Monthly Archives: August 2012

What Makes A Great Professor?

Well folks, it’s been an amazing summer, but as the bell tolls for August 24 today, the literal and figurative honeymoon is over.

With the advent of the back-to-school season and the signs of life on campus, it has become very real that in, um, three days, I am teaching a college class for the first time. Call me Professor JB! (But actually don’t, because I don’t have a Ph.D. and people are really weird about that “professor” title).

But however you name it, someone has deemed me acceptable to welcome new freshmen into college life and stare into their “when will it end?” eyes every Tuesday morning for an hour. This will be one of my biggest professional challenges in my career and I want to do it right.

I’m not striving to be the coolest teacher in the building. Or the most inspiring one who gets mentioned as changing their lives when these students win their Nobel prizes or whatever grand award that business people get (ohmygosh, how am I teaching a business class??).

Basically, I don’t need to be the Dumbledore of the university. Though that would be awesome. Especially if I was a wizard and had wizardry. And a pensieve so I could go back in time. And do business teachers read Harry Potter?! THIS IS WHY I GET CONCERNED!

But anyway, I do want to provide value to my students through this one-hour class. I want to challenge them to work with their peers, contribute to a class discussion and connect with the personal goals they want to achieve while in school and beyond… you know, all those college-y things. While doing this, I want the students to walk away from this class feeling like they have built a strong (or at least middleweight) foundation for their business education and their college success. My biggest fear is that their evaluations at the end of the semester will read: “The instructor was nice and tried hard, but I didn’t really learn anything.”

Honestly, that one line of text that has yet to be written by anyone keeps me up at night!

So here is where I need your help friends and readers! Besides knowing the course material (which I figure I still have a whole weekend to learn, right?), what made your favorite college professor so powerful? What did they do to make an impact on you in class? Any tips are so appreciated!

If you’re a student, teacher, parent, or just have to start driving through school zones again, happy back to school!

UPDATE: I asked my friend’s 11-year-old nephew today what he believes makes a great teacher and this was his response: They are nice, patient, and don’t just call on the people who always raise their hands, but get the whole class involved. I thought it was so sweet and insightful, so I wanted to share. I appreciate everyone’s feedback!

Closing Ceremony of Olympic Blogging

Psst…. the Olympics have been on for the last two weeks.

And as I get ready to settle in for a night of Closing Ceremonies from London, I realize none of the ideas I had for posts about the Olympics came to fruition. But I don’t want my little blog to miss its time in the sun (or rather the overcast, in honor of our host nation). So a few concluding thoughts:

No Silver Lining?

The silver medal pouting and whining has been well-covered throughout the games, most hilariously in this Tumblr blog: http://mckaylaisnotimpressed.tumblr.com/ and most scientifically in this article. It’s easy to understand the disappointment a silver medalist feels at missing the gold and the euphoria a bronze medalist feels at making the cut.

But seriously, from gymnastics (which personally I felt there was way too much talk from commentators about how “emotional” the gymnasts are) to track to diving, I can’t remember ever seeing so much sulking when being named the second best in the world. Perhaps I don’t relate to this as the closest I have gotten to this level of competition was when I placed second in headline writing at Texas’s annual statewide UIL competition for high school journalism. And I was freaking ecstatic!

I can only imagine that our mandate to identify “overwhelming favorites” in each sport and competition is as much a factor of this as the athlete’s own goals. I hope that all of the Maroney’s, Komova’s and Bo’s leave can leave London with a feeling of pride in their amazing accomplishments. I’ll even share my UIL medal.

Olympic viewing

While I would love to pour over every story, competitor profile, host nation factoid and ageless Bob Costas smirk that comes around only every two years with Olympic coverage, I just don’t have the time. Especially if I am also going to stay up to date with Big Brother and Bachelor Pad (not to mention working, eating and sleeping).

In this Olympic period, I perfected watching a five-hour broadcast in 45 minutes and did not feel like I missed anything. For future reference, choosing from the following short-cuts can be effective if you are pressed for time:

  • No back stories. (This is difficult as these human interest pieces of the athletes are just as much a part of the games as the competitions, but use your judgment — do you need another story on Michael Phelps?)
  • See Ryan Seacrest, fast-forward immediately. Same with Mary Carillo. It’s the only way.
  • So much time is spent on the athletes getting to their starting position or replaying the race THAT JUST HAPPENED five times. This is especially true in swimming and track. So I say you can watch Usain Bolt win, but not celebrate his victory for 15 minutes. Use your time at work the next day to watch highlights online.
  • No medal ceremonies. Unless the gold medalist is crying.

Lasting Images

I’m too scared to post actual images for copyright reasons, but some things that I will remember as the London games come to an end are:

  • The eventual 400m men’s winner Kirani James from Grenada switching racing bibs with South African double amputee Oscar Pistorious after Pistorious didn’t qualify for the final race.
  • Anything involving Pistorious. He’s inspiring, humble and hot. And has that great South African accent. But mostly for the inspiring part.
  • NBC keeping the camera close to Lebron James and Kobe Bryant during the Opening Ceremonies. You know, because we never get to see how they react in a major sporting event.
  • The random appearance of Bob Costas’s awesome Harry Potter glasses.
  • Allyson Felix. How adorable is she? I will buy all 214 items that she will soon be sponsoring.
  • Any Bela Karolyi interview. I like to guess at what he might actually be saying.
  • The P&G “moms” commercials. And all of the parent reactions.
  • William, Kate and Harry. Swoon.

And so much more! But now it’s time to wrap these games up. As a whole, I like the summer Olympics more than winter, but the winter Olympics have figure skating, so on to 2014 in Sochi, Russia!

What were your favorite moments of these Olympics? Are you ready to go to bed at a decent time again?

Finding Your Inner Font

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I have nothing to do.

As with most people, I don’t experience this total lack of time commitment often. I have already gone to the gym, watched the Olympic gold medal trampoline competition (bouncy!), and written my daily goal of wedding thank-you notes (two, because I need an instant feeling of accomplishment). Although it’s beckoning to me, if I watch our recording of Bachelor Pad before JB gets home from golf, our brief marriage might be in jeopardy. And running errands just doesn’t sound appealing since it’s 212 degrees outside.

So I sit, with no excuses left to avoid confronting my writer’s block of the past months. Since getting married, I had hoped that I could re-focus all of the time and energy that went into wedding planning back to my blog. I have felt so inspired to write, with ideas running through my head at all times and the unfinished drafts of posts to prove it. I kept starting, but quickly lost the motivation to finish, unimpressed with anything I had written and all of it sounding like I was trying too hard to be witty or deep or both.

But after much soul-searching and reflection, in this afternoon of idleness, I think I finally identified what has been holding me back: FONT. SELECTION.

The idea of writing yet another post in Times New Roman was how I imagine an Olympic swimmer feels when they get out of the pool and see reporter Andrea Kremer waiting for them. Please, not you again! And while I can’t upgrade broadcasters, I can upgrade WordPress themes.

You noticed, right? Look again. Yeah, baby! I think we can all agree that the Balance Overload experience has been revolutionized for blogger and reader alike. (I also updated my “About Me” page, which has been another source of discontent for a while.)

You might be thinking that all of this focusing on the aesthetic aspect of my blog is really yet another distraction to evade the deeper question of what do I really want to accomplish with this site? What is my voice and what do I want to say?

And to that, I respond…. look at this new photo collage site I learned about from Leah’s Thoughts! It’s a great distraction enhancement for blogging! And it’s a great to excuse to showcase wedding pictures. I thought it only fair since all of you have followed me on this wedding journey. (Yeah, I know, who am I fooling, it’s totally for my own amusement.)

Wedding photos courtesy of Tim Hord Photography and printed with permission from JB

while he’s napping.

Look, I know I just wrote a whole blog post about changing my font and then gratuitously threw in wedding pictures. And if you read it and thought to yourself “WTH is she doing wasting my time with this crap, some of us actually have things to do this afternoon”, then please know, I appreciate it. It is said when you have writer’s block that you just have to write. About anything. Get the juices flowing again. So this is my attempt. I’m hoping my font change is just a signal of a new start in blogging.

PS: My new upgrade also allows me to change the color scheme of my blog. If my writer’s block continues, things could get all-out crazy.

How do you handle a lack of motivation, whether in writing or anything else?