Dancing in the Hall
by Linda Cobourn
It was one of those rare moments, a spontaneous celebration erupting out of nowhere. The adult students in my Communications II class were learning the rhetorical strategies of pathos, ethos, and logos by presenting short skits. The last skit provoked a lot of noise, with one student bursting into the classroom waving a loaded eraser while the student portraying Pathos cowered under a desk crying. So loud had been her screams that several male students and the dean showed up at our doorway.
To “get back at me” for the disruption my class had caused, the professor of Music Empowerment chose to bring her students out to the hallway to sing “I’m Every Woman.” I led my class out to join in. There we were, forty students and two professors, dancing and singing during class hours.
I watched the faces of my students: they were joyous, elated to be engaging in a few moments of revelry, casting off their cares of being adult students with jobs, families, and financial woes.
Adults need the opportunity to play. In 2016, studies report that 30% of adults are working at multiple jobs. With the responsibility of children still living at home and elder parents needing care, the adult of 21st century America is stressed, tired, and on the verge of emotional collapse. Some adults have also returned to school for greater employment opportunities following job loss.
College programs designed for adult students are different than traditional programs. Most adults who return to school are only on campus for class and library use. It is no wonder that adult students feel isolated. This sense of isolation is a reason only one out of four adult college students finish a degree. Reasons students drop out range from financial to family concerns, but high on the list is emotional overload.
Continuing education should bring with it joy in acquiring new knowledge and self-satisfaction in reaching a goal, but the opposite is often true. The overwhelming work required of higher education squeezes out the little leisure time left over from other responsibilities. Adults who do manage to finish their degrees report that they feel elated when the process is over.
But there’s nothing wrong with a little elation along the way. We should all occasionally dance in the hallway.
Dr. Linda Cobourn is a literacy specialist who works with at-risk learners and non-traditional college students. Her research interests include building college-ready skills in middle school students and providing academic support to adult learners. Dr. Cobourn also cares for her disabled husband and autistic son and writes about the experiences at http://writingonthebrokenroad.blogspot.com/
Will You Accept September’s One-on-One Challenge?
by Gail Goolsby
Everyone wants to know and be known intimately by someone. We want to have relationships where connections can be quick and meaningful. September is One-on-One Month. Consider what you can do to ramp up your relationship investment.
The most important people in our lives should not have to wonder if we care about current challenges they are facing or achievements they have completed. They should be able to answer affirmatively that when they talk—we truly listen.
How can we experience the most from our meetings and conversations?
How can we communicate our presence, our full attention to the other person?
In Your Face and Off Your Phone
In today’s culture, being physically present and not looking at a phone are keys to quality conversations.
In a 2014 study conducted by Shalini Misra from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, people were observed from a distance conversing in a coffee shop. More than factors of age, gender, ethnicity, mood, topic, or relationship closeness, the presence of mobile devices impacted the overall satisfaction of interaction between participants. The absence of mobile devices resulted in higher level reports of empathy and superior communication.
With the present technology overload, device-free gatherings are unusual, whether in a restaurant, home, or conference room. The challenge is daunting but vital. Put aside beeping, blinking, tweeting equipment when engaging a person or a group.
Presence is Proximity and Purpose
When we do have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a friend, family member, co-worker, or employee, we show our desire to be present with:
- Curiosity (find out something new)
- Good questions (go for deeper than surface reports on work and activities)
- Engagement (make eye contact, maintain positive body language)
- Appreciation (share something valuable about person)
- Active, responsive listening (don’t interrupt, occasionally check for understanding)
- Focus (avoid looking around, letting thoughts wander)
- Humor (tell a funny anecdote to release endorphins for everyone)
Satisfaction for All
Maybe the exchange happens while walking through the neighborhood or during a car ride. Perhaps in a kitchen, park, coffee shop, break room, or child’s room before bedtime.
Wherever, whenever the chat takes place, plan to be present and phone-free and make it a quality time that both of you will enjoy.
Accept the September One-On-One challenge and purpose to have satisfying conversations with the important people in your life. Who will be first on your list?
Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 38 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. www.gailgoolsby.com