Captain Piccard on the Starship Enterprise gives the order “Engage!” and once again they are all moving into another adventure.
In the classroom Engageis also the beginning of an adventure. Sure, it doesn’t involve the Borg, nor does it come down to life and death, BUT, it is the starting point for change that could very well spell the difference between success and failure.
Engaging in the classroom is an action that students choose. When the choice is to engage you can see it in their willingness to ask questions, to respond to questions when called upon and to actively volunteer to demonstrate their grasp of the material. These are the students who actually read the assignments and ask questions about what they don’t understand . . . and keep asking until the Instructor can make it clear. Those who engage always demonstrate a better grasp of the course material and are better able to make the leap to higher orders of creative thinking.
Contrast this with those who just show up for class, sit quietly, and wait to be “filled-up” by the Instructor. Sadly, they are usually disappointed in the class and the Instructor, leaving the class having checked off a box, but gained very little in actual knowledge or the ability to use the information to better themselves or their situation.
You get to choose – sit in the back or the front, sit quietly or speak up, doodle or take notes, skim the material or actually read the assignments, fluff your writing or actually strive to answer the questions at depth.
So, I’m going to encourage you to engage! To apply yourself in the classroom and see what a difference it makes.
EVERYTHING!! It is easy to see this wherever you go. If something in your life is not going well, assume you have the ability to improve the situation. Ask yourself, “what can I do to lead myself, and or others to a different and better solution or practice.” If good things are happening, it is because someone is exercising leadership (it might be you!). If mediocrity prevails, it is because someone isn’t leading very effectively (it might be you!).
Shortly out of college, many years ago, I found myself as Pastor of a small congregation in Pennsylvania. In that role I learned a few things which have definitely contributed to my life since then. One of those has to do with public speaking.
Preaching, even to a small crowd, can be intimidating. This is true on so many levels, but the one which crosses over to the student experience is the fact that the more you do anything, the better you typically get at it. Preaching two or three times a week honed my presentation skills. I read additional books on how to preach effectively and practiced different styles. When God led me into higher education I was easily able to transition into the classroom, because I had become comfortable in front of an audience.
The Growth Mindset indicates that while some may have a natural talent for something, like public speaking, anyone can develop skills and abilities to excel and even surpass those with more talent, who refuse to apply themselves. My experience as a Pastor demonstrated the truth of that to me. But, becoming better at public speaking or anything else requires effort.
That takes me to the title of this post: “Seek Opportunities to Present.” Volunteering to present in class about any subject will do two things, it will continue to improve your ability to make effective presentations, and you will learn the material better, and retain the information longer. Really, apart from the nerves, it is a win-win proposition.
A colleague of mine often stated that higher education is the only business where the customers are willing to take less than they paid for, and actually ask to be short-changed. By that he was referring to the fact that students will almost always jump at a chance to get out of class early, or have their assignments shortened. I know this to be true, because I was once a student too, and that was part of my perspective.
I was talking with a young lady a few months ago about her educational goals. I asked where she planned to go to college. She indicated a school more than an hour away, even though there were schools locally that had the same program. When I inquired why she would drive that far for the same program, she said that the school she wanted to go to had a reputation for being easier. She was enrolling in a nursing program . . . think about it.
Another student I talked to indicated she never read the assignments and was doing just fine. A different student in a more advanced class also wasn’t reading the assignments but was struggling to grasp the material. I often hear the statement “we are having to teach ourselves,” and it occured to me that you might not understand the dynamics of Adult Degree Completion programs, which is what Belhaven University’s Adult Studies is based on, so I thought I’d explain it.
If you were a traditional undergraduate student you would be attending class two or three times a week over a 16 week semester for a total of 40 seat hours. The Adult Studies model has you in class for the same 3 credit hour course for only 20 hours condensed into 5 weeks. We can do this for two reasons:
By having you read the material ahead of time and attempt the homework, you come to class better prepared to ask questions and with a better understanding of what you need to have clarified. This is a crucial piece and what is often confused with “teaching yourself.” Of course, that means to get the fullest benefit from your course you need to read the assigned material, attempt the assignments to the best of your ability, and meet in class for the full time. Your engagement in the class sessions makes a big difference in what you learn. This model effectively saves you 20 extra hours of sitting in a classroom setting!
Because you are adults, your experiences increase your ability to take the material and integrate it into your life better than an 18-22 year old could. You are better able to see connections between what you are learning and real-life applications; which makes it possible to shorten the learning process, again, saving you many additional hours in the classroom.
I hope this has helped put things into perspective for you. I want you to succeed, but it won’t happen accidentally. It will require real effort on your part and you will benefit most from a passion to get ALLyou paid for by fully applying yourself.
Imagine your boss comes to you and is irate over something you have done or not done. From your perspective the issue didn’t seem to be significant enough to warrant the boss’ tone of voice, or choice of words. Which takes me to my point: If the response seems out of proportion to the provocation, then you should strongly suspect there are other factors contributing to the response. Check out the video below:
Ethical practice seems to imply righteousness. I know that isn’t the definition of ethical behavior but it is what most of us would understand when someone is said to be ethical. When ethical practice actually does equate with righteousness, then things go well, the business prospers and God is honored. But when your personal or business ethic deviates from righteousness, trouble is not far behind. Check out the video below:
If your boss asks you to do something, unless it is unethical or immoral, DO IT! Do whatever is asked with excellence and ahead of schedule. You may not understand why you were asked to do that specific task, or you may feel that the task is beneath you; that’s not your call. Your call is to be an exemplary employee or find a different job. Don’t turn a molehill into a mountain. Check out the Proverb below for more:
If you don’t have a teachable spirit you will constantly wonder why you are being persecuted… or avoided. In fact, if you regularly feel persecuted by your superior, or instructor, it could be a sign that you do NOT have a teachable spirit. Henry Cloud calls these people fools. Fools may be … Check out the proverb below:
When I was in college I took some psychology courses. One of the things I remember from that experience was the professor stating: “Stress will ALWAYS find a way to express itself.” I’ve found that to be true. It might be loss of sleep, biting your nails, headaches, grinding your teeth at night, being exceptionally cranky, etc. Stress will always find a way to express itself. Our job is to recognize the symptoms of stress and then drill down to find healthy ways to manage that stress. See the proverb below:
Really everybody needs multiple mentors across their entire life. So get as many as possible. I have had a few that deeply influenced my life. Some of my mentors taught me important lessons about what to do and how to live. From others I learned lessons about what not to do and practices to avoid. I don’t think I was very successful at finding or connecting with as many mentors as I could have. Check out the short video below: