Teaching Communications at Central Baptist College
I began teaching Communications at Central Baptist College in 2010 as an Adjunct Instructor. I am now finishing my 7th year as a Full-Time Assistant Professor of Communications.
Why I Teach
I am a teacher today for one reason and one reason alone: Dr. White.
Straight out of High School I enrolled in his 5-week long History Class at Pulaski Technical College in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was not the academic type in the summer of 2003. All of that would change in a matter of weeks because of his influence and leadership in his class.
Creating an Experience
Dr. White specifically did three things to create an experience in his classroom: He created a strong sense of community, he taught with great passion and conviction, and he treated his students as individuals as opposed to one large group of people.
creating community in the classroom
Dr. White made you feel like you were a part of something special in his classroom. He taught History, but at the same time he also emphasized relationships.
You knew your fellow students because he made you reach out. He taught with a “We’re all in this together” mentality that resonated with me then and still does to this day.
It can be easy to learn about History or any subject for that matter on online platforms such as YouTube.
So how can we, as teachers, compete with that?
Dr. White did it though creating a community feel in his classroom. This made the experience not only unique, but one that could never be attained through a few clicks on the Internet. You just simply had to be there or else you were missing out.
Passion and Conviction
I recall countless teachers in college who clocked in and clocked out. They were successful in their minds if they received a paycheck at the end of the month. However, they taught with no passion, charisma, or charm. They certainly did not care about me.
Dr. White was just the opposite. He taught History as if it was happening before you.
You felt its importance and its impact.
You felt like you were there at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
And you also felt Dr. White’s conviction shining through it all.
That is how teaching should be, should it not?
Without excitement and energy, what you have are students daydreaming about the weekend. What you have are students itching to check their smartphones for notifications. And if that’s what you have, then what you really have is nothing at all.
You just have your paycheck.
Treating Students As Individuals
We were not just another forgettable name on Dr. White’s roster. We were not some faceless group of people.
We were something more.
We were individuals.
Caring for Students
Dr. White made you feel like you were known and that your presence mattered. He learned your name very early on in the semester.
This simple action made you feel a sense of belonging. It made you feel like his class was something much more than just another class to check off on a degree checklist.
He cared so much about each of one us that I still feel his compassion all these years later.
A Deep Connection
Years after I had Dr. White’s class, I found myself wondering what he was up to one afternoon while in Graduate School in Fayetteville.
So, I did some online research only to find out that he left Pulaski Tech for a job at the University of Arkansas in the History Department.
I could not believe it!
Immediately I got into my old beat up Jeep Cherokee and without thinking drove straight to Old Main.
I wanted to see him! I mean, after all, he was the reason I was in Fayetteville. He was the genesis of my dream to be a teacher.
I find his office and his door is wide open (no surprise, right?) and I ask if he had a moment to speak.
Of course he did.
I proceed to tell him over the next ten minutes that he was the reason why I was in Fayetteville pursuing graduate studies in hopes of being a teacher… like him. He was clearly honored, and let me just say that he not only remembered who I was, but he also even remembered where I sat in his classroom during that 5-week long class all those years back!
I thought that would be it, but no.
He took me out to lunch.
Bought it, of course.
One night, he and his wife took my wife and I (my fiancé at the time) out for dinner. We talk every few years or so. We send him a Christmas card. I always remind him that he is the reason why I am as happy as I am, you know, being a teacher.
Aspiring to Do My Best
The point I am trying to make is this.
I am not the best teacher in the world. But I aspire to be.
I want to be the next Dr. White. I want to be the next Mr. Keating from Dead Poet’s Society.
My goal is to have students feel a sense of community in my classroom. Remember my passion and conviction for Communication.
I don’t want to just be know for teaching communications at Central Baptist College.
Perhaps more than anything, I want them to remember that I cared about each one of them and their success in this life.
I want the impact of my classes to be felt by the students at CBC for decades to come.
My hope is for students to look back and say they had the best experience in my class. I want to accomplish much more than just teaching communications at Central Baptist College.
Written by Professor Chad Smith
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