Tag Archives: advice

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!

Dear 23-Year-Old Self…

Last week, WordPress’s Daily Post posed the blog topic: If you could have a 5 minute conversation with yourself 10 years ago, what would you say? I’m game, so let’s set the scene: I am 23 and it is February of 2001. I’m about six months into my first job at a public relations agency. I’m still at home after moving back from college, but it’s cool. The economy rocks and I’m pretty much just rolling along. In my 5 minutes, here are the 6 pieces of advice I would impart to my younger, dapper self:

1. In 7 years, you will turn 30. About four minutes into your 30th year, your metabolism will pack a bag and joyfully head south to live out its days in retirement on a beach. It won’t even leave a note.

There will be no major visible change to the outside eye, but you will have to start making conscious efforts to stay healthy and maintain your weight. I implore you, start these habits now! Modify your diet, learn to cook, and above all, start exercising. The earlier you make these changes, the easier it will be to carry them out throughout your life. Otherwise, at 33, you’ll be the queen of excuses to skip the gym.

2. Circles don’t fit into squares. Stop trying so hard to convince yourself otherwise.  In a few years, your best friend will give you a card with Buddha’s quote: “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.” You will keep it on your counter for years and years (still do). You will even quote it at social gatherings, pretending you are a cultural scholar of sorts.  But you won’t really believe it for a long time. Believe it.

3. Save your money. Not because of an uncertain economy or the rising costs of higher education, but because around 2008, I want you to invest in a self-serve frozen yogurt franchise. People will think you are crazy. They will say, “but we already have TCBY.” Ignore them. And soon, over a cup of red velvet cupcake yogurt mixed with a little bit of cake batter topped with sprinkles, they will apologize for doubting you.

4. Travel abroad! We already regret not studying abroad in college, don’t make the same mistake during this early part in your adult life while you are still living at home and have few expenses.

5. Take a graphic or website design type of class at a community college. Actually, I probably didn’t need to tell myself that 10 years ago. I need to tell myself that now.

6. You know that voice (which sometimes manifests itself as stomach pains on Sunday nights) that keeps telling you that you don’t really like your current job or the industry you chose? Listen to it. You eventually will, but you could do it a lot sooner. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. And one day you will make a living out of telling people that it’s okay to change their mind about career decisions.

I don’t mean to present these as regrets (besides not studying abroad in college, I meant that one) because they are not. And I suspect that in 10 years, I will look back at my 33-year-old self and have plenty of “if I knew then what I know now” wisdom to share as well. But it wouldn’t be life without figuring it out for yourself. Your current self, that is.

What would you share with yourself 10 years ago? Would you even want to talk to yourself? I’m kind of afraid of what my hair would look like. I don’t think I bought a CHI until 2004.