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Unique Perspective

Last night I was inducted into the education honor society. It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with inspirational speeches, prayers and candles. I felt very much part of the college community, despite my ripe old age. There, I said it. I’m not a young’n anymore. However, this does not stop me from pursuing my dreams.

When people ask me whether they should go back to college as an “older” adult, I ask them if they were planning to retire in 3 to 4 years (or however long it would take to graduate). When they say no, then I point out that they would be turning that age anyway – why not with a degree too? I am extremely blessed because this is my second degree. My second career. And why not? We are multifaceted people. Many people have to change careers as they get older, for one reason or another. In my case, I took an opportunity and ran with it.

As an older adult in college, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, we belong there just as much as everyone else, including high school graduates. I know that some may hesitate to speak up in class, for fear of coming across as the “older student who can’t stay quiet”. However, our perspective is unique and adds color to group discussions. Don’t hold back. Be yourself. We have years (maybe even decades) of experience that others can learn from. It’s okay to appear eager and attentive. We want to be there – why not show it?

Secondly, our challenges are different than younger students. We usually have jobs and families to juggle along with our studies. My advice is to find a certain time of day when no one interrupts you. My homework/study time is usually in the early morning. Yes, I get up too early and would rather be in bed. However, the early morning works for me because my mind is fresh and the house is quiet. I admit I also burn the midnight oil sometimes. I would be a liar if I said I had this completely figured out, but I do burn the candle at both ends for much of the semester. I’m still finding my balance here. One thing that helps is to plan ahead and use windows of opportunity. For example, when I knew I had a research paper to write and it would be due at the same time as essays from another class, I began to write the essays early so it would give me more time later. Of course, it helps that I love to write.

Thirdly, we can learn new things or refresh old – even geometry and algebra! I had to take a couple of college-of-education entry exams, which included math, reading and writing. After scheduling the exams, I began to study, especially for the math portions. It had been SO many years since I’d figured out these kinds of math problems and it was frustrating at first. I enlisted the help of my teenagers and used every resource I could, including library books and online exams/study guides. I filled out notebook after notebook of problems. I studied at every chance, including road trips and waiting at the dentist/doctor’s office. I took this quite seriously, as if I was taking a math course. Finally, I took the exams – a month apart – and I PASSED! Phew! My hard work paid off. I learned that you really are never too old to relearn math. Or anything.

Lastly, don’t worry about being the “oldest” in the classroom. So what? Get over it. There are always older people going back to college, even if they are not in your class. I met someone the other day who is getting a second masters and she’s at least two decades older than me! It’s actually great for our brains because we are putting off Alzheimer’s since we are challenging our brain cells. After studying for those math exams, I could practically feel my new brain cells growing!!  

If you get the opportunity, like me, to go back to school – DO IT!! It’s not easy, but it’s well worth it. Now, I’m considering taking on a leadership role in the honor society. It could be fun…

~~ Maggie

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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in education, Health, Teaching, Writing

 

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Tokyo – Days 3 and 4

The jet lag is getting slightly better and it’s been unexpectedly cooler in the mornings. Also, it’s been sunny in the afternoons — during this “rainy season”.  I lucked out!

My breakfasts consist of fish, like salmon, veggies, white rice, fruit and LOTS of coffee.  (The coffee is really to help the jet lag).  Of course, I’ve been eating from the hotel’s amazing buffet, so this is not necessarily what everyone eats.

Counter-clockwise: fried vegetables in the small bowl on the left, sweet potato, salmon, fermented beans, white rice, bread with chocolate filling,and  seaweed.  I LOVE the fried vegetables but the fermented beans are gooey and needs lots of soy sauce. 🙂

Day 3:

I went to an elementary school to both observe and teach classes. This is the main purpose of my visit.  When we first arrived, I was struck by the combination of urban and nature areas.  The school is across from a train station and large senior citizen apartments while it is also surrounded by beautiful old  trees, fields and gardens. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in kids, Teaching, travel

 

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This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank a teacher!

teach

Thank You, Teacher

T hank you for your
E agerness to teach
A nd
C are for our children,
H elping us in
E ducating them to be
R esponsible, respectable people

~~author unknown

It’s that time of year when you meet face to face with the people who spend all day with your children.  They see them at their best and they see them at their worst.  It’s parent-teacher conference time!

This afternoon, I went to my son’s parent/teacher/student conference and it just confirmed how I already felt about his teachers: they are excellent.  A couple of teachers really stood out.  They are the kind that students will remember forever.  They are creative and fun; they make learning an adventure.  On top of all that, they really get this age and the students strive to be their best.  They truly bring out the best in their students.  I can see the difference they’ve made in my son’s life and I am so thankful for them.

Of course, this made me reflect on the teachers that made a difference in my life.  The cobwebs in my memory don’t let me recall their names, but I’ll never forget how they taught me to read, write and especially how to love both.  They encouraged me and said I had “a lot of potential”.  I am sure my go-getter attitude partly stems from this encouragement.

I am also blessed to be around excellent teachers all day.  As an ELL parapro with 42 students throughout the school, I am in the unique position of going in several classes ranging from K – 5.  These teachers are really dedicated and caring.  I know they make a difference in these little lives.

This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank your child’s teacher.  After all, they need a little encouragement too.

~~Maggie

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Posted by on November 12, 2009 in Teaching

 

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