What Not to do When You’ve Missed Class

Teacher in front of classI was gone last class. Did I miss anything important?

This is actually a common question which, on the surface, seems harmless enough. Aren’t you even quite responsible to follow up and ask to make sure you aren’t missing out on some crucial point in your education because you didn’t attend the last class?

Alas, dear student, in spite of your best intentions about making up for lost time in following up on any goodies missed, here’s what the professor hears, “Did you say anything I’ll be tested on?” or worse, “You don’t usually say anything important, was last Tuesday an exception?”

Sadly, either way, you don’t end up looking very good. And oh, by the way, you already missed class, so what’s up with that? I know, it cuts to the core to be misunderstood. What’s a well-meaning, conscientious student supposed to do when she misses class?

Ask for the notes of a couple of friends, and review them. As long as you have also read the material necessary for the class you missed, make an appointment to see the professor so you can make sure you have a clear understanding of what you see as the main concepts. Since you’re showing initiative, and will have great questions to ask, your professor will be much more receptive to helping you and filling in those missing pieces. Don’t expect a complete rehashing of the class, of course, but with your prep, this session could be enough to make up for the missed class.

By the way: there are only a few legitimate reasons for missing class.  If you go in for extra help after missing a class, make sure it falls within the “true emergency” category. If you’re reason doesn’t pass muster, (and sorry, an American Idol marathon doesn’t count) don’t even try to make an appointment with the prof for extra help.

You’ll just call attention to your absence even more. And who needs that?


College Success Speaker, Crystal Jonas- Bio Link

Hi, I’m Crystal Jonas,

As a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, I know what it takes to make college students more successful, and enjoy school whole lot more.

Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call me at 719- 291-0366.

Body Language – Keep an Open Mind Guys!

image used for body language of a man with arms crossedONE MOVE DOES NOT A MESSAGE MAKE (NECESSARILY)

In my early days of consulting, one of the most requested seminars I offered was about body language. Although I stressed the importance of looking at the whole person, people would still ask ” What does it mean when someone crosses her arms when she’s talking to you?” Or, “Doesn’t it mean a person is dishonest if he doesn’t look at you when he’s talking?” How much easier life would be if we could look at the way people hold their arms, or cross their legs, or use eye contact, and instantly know what they are thinking! The Big, Bad Body Language Myth is the idea that if you know the secrets behind decoding, you can look at a person and know exactly what she’s thinking. Our thoughts are far more complicated than to think we can read another person solely by one movement.

 

BIG GENDER AND CULTURE DIFFERENCES

It has been said that crossing your arms suggests closed mindedness.  Keep an open mind about this, please. I notice in the dozens of programs I present to business men and women each year that women often cross their arms because they’re cold, or more comfortable like that, or merely out of habit.  Since I ask for evaluations after every program, I can tell they weren’t tuning me out, or worse, bored! Different cultures use eye contact differently. So, if you’ve read that you must look someone in the eye or be perceived as dishonest, you may misunderstand Asian cultures who consider bold eye contact to be disrespectful, especially if you are gazing into the eyes of your elder or someone who outranks you. If the big, bad myth is that one gesture is not enough to read a person, what’s the real message that will give us insight into what another person is thinking?

CHECK OUT THE BIGGER PICTURE

Rather than look for one gesture to understand a person, notice any sudden, more involved changes.  For example, if you approach someone who has his hands in his pockets and is jiggling change, don’t assume he’s cheap. (Yes, that has been a common assumption of this single gesture.) He could simply be feeling for his car keys, wondering if he has enough for the parking meter, or just jingling out of nervous habit.

WE HAVE NON-VERBAL ACCENTS

Each of us has our own body language idiosyncrasies, influenced by our upbringing, what part of the world we were raised in, even our cultural customs or religious beliefs.  So, our body language has unique patterns, a kind of non-verbal accent, so to speak. Is it possible to tell then, if we have lost the attention or goodwill of someone with whom we’re speaking if we can’t rely on a few movements here and there? Well, yes.  If you’ve been paying attention to that person’s nonverbal cues for several minutes.  Again, you’ll want to notice any sudden, major change. Uncrossing or crossing the arms or legs can do without your concern.  However, if people suddenly change their body position, turn their head, avert their eyes, and (the kiss of death for you) heave a heavy sigh, you’ll know that you’ve lost them.

BOTTOM LINE

Your take home messages: first, make sure you’re sharing the conversation as much as possible so others don’t suddenly zone out on you. Second, keep the message in context and people will reveal much more to you than your trying to force meaning on a single isolated action.


College Success Speaker, Crystal Jonas- Bio Link

Hi, I’m Crystal Jonas,

As a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, I know what it takes to make college students more successful, and enjoy school whole lot more.

Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call me at 719- 291-0366.

Is This going to be on the Test?

image of professor writing don't ask stupid questions on chalkboardYour teacher wants to think you’re there because you love to learn, don’t blow it by bringing up the question, “Is this going to be on the test?”

Double whammy if you ask when the prof is on a roll, digressing on some protracted story that lost you 10 minutes ago.  Although it seems like an intelligent question at first, it drives teachers crazy.  Why?

Teachers generally have spent copious amounts of time researching to bring you the latest and greatest information about what they teach.  Most want to pass on to you their enthusiasm for the subject so you want to learn for the sake of learning itself. In the real world, you and I know everyone can’t love every single class.  In some courses you just want to know the bottom line, “Hey, will you ask me this on a test?”

Fair enough, from the perspective on your side of the desk.  Here’s what the teacher hears when you ask that question: “Do I need to listen now, or can I zone out again, since I’m bored beyond belief, and I’m only taking this class because there was no way out of it?” While it may be the case that you are barely able to remain conscious as you listen to the professor pontificate about the topic at hand, remember, diplomacy is paramount when dealing with your teachers.

And, to improve student success it is your job to figure out what might be tested by paying close enough attention so you can tell when points are being repeated and emphasized.  Your instructor isn’t generally going to be so blatant as to say, “And this is on the test.”  If he does, consider it a gift. _________________________________________________________________

College Success Speaker, Crystal Jonas- Bio Link

Hi, I’m Crystal Jonas, As a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, I know what it takes for student success, and have students enjoy school whole lot more. Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call me at 719- 291-0366.

Getting on the Teacher’s Good Side in College

teacher in front of classroomAbout 85% of your success in life rests on your ability to get along well with others. This includes gaining and keeping good rapport with the teacher. If she likes your attitude, you’re much more likely to max out that discretionary 10% that has a significant influence on your grade.

Go Early and Stay Late – 

Okay, you don’t have to keep sitting there minutes after the class ends. You should, however, come a few minutes early and stay though the entire class. No need to be the last person to leave, just don’t create a draft trying to get out the door at the end of class.

How early do you need to come to class? Early enough that you have your book and notepaper out and your pen poised and ready to go before the professor even opens his mouth.

Why? Because often, she has either just taught a class or just reviewed his notes, and wants to make sure she makes some critical points before they slip his mind. Sometimes, students will be talking to him just before class starts, and maybe they’re all asking the same question.  She will use those first few moments of class to clear up the issue for the entire class.

Also, your teacher may wrap up the class making sure she touches on and reviews key concepts one more time before you go.  Remember that key concepts are testable material.  Coming a bit late or leaving a bit early, unless it is absolutely necessary, and you’ve mentioned it to the teacher beforehand, makes you look bad.  It may appear that you don’t plan your time well, so you cant get there on time.

You may seem (gasp!) lazy and thoughtless. A tiny transgression that’s more damaging than you’d think: coming a little late to class or leaving a little early. Be aware of the image you project in the classroom. Whether you realize it or not, something as small as coming in a minute late from time to time, or packing up while the teacher is still talking and slipping out a moment early makes you look bad.

It suggests disrespect for the teacher and the class. Whatever your reason for being late, correct the situation so you can be where you need to be when you need to be there. If you absolutely must be late or leave early because of an appointment, let the professor know ahead of time.

Now that may be a lot to read into being late and leaving early, however, all the professor has to go on is what she sees, not your reasons for doing it.

And when you do go to class, be there! 

Sit as close to the front as is comfortable, focus, come prepared, and take part in active listening and note taking.  When the time is right, jump on in and ask a question.  While you are at it, answer a few questions too. It’s your class, so make the most of it.

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College Success Speaker, Crystal Jonas- Bio LinkAs a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, I know what it takes to make college students more successful, and enjoy school whole lot more.

Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call me at 719- 291-0366.

Creative Ideas Begin Outside The Lines, Not in the Box

Ideas for thinking outside the boxWant an idea to kick creativity into high gear?  Think “in the round”. Try this exercise to stimulate those juices.

 

 

One of the main problems that keeps creative ideas from flowing from a students mind onto paper may be the paper itself.

Yes, that’s right.  Look at the paper on which you’re taking notes.  Is it lined?  Ok, this also applies to high tech people who transcribe directly on to a computer of some sort.  Here is a huge tip to jump start your mind to start thinking more creatively.

Get rid of the lined paper.  Do not use it when you’re trying to be creative, generate ideas, brainstorm, or break out of writer’s block.

Here’s why.  Students, or anyone’s, minds do not think linearly.   We don’t logically follow one idea with another, leading to another, etc.  Thoughts jump around; one idea seemingly unconnected with the next.

Think of lined paper as a mental straight jacket, imposing order when that step isn’t necessary until your creative ideas are collected and start to take shape.  The early stages of creative brainstorming are significantly restricted with traditional, lined notebook paper.  The thoughts aren’t coming to your conscious that way, so don’t be concerned with “listing” them in that manner.

Students, do you really want to work on developing creative ideas ?  Then try the following:

Use unlined paper, put your main question for the moment in the center and be careful of how you word it.

Next, circle the question or main concept that is in the center of your page. As ideas start to percolate, jot them down quickly.  Capture keywords only, no need to write in complete sentences.  Circle each creative idea as you finish, and draw a line between that circled idea and the circled main focus in the center of your paper.

When the next idea comes up, write, circle, and connect it to the center circle.  If the creative idea arises from one of your thoughts that’s already connected to the main idea, just “branch” the idea outward from the previous thought, and draw a line between these two.  What you’re doing is just letting your brain “radiate” ideas outward, connected related concepts as you brainstorm.

This process is roughly related to Mind Mapping, and has been called “clustering” since like ideas emerge clustered together.

Suggest this to your friends when you are in a brainstorming session for students . Not only will the group find themselves opening up to great, new, creative  ideas students normally would miss, when the do the same activity using lined paper, you’ll also find that all the students  ideas end up more organized than if you’d written them down in the usual way!

Have fun with this process.  Practice it often, and you’ll be great at brainstorming creative ideas in no time!

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College Success Speaker, Crystal Jonas- Bio LinkHi, I’m Crystal Jonas,

As a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, I know what it takes to make college students more successful and enjoy school whole lot more.

Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call me at 719- 291-0366.