Tag: Teachers

The penultimate week

The penultimate week

My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.

I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.

I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.

Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?

To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.

But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.

Because that is terrifying.

So I’ve been relishing my last few college-oriented assignments. Turning in my Internship hours, pulling my novel’s prep work together for the physical Honors project and watching old Stephen Colbert videos for Comm Law.

For my Gaming in American Culture class, my last assignment (other than the final paper) is to read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One for our discussion on virtual reality this Thursday.

Or… In my case, to re-read Ready Player One. Much like Ender’s Game, I read this book a few years ago. Well before the Spielberg adaptation was even announced.

Thus, similar to Ender’s Game, I’ve decided to take my re-consumption of the story in a different form: Listening to the audio book.

Cue YouTube-style Audible shill.

But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.

I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.

Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.

For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.

He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.

But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.

I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.

If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.

That’s my advice.

The last Comm Awards

The last Comm Awards

It has been a long 12-hour day, so let’s keep this brief.

Tonight was the Department of Communications Awards Ceremony for the year of our lord 2019.

Last year I attended the ceremony with Mom and had a great time. Won a few scholarships while I was at it.

Only my Mom was able to make it, however. Turns out the Department of Communications likes to schedule their fancy award dinner at the same time as my sister’s Pops Concert at Redondo Union High School, so Dad went with her to split our representation appropriately.

This year we swapped. Which means I got to bring the old man out to Fullerton:

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Apparently I don’t know where the camera is?

Now… I hate to say it. But I think Dad got the better end of the bargain. Sorry Mom.

For my senior year, I stepped things up from just a few scholarships to winning all of these accolades:

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I can’t hold all these awards!
  1. The Journalism Program’s “Outstanding Student” Award
  2. The J. William Maxwell Outstanding Communications Student Award (one of three Department-wide recognitions)
  3. Recognition of my graduation with a University Honors distinction
  4. Graduation with a Summa Cum Laude Honor (in other words, I kept my GPA above 3.90)

In other words — I not only received top marks for my concentration, but also for the department as a whole. While also graduating with Honors. And somehow keeping my grades very high.

What the hell did I do to myself these last four years?

Frankly, the only person who stepped on that stage more than I did was Harrison Faigen, who got a whole host of awards AND scholarships.

Showed me, I should have gone for some extra money.

Oh, and his awards were also well-deserved. That guy runs like a truck, and it has been an honor working with him in a number of capacities at Cal State Fullerton. The newspaper and SPJ, primarily. Definitely helped me learn a lot.

Speaking of learning a lot, the event was chock full of professors I’ve had over the last four years. And I tried to take a picture with a bunch of them for posterity!

I only got to Comm Department Chair Jason Shepard and current Daily Titan Advisor Walt Baranger, since people like my Honors Project Mentor Holly Rizzo left like a hurry once the show was over.

But they’re just three of many people I can thank for everything leading up to these esteemed accolades.

Frank Russell, Penchan Phoborisut, Amber Chitty, Emily Erickson… And of course Bonnie Stewart, probably most of all.

But there are so many more who have taught me so many things. Things that I’ll be taking on this adventure we call life as I finally get out of academia next month.

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Get it?

Because the banquet was adventure-themed?

Alright, that’s enough. You crazy kids get outta here.

Assignment explanations gone wrong

Assignment explanations gone wrong

I’m not usually one to outright complain about a professor’s style of teaching. I tend to just brute force my way through a class if there’s some element I don’t enjoy.

Now, that might be a surprise for those of you who remember various complaints about my Psychology professors last semester.

Well… Apparently I’ve just had a terrible track record with the Psychology department.

Because my complaint for the day happens to come from my Cognitive Psych class.

Let’s set the scene.

After finishing our lecture on Chapter 2, she decided to tell us about our required paper and presentation so we could be ready when the due dates start to roll around.

Each of us were grouped together with one partner. We do a presentation on a specific topic together, while each writing separate essays to ensure nobody gets wholly screwed by a partner that does no work.

The professor led her discussion on the essay portion by telling us we need to find three research papers or scholarly articles, one of which is a jointly researched piece to form the basis of our presentation.

She presented that information as though the group would only need three papers researched all together.

What she meant was that each person individually needs to have three papers for their essay. One of which can be the joint presentation paper.

Thus, all together we need five research papers for each group. When you explain it like that, the concept makes sense. However, by starting off telling the class we’d need three papers, then later telling us we’d need five, and generally not making it explicitly clear that only one of those papers can be shared…

Let’s just say she wound up getting a whole lot of questions.

Yet somehow it got more confusing. While we were all trying to figure out what the hell she meant in the first place, she started to let us know that we could take a less work-heavy paper if we wanted. All we had to do was tell her.

Naturally every single college student in the room said, “yeah we want less work.”

So she lowered the requirements. Now each group needed three papers, with each individual only needing two papers for their essay.

I can’t complain about the lessened workload, but dropping that sudden and seemingly random change on us while we still didn’t understand the original assignment was not such a great decision.

After I left class, while crossing the windy tundra between the Humanities building and College Park, I thought a lot about it. There had to be a simpler way to explain what we were doing.

So it hit me:

All you needed to say was that each person is writing an essay that needs three (or two as it became) research papers for background information.

Then that one of those papers can be shared between the two group members, the same one that will become the focus of the topic presentation on an assigned date.

It’s honestly that simple.

So why did this seemingly unimportant bit of confusion from poor explaining stick in my craw? To the point that I felt the need to write all about it, anyway.

Well… Part of the reason is because it was either this or the State of the Union address that I haven’t honestly bothered to watch yet.

The rest of my day hasn’t been very exciting.

The other part of why I decided to talk about this moment was because of how it took on a more frustrating face by my professor smiling and (if you ask me, somewhat sassily) expressing her confusion at what we found so confusing.

To some extent I can let it slide because English clearly isn’t her first language. So I have no qualms believing she may have thought her explanation was perfectly adequate.

But when literally the entire class is so obviously confused and asking a variety of questions, it seems kind of cheeky to smile and laugh as though we were completely at fault.

Maybe it’s just me, but that kind of attitude just bugs me from… Well, anyone. Though from someone I’m there to learn from especially.

Based on prior experience, it seems like the language barrier issues might just be a big problem throughout the semester.

So maybe my Psychology experience has been cursed all along.


Before I go, I also wanted to mention this neat little tidbit I missed out on yesterday:

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Happy birthday, blog!

And thanks to all of you who keep reading these things. Whether they’re goofy and full of life or annoyed and full of spite.

I really appreciate it.


Featured Image courtesy of Missmarettaphotography via Wikimedia Commons

Time Marches On

I’ve had no problems talking about how much I enjoyed my high school experience in the past. I was a hell of a teacher’s pet and really made good friends with a lot of them, so between that and my time as a journalist on the High Tide it felt like I really came into my own.

In fact, at least once before I’ve written a post very much like the one I’m filling space with tonight. Except that small piece on how much I appreciated my high school teachers is more than two years old now.

Which is just crazy to me. Because I was one year into college then. Now I’m a college senior.

It’s something I’m personally still coming to terms with, but watching a bunch of my old professors react to that news was simply priceless.

For context, tonight was back to school night for my sister. Since I only have one class on Thursdays this semester, I was able to make it back in time to tag along. Like I said I feel close with a lot of those old teachers considering many of them shaped where I am now, so I like to come around and poke my head where it doesn’t belong once in a while.

Other than the “wow we’re old” reaction, I was able to get a lot more meaningful stuff in with a few of my ex-teachers in between the 10-minute periods of back to school talk.

Like joking around with my AP Lang teacher for not being able to make it to the now at least yearly gathering of “the AP Lang Gang” that spawned in her room.

Or catching up with my AP Gov teacher about the crazy political scene and the fact that I tried out a restaurant recommendation in the OC he made at least a year ago.

[[ Also I know today was especially crazy with the Supreme Court nominee hearing. But I’m not going to talk about it. Because I didn’t get to pay a whole lot of attention, and I’m not an expert even if I did. Good? Good. ]]

I had an especially fun time this year catching up with my old journalism advisor and telling him about my new position with Gladeo. As well as catching up with my AP Psych professor and telling her about taking up a psych minor in college — she was pretty ecstatic about that.

On top of that, I was surprised to find that one of my old math teachers (who Aly has a class with now) remembered who I was right when I walked in the room.

Even though I haven’t seen her since sophomore year.

Teachers are crazy sweet with that kind of thing, I swear.

Another surprise of the night was seeing some stuff like this around campus:

For context, again, this 900s building did not exist when I was there. In fact, it didn’t exist about a year ago when I came for back to school night last.

Kind of jarring to see that new space obscuring the skyline, especially considering it’s right in front of the spot where my friends and I used to hang out every day.

There were some other nice parts of the night too. It’s actually my Mom’s birthday today (and I know she’ll be reading this, so extra happy birthday again!) and it was great watching all of her parent friends wish her well throughout the night as we ran into them.

I mean let’s be honest, I actually brought my Switch to the event thinking I was going to have some boring downtime.

Took it along with me like I was dealing watches on a New York sidewalk:

Have I mentioned I love this jacket?

But I never had to use it. If anything, it was kind of a burden in the long run.

Just goes to show you that when you have some old faculty friends, it’s never a bad time to go visit them. I always look forward to doing so, because it really does help bring some hindsight back to my life.


P.S. Despite the fact that it made for one of the most liked posts I’ve put together in a while, my Grandma didn’t like the picture I took of us the other day.

She requested we take another, so we did:

This time with a much more fancy background.

Enjoy!

Teaching Styles

As most students will tell you, over the years you begin to notice patterns in how some teachers decide to present their material.

Obviously some will be more lax while others are more strict just in general, but there are deeper distinctions when it comes to specific aspects of teaching that everyone approaches differently — especially at the college level.

For instance, one professor may only do the bare minimum of testing requirements to supplement one’s grades. Only a midterm exam, a final exam and a written paper (which is required for just about all undergrad classes in the CSU system at least).

Meanwhile, another teacher will inflate grades by doing something like scheduling a smaller quiz on material every week.

It all depends, and while there’s likely some answer to be drawn from somewhere on which method is more effective in hammering in material, it’s kind of just a subjective what one person prefers sort of deal.

All of that said, I wanted to write this quick blog post today before diving into this 13-page piece I have to read to talk about a decision in how to teach that I’ve discovered I really don’t enjoy.

Not involving that class with the 13-page reading assignment though. I’m probably going to keep these more annoyance-centric school blog posts anonymous.

Just in case.

This semester, one of my professors encouraged us to print out each chapter’s PowerPoint so we can follow along with it during lectures.

I’m not personally a fan of doing that sort of thing. I find that I retain more information when I’m writing everything down myself (something that I believe does have some precedent in research studies), so if I just have a print-out describing everything in the lecture it seems less effective.

So I decided to skip out on printing the PowerPoint and instead relied on good-old-fashioned note taking as usual.

Except apparently that suggestion to print out PowerPoints for each chapter was more of an expectation that we would be doing it.

Because this professor apparently zooms through his lecture so fast that I now have to go back and copy everything down off of the PowerPoint online so I can fill all the gaps I left before our quiz on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, especially in an upper level major course, I understand the desire to let students be somewhat self-reliant and go quickly through a lecture so that there’s time at the end to do other things.

We did get out of class at least a half an hour early as a result of going through things that fast. I won’t necessarily complain about that.

But to be completely honest, I would have preferred to get out of that class on-time if it meant going through the lecture at a slower pace so everyone could understand it better, regardless of how they take notes.

Yet in the end I suppose that’s a personal preference, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s simply a form of teaching that I don’t really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t figure out how to adapt.

I’ll probably just print the PowerPoints from here on out.

To end this off, I figure I’ll throw this general topic out to you all in the audience. Have you encountered any teaching practices that you don’t enjoy? Or maybe the opposite, any teaching practices you really enjoy?

Let me know about them in the comments! I’m interested to hear about some preferences today

Communications 202 productions for the fall 2016 semester

Today was the last day of the fall 2016 semester at Cal State Fullerton.  Next week is finals week, but I’ve gotten lucky with my classes and don’t have to go in for any exams.  There’s a final essay I have to do over the weekend and our final week-long Daily Titan production for the semester on Sunday… But otherwise, I’m essentially free for winter break.

For my Communications 202 class, which was an introductory broadcast production class, our entire semester was building up to producing an actual news broadcast – not a long one necessarily, but still.  All of the packaged reports and the roles preparing the anchored bits were made by the students in the class.  The productions we put together have both been posted online, the second one just earlier this afternoon in fact.

Because it’s an introductory class, things are put together a bit roughly… But considering they’re the culmination of a semester’s worth of work, I figure it would be cool to share the broadcasts we produced here.

For this first production, I was the assistant script writer for the full broadcast – everything outside of the packages themselves.  My own produced piece made it into this show in fact, the first story about Anaheim Ballot Measure U.  I’m a little tired of watching it after spending so much time recording and editing everything, but I still think it turned out pretty well.

For this second production, I was the chief script writer.  Just about everything the anchors said I was responsible for – and yeah it’s pretty cheesy, I know.  I wasn’t exactly putting my best effort into the work, we were hitting the end of the semester after all.

I was also the camera operator for the second show. That meant I was part of the “live” production team, making sure the anchors were properly visible and had the right amount of headroom and everything else that’s needed.  However, there were only three cameras in the newsroom we used, so the job became a bit more complicated when we had to use four or more camera angles to encompass multiple combinations of the three anchors.  I wound up having to mix my two jobs, setting the script up in a way to facilitate being able to move one camera to a new position while another was being used.

All-and-all I wound up having the most fun in that class doing the camera work along with the rest of the team who signed up for jobs on the show.  The rest of the class leading up to it was a little frustrating for various reasons, but I’d say the end made the whole thing worth it.

Since my final American Studies paper isn’t due until Monday, so I’m probably going to take at least the night off to relax.  However, now that the class is over, I feel it would at least be nice to give a shoutout to my Comm 202 professor, Penchan Phoborisut.  She’s a great teacher, and helped me at least get started in learning programs like Storify and Adobe Premiere Pro.  For that I’m grateful, considering they’re the kind of skills I’ll probably have to have a rudimentary knowledge of in this line of work at least.

So, until next time, I’m off to go play more Pokémon.  In fact, I’m thinking I’ll have an update on how that’s going at some point this weekend, since I’ve done quite a bit since beating the main campaign. For now though, let me know if you enjoyed our broadcasts.  They aren’t the most well-polished things, like I said, but for an amateur project I do think they turned out nice.

The Benefits of Having Great Teachers

The Benefits of Having Great Teachers

Now that I’m a year into college, I feel I finally have enough of a gap between now and high school to reflect on my experiences there with a bit more substance to my thoughts.  Today my friend Tiana and I visited my alma mater, Redondo Union High School, and I got to see a bunch of teachers that I haven’t visited in probably close to a year – more due to constraints on my time rather than interest in going, as I would have loved to visit more often.

Though the visit was admittedly a little repetitive in that I was telling the same stories to each different person over and over when asked how college has been going so far, just the fact that I was asked so often really made me realize something.  As a student who really cares about school, both the general experience and the actual learning it entails, I found that I really made a lot of friends among the teachers and administrators at my high school.  The journalism facet of my life helped in this too, as I often found more reasons to ask about the diverse interests of those higher-ups, which helped me break a lot of barriers and find out a lot more about people than I would have otherwise.

In retrospect, this decision to try to get closer to my teachers and admins was really one of my best decisions I’ve made.  Having friends with those in higher positions of authority not only helped me do my job as a journalist, it also helped me find opportunities and get encouragement in my college-hunting endeavors and more.  Plus, now that I’ve graduated, these friendships have blossomed with even more benefits.

Today I sat with my AP Government teacher for close to an hour talking about my year in college, about his year teaching the class I once was a part of (which, by the way, sounded pretty exciting given the state of this year’s presidential election) and trading stories about how our college experiences have related to each other.  I talked with my old AP Psychology teacher – who recently mailed me a letter commemorating my first year of her class and out of school I might add – about my experiences and got some pieces of advise I never would have gotten as a student wholly ignorant to the college world.  My old art teacher, who still has a story I wrote in the school paper about her pinned on the wall, was very eager to take time out of her third period class to talk with me.  My old journalism advisor was extremely impressed and proud to hear that I managed to clinch an editor position on the Daily Titan as a second year student there.  I even talked with my Principal, who was actually my Principal throughout middle school and followed my class to high school as well.  We talked pretty often due to this long-term proximity and her general eagerness to talk with me whenever I needed an administrative perspective for a news story on the paper.  The list goes on and on.

Many of these people shaped my life for a long time, four years at least.  If not for them, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today.  Their classes made me more well-balanced and prepared for realistically intense workloads, their personalities made me happy to practice my interpersonal skills, and their friendliness helped me feel like I could always do more, always push myself to be better.  Even now that I’m objectively totally out of their lives, it’s obvious that I’m definitely not out of their minds when I visit them.  The fact that they all cared how my life was progressing on top of being more than eager to get more personal about their own lives and thoughts now that I’m not a student honestly feels wonderful, like I always have other family members to return to in a way.

Teachers are incredibly important.  I’ve always felt that way, but really I’ve come to appreciate that fact more than ever recently.  Some professors I’ve had in college so far have been amazing, others have made promising classes a really trying experience to endure.  They make or break not only individual classes, but interests in various subjects as a whole.  If there’s any advice I’d give to anyone who asks in relation to school, I’ll always tell them to connect to their teachers on a stronger level than they usually would with a “one year and done” mentality.  They can serve as more than just the cornerstones of learning and as sources of advice or expertise, they can serve as really phenomenal friends too.