As a new school year approaches, students are understandably curious about their professors. Below, in less than 500 words, is a brief “statement of philosophy” which should help you do better both in your course and in your life. It is six snippets of advice:
- If you’re green, you’re growing. If you are ripe, you’re rotten. We all need to practice continuous improvement in everything we do. Higher education teaching wasn’t my first profession. I’ve even joked about being an “accidental professor,” going from an adjunct (part-timer) in 2003-2004 and moving up the college professor ladder, slowly, step by step, over the past 12 years. I earned a certificate in college teaching, a second master’s degree, and a wealth of knowledge and experience about how to teach and how to motivate student learning in the past decade. If a guy who’s nearly 60 can keep learning, you can too.
- You need a S.I.P. a self-improvement plan, for all areas of your life. Yes, academics are important. So is taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Finances are important. Faith is important. Relationships are important. So are family members and loved ones. What’s your strategy to become better in all of these areas? How do you carry out that strategy?
- We all have “other priorities” that can stop or change us. I was studying for an Ed.D. degree (equivalent of a Ph.D.) at Kent State, but a challenging family issue arose. Now helping out my in-laws, who are about 90 years old and living in our home, is a higher priority. Priorities — it depends on what’s really important. In reality, it’s how far we come back AFTER suffering a setback or getting knocked down that really matters. Watch this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXA1jsHYLNs
- If you are honest and transparent with me, you’ll never find a more caring professor dedicated to helping you succeed. My former students have jobs and careers, working at places such as Great Lakes Publishing, WKYC Channel 3, the Cleveland Museum of Art, large public relations agencies, and NBC Universal in Hollywood. They got there through hard work, and through sharing their aspirations with me (and/or other professors). I’ll go to great lengths to encourage my students and help them do well, if they put forth the effort.
- You have been created for something great — greater than you know right now. You want to have all the knowledge and preparation you can so when that opportunity for greatness arrives, you are ready to walk through that door to success.
- We ALL need challenges. It’s how we improve. I’m training right now to run a half-marathon in October. (YES, I have a specific training program and a goal for this event on October 11.) With God’s blessing, the favor and support of my wife, and some good fortune (meaning no accidents or setbacks), I’m confident I can complete the course and rise to the challenge. I’ll be a better and healthier person as a result. Challenge yourself this year. You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of achieving. “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson