In each issue of Connect:ED, I will share “with just so many words” from my desk and my bookshelf, from my experience and my heart. Often, I will include questions throughout my words to give you the opportunity to respond or apply “with just so many words” also.
The emails and phone calls I have received so far this year have reminded me of the vital role each of you plays to walk out our mission. You – AGS adjuncts – are the face of the university not only in our evening classrooms where you may physically reach out to touch a student as you encourage or pray but also online where your hands move to type an encouraging word as your mouth utters the prayer.
We live in challenging times and our students are not exempt from those challenges. For example, consider the following excerpt from a faculty member’s email to me this week:
The students and I had a special time of prayer and grief support last night for F (whose husband had died) and for other students in [the cohort] as well. T’s husband was diagnosed with MS last week. She missed class last night to attend a training session to give him injections at home. M’s husband was diagnosed with an abdominal mass last week and will need further testing to determine what it is. L had requested prayer in previous classes for her son. Students and their families have also been hit with the flu bug.
A snapshot from just one cohort, yes, but this is not out of the ordinary. Adult students face some of life’s toughest challenges as spouses, parents, employees/employers, children, friends, citizens, and students. So many hats to wear! So many responsibilities to juggle!
With the specific scenario above from an evening cohort, think about the following questions: Were those students ready to discuss concepts from their nursing course when they came to class this past week? Were they ready to present or to take notes? No – they needed a time of transition from the demands of their day, a time of ministry to be encouraged from God’s Word and to pray for one another. The faculty in place was sensitive to this need and followed God’s leading to help the students through prayer and support.
You are the face of the university; you represent our mission and pillars week after week, lesson after lesson to our students. As the FACE of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, consider the following acronym:
F – Fresh – Come to each session prepared with a fresh perspective on faith and to the content of your course: a fresh word from your walk with God and a fresh look at reaching the academic objectives. In a nutshell, fresh faith and fresh facts.
Fresh faith: What has God been sharing with you that you can share with your students? As you lead the devotion in class or post in the spiritual life discussion online, is it a fresh word from God’s living word?
As you dive into the textbook and requirements, have you reviewed the concepts and prepared the lesson to give a fresh look at the information? Is the information current?
A – Atmosphere – Your preparation in prayer and in study will contribute to a rich, meaningful atmosphere in the classroom that encourages student engagement. Your students do not care about how much you know unless they know how much you care.
Merriam-Webster (2015) defines atmosphere as “a surrounding influence or environment.” Your attitude and approach to each session will infuse the atmosphere you create and impact your influence.
How would students describe the atmosphere in one of your courses? Is the atmosphere conducive to a lasting influence on students?
C – Connection – Your fresh approach and the enriched atmosphere in your classroom will invite the students to connect with you. The connection may be content-related or life-related. It may be a text after your course with a question or a thank you; it may be during class with a prayer request.
More than once I have seen the impact of faculty making a connection with a student when the latter intentionally chooses an emphasis because of his/her experience in the core MBA course, (Corporate Financial Management, HR Leadership, or Strategic Marketing Management).
Review your teaching experience. What evidence do you have that you are connecting with the students?
E – Empowerment – Your teaching, sharing, guiding, and mentoring empowers the students to make new connections, to set new goals, and to pursue new paths. Empowerment may come in the area of faith, of understanding, or of critical thinking.
At our recent Adjunct Faculty Meeting (1/31/15), I was reminded that empowering others is the very essence of our opportunity to teach. During the meeting, Bill Hurd, former AGS Master Faculty, commented to me that there were at least 10 current adjuncts in attendance whom he had taught and/or mentored. His former students are now teaching; his former mentees are now mentoring. Empowerment is the power to reproduce oneself.
For your final reflection here: In what ways does your teaching empower students?
You are the face of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. With fresh faith and facts, determine to create an atmosphere that invites students to connect with Christ and with you. Each connection is an opportunity to empower a student to stretch and to grow, maybe even to be the first one to graduate from university in their family. Thank you for representing us with integrity and passion.
Atmosphere. (2015). In Merriam-Webster dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Totidem verbis. (2015). In Dictionary.com. Retrieved from dictionary.reference.com/