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Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Dear Trump, GOP and NRA assholes representatives,

I am a teacher, and I DO NOT want to carry a gun to class. I’m there to instruct, not take down a “bad guy.” (Armed teachers = unusually bad idea, even for you)

I have one goal in class: Teach. I work with college students, so they are paying my salary. My goal is to give them their money’s worth and more. I want to be the life-changing (life-saving in a different way) professor like Dr. Brightman was for me.

Part of my job is figuring out what each student needs (and I guarantee that it is not an AR-15 in their hands or mine).

Students usually come in a handful of personas. Here’s a field guide:

The Tracy Flick
Hand up first. Already has an A, but wants extra credit. “Overachiever” doesn’t even begin to encompass this student. Also can dissolve quickly if mastery doesn’t come easy.

The Ferris Bueller
Seems like he doesn’t care and isn’t paying attention, but he is smarter than the average bear. Often turns in the best work in the class without even trying.

The Jeff Spicoli
Sigh. What do you do about a student who is paying money to go to college, but is just a complete slacker? Love them anyway.

The Summer “Tinkerbell” Hathaway
This student is suspicious of you from the get-go, but you will slowly win her over if you do, in fact, know what you are talking about. And then she will try to push you to see how far she can go.

The Will Hunting
This student may appear to hate your guts during the class, but he will surprise you later on when he tells you that he learned so much from you. It is an unexpected, but joyful moment.

The John Bender
Hard candy shell with a liquid center. Seems confrontational, but is masking a deep-seated vulnerability. I love to see these kinds in five years when they are all well-adjusted and shit.

The Regina George
This student often is the most challenging because she has created a particular persona, and may resist your efforts to get her to think about anything/anyone other than herself. The trick is to help her figure out how to make assignments interesting enough to her so that she will enjoy doing them (thus learning in the process).

The Steve Stifler
Every female faculty member has this student’s number (meaning we know exactly who he is). No, we cannot have a meeting with my office door closed. No, we are not going together to the fraternity party Friday night. It’s great to see this student mature and even <gasp> get married.

The Sam Baker
This student is smart but can be quiet and thus overlooked. Pay attention to this one. Still waters run deep, as they say. This student often ends up being as close to you as students in the next category.

The Todd Anderson
With this student, you know early on that he/she will be in your life forever — and that is a good thing. You “get” them, they “get” you, and it is a lovely, symbiotic relationship. You start out as professor/student and morph into colleagues and friends later on. Some people in the aforementioned categories will end up in this one, and that is a lovely thing too.

I live to make a difference. And I live for notes like these:

That’s from a student who graduated five years ago. No surprise that she was a Todd.

I want to learn how to better reach every student. I do not want to learn how to better reach my gun.

I want to be accurate with grading. I do not want to be accurate with aim.

I want to get paid to carry full classes. I do not want to get paid to carry a gun.

Please, please, please find a different way to achieve the one goal we all want: peace in schools (and everywhere, for that matter). The answer is not arming teachers.

Thanks,
Beth

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Dear 1980s,

I’ve been thinking about you lately. It should be no surprise as I just wrote a post about growing up as your child. For those who did not experience you (or don’t remember because of all the crack cocaine), let me walk through your decade via all five senses.*

SMELL: Love’s Baby Soft and Polo by Ralph Lauren

Love's Baby Barf

Love’s Baby Soft, made of the tears of girls who realized they could never be real princesses, smelled like baby powder and desperation, roses and acne medicine. Every female wore it. How could our teachers stand it?

 

 

 

Polo by Ralph Lauren, made of the seeping testosterone of pubescent boys, smelled like cat piss in pine straw. Every boy wore it except my friend Rob. He wore Lagerfeld, I think. At any rate, it was something different, and I loved him.

 

 

 

SIGHT: Jessica McClintock and Bugle Boy

Little House on Central DriveFor any event — school dance, church, confirmation, scheduled pining for John Taylor, etc. — you were not a real girl unless you had a Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax dress. Every dress had lace or florals — often both. I don’t know what kind of fever dream we all were having, but we looked like we were trying to channel Laura Ingalls Wilder. These concoctions went well with the Love’s Baby Soft, and the hope by our parents that our vaginas would stay hidden forever. I think I had the dress to the left. I remember it itched.

 

Every boy in my school, fat or thin, tall or short, wore black parachute pants. No one looked good in them. No one. So many pockets. Yet you couldn’t put anything in those pockets because the pants were so freakin’ tight. I think the boys had to tuck to get them on.

 

 

 

SOUND: Pac-Man and Rush

There is no sound as distinctive as the sound of the game in action. That and, of course, the sound of the meet-cute cut scene with Ms. Pac-Man on her version. It was what was playing in the background of every attempted hookup in the arcade when we girls had shed our Gunne Sax dresses and slid into high-waisted acid-wash jeans. The boys remained encased in their parachute pants, probably until they could be cut out of them at night by their parents (who likely were thrilled that the sperm count had to be way down).

 

Every boy in my social circle went apeshit over Rush. “Moving Pictures,” “Signals,” “Grace Under Pressure” — they dissected each album like an archaeologist examines microscopic fossil fragments. Granted, I hung out with band geeks. In this dark period, we girls were left to our own devices, mooning over Rick Springfield, Duran Duran and George Michael (we didn’t know) until the boys started paying attention to us again in 10th grade.

 

TASTE: Jell-o Pudding Pops and Cool Ranch Doritos

At this point in time, the world loved Bill Cosby, and he loved to shill Jell-o Pudding Pops. We just added it to the rest of the sugar we were inhaling every day, all day. We started off with Smurf Berry Crunch cereal, gnawed on jawbreakers, Twizzlers and Nerds all day, then ended with Jell-o Pudding Pops. No wonder we loved neon. Our mood matched.

 

When Cool Ranch Doritos came out, our collective heads exploded. We had no idea such flavors existed in the world. And God help you if you had a party and did not provide the Cool Ranch Doritos. You would feel a cool breeze from former friends come Monday. (And yes, boys and girls, that is Jay Leno hawking them.)

 

TOUCH: Aqua Net and private parts

For our hair to reach such death-defying heights as expected, we needed Aqua Net. It would coat our hair with a layer of lacquer that repelled rain, hands, sonic blasts, etc. Pity the fool who would try to touch our perms crowned by sky-high bangs.

Here’s a wee little photo of me during the Aqua Net era (because any larger would make your eyes bleed). I think I’m wearing a half a can of Aqua Net. I could have fallen on my head from a great height and been totally fine.

 

 

In addition to getting to know our own parts, we also were getting to know the parts of others — at the arcade, on bleachers, in the back of movie theaters, in cars, in AP History class. (What’s that you say? Just me? Well then.) What a wonderful time to be alive! All the bits a tingling.

 

Some say there is a sixth sense. I can assure you that we did not have it then. For example, I thought I might have a chance with Mike M. When my friend Kari asked him, though, she was told to bring me back the news that I was a “dog.” Oh. OK. Back to Andrew McCarthy for me.

Anyway, I miss you sometimes, but I don’t miss the angst associated with growing up.

Thanks for the memories.

Love,
Beth

 

*I apologize that these reflections are gender- and heteronormative. These are my personal recollections as a cisgendered straight person.

 

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Dear People of a Certain Age,

My dad used to say, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Later I found out he pinched* that from Bette Davis.

Anyway, I’d reply, “Yeah, yeah,” and go on about my business.

So now I’m old(ish), and I see.

Except sometimes I can’t see without my glasses.

And that’s new.

Eddie calls this my sexy librarian look. What does he know? He’s old(ish) too.

Let me hear an “Amen” on these other surefire signs of aging:

  • The mind says, “Yes!,” but the body says, “Not so fast.”
  • You agree to events in the moment, and then are thrilled when there is a reason you can’t go:

Yes, I’d love to go to your cousin’s friend’s yard party, but (insert name of first family member you see) just isn’t feeling well.

  • What used to be a punishment as a kid — “Go straight to your room, young lady; you’ll be going to bed early!” — sounds like a perfect night.
  • When you do go out, you lose your mind. It’s like you have to make up for months of the above. At least you get to talk about “that time when … ” After all:

Bad decisions make good stories.

  • You wake up at 3 a.m. No reason. And that’s your ass, because you can’t go back to sleep.
  • Your friends text at 6:30 and 7 in the morning, and you’re not even mad. You’re up. You get mad at the ones who text at 10 p.m.
  • You have (or have thought about) beginning a sentence with the words, “Kids today … ” I swear to God I called some student a crazy whippersnapper Friday when he nearly hit me in his Mustang. (In my head, I called him this. I’m not quite into audible “Get off my lawn!” territory.)
  • Songs suddenly hit a nerve. Take, for example, the lyrics from “Live Tomorrow” by my new favorite band, Jesse’s Divide.

    Work today, work tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 83
    Living life inside a memory.

    Work today, live tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 63
    And living life was just a memory.

    That’s not depressing at all. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

  • No more catcalls on the street. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your ego/past/tolerance level.
  • The top thatch is thinning a tick (or a ton maybe). This is not my problem, though. Mine has gotten thicker. Downside: shedding (i.e., clogged drains, hairballs in corners, strands all over everyone’s clothing all the time). Gideon reports:

Somehow I found one of your hairs in my notebook!

  • Waistline creep. Large fries from McDonald’s now cut down to just one you steal from your kid and eat like a squirrel with an acorn. (Or is this just me?)
  • You may think you are young and hip but your pop culture references say old and outdated. Actual conversation from mere days ago:

Me, opening the classroom door: I have so many keys, I feel like Schneider from ‘One Day at a Time.’ (looking at student next to me) Uh oh. I guess that doesn’t mean anything to you.
Student: Oh I get most of your references. I watch Nick at Nite and other throwback channels.
Me, aging 10 more years instantly: Ouch (said internally where it’s dark and sad).

  • All of a sudden, parts of your body start speaking to you in an unpleasant tone of voice. I woke up the other morning, and my hip was barking at me. Why? I don’t know.
  • You see someone old and unattractive in a window and realize it’s your reflection. Rude.
  • Gray hairs appear in new places seemingly overnight.
  • If you have dry skin, like I do, then you suddenly are spending your retirement savings on various potions to beat the lines and crepiness into submission. If you have oily skin, you are good to glow (literally and figuratively).

  • For women: There’s a vast wasteland between Forever 21 and Coldwater Creek.
  • For men: Don’t complain to me. You age and get “distinguished.” Never a shortage of women of all ages who are interested. (Two old ladies felt up Eddie in the grocery store this week. He now has a #metoo story.) Women? Sorry. You’re just old. Suck it up, Buttercup. (Yet it still beats the alternative of NOT getting to age.)

In just a few short years, I think I’ll be the living version of Maxine. Horrifying.

Send a cryo pod, STAT.

Laughing to keep from crying,
Beth the Aged

 

* Yep. I’m still British.

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Dear Helicopter Parents:

I’m going to have to ask you to stand down. Before you get your knickers in a twist*, know that I know you: I too am a member of Gen X. Like you, I was raised by Baby Boomers who never knew where I was until the streetlights came on.

(Or when Chris Marosy’s dad rang the dinner bell in the Marosys’ front yard, whichever came first.)

Stop checking your child’s calendar, Snap and Insta for a hot second and listen to me.

What happened to you?

You know good and well that we didn’t have play dates or Pinterest-inspired birthday parties or gender-reveal parties or baby wipe warmers or organic food. (We ate Chef Boyardee ravioli out of the can, FFS!)

You know what else we didn’t have?

  • Car seats or (many times) seat belts. We just rolled around in the back of cars, putting on shows with our feet in the back window.
  • Hand sanitizer. We barely washed our hands.
  • Awards unless we came in first place. Not first? Loser.
  • Remote controls. We got up to change the channel on the TV. Only four channels; not much of a workout.
  • Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc. See above.
  • A ride to the corner store. We walked our asses there to get our fix of Bubble Yum, Atomic Fire Balls, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes.
  • A choice when it came to chores, the food on our plates, sitting quietly at events (no tablets or smartphones to keep us occupied).
  • Parental supervision. We were latchkey kids. We were babysitting by age 10 (sometimes earlier). The only goal was to keep the kids alive until their parents came home.
  • Words of encouragement. “Good job” not typically in a Boomer’s vocabulary.
  • Attention. Not even for injuries. That is, unless a bone was sticking out of the skin. Then we might get a Band-Aid.
  • Timeouts. We got the belt if we were acting up. Or, in my case, a whack with a flyswatter.

I’m not saying all this was great, but I am saying that we all turned out fine. We are suspicious of authority, skeptical of everything, but fine.

Our kids will be fine too. You DO NOT need to hover — I promise. We made mistakes, and we learned from them. You are making it harder for them to be adults by doing everything for them.

These are things you’ve said to me or around me (names changed to protect them like you want):

  • “Kyle is having trouble making his morning class. Can you go to his room in the mornings and wake him up?”
  • “Madison needs to learn to advocate for herself.” (Yet you come to every meeting and interrupt her when she tries to speak up.)
  • “Who will be doing Dylan’s laundry in the dorms?”

I heard a story about a dad who came to his son’s job interview. The kid did not get the job. Of course.

Poor kids.

It’s not their fault. You made them this way.

I would have DIED if my parents had talked to any of my professors or college staff. You would have too.

My parents showed up at college twice:

  • To move me in.
  • To see me graduate.

That’s it.

Times have changed. I get it. And I know there are positives to being more involved in your child’s life (like maybe fewer snatchings, less drug use, a feeling of being more connected — loved even).

I’m just asking you to back off — just a bit — when little Connor goes to college.

All of us who work at universities will thank you.

And that means you will have more free time to take up new hobbies like:

  • Finally watching “Game of Thrones.”
  • Exercising (that stomach isn’t going to flatten itself).
  • Day drinking.
  • Napping.
  • Both of the above in that order.

Thank you, from the bottom of my after-school-special-loving heart.
Beth

* I’m British now. Didn’t I tell you?

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Merinda_Epstein_job_interviewDear Job Seeker:

You did it: You made it to the in-person interview. You do not, however, have the job yet. Don’t get comfortable. Nowadays, the hiring process is a marathon for job seekers, not a sprint.

Here are Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview:

  1. Dress appropriately. Auntie Beth keeps saying this, so it must be important. IT IS! Research the organization and know how employees dress at work. You should dress one or two steps up the fancy ladder. At Auntie Beth’s organization, suits and dresses are de rigueur. Imagine her surprise when a fellow wore jeans to his interview.
  2. Pay attention to hygiene. Please bathe, fix your hair, brush your teeth, clip or polish your nails, shine your shoes, etc., in preparation for your interview. Take pride in your presentation. Auntie Beth don’t want no scrubs.
  3. Prepare for interview questions. If you have been interviewed over the phone or via Skype, then you already know what kinds of questions organization representatives will ask you. Now is the time to tighten up those answers. Know the points you want to make about your education, experience, work ethic and goals that make you the right fit for the organization. (These are called “talking points,” boys and girls!) Match key details to the job description. For example, if they ask you to tell them about yourself, do not share your biography from age 3 to present in a 20-minute monologue. Simply offer a few sentences about what makes you the best candidate for the position. If they ask you about your greatest achievement, do not respond, “Getting off the pole.” (Auntie Beth heard that true story  from a friend at a staffing firm. The candidate stated that she still had her pimp, though.)
  4. Remember that you are still in an interview. Do not ask for a larger office (another true story), a refrigerator and microwave in that larger office (true again), or comfortable couches so people can “hang out” (yep, also true).
  5. Have fun! This is perhaps the most important part. Yes, Auntie Beth knows you are nervous, but you need to show your personality. You will spend at least 40 hours at work each week with these people. You likely will spend more time with your work colleagues than you will with your friends and family. Do you like them? Do they like you? Smile and turn on the charm.

Auntie Beth believes in you. Carpe diem!

In other words, seize the day,
Beth

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2013.09.27.skype-conversationsDear Job Seeker:

If things go well at the job fair, the next step might be a Skype interview. Auntie Beth is here to help.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Acing the Skype Interview:

  1. Use a professional handle. Use your name or an appropriate variation (e.g., WriterBeth). (You can save “HoochieMama12” for your chats with friends.)
  2. Art direct your space. Find an appropriate location that looks professional. A home office is a good spot. A garage with recycling bins behind you is not.
  3. Troubleshoot your equipment. Run tests with friends or family to make sure everything is working properly. Set up your laptop/iPad/computer on a stable surface that is eye level. Don’t even think about holding your iPad in your hands for the interview.
  4. Dress appropriately. Wear interview attire. Just because you might be at home doesn’t mean professional dress doesn’t apply. Don’t try to disguise sweats by wrapping yourself in a big scarf. Have some sense!
  5. Remember that this is a bona fide interview. For the love of all that is holy, do not take your laptop into the kitchen to make a sandwich during the interview. (True story, says Auntie Beth.) Look into the camera and answer questions the way you would in an in-person interview.

May the bandwidth be ever in your favor,
Beth

 

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'I'd like a job as a job creator so I can create an easy, high paying job for myself.'

Dear Job Seeker:

Auntie Beth is here with more advice to help you get a job. This is the first of a three-part series on interviewing: Making the Most of the Job Fair, Acing the Skype Interview, and Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Making the Most of the Job Fair:

  1. Do your research. Find out which companies will be at the job fair and what jobs are open. Tailor your résumé to fit each position you want.
  2. Come prepared. Based on your research, make a list of what positions are open where and which résumé fits. (Type A people, this is where you can color-code some folders!) Put your tailored résumés in a proper carrier, such as a nice leather bag. Do not shove them in a ratty North Face backpack.
  3. Dress for success. Wear proper interview attire. Do not wear jeans and a hoodie to a job fair. (This seems like common sense to Auntie Beth, but you’d be surprised at what she has seen with her very own eyes.)
  4. Be ready for an impromptu interview. If company representatives like what they see in your résumé, they will want to talk to you right then. Formulate responses to key questions. Auntie Beth was shocked recently when a candidate simply wanted to drop off a résumé at a booth and was not prepared to be interviewed that moment. It’s a job fair, people — that’s why you are there!
  5. Talk to everyone. Even if companies you are interested in do not have a job open that is right for you, talk to representatives anyway. Give them a résumé. Let them know what kind of job you would be suited for in their organization. If you are personable and seem like the right fit for the company, chances are good that they will remember you later. Don’t forget to ask for business cards and follow up with a nice note.

Doing well at the job fair may be the difference between being gainfully employed or being 35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!

Yours in motivation,
Auntie Beth

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