Feels trite and silly to post my typical weekend celebration memes when the world is tense with the war in Ukraine. Yet, life goes on here in my little corner home office/bedroom in New Jersey. The trees outside my window droop down with melting ice, and I, too, feel the urge to let go of a bit of heaviness. Regardless of war, looming cyberattacks, stock market crashes, and anything else terrible that surely is coming, Spring, too, is on its way.
We just passed the one-third mark of the semester in the Dynamics of Communication course that I teach part-time at the local community college 20 minutes from my home. Progress reports help students get honest about their performance and what they may need to do to course-correct if they are not on target to achieve their goals. As a teacher, status reports help me analyze how the class is going, observe what’s working and what’s not, and create another opportunity to communicate and connect with my students.
The grade book is automated by an LMS (learning management system) called Canvas that helps me build and manage the class. Learning how to design a curriculum and lead a course using hybrid tools has been one of my most significant learnings from this experience. It’s also taught me about the need to boost learning through engagement. I work hard to involve students in class discussions and help them loosen up, talk with each other, and explore their own beliefs about communication. It’s not easy! Most of my students have no reference point to a “pre-Internet” age and prefer low-context digital communication.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin
Each week, students write journal posts that relate to the topics we read about and talk about in class. It is interesting to see how different individuals approach the assignments. Some students disclose more than others about themselves and their lives. Some write precisely to the proscribed word count and not a word more. It’s apparent which students enjoy and have fun with journaling and which ones do not. To create an environment of trust and sharing, I post my own journals on the class discussion boards each week. It seems only fair to let students peer into my thoughts via writing too.
This past week’s topic was on Communicating Emotions and Emotional Self Regulation. It’s a fascinating area that overlaps with my interest in neuroscience, neuroplasticity, the growth mindset, and mindfulness. I shared my belief that the GOATS in all disciplines are masters of emotional self-regulation… unphased and unbothered by circumstances, judgments, and perceived obstacles because they are laser-focused on their mission and capable of managing their feelings. They are also experts at stopping irrational thinking in its tracks.
To express the point, I shared one of my favorite “Unbothered” memes as well as a Byron Katie tool related to communicating and managing one’s own emotions. If more of us had robust mental health and expert self-regulation, the world would not be susceptible to bellicose egos like Vladimir Putin and his cronies. As I power down and welcome the weekend, I am giving thanks for my students, Prince, relative peace in my spot on Earth, and dreams of Spring and the Summer that will follow.