Last week the college students came into town, took over some parts of our city, and have set up camp for the next four months.
In my work as an instructor, I get to meet a new batch of college freshman every year. I love this work. I get really excited about teaching, thinking about the ways people learn, and coming up with cool stuff to do in class.
One of the things I love is that each semester, the majority of my students have never seen me before.
They don’t know what I look like (I do not have a photo on ratemyprofessor.com).
They don’t know how to pronounce my last name.
They don’t know that it’s hard for me to go to sleep the night before because I’m so excited about the first day of school.
And they have no idea what to expect in my classroom.
In many cases, they aren’t even sure who they are, never mind concerned about who I am.
They are preoccupied with what they look like (at least the girls are).
Some might wonder whether or not the teacher will say their name correctly, but they mostly wonder things like “will I find my classes?” and “oh crap, I didn’t really plan my schedule with time for a lunch break.”
They can’t sleep the night before because they are doing something totally different.
And instead of wondering about how they can change when they come into my classroom, they have a set of expectations based on their previous experiences that they are using to pre-judge this situation.
We all do this. Our brains literally are wired to behave this way. Thank goodness it does or things like driving and using a mandolin to slice vegetables would always be uncomfortable and never move to a learned behavior or pattern.
But there are times when we might benefit from approaching new circumstances without tapping into our pre-existing judgments and past experiences, good or bad.
I tell my students on the first and second days of class that I don’t know anything about them. I have not looked up their transcripts or test scores. I have not searched for them on Facebook.
I tell them they have a clean slate and that in my classroom, they can be whatever kind of student they want to be. This is the time to decide. To think about the habits and choices you made before you came here, decide what works, and get rid of what doesn’t.
This is the time to try new things. If you want to be an A student and in high school B’s and C’s were all you made, then be an A student.
Walk in the door the way an A student would walk in the door. Ask questions in class. Spend a little more time on your homework. Retake the online quiz for the highest possible points.
Fake it and pretty soon, you’ll make it.
I’m teaching them to self-reflect, which is what journaling is all about. I’m just not running after them with a journal and a pen asking them to write daily…not the first week anyway.
But self-reflection doesn’t always have to be written, right? It can be looking in the mirror, literally, and asking yourself: “who do I want to be today?”
Do you want to be a mom who prepares a healthy lunch for the kids? Do it.
Would you like to be a person who is always on time to meetings? Done!
Maybe you’d like to be a runner. Grab your shoes and go.
Perhaps you just want to be a person who is smiling and at peace. Work those facial muscles!
Are you ready to be a journaler? Pick up your pen and write.
No more hemming and hawing. No more sticking with old habits. Train your brain to have a new habit, a new way. The one you just decided when you answered the question “who do I want to be today?”
You could really have fun with this too! Ask yourself this question the next time you take a trip. Maybe on your next flight you’ll try rocking a British accent when you talk to the person next to you. You get to choose!
Most of my readers are no longer college freshman. And there’s a good chance that most you aren’t in the midst of the transitions they are right now.
But, like them, you woke up this morning and got to choose who you wanted to be today. So, who did you decide to be? Post a comment below or share on Facebook!