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In the wise words of Billy Madison, I’m going “Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.”

We all make choices on a daily basis — big ones, small ones, bad ones, good ones. I’ve recently made an important one (for me) — to go back to school this fall.

I studied Communication at Merrimack and always thought that I would end up in public relations or marketing. However, since I knew I wanted to give back to the community, I decided to join the Augustinian Volunteer Program after graduation. I was placed in a happy and vibrant Pre-K classroom on the south side of Chicago as a teacher’s aide for a year. This experience — and the children in my class — taught me more than I ever imagined. Most importantly, they opened my eyes to what teaching really is.

My Chicago buddies

My Chicago buddies

On the day of my Pre-K class’ graduation, I received the best gift I could have ever asked for — a beautiful and encouraging letter from one of my student’s mothers.

In a section of the letter it said,

“I have met a lot of teachers since I have four children, but you broke the mold and set the bar. This is definitely your calling. This one year has changed my household. I take more joy in my children. It’s sad and great to say — it’s because my daughter met a teacher who inspired her, and she came home to inspire us. She’s five — more confident, much more verbal, and a heck of a lot wiser!”

I will be forever grateful to this student’s mother and for my experience in Chicago. Even after three years when I think about happiness, I think back to my time in that special Pre-K classroom and these touching words.

What took me so long to figure all of this out?

For one — what the heck did I know when I was going into college? It’s kind of crazy to me that people expect you to choose your major in college — basically ask you what you want to do with the rest of your life — at the ripe old age of 18! When I was in college I was probably more concerned with friends and fun, rather than papers and projects. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely worried about choosing a major and doing well in class. But I really don’t think I was mature enough to take any of it as seriously as it should have been taken (given how much my parents helped me, and how much I pay in loans each month).

That being said, I always knew that if I was going to go back to school one day I wanted to be pretty damn close to 100% sure of what I was going back for — and it takes time to figure this out. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do as soon as they popped out of the womb, but for most people this isn’t the case. I wanted to make sure I put a lot of thought into my next step in life. Maybe I’ve matured a little…

To be honest, I don’t think I was ready to teach right after my volunteer year; I needed to give marketing a chance. I knew if I didn’t I’d probably always wonder “what if?“. I never did an internship in college (probably should have), so I truly didn’t know whether I would like it or not. And it’s not even that I just didn’t ‘like’ it, (I liked some aspects of it — for example, I will always love social media!) it just hasn’t been fulfilling for me, and I crave that I guess.

Even though I’ve realized that marketing doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me, I’m happy for the time I’ve spent in the field. I’m more organized, detail-oriented, confident, and maybe a little more analytical (key word, maybe). I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and have truly gained an immeasurable amount of experience.

This year I am participating in the Fellowship grad program at Merrimack College — going back to my undergrad roots! I will be teaching in a school during the day, and taking classes after school a couple of evenings a week. In May, I will (hopefully!) be graduating with my masters in Early Childhood Education / Special Education.

Funny thing is, this May my sister Molly will be graduating from Merrimack (undergrad) as well! And that’s not all — so will our cousin, and Molly’s boyfriend. We will have to have quite the celebration. :)

It may have taken me a few years, but I finally trust and believe the words my student’s mother wrote me. I’m ready for my next adventure!

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Little tidbits for my 100th post

This is my 100th post. YAY! *Happy Dance*

On that note… There are days when I feel like I can literally do anything. Days when for some reason, I’m just feeling good. I feel like I really can write a book, I really can run another half marathon, I really can accomplish whatever the hell I want to. I always wonder on days like today, where does this random burst of inspiration come from? I guess today is a day I feel like sharing random tidbits with everyone…

My thoughts are jumbled. I have a few tips. I’m not an expert. I don’t know it all, I know a little, I want to know more. Take ‘em or leave ‘em people.

If you meet a guy/girl and you both like one another, don’t wait around – make the move if you want to. Call or text him/her, whatever. What do you have to lose? Just go for it.

If you want to break up with someone because you’re in a relationship that isn’t working, do it. Don’t stay in the relationship because you feel bad, or worse, guilty.You both will be happier for it, eventually.

Learn about yourself. What is going to make you happy? You can’t put yourself first all the time, but most of the time you have to. This is how you’re going to help everyone else in your life be happy as well.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Communication is key. In relationships, in friendships, within families. You have to talk about things. Unfortunately there aren’t enough mind readers or magicians in the world. People aren’t going to just know what you’re thinking, or know what you want. You have to speak up for yourself. Voice your opinion.

Take pride in your work, in what you do. If you’re a teacher, if you’re a bus driver, if you’re a surgeon, a hairdresser, a lawyer, a chef, etc. whatever you do – do it 110%. No one likes a slacker.

That being said, dress appropriately at work. No need to wear short skirts, this is not a bar on a Saturday night. Don’t wear tube tops, we’re not at the beach. If you’re wearing a top that’s semi-revealing, bring a cardigan. If you’re wearing a dress, a skirt or shorts make sure they are damn close to your knees (yes I said knees, not your cooch – cause let me tell you, I’ve seen short, and that just ain’t right.)

Be nice to people. Get the chip off your shoulder. No one needs your attitude for no reason. Also, don’t belittle people, that’s not nice.

When someone asks a favor of you, remember one day you’re gonna need a favor as well…

Find a hobby that you love. Spend time with your hobby. Make friends that share in your hobby. It’s fun!

Try new things. Try one new thing every month. I’ve never been rock climbing, I’m going to try it. I’ve never made an apple pie, I want to try that too. I’ve never been in a book club, I want to join one.

There is something you really, truly want to do. I know there is. I may not know exactly what it is, but I know it’s there. So, do it. Get ‘er done. Go after it. I want to write a book. It’s not the easiest thing to want to do, but one day (mark my words) it’s gonna happen. Getting it published may be another story…

Know that you’re at work for a reason; they want you there, you have something that’s valuable to your company. Think about that, remember that.

Stop letting people tell you what to do. Stop letting people walk all over you. You are not a door mat, instead you’re a very nice, capable, intelligent person. Learn to say no. You cannot do everything. Stop trying to.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone fails, everyone makes mistakes. What is the point on driving yourself crazy over this stuff? There is no point. Okay maybe for a few days, or I’ll even give you a few weeks (for big things) but no more than that. Have a pity party for yourself and move on! That’s the only way you’re gonna improve, the only way you’re gonna feel good about yourself again.

Explore your city. Take advantage of all the amazing things going on every day, every hour, every minute… Get out there!

Get a healthy amount of sleep. I am SO VERY bad at this.

I’ll end my little rant (or whatever this is) with a simple one:  When someone smiles at you, smile back.

Goodnight! :)

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