by Dr. Paul T. Criss, Dean – Memphis/DeSoto
Coming back from the Christian Adult Higher Education Association Conference 2018, I have been reflecting on several ideas that were presented that I would like to unpack over a couple articles.
The plenary speaker, Dr. Mary Kay Park, Executive Managing Director of the Far East Broadcasting Company – Korea in Los Angeles, presented several intriguing ideas. The one that greatly intrigued me personally was this statement: “Currently there is a ‘boundary-less-ness’ in careers. The shape of the career has changed – today’s young people will change employers twelve to fifteen times and careers nine to eleven times. We are not preparing students for a single job market, we are preparing them for twelve to fifteen employer scenarios and nine to eleven career scenarios.”
That provoked some reflection on how our classrooms will likely change. In addition to focusing on the content of the course, the faculty member must also focus on all of the intangibles that need to be brought to bear on student learning. Not only the typical hard and soft skill development, but also teaching and developing flexibility, resilience, and grit/perseverance. These essential skills are needed for the diverse future that may lie ahead.
Dr. Park continued to explain three areas that disrupt a student’s pathway to success. The first is situational barriers – things like time limit and cost. The second is institutional barriers – policies and procedures that may discourage or exclude students. The third area is dispositional barriers – personal perception, attitude, and support. As faculty, we may not be able to address the first and second barriers, but we certainly can address the third. But how? How do you help improve a student’s perception of themselves, of Belhaven, and of the future that God has in store?
Disneyland and Disneyworld conducted a study by asking attendees to rate their experience throughout their day at their amusement park. On a scale of 1-10 how good is the experience at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and throughout the day. The average experience was 8.6. How would one look back at that a few months later? Would you remember? Everyone remembers the higher scores. WE only remember the peaks and then we average the peaks. What are students remembering from their experience in your classroom? What are they sharing at dinner parties? With current Belhaven Students? With potential Belhaven students? How is that an anchor point for them as they maneuver through their career journey?
Dr. Park suggested focusing on the “power of moments” – teachable moments – peak moments that will be remembered. How do you create more peak moments in your classroom? Perhaps find ways to embed God’s truth into practical life application. Share personal and professional experiences that have shaped you. Bring into the forefront those experiences that changed the trajectory of your career. Moments that made you more resilient, flexible, and gritty. Students in Tennessee attest that the number one reason they persisted in their studies is that they had a meaningful moment with a faculty member outside of the classroom. Be available in the hallway, prior to class, or at a student appreciation event. Be intentional about learning each of your students’ name. Find something about each student to which you can relate – it will help you remember them. Create those peak moments in your classroom and improve the trajectory of your students’ lives.