When a new student gets an article published …

… I celebrate!

I teach. I facilitate growth. I join thousands of my colleagues employed in Florida universities who carry the awesome titles and responsibilities of serving as classroom professors. Our tasks: Help students advance along their great paths.

I am that instructor who jumps for joy, screams and excitedly congratulates each student for achieving what she or he believed was once hard to accomplish. Ask my former students whether I made big deals about their accomplishments that include their acceptance to grad schools, births of babies, winning Grammys and Emmys, achieving University-level band drum major roles and becoming SGA leaders.

Today marked an end zone-like touchdown dance. It was similar to how I danced when my children graduated from anything! Today’s dance happened after class concluded when when a quiet student, Austin, wanted to share something with me. He held up his cell phone and there appeared an digital sports article with his byline and published by The Famuan, the university student newspaper. Yep, I was excited. The best part of this account is that Austin pitched another sports story to the Famuan, and alas, it was not accepted. He didn’t give up. The sports editor liked this young man’s writing and tenacity enough to assign Austin a feature story. It appears below via a link.

Austin accomplished an important goal. He is the same Austin who could not fully complete a mock interview with me just days ago because of his professed “shyness.” Yet, inch by inch, he pushed through “fear” by working smart over the Labor Day weekend. I assigned beats to every student as part of their semester-long focus on assignments. The entire class members were assigned coverage of the university’s first football game, pep rallies and convocation. Some wrote articles with business, entertainment, cultural or political news views in keeping with their beats.

When I queried Austin on how he was able to interview the football coach and produce a good story to fulfill my assignment, Austin told his classmates and me that he began working on the story right away. On game day, he gained sports media access and ran out of the tunnel with the coach. Austin asked his important questions of the coach during their sprint onto the field, juggling his pen and notebook.

He planned. Austin was strategic. He earned favor. He wrote a descriptive, decent article that required some light editing.

I believe Austin’s accomplishment is instructive to all students and teachers. It’s a good example of lessons learned such as:

  • Do something.
  • Do “it” afraid to succeed.
  • In advance of a perceived or real challenging situation, role play to accomplish one’s goal.
  • Take care of one another and work as a team. (Two of Austin’s classmates came to his “rescue” when he got stuck in the role playing exercise).
  • Plan. Find out what needs to be done in advance of the activity.
  • Try.
  • Try again.
  • Share successes and challenges with teachers, students and family. We are on your team and want you to succeed.

I believe that every student is capable of achieving her or his goal (s). Our job as teachers are to cajole, facilitate, mentor, insist and parent students to the finish lines.

Expect me to continue cheering for my students. For some 30 years, I’ve been this energetic about students’ triumphs through highs and lows in higher education.

It never gets old.

Check out Austin’s article (_austindixon):