Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit of Highly Effective People

Did Abe Lincoln think of it first?

When I think of Stephen Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw, it reminds me of the famous Abraham Lincoln quotation:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ..... (read more)

How to Find an Adjunct Teaching Position

I chuckle a bit when I think about job postings for part time college instructors that call for two years prior teaching experience. It’s the chicken or egg thing. Which comes first? You mean you can’t get a job teaching unless you have had a job teaching? Well, I am being a bit facetious, but the question remains, how do you get a job with little or no prior teaching experience?

Dealing With Difficult College Students

You are going to wonder why I am telling you this story!

I recently read The Devil in the White City. This book weaves together the fascinating history of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition with the macabre, heinous acts of one of the world’s worst serial killers. ..... (read more)

College Instructor – Mini-Lesson #1

A simple way to lose your job.

There will always be students who enroll in courses and drop during the term. I put them into three categories:

  • There is the “infant mortality” group who attend one class and then get while the gettin’ is good.
  • There are those who don’t apply themselves and then, well into the course, realize that they are doomed to failure and drop.
  • And finally, there are those who dislike their instructor and don’t feel he is doing the job. They usually hold out until shortly before or shortly after mid-term. By the way, they often complain “to the boss.”

So, how does an instructor keep students in class? Forget it. Why bother? In fact, don’t worry about it if your goal is to lose your job, because you’re history if you lose a significant percentage of your students. ..... (read more)

A New Way of Looking at Students

I doubt you ever thought of students this way before.

Terms like raw material, assembly line worker, quality control inspector, product, and customer mean something to most of us. Just to be sure we are on a level playing field, I will put these in the context of a clothing manufacturer. Raw materials include the fabric used to make pants. Pieces of fabric are cut to shape and sewn together by an assembly line worker known as a seamstress to make the product, a pair of pants. A quality control inspector checks to make sure the product meets certain standards, for example the quantity of legs. Assuring there are two legs, the inspector puts a little slip of paper in the pocket that reads, “Inspected by No, 7.” Now, if there are fewer than two legs or there are no pockets, I am not sure what the inspector does. But, somehow, the pants make it to the store where I, the customer, shop. Unfortunately, I don’t realize the problem until I get them home and have no place to put my left leg. (Don’t you just hate it when that happens?) ..... (read more)

Do I Need to Spoon Feed Them?

No, but you do need to help them learn.

A common complaint I hear from students is that their teacher doesn’t explain things well. It may be that the instructor actually explains things extremely well. However, students learn by more than hearing. They want to see how problems are solved, and they need practice solving problems themselves. These represent the three primary ways in which students (or anyone, you and me included) learn. Read on. ..... (read more)

The Times They Are a Changin’

You didn’t sign up to be a counselor, or did you?

The current state of the economy, unemployment at double-digit levels, and the winter blahs (a.k.a. seasonal affective disorder or SAD) are all converging on us.  Metaphorically, we are flying over an educational version of the Bermuda Triangle!  This past week I talked to a number of people – students, parents of students, faculty and counselors – and we are all experiencing fallout of these tough times.  First and foremost, we must remember and be sensitive to how these factors affect our students. ..... (read more)

When Funny Turns to Disruptive

The Case of the Cantankerous Canary

Even the most benign student behaviors may need to be addressed.  Here is an example.

An experienced Earth Science adjunct came to my office to ask me for advice.  She was teaching in a tiered classroom which was filled to its capacity with 48 students.  It seemed that one young man was far more interested in getting laughs from his classmates than learning about plate tectonics.  The instructor told me that when she turned to write something on the white board he made bird calls.  This quickly went from funny to disrespectful and disruptive.  “What should I do?” my instructor asked. ..... (read more)