Connections – Episode 10

Jodie was beginning to look at the memories from her professor’s sophomore classes. For her, these classes were transformational not only in the content that was taught, but in the success skills that went along with the content. She found one memory that reinforced how important these success skills were.

I’ll never forget my first day in your sophomore class. You started by taking attendance. I thought at the time that I had returned to grade school. Little did I know that what you were doing was setting us up for an important success skill.

When you took attendance, you asked us the name we would like you to use. Some went by middle names, others by a shortening of their first name. We began to realize that you wanted to get to know us as persons not just as names on a class roster.

Then you reviewed the syllabus. This took less than 5 minutes. What a shock. Most of our professors literally read the syllabus to us. But the biggest shock was yet to come.

You handed out a one-page case study to us and gave us five minutes to analyze it and make recommendations. I’ve never had another class where the teacher started with the content on the first day.

After the five minutes were up, you told us what the first question would be on our first exam. “You will be asked to identify and spell correctly the names of 10 students in the class randomly chosen.” We were shocked and thought this was crazy.

Then you started calling on us one-by-one using our name to give one of our ideas. You had identified all of us as you had taken attendance. By the end of class every one of us had spoken. We stood up, said our names clearly, and then gave our response.

That changed the entire dynamics of my college experience. All of my classmates came together from that moment on. We studied together, we hung out together, and we became a huge support network for each other.

It’s now been 31 years since I was in that class. I’m a manager of a technology development company. You may find it interesting that what I’m best known for is not my technical skills, but how I relate to the people that work in my organization. I know all of their names, and people marvel at that. You taught me how important it is to know people’s names. It’s a way to recognize their importance.

That’s just one of the many success skills you taught me.

Janet – Class of 1989         

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