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…Off the Hook

The other day, I remembered that I was a teacher. Er, university instructor. For awhile there, I was just going through the motions — showing up for class, saying a few things — okay, a LOT of things, because there is nothing I like quite so much as the sound of my own voice (pretty sure there’s another post about that waiting in the wings), and God knows the students are disinclined to participate much in the opening weeks of a required class. So there we all were, going though the required class motions when it hit me: TEACH them.

The thing is (there’s always a thing with me), classrooms these days are crowded, and the best teaching tends to happen one-on-one. The one-on-group method means someone — maybe everyone — can hide. Such behavior is generally contra-productive to actual learning.When the instructor meets the pupil face-to-face, by golly, something worthwhile has a great chance of making not just an appearance, but a lasting impression.

Picture it: One instructor. One student. There’s no prevaricating. There’s no sea of downcast faces (undoubtedly something fascinating daily transpires on classroom floor, am I right?). There’s no gaping silence as the ‘teacher’ waits longingly for a lucid, on-target answer to an open-ended question. And there’s no harping to the masses, no preaching to the choir, no reliance on exhausted adages that fail to hit the mark. There’s only dialogue. Questions. Answers. Discussion. You know. LEARNING.

But, the classroom filled with students is far more cost-effective than a day-long series of tutorials. What’s an instructor to do?

Well. Instruct! Adapt! Overcome! Send emails of extra instruction! Hold office hours! Stay after class! DO THE WORK!!!!!

Friends don’t let friends off the hook just because the environment isn’t ideal. Friends don’t let friends off the hook because they simply don’t want to do the harder task. Friends don’t let friends off the hook, even when they offer a list of excuses (and trust me, I have not just good, but STELLAR excuses for why I don’t want to do the hard thing, and I bet you do too) for why the thing just isn’t working.

Listen to me, now. Friends who have friends who are teachers:  Don’t let them off the hook. The future depends on those students presently in the classroom, you know. Somebody’s got to TEACH them.

I’m glad I remembered I’m a teacher. Friends? Don’t let me off the hook.


…Neglect Their Style (DP)

Here I go again, getting sucked into the vortex (no, not the POLAR one) of the Daily Post. This time, a day late. Surely the adage applies? (you know — ‘better late than never?’?!?!? ) On the slim chance that things late aren’t always ‘better,’ I would invoke the aid of the ‘writing gods,’ right about now if I believed in them. Wait. There WERE writing gods of a sort in the ancient world. Well. Goddesses. (Who’s surprised, really?) Ah, the Muses. Inspiring mere mortals to write, to dance, to sing. O, Thalia, be with me now! But I digress…

So. Style. The Daily Post wonders: ‘what’s your style?’ And then ticks off a few possibilities:

Fashion. My closet testifies to this: I love clothes, and mostly wear them well. Boring.

Hair. ‘Only my hairdresser knows for sure.’

Eating. REALLY? I’ll be honest, I don’t get this one. Pick up the proper eating utensil (sometimes fingers are permitted. Nay, encouraged.), put a proper amount of food on said utensil, open your mouth, insert food, close mouth, chew, enjoy. Well, that’s my style, anyway…

Communication. Aha!

Well, let’s see. Sass. Snark. Sap. That sums it up really. My communication style suffers from the following:

I have attitude. As one who writes a bit, attitude is a plus. It provides tone. (At no additional charge, I give you this additional PSA: EVERY bit of writing carries tone. Tone is implied. If not implied, it will be inferred. Guaranteed.)

I have a superiority complex. I’m smart, fairly well read, thoughtful. As one who communicates regularly (teacher, friend, mom, wife) I find it unconscionable that people oftentimes don’t appreciate my highly evolved and sometimes necessarily sarcastic wit. Can I help it?

I have an opinion on everything. EVERYthing.

But on the softer side,

I am a “major weeper.” (hope you watched that…)

The little clip from “The Holiday” highlights my own ‘styles’: good clothes, British accents (don’t have one, wish I did),  books, books, books, family, love… And weeping — over nearly everything, but certainly over good movies, great novels, over a beautiful landscape, a cozy fire…

And the next thing you know, I realize this about STYLE: Friends don’t let friends neglect their personal style. Here’s why: Sometimes, our styles need refining. Just this morning I shoveled out a bit of the excess from my closet. Just last week I spent some time in the hairdresser’s chair. But just this moment I realized (again!) that, while I’m smart enough to change my wardrobe and keep a standing appointment to get my hair done, I’m stupid enough to forget that sarcasm isn’t always in season, that sometime sincerity trumps sass, and every time, a bit of sap sweetens everything!

When you’re still trying to wear your mom jeans from the 1980s, when your roots need a touch-up, or when you try to eat corn-on-the-cob with a knife & fork, your friends will be there suggesting that your style needs an update. That’s what friends are for, after all. Friends don’t let friends neglect their style. Especially when it comes to communication. Turns out, too much snark will leave us without any friends at the Bar-B-Q. Next thing you know, you’re wearing mom jeans, your roots are hideous, and you’ve got corn kernels stuck in your teeth, Melpomene will be singing your sad, tragic song, inspiring some writer…

Don’t let it happen to you.