Finishing Out the Week – Is Senioritis Contractable?

Finishing out this week is a welcome ending to a very chaotic series of events, both personal and professional. The best news of the week is getting an offer to be a full-time instructor over the summer in my beloved New Orleans. So now the frenzy begins – moving, checking out the summer rentals, working on when to officially leave road trip-style. It’s enough to make anyone feel completely overwhelmed!

But as you know, life never just hands you one thing to fret/get frustrated over. I had to grade huge piles of MLA research papers from my TWO Composition classes, totalling about 25-30 papers ranging from 5-10 pages in length. You do the math. But it wasn’t the fact that I had to grade these papers that made me feel discouraged, it was the overall content and organization of a certain set of papers that made me want to cry.

Let me explain. As an educator, I try to be as transparent as possible with my expectations for class participation, class discussions, homework, and essays. That is why I hand out very detailed syllabi with the breakdown of course material that will be covered every week of the semester. I painstakendly sculpted course material to advance gradually so students could steadily improve in their writing and critical content. Because a MLA research paper is chronically much more intense and difficult for students, I took great care in assigning simpler papers at the beginning of the semester, gradually intensifying the material to prepare students for this major assignment. I make myself completely available to students during office hours and via email. I spent many class meetings outlining the paper’s guidelines and offered MANY resources that students can refer to to help them in their endeavor. In short, I did EVERYTHING I was supposed to do.

Despite all of this active precautions and preparation, I have had to read papers that lack the basic guidelines I have outlined since the beginning of the semester in January. Essay headings are deformed, typos and spelling errors run amuck, in-text citations and peer-viewed drafts are missing in action, and repetition makes the reading stale.

I have been talking to my colleagues in the office and they are experiencing the same frustration with their own students. Somehow some students have forgotten the work ethic and professionalism they had learned from their college classes this semester. Is senioritis contagious? Can it be contracted through the campus air conditioning, drinking fountains or cafeteria food? I am afraid for everyone!

I think the reason why we educators take this so hard is because we care WAY TOO MUCH. I mean, this isn’t a profession known for its lucrative paychecks. You get into this profession because you genuinely LOVE what you do – you love mentoring and helping students ascend to their best selves “by any means necessary.” And that is why you stay up late crafting interesting course material, writing syllabi, and finding supplementary materials that we get you and your students excited about learning.

So to see the bright side of the situation, I refer to my students who really “GET IT” – the students who see what you see in the importance of this class and its material. They are the people I work for and give selflessly to. They are the light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Thank you for seeing ME the way I see YOU – empathetic critical learners, writers, and citizens of the global community.

“All You Need is Love” – An Innate Awareness and Direct Action of Human Events

This past Thursday, I had the wonderful privilege of planning a film screening of 2009’s Across the Universe at a college’s theater.  I set this event up for my two Composition classes as a diversion from regular classwork (even though the ulterior motive was to foster critical thinking and connecting the dots of human experience from 1960s to 2011).

While it was a meager showing (only 13 students came),  it was a beautiful showing.  A few students even brought cookies for the event.  I was touched because I wasn’t planning to have food at all.  I suggested bringing enough food for “the class” (of 15-20) but I know my students are strapped for cash (even more than me).  I didn’t want to push the issue.  Despite that, there was a great showing of fellowship snacks and shockingly, DINNER!

One of the students who worked as a pizza delivery driver donated six pies of pizza to the event, saying that his manager even donated an extra pie because the event was “for college kids and they sure will be hungry.”  I almost cried!  This generosity was the embodiment of the film’s theme (and the students didn’t even know it yet).

I also thought about how I can make the theme of the film have practical applications to our world now.  The morning before the screening I was listening to my playlist on shuffle and my MP3 player played a song I haven’t heard a few years at least – “We Are The World” of 1985.  As I listened the lyrics (which I know by heart), I realized that this event could be more than just a diversion from class; it had the potential to make history (even if it is just for these classes and this college).

So I decided to make the event a mini-fundraiser for the American Red Cross towards the Japan Disaster Relief.  The suggested donation was $5 but any donation would be accepted.  Before we watched the film, I collected donations that totaled $37.  That might seem small to some people but knowing my students and the financial stresses they carry with them daily, I was very honored that they offered what little they had to such a worthwhile cause.  That is a memory I was always remember.

Who knows what else we’ll do this semester? Visiting the Smithsonian a-la-To Sir, With Love?  Having an End-of-the Semester Party in DC? Get invited to the White House by the President and the First Lady? The President and the First Lady visiting US on-campus?  The sky is the limit! Stay posted!

“Don’t Take My Kindness for Weakness” – Moving “On To The Next One”

So like always (or every couple of days), my roommate and I got into an argument over unwarranted assumptions, arrogance, and general disrespect. But yesterday morning, the argument took a sinister tone.

My roommate needed a ride to work at 11 but I had to go in to work early because I had some clerical work to do before my 9:30AM class. He assumed that since my job is very close by and my work doesn’t really “start” until 9:30AM, he could take as long as HE wanted to get ready. Naturally, that logic was extremely flawed. There is MORE to my job than just teaching and I relayed that to him. I later addressed the fact that if he doesn’t inquire (or seem interested in knowing) about my work life, he will continue to assume a whole lot of flawed logic. The argument intensified where he called me “immature,” that I was “acting like I was better than him,” and that I was not accepting the “fact” that he was “doing the best [he] can do” by working full-time and getting a paycheck.

When you know a person for more than ten years (I have known my roommate for 19 years), you have a stable sense of who this person is and more importantly, you know his/her potential to impact the world. So when you hear excuses from this same person to not tap into that potential, you listen intently but know that those excuses are holding this person back from his/her destiny. That’s what I told him but instead of hearing how much potential I believe he has, all he heard was that he wasn’t trying hard enough and got defensive. Once he gets defensive, he starts yelling and I stop listening (call it a woman thing).

I realized that his emotional maturity is underdeveloped and the “chip on [his] shoulder” will make it impossible to have any honest conversation about his future. I also realized that it wasn’t up to me to “save” him – he has to want to save himself first.

So now he is planning on moving out at the end of the month and personally, I’m relieved. I won’t be tethered to his insecurity anymore. So naturally, I’m “on the next one” as Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter would say in his song. At this point, I am all about self-progression.

Being an Adult – Just Making Money Doesn’t Make You “Grown”

As my Spring Break slowly comes to an end, I am very appreciative of the time off because it allowed me to rest and make plans for the future (more specifically, the summer and the upcoming fall).  It also allowed me to make some realizations about where I am in my life.

I realized that living from paycheck to paycheck is not living at all; it’s surviving.  It keeps the lights on, food in the fridge, gas in the car, needed clothes on your back, and a place to stay for another month. I spent my twenties nickel-and-diming from one job to another (and even two or three at once to make ends meet) and realized that those days need to become less and less if I have any hope of becoming the strong, independent woman that I want to be.

For that to happen, my skills need to be recognized by employers with full-time job opportunities.  Therefore, marketing and creating exposure for those skills are paramount.  So in a way,  this blog is part of my marketing package.  Freelancing is also another part.  My dream is to become a writer and live (and work) in either New Orleans or New York City.  Just throwing that out to the universe.

But “what I know for sure” is that making money does not insure “success” as an adult.  Anyone can make money in many different ways – some legally but many illegally.  A bi-weekly paycheck is the product; as an adult, one has to focus on the process that creates the product.  What are you doing to get that paycheck? What OTHER skills and life experiences are you cultivating in the process?

These kinds of qualities are not tangible objects to be counted like cash but nonetheless, they are more valuable than a thousand paychecks! Qualities like emotional maturity, responsibility,character, and integrity are just a few things that transform you from a kid working from job to job to an adult pursuing a lifelong career.

I’m not a kid anymore and if anyone claims to be an adult, those qualities need to become a priority because no employer wants a kid as a lifelong employee.  Companies want adults that are more than just worker bees.  They want people with those intangible qualities that can eventually become the Queen (or King) Bee.

To Be Human Is To Be Current on the Latest Developments of Human Events – How To Help the Victims of the Japan Disaster

Last year, the global (and digital) community came together to help the victims of Haiti after the terrible earthquake murdered thousands and displaced even more people from their homes, families,  and friends.  We now have the unfortunate opportunity to do the same for the people of Japan.  Please visit the following link and find out how you can help with this tragedy.  Every little bit helps! Thank you in advance!

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20473235,00.htm