Archive for the ‘College Teaching’ Category

The Smile — and Happiness Shared

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014.  We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.”  The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc.  But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc.  Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea.  The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

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Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

 

Happiness Question #10

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Today in my English 123 (Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), I started a new daily segment I’m calling “Dr. Saye’s Top Ten Happiness Questions.”  In my courses this term, the students and I are examining the Popular Psychology concept of Happiness Studies.  We are reading Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment and Paulo Coelho’s incredibly bestselling novel/fable, The Alchemist.

And we’re having So Much Fun.

But before I ask you my Happiness Question #10, I invite you to quickly watch this somewhat insane YouTube video:

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Seriously?

Here’s Happiness Question #10, which if you will incorporate into your life, I give you a money-back guarantee that you will be happier!

“JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?”

“JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?”

“JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?”

Try saying it out loud:

“JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?”

If you want to live a life of joy, your answer may be that it’s really not all that important.

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Ask it the next time somebody pulls in front of you in traffic.

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Choose Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NealNotes on Neal’s KeyNote

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I had a great time at Friday’s Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah.  And I delivered the Keynote Address!

Here’s the blurb from the conference website:

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“Teaching Life: the Heart, the Art”

 Dr. Neal Saye.  Associate Professor Emeritus of Writing and Linguistics Georgia Southern University.  Adjunct Professor, Savannah College of Art & Design

Chair or co-chair of the Student Success conference for much of its 14-year history, Neal was also a key member of its founding committee. He reported on these experiences in “Pearls and Perils of Starting a Conference” (co-presented with Mary Marwitz and Michael Mills) at a Popular Culture Association in the South in Jacksonville, Florida. He brought the same dedication to running this conference as he did to his teaching philosophy. A dedicated blogger, Neal posted to his Facebook and WordPress sites: “My passion in life is learning about/exploring/playing with the subjects of joy and happiness. For the past five years or so, I have used this subject to inform my pedagogy and my day-to-day classroom assignments and activities. What has happened is that teaching about happiness has made me (and I hope my students) happier. Thus my passion spilled over into my teaching, which came rushing back into my life.”

Now an associate professor emeritus after 24 years of teaching writing at Georgia Southern University, Neal has returned to academia as an adjunct professor for the Savannah College of Art & Design. In addition to his well deserved emeritus designation, Neal’s honors and awards include Georgia Southern University Professor of the Year, 2010 and 1993; Dorothy Smith Golden Award for Teaching Excellence, Writing and Linguistics Department, 2003; Georgia Southern University Award for Excellence in Contributions to Instruction, 2001; “Most Approachable Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1994; and “Funniest Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1993. Neal earned his Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies/Cultural Studies in 2002. After earning dual B.S. degrees in English and Biology from Berry College, Neal came to Georgia Southern to earn his M.A. in English Language and Literature.

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Here I am at the podium about two seconds after being introduced:

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Kidding.  I actually loved all 35 minutes of it!  The audience was attentive, fun and laughed and ooohed at all the right places.  I used loads of technology with videos, pics and graphics–which all flowed seamlessly.  I’ll post the text of the talk a bit later (in case anyone’s interested) when I clean it up a bit for publishing.  For now here are some photos.

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The conference was held at the beautiful Coastal Georgia Center.

Here’s what I wore.  Up to the last minute, I was trying to decide between hip or plain ole.

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I know.  Probably too much.  But I wore a jacket over it.  But that eyeball kept looking out at people.

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(Armani, borrowed from son-in-law.)

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I loved catching up with former Georgia Southern colleagues.  Here I am with good buddy Mary Marwitz, who introduced me:

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(Isn’t that a cool scarf?)  And with Interim Writing and Linguistics Department Chair Phyllis Dallas:

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Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Curtis Ricker (and fellow grandfather):

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Chatting with J. Marie Lutz from Continuing Education and fellow GSU retiree Nancy Dessommes:

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And trying to listen in, unseen, on private conversations:

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Where are all the people?  Nobody’s here!

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Another fellow retiree Mary Hadley:

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GSU Provost Jean Bartels:

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Former co-worker and blog commenter Rachel VanHorn Leroy:

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Coolest tie at conference:

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What a crowd showed up!

Here’s a video I used about teachers dancing behind students:

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And here are a few quotes from the address:

“We find what we’re looking for.”

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“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”

Caring for Students 101 should be a required course in all teacher education programs.”

“The student is more important than the subject being taught.”

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A great time!

Reblog: Introducing the JoyInciters

In preparation for tomorrow’s keynote address at the Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah, I am reblogging these three pertinent posts. EnJoy!

JoyInciter = a strategy or practice which can bring greater happiness in life

I would like to introduce you to what I call the JoyInciters, a collection of simple practices which I use regularly to increase the level of happiness and joy in my life.  And even though some folks make a distinction between joy and happiness, I use the terms interchangeably.  I have collected these strategies from my study of happiness over the years, as well as my own life experiences, and have found them to be instrumental in moving me from not feeling good to feeling better, or from feeling okay to feeling happier.

I have come to have great respect for my feelings–they help me to know “where I am” at any given moment.  I see them (all of them) as significant helpers in life.  But I certainly don’t like them all.  I’ve heard it said that we “live at the address of our thoughts,” and I would add that our feelings (sad, depressed, excited, happy, etc.) are most often set in place by our thoughts.  Especially thoughts that we allow to become dominant in our minds.

My JoyInciters, if practiced authentically and regularly, WILL increase your joy.  I like the term JoyInciter, and when I created it, I played with other similar “words,” such as JoyEnticer, JoyInsider, and JoyInsight, but I love the idea that some very simple things we can do will incite (def = spur on, push toward action) us to get to where we want to go.  And I submit to you the belief that we all want to be happier.

I will be introducing one JoyInciter every week or so.

JoyInciter #1  is the most fundamental of all the strategies (and a practice which I imagine we all do to some extent): expressing gratitude.  This is what I am suggesting–make being thankful a regular, conscious practice.  And to help that endeavor, I keep an ongoing listing of what I’m thankful for, a gratitude journal or what I call my THANKSGIVING BOOK.

Everyday (or whenever I think of it), I write something down I’m thankful for.  I have come to realize that what I write down is NOT the most important factor of this practice.  But the LOOKING for thanksgiving is paramount in causing a shift in SEEING.  And it’s SO easy.  Right now as I type, I am grateful to be able to type, to have a computer and a smart phone, to have this popcorn I am eating, to have a bed to sleep in, etc.  Two of my courses this semester are keeping gratitude journals, and we begin class each day by sharing what we’re thankful for.

I challenge you to consciously begin to look for that which you are thankful for (whether you use a Thanksgiving Book or not).  To get started, tell me a few things you are grateful for right now.  This practice is a definite JoyInciter.

Breaking News – Upcoming Keynote Address!

This coming Friday (Feb. 8), I’m delivering the Keynote Address at the Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah at the Coastal Georgia Center downtown.

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(Okay, okay, maybe I’m still working on how to do videos.)

Anyway, I’m excited about my talk: Teaching Life: The Heart, The Art,” which I will be delivering at the luncheon.  I’m going to be looking at the topic of cultivating joy in the classroom–and in life.  Many of my Georgia Southern buddies will be there, as well as high school and college writing teachers from around the country.

Here’s the link to the conference website:  http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/conted/success.html

And one for my keynote bio:  http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/conted/successkeynote.html

If you’re hanging around downtown Savannah on Friday, and really need to get off the streets (because either you’re touristy tired or the cops are after you), come join me/us!  The conference organizers are offering a luncheon-only ticket (which gets you in for the hopefully yummy lunch and the amazing keynote for twenty bucks).  If you’re interested, call the GSU conference number toll-free at 855-478-5551. Tell Linda or Christy you would like to attend the Student Success in Writing Conference at the lunch-only rate of $20.  (Don’t mention the cops.)

Hope you can join me … in success.

“Blessings”

Each Monday morning up at my old hunting ground, Georgia Southern University, my buddy and former Writing and Linguistics Department colleague Eric Nelson shares a poem on the W & L listserv.  Yesterday’s poem was so joyful and encouraging, I thought I would share it with you, Kind Blog Readers.  It’s called “Blessings”:

 
Blessings
occur.

Some days I find myself
putting my foot in
the same stream twice;
leading a horse to water
and making him drink.
I have a clue.
I can see the forest
for the trees.

All around me people
are making silk purses
out of sows’ ears,
getting blood from turnips,
building Rome in a day.
There’s a business
like show business.
There’s something new
under the sun.

Some days misery
no longer loves company;
it puts itself out of its.
There’s rest for the weary.
There’s turning back.
There are guarantees.
I can be serious.
I can mean that.
You can quite
put your finger on it.

Some days I know
I am long for this world.
I can go home again.
And when I go
I can
take it with me.

—Ron Wallace from Long for This World (U of Pitt Press, 2006)
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Isn’t that a cool piece of writing?  I LOVE being reminded that … good happens.
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Five Friday Happy Bringers (11/2/12)

Okay, I know it’s Saturday. but yesterday was an uberbusy day.  And isn’t today gorgeous?  It’s cool.  It’s Fall.  And it’s time to acknowledge some Happy Bringers.

1.  Enjoying the Savannah Film Festival this week (hosted by SCAD).

2.  Making little Halloween goody bags for my international students, most of whom had never “done” Halloween before.  Then discussing the Day of the Dead (which some of them celebrate) and being grateful for all our relatives and friends who have passed on.

3.  A great-smelling rose.

4.  Attending and enjoying the Taste of the World food festival at SCAD yesterday.  Here’s a little bit about the event from the ISSO (International Student Services Office) newsletter: “Dine thali style and sample more than 80 international dishes. Visit the mixed grill area specializing in tandoori chicken, Thai chicken satay on skewers and Persian beef kebabs. Enjoy live performances inspired by international cultures and Savannah’s own Latin and Merengue sensation, Son del Coqui.”

I ran into some of my colleagues from SCAD’s Language Studio.  Here’s Coordinator of Language Studio/ESL Ana Turner (right after leading a traditional dance).

And here’s the Director of Language Studio/ESL Christina Cavage.

New full-time prof Curt Klinghoffer.  (I wish my last name cool like Curt’s.  I mean, Saye?  Really?)

Officemate Emily Gung.

Oldtimer–I mean “experienced”–ESL prof (and my mentor) Todd Nemanic.

I appreciate the appropriateness and truthfulness of this affirmation:

And I loved seeing some of my students at the festival.  Here’s Sonali.

And Juliana.

Andrea (with a friend).

Raquel and Juli.

And some other people I met.  Juwan, for example–I took his picture because of that cool blue hair.  I’m thinking about green for mine.  Yes?

And Devyn wins my prize for hippest necklace and pants.

I really had a ball there.  So much fun.

Now let’s play a game.  It’s called Oh Saye, Can You See?

I ran into my buddy Mangue Banzima with his gorgeous daughter.

Mangue writes/photographs a beautiful blog about fashion in Savannah, Qui Style in SavannahCheck it out sometime.  Okay, check it out RIGHT NOW because I’m in it for the second time!  Keep scolling down, past all the really cool and hip-looking people, until you get to the Taste of the World pictures–then, again, scroll past those young, stylish folks till you find … me!  [First post from a while back about fashion: I’m a Famous Fashion Model]

What a fun couple of hours in the fall beauty of Savannah.

5.  Seeing smiles as the most significant means of communication between people.

Joyful, Smiling Weekend!