at Tucson College is a required course for students going into all programs offered at the school, with the exception of the Certified Nursing Assistant and Electrical Technician programs. It's the first class the students take at the school, so it's their introduction to Tucson College (and, for most, to higher education, in general). I'm their first instructor at the school, so my ability to engage them in the learning process and to reinforce their commitment to school is a key factor in their future success.

The subject I teach, Career Development, sounds simple on the surface. In just forty hours, spread over eight days*, I am expected to teach my students the skills they need to be successful in school and in the workplace. I'm supported in my efforts by a fourteen chapter textbook. This text was, I believe, written primarily to support entering freshmen at a traditional university, although it occasionally acknowledges the additional hurdles that returning students may face.

For some of our students, it is the perfect choice of text: one young woman, an intelligent twenty-something who dropped out of high school and is now determined to give herself a future better than the past she has experienced, stood at the door, ready to leave, clutching the textbook to her chest as she told me she wished she'd had this book all her life. Another, also a strong student, sees much of what we cover as superfluous and wonders why we have to spend so much time on things that are just common sense and that all children should have learned at their mothers' knees. I could only point out that our students come from many different backgrounds and that many are finding the text useful. I can also only hope that I am speaking the truth when I say "many," because I know that several are struggling with the material. The reading assignments I make, of necessity, are long, and I worry that students who have weak backgrounds and poor reading skills may be having difficulty with the text, which scores as requiring a high reading level.**

The primary focus of our textbook is on teaching students how to be peak performers. Peak performers, we learn, are not people who have already reached the pinnacle of success, but rather people who understand that they are the person who is responsible for their own success and who have the attitudes and work ethic that will help them to achieve their goals. We put a lot of attention on understanding the many different qualities that lead to being a successful person in all facets of life, and on understanding one's own learning styles (important both for self-assessment and to help students maximize their learning). Our text also has a chapter on maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual health, and I've placed a fair amount of emphasis on this, as I know that many of my students aren't living healthy lifestyles, if only because a number of them are going to school, working, and the parents of young children, a stressful and demanding combination.

Much of the class is intended to be motivational, so when I came home between classes on Thursday only to have my husband drag me to the computer so I could watch Susan Boyle's stunning performance (which had us both tearing up), I knew immediately that this was a video I wanted to share with my students. It made a great starting point for our Friday classes, serving as a chance to give the students a break in their routine, as well as serving as the starting point for a discussion that reinforced many of the messages I've been teaching.

To switch to the more personal side of what I'm doing, I'm busy and my days are very long. I have very little time for myself and the four hours of overtime I'm permitted don't even come close to the amount of time I've had to spend, so far, in order to keep up with my students, although I can hope that will get better as I settle into the course and teaching. But, I am extraordinarily thrilled to be doing what I'm doing. I love this job and my students. (Yes, I've said it before, but I still can't get over how wonderful this experience is.) I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to do something that is so directly connected to helping others do well in life. This is a great subject to be teaching, too. I'm learning so much, and seeing myself differently. As I've pointed out to my students, one of the the best ways to learn something is to teach it.

footnotes )


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