Goodbye Miss

Yesterday after my last C++ class, I chatted with 3 of my students for a little more than an hour. It was really an enlightening conversation. Since I started lecturing in 2008, I noticed that most students form an opinion about my upbringing, the schools I would have attended and the area I live in, most times being completely wrong but interestingly assuming an improved version of the life I lived and currently live. This is all based on the way I interact with them, the way I dress and speak, my knowledge of the topic area I’m lecturing and in essence, the way I portray myself. Last night I spent some time with these students and we all shared details from our lives and our upbringing. We talked about so many things but it was important for me to share some of the things I learned in life. I sent them an email this morning thanking them for the little chat after class and wishing them all the best in their exams. I also took that opportunity to remind them of some of the things we discussed last night.

  • You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. (John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire)
  • Everything in life is energy.
  • Anything you can think about you can bring about.
  • In life, you get every thing you want. Most people just don’t know how to want. They focus on the things they don’t want, which draws that thing closer to them.
  • Where attention goes, energy flows and things grow. Focus your attention on the things you want to see grow.
  • Form a mastermind group with individuals of like minds with a common goal.
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From one semester to the next

Today is my last C++ class as well as my last class for the semester. It is indeed a bitter sweet feeling. I’m sad it’s over because I really enjoyed this class and the interaction with the students but no classes for the month of December means a little additional rest for my body even though I’ll be busy marking assignments and papers. I look forward to classes in the next semester. I haven’t finalised my courses just yet but I’ve discussed lecturing Design Patterns with Java and Computer Logic. I’ve never lectured these modules before so I’m really excited, more so for the Design Patterns course as I’ve covered these in my MSc using C++ and Objective-C. It’s going to be so much fun teaching design patterns using Java next semester.

Just one more class

For the past three weeks, I’ve held make-up classes in addition to my regular classes, which meant I lectured from Monday to Friday either 5PM to 8PM or 5PM to 9PM. This has been a crazy schedule more so because I’m still maintaining my 8AM-4PM job. Yesterday should have been my last C++ class, however, a few of my students requested that we have an additional class. There are two days next week assigned for revision by the University that I will use to give the students who missed assessments, an opportunity to come to class to submit their work and also review any concepts covered throughout the semester that was not fully understood. Most students are usually happy for classes to end but it felt really great hearing students say I’m their favourite lecturer…not sure if they’re trying to get extra marks lol, request that I teach them other courses as well as ask for an additional class. These are the moments that make lecturing so worth it.

Check out this book – Lecturing: A Practical Guide

Children and their environment

It has been stated in many forums that the first 7 years of a child’s life is crucial to the development of their character. Yesterday before my C++ class, I engaged in a bit of conversation with one of my students. He currently lives in an area of the country that is quite known for drug and gang related activities and we were discussing some of the common traits of people within those areas. He has a 2 year old daughter who lives with him and his parents and he wanted to purchase a particular item for her. I mentioned to him that it’s predominantly persons of a particular class who see those things as important and maybe he should reconsider his choice. He agreed that all of the men in his area were purchasing those items for their kids so he saw nothing wrong with it. He also explained that it’s almost impossible for him to have a discussion with his friends in the area about the work he is pursuing at the University as most of them will not even have a clue about anything he is currently studying. It’s as if they see no other way of living than what they’ve been shown. After some persuading on my part, he agreed with what I was trying to say about the choice of item for his daughter. Even though we were born into a particular way of living, it’s important that we constantly try to elevate ourselves and the standards of the generations to come. He mentioned that his goal was to have his own home outside of that area, within the next 5 years. I definitely applaud his efforts as a 26 year old man coming from that part of our country.

Check out this great read – Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Handling disrespect

The fact remains that not all students will respect you. One of my students is usually very grumpy, which is quite sad considering he’s such a young man. He enters the classroom, you smile at him and greet him, he’s upset that you’re smiling at him. It’s always a learning experience for me to meet individuals like this. Yesterday in class he decided to wear headphones while I was lecturing. It’s important that I have my students’ full attention when explaining a new concept and while I tried to get his attention he completely ignored me. Students who usually play this game are seeking attention and desire to feel a sense of power over the lecturer, the environment and the situation. They may have had an upbringing where they were not given much love and attention, they were dominated by another in the household or they have low self esteem and can only feel confident by making others feel bad about themselves. Either way, I was not deeply offended but I did feel sorry for him. This type of behaviour is more common with teenagers, so to find someone in their twenties or possibly thirties behaving this way, it was quite a shock.

The Interview after the job

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about my lecturing duties at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. I previously lectured at the University from January 2008 for almost 3 years and I have always maintained great relationships with the staff at the organisation. So when I decided to go back to lecture part time, I sent an email to one of the program directors indicating my interest and that was it. Due to the fact that part time lecturers are always needed and sometimes at the last minute, the recruitment process can a bit different at times. In my case, I was hired and have been working for almost 2 months, without pay of course and now my interview is today. It may sound a bit crazy to many but I guess when there are students to be taught, having an instructor present is more important than protocol. I guess it also helped that I previously lectured one of the courses I was assigned to teach, back in 2008. Once everything goes well today, I will be issued a contract and be financially compensated for all my work done thus far. When I was initially informed of the process, I must admit I was a bit confused but I totally understand now that the education of the students is of greater priority when time to follow protocol is not really an option.

Introduction to C++ Programming

Yesterday’s C++ class was so exciting. Firstly I decided to structure the exam from last week a bit differently and give the students the opportunity to have a retake. The initial quiz was mainly free text and I don’t think that worked very well. After the exam, the students finally had the opportunity to create their first HelloWorld program using C++. Last minute I decided to change the way I would start them coding. I wanted to explain more about the types of editors, the compiler, linking and how a program goes from words in an editor to a working application. However, I realised it would probably be better for them to start a simple program and when the concepts are explained, have something to refer those concepts to. I must admit, for a group of electrical engineers in training, they were quite excited about building applications. I focused mainly on input (cin) and output (cout) and two data types, string and int. A few of the students even improvised and extended on the practical work done in the class session, which I was very happy to see. The class finished around 8:35PM last night as the energy was so good in the room. If it wasn’t for my 4:00AM wake up time this morning and the campus security patiently waiting outside the classroom door to close the room, I would have probably carried the class until 9:00PM. I’m excited for next week’s class and I hope the students are as well.