Ok, so right upfront I’ll admit that I’ll probably end up doing more school in my life. And, since I’m a teacher, I’ll have plenty more first days of school. This semester marks my last first day as a student in my undergrad here at BYU, and possibly my last first day as a student for quite a while. That’s too lengthy to be a catchy title though.
Walking onto campus on my last first day of school was quite the feeling. I’m a fairly sentimental person—I was that kid who cried on her birthday because each passing year meant my childhood was fading. Being nostalgic in the moment is kind of my thing, I guess. But, I didn’t cry at all on my last first day. It probably hasn’t registered yet.
So at the beginning of this end, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on getting the most out of school. I realize we’re all teachers here, but the best teachers are the best students. Hence, these are written as if to fellow students. Plus, these are probably just generally good things to remember. (I hope, because this is what I remember from college.)
- Stay hydrated. Didn’t see that one coming, huh? I often have very long days on campus and I’m a happier, more self-actualizing student when I’m not parched.
- Do fun things! Seems obvious, but it’s important to have reasons you love coming to school. I think I often take myself too seriously as a student—don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being studious—but learning without zeal, fun, excitement, and passion isn’t really worth it. It took me until my senior year of high school to join the cross country team and play in the pit orchestra for the school musical. And now in my senior year of college, I’m joining an orchestra and picking up rock climbing. It keeps life fun and engaging, and I don’t mind long days on campus because I love what I get to do.
- Pick your classes and your teachers with care. My dad and my aunt counseled me early on in my BYU experience to make sure I took the class for the professor, even if it meant taking the class at a less personally convenient time. Look around a bit at the beginning of the semester and don’t be afraid to switch your schedule around to get an excellent teacher. Your schedule is not carved in stone, until after the add/drop deadline. (After that, it gets messy, but doable if you have worthy causes.) I think we, as students, sometimes don’t realize that we can be the architects of our educational experiences. Yes, we have to fulfill the graduation requirements, but with a little digging you can find the more interesting path less travelled.
- Put a fence around your homework time. You think I mean guard it carefully so you don’t get distracted with your social life, huh? That’s only half of it. Focused study time is often essential for academic success and personal learning. But, your homework will expand to take all the time you give it. So put a nice little fence around it to protect it and to protect your life from being overgrown with studies.
- Have teachers that are “in your corner” so to speak. Having an understanding with your professors makes life significantly easier when it comes to negotiating special circumstance type of things. What I mean: one of my choir directors, with whom I have a good rapport, is letting me take a pass on a rehearsal each week so I can be running my own children’s choir this semester. A good relationship with your teacher will also be helpful in networking and job obtaining.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. But don’t fret, I’m reading a book on teaching philosophy and it’s excellent, so expect some ponderings in that direction coming soon. Happy beginnings to all!