Tag Archive: determination


Meaningful Micro-Moments: Elevating Excellence

image

News consumption, whether through traditional means such as television and newspapers or more recent means such as news apps and social media, has been focused on many areas of conflict and strife within our country. There are multiple issues about which we care deeply. We can start to feel somewhat helpless in the face of circumstances over which we have little control; yet, your voice and contributions are important.  Regardless, you might want to consider a bad news diet.

Now, for the good news. Step back and ask yourself, “What do I have influence over during the next few weeks?” This perspective, one that is good to share with students, brings focus to the present moment where there is some “control.”  I believe this perspective is paramount as we move into the last few weeks of the semester, a stressful period in and of itself. There is a lot that can be done for yourself, your colleagues, and your students.

Yourself
It is critical for you to take care of yourself so you have the energy to care for others. There are the common statements of eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep; that’s a good start. There also are micro-moments during the day that can make a big difference too.

  • Take a short walk with a friend.
  • Get out your headphones and listen to your favorite song.
  • Read some highlights you made on your e-reader in a great book you read (the app is probably on your phone and the highlights are only several clicks away).
  • Pause, close your eyes, and focus on a few deep breaths.

Colleagues
There is a common thread of humanity that is important to remember as we choose to thrive over the next few weeks. This commonality can be the foundation for compassion and allow you to be someone else’s micro-moment.

  • Ask someone how s/he is doing while making eye contact and really meaning it.
  • Let colleagues know why you appreciate them – say it directly, leave a note, or fill out a Cardinal Cares card.
  • Ask newer professors if there is anything you can to do support them in the next few weeks, especially if this is their first semester.
  • Share something inspirational with someone in person rather than posting online.

Students
Our students have more responsibilities than they did even ten years ago. The demographic of our students has shifted significantly with a higher proportion of historically underrepresented students, first-generation students and/or low income students. There are meaningful micro-moments that can make all of the difference for these students and other students too as we approach the end of the semester.

  • Share the importance of getting organized and “setting the stage” for finals. Taking a few minutes each day to organize notes, study schedules, and responsibilities can put some free-floating anxiety to good use.
  • Speak with our students about self-discipline and focus. For example, encourage 30 minutes blocks of study without electronic interruption; neural pathways are better built when uninterrupted. Help them understand that now is the time to push what may feel like a personal limit around self-discipline, something that will result in new understandings of self and greater success in the future.
  • Students can push the boundaries of perceived capabilities, especially if you are there in an intentional way to encourage them. In addition to class, walk through the Flint Commons, the Learning Center, or the library and find a few students to encourage. All of our students must feel, on a deep level, that we believe in them.
  • Emphasize the importance of self care. Explain that the capacity for grit and determination can be increased with self care.

SUNY Plattsburgh has a caring community focused on students in excellent academic programs. This drew me here 25 years ago and continues to draw students and new faculty here too. Let’s take a few moments each day in the coming weeks to amplify our caring community because it will lead to higher levels of excellence.

Bonus:
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted
– Respect and Empathy
– Helping Students Achieve Goals
Image (n.d.) Retrieved December 4, 2016 from:

 

listening

In our culture, learning to listen was not something that necessarily felt good because the process often came with some tone in phrases like, “Listen to me”  “Are you listening to me?” “If you would listen, you would know the answer” and many other phrases commonly used by caregivers and authority figures.  At school, most of us we were forced to listen while seated in rows of desks for hours on end.  Thankfully, pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning have improved and engage children in ways that motivate them to listen.

As we got older, we gained a deeper understanding of the power of listening, especially as we entered helping professions.  In our current higher education roles, listening is one of the most important skills we can practice on a daily basis.  Even though the title of “advisor” focuses on giving advice rather than listening, those who are known as good academic advisors at SUNY Plattsburgh are great active listeners.

We know good academic advising is critical to retention and academic success, a process that begins with good listening.  Steven Covey explained good listening as involving the ears, the eyes, and the heart.  With this wise perspective in mind, as we enter two weeks of academic advising, here are my Top Ten statements about listening:

  1. It shows respect for the other person
  2. Active listening provides a deeper understanding of someone and will improve your ability to advise.
  3. Listening holds the key to caring and opens the door to empathy; we know a higher percentage of our advisees are struggling emotionally compared to a few years ago. Don’t neglect the opportunity to ask advisees about their current emotional challenges.
  4. You can speak from deeper levels of the heart if you are willing to listen, levels where healing occurs.
  5. Your careful listening and encouragement for the other person to keep talking may allow for moments of self-discovery, some of which may be life changing. Simply saying, “tell me more” can be powerful.
  6. The other person’s life story will broaden your understanding of others.
  7. Your willingness to listen will build trust, something that may be needed more in the next meeting than the current meeting. Make sure you have some trust in the bank.
  8. Help your advisee know when to listen to her inner voice and when to ignore it. There are different inner voices to which our students can chose to listen, make sure they are listening to the right ones that speak of confidence, determination, resilience, and dreams.
  9. Asking thoughtful questions sets the stage for good listening.
  10. If you listen with your ears, eyes and heart, you will have the honor of your advisees remembering you as a good listener, and hopefully, someone who made a positive difference in their lives.

Bonus:  “The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.”  Alfred Brendel

 

EHHS Shared Values highlighted in this blog
Respect and Empathy
    Seek to understand before being understood
Listening to each other
Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues

Helping Students Achieve Goals
    Reaching out to struggling students
Challenge students to create connections, follow passions, and think critically
Empower students to realize goals

 

Image (Sept. 28, 2010). Retrieved October 18, 2015 from http://perkettprsuasion.com/2010/09/28/the-art-of-listening-in-client-service/

A Critical Key to Students’ Success

Goals

Advisement is a time when you speak with students in your office about their academics and their future.  We talk about transcripts, grades, and a schedule for next semester as long as it doesn’t include an 8:00am class.  Beyond discussing grades and planning, you have the opportunity to speak to the hearts of the students.  This requires holistic advisement where topics such as roommates, study habits, determination, partying, and long-term goals are discussed.  Over the years, I have seen some very bright students not be successful, and, on the other hand, I have seen some students be stars who are not at the top of their class and/or have difficult challenges in their lives.  You can think of a number of factors that may allow for success in less than optimal circumstances, but one sticks out above the rest and it is “grit.”

Treat yourself to watching this engaging 6-minute TedTalk by Dr. Duckworth who was a math teacher in New York City and now is a psychologist.

 Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth

What have been the top three things in your life that have taken the most determination, persistence, and grit?  How do we reinforce or help our students develop these qualities?  What would this discussion look like during an advisement/mentoring session?  As Dr. Duckworth said, it may be important to help students understand how the brain works and that learning from success and failure permanently changes neural structure; a process over which they have control.  Yes, there is a deeper nature-nurture discussion here.  Regardless, we have the privilege of being able to focus on the nurturing side of the equation with our students.  I’ve often told students that each semester is an opportunity to discover a new self because they learned so many lessons from the current semester about how to do things better next time; failure and not getting stuck in negative emotions is part of learning how to be successful.  Helping students learn how to push against perceived self limits by learning from successes and mistakes opens the door to unlimited opportunities.  Getting up every day and giving it your best takes more than learning, it takes grit.

Maybe the conversation that leads to discussing grit starts with a few simple questions.  For example, what has been the most challenging aspect of your studies/college?  How have you grown as a person due to this challenge?  If you were not successful, what did you learn that will allow you to be successful next time?  How has this experience changed the way you view yourself?

There are vulnerabilities and tender places of growth that can be addressed during advisement or during the mentoring process.  As professionals in academia, we occasionally have had conversations like this with students over the years, but maybe we need to be more intentional about it.  Your advisees’ success may depend on having this conversation, most likely more than once.

Bonus: What does it look like to have “group grit?”  Even with shared values and a clear mission that focuses on students’ success, the way a group works together when the going gets tough will result ultimately in the group’s success and students’ success.

Shared Value Highlighted: Helping Students Achieve Goals

%d bloggers like this: