Today I say “so long” to my Purdue University Global (PUG) students, as it’s their last day in my class. Next week I will welcome my new group. I always get sappy during the last few days of class, especially when I have a great connection with the students. This particular class was super awesome. They shared and they allowed me to share. They taught and were highly receptive to my teachings. I enjoy learning from my students. It’s an intense 10-week learning experience.

Any teacher, instructor, professor, who says that they don’t learn from their students, needs to reconsider why in the world they are doing this day in and day out. Our students have diverse backgrounds and experiences, and through sharing, we can learn a lot from them. I learn about industries and fields that I’ve never worked in, companies that I’ve never worked for, positions that I’ve never held, family experiences I’ve never had, cultures that I don’t know much or anything about, and places that I’ve never been. For them, I share my experiences, adventures, skills, and strengths. I pour into them as much as I can for the time that we have together, hoping that some of what I invest in them has some long-term stickability.

Yes, I invest in them. That’s why I give them as much of me as I can.

I know that some of my students will be finishing their Bachelor’s degree soon, and they are either pursuing a Master’s degree, positioning themselves for a promotion or raise at work, leveraging this knowledge for the entrepreneurial goals, or just equipping themselves for whatever the future holds. I also have some students who pursued this degree because it served as a challenge, and achieving this goal will catapult them to the next big goal, even if they don’t know what that is right now.

In life, we are all teachers, sharing with the world our unique experiences and perspectives. There’s a small percentage of us who are blessed to have virtual and physical classrooms with 10, 25, 30, and over 100 eager students, waiting to learn, be challenged, and to challenge us.

So I’m both excited and nervous about welcoming my Fall semester, Atlanta Technical College (ATC) students to my classes this week. When you teach year-round (basically), you only have about one week before your next class, sometimes I get a two-week breather. There’s not much time to plan and prepare for the next group of students. So you have to be disciplined, create fluid and automated systems, be innovative and creative, and challenge yourself to do something new, bold, and exciting. Every semester I challenge myself to do something different. I don’t want my students recycling my lessons across campus. I don’t want incoming students thinking that they know what to expect from their time with me. Life isn’t predictable. I like for my classes to mirror life.

I look forward to the next 16 weeks with my ATC students. Every semester I challenge myself, and this semester is no different. I’m not sure if I’m prepared and ready for the ideas that I have outlined. I’m always experimenting with ideas. Some things work and other things don’t. It depends on the method of delivery and the format of the class—if its on campus, online, or a hybrid. Some students are more receptive than others, it has a lot to do with their backgrounds and previous experience. I find ways to bring in technology while also forcing students to think and research without first Googling it. If we’re supposed to prepare them for now and the future, then I have to do my part to bring them the now and the future. When I hear them say, “my other instructors don’t do that” then I know I’m on the right path.

Some of my students have goals of transferring to a 4-year college or university. Some desire to pursue their entrepreneurial or managerial goals. A few are angling for promotions or raises, and these courses, degrees, and certificates help them to get one step closer. Others are soaking up knowledge to be better, think broader, and see more. Some aren’t quite sure what they’re doing or where they’re going. That means that they need the types of learning experiences that will help them to see what feels right for them and their future. I’m glad to be of service.

In less than two hours I will stand before one of my classes, see their nervous faces, and give them a peek into the next 16 weeks, that will hopefully have a lasting and positive impact on them for years to come. That’s what many of my college professors did for me, and that’s my goal for my students. I may be teaching a student who is just like I was. I can’t let them down. So let’s do this!

~Natasha

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A few moments ago I was reviewing my list of students who I had sent “life vests” and “life rafts” to in an effort to save them from themselves.

Let me explain.

Some of my students take on a weighted course load and find it more difficult than they expected to juggle school, work, family, and a social life. This is especially the case if they take a hybrid or online course, and then when you add that the course is with me, the stakes really get high.

Now don’t cringe.

I’m not a mean or difficult instructor. There’s balance with me. I’m firm and assertive yet I’m always open for negotiation. I pour myself into my classes because it is my mission to give my students enough information that becomes applied knowledge, that helps them in school, work, and in life. For me, it’s more than the textbooks that they read. I don’t want them memorizing and regurgitating information. I want to see and hear how they applied what was taught to them. I want to see their growth and help support their academic and professional needs. I want to provide them with as many tools and resources as I can; so yes, I’m extremely engaged in my classes. So no, the course work is not easy. There are no easy-A’s in my class. You will earn whatever grade that you receive.

As I tell my students:

Your grade is your paycheck and your GPA is your credit score“.

As an instructor, I’m also serious about meeting deadlines but I’m flexible in providing extensions to those who get clobbered or blindsided by life. The reality is, we all get clobbered and blindsided from time-to-time.

Someone who hasn’t needs to be studied closely.

How can I make mistakes and forget deadlines, yet punish my team for doing the same? Is that not hypocritical? The “do as I say not as I do” rule that our parents embedded in our minds is why we have as many problems in this world. We all simply wait until we gain the power to enforce that same rule on others. It’s ridiculous.

As a college instructor I run my classrooms much like a business. I inform my students that for the length of the term or semester, they are to conduct themselves as though this is a corporation, they are managers, and I am their senior manager. But as a servant leader, I am not here to bark orders and reign supreme over them; I’m also not here to hold their hands and coddle them. They are not babies or small children.

I am here to serve them, empower them, and help to elevate them to the next level.

I encourage them to respectfully challenge the textbooks and readings, and yes, even me. Their minds will only sharpen with critical thinking and by testing and applying tools and skills that they have acquired. I also make sure to frequently ask for feedback and evaluations on how much they are learning and applying from my classes, as well as how well they believe that I am managing and leading them. I frequently ask them to tell me how I can best support their learning and growth needs.

I try to intervene with students who risk falling below a “C”. I don’t want my students to fail my class. Not because of managerial pressures from the higher-ups. Not because of any of the reasons and excuses that most would assume. I don’t want my students to fail because it means that somehow I failed them. It is my responsibility as their manager-leader to help guide them. Just as I would for an employee that I don’t want to see fired or to watch go through the stages of “burn-out”. If I see “red flags” early enough I can step in and provide guidance as to how my students can improve or how they can withdraw from the class (by deadlines) and take it at a later date when life isn’t clobbering them so hard. Usually one of these two interventions work.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

There are some students who choose the chartered path that they know will lead to failure, and no matter how much I attempt to help them help themselves, they are content to splash around in that ocean while watching the life vest and raft float away.

So today as I reviewed my list of students who continue to drown in this academic ocean, refusing to use either or both the vest and the raft that I threw to them weeks ago, I ran across an old email from a student who is failing one of my classes. Weeks ago this person said that they wanted to do well in my class and that they would improve—they  just needed a strategy to do so. I provided the student with the strategy and the deadline extensions that they needed to meet in order to bring their grade up to a “C” or better.

I’m always aiming for better but I won’t force greatness on anyone who would rather be average or below. Everyone should be free to choose.

Weeks later this student still has not completed the past due work and sadly they haven’t completed any current work, yet they continue to log into the course room–most likely so that their attendance is tracked so they don’t lose financial aid and other benefits. Yes, I have students who are motivated enough to log into class to not lose their financial aid, but they aren’t motivated enough to do the work, to pass the class, to keep their financial aid. It’s a baffling logic that they operate by in their parallel universe.

Okay I should stop with my sarcasm.

There is a portion of my email message that I typed to this student that I truly believe needs to be shared with others, with you. Someone out there needs to read these few lines below, because maybe it will be the added layer that helps to snatch them out of their “funk”, their “brain fog”, their whatever is holding them back and keeping them down.

Or maybe it won’t. But I’m sharing anyway.

…your dreams and goals in life are only achieved through the efforts you make. No one will give you anything of worth simply because you show up. You must put in the work and earn the things that you desire. Those that think that greatness will just magically come to them will always find themselves cast to the side, because greatness requires boldness—it requires commitment and dedication despite and because of the odds. 

You must choose if whether you want to be good, great, average, mediocre, exceptional, or just “blah”. Your actions and efforts will align and reflect accordingly. I believe that you have the potential to be at any level that you set your eyes, mind, and heart to achieve. 

If you aim low then you will always fall below that line. If you aim high and run your well-paced race, you may fall short of the desired point but you landed much higher than if you had aimed low to begin with.

Where are you aiming?

What efforts are you making to get there?

No one can do this for you, only you can!

I hope that my student gets what I was trying to convey in my email. I hope that it helps to snatch them out of their pit and motivates them to run, walk, crawl or even roll to the victory line. They may not cross in first place, but they will cross. Every race we start we’re expected to finish.

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Some people wonder why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and even more perplexing (and in recent years), a college professor. Below are some of the comments from students in my most recent Business Management course that just wrapped for the semester yesterday. We spent 17 weeks together, learning and sharing, and as they have learned from me I have learned a great deal from them.

It touches my heart to know that I made and make a difference, that the information that I’m sharing is not falling on “closed” ears and minds, and that they are not only implementing (in their professional and personal lives) what I’m teaching but they are empowered to challenge themselves in those areas of their life.

If I can help encourage them to be better students, employees, employers, managers, leaders, family members, life partners, and members of their community–then I’ve done my job. There are thousands of established organizations and thousands of future startups that will build and nurture a culture that will either thrive or die. My goal is pour into my students enough information and learned lessons that they can take with them to help positively change the culture and environment of organizations and communities all over. You never know who the next “big time” entrepreneur may be. It could be one of my students. So I’m going to give them all that I have and more!

I love to see those “light bulbs” come on when they grasp a concept that I’m sharing, or finally see “why Professor Bryant made us do this assignment“. I love to see my students step up, accept my challenges, and succeed. I love to hear my students share how they tested one of my concepts to see if I knew what I was talking about, just to discover I was right. That shows me that they are listening and not just regurgitating information to pass tests and get out of my class. I’m reaching them and what they are hearing and learning is “clicking”. Oh how that brings me so much joy. These are the the reasons why I’m a college professor and why I love what I do.

I won’t lie, after reading some of these comments below I shed a few tears:

Dear Prof Bryant,

Thank you so much for really challenging me and being there every step of the way. There were times when I felt like giving up, but thanks to you and the self discipline that I’m still practicing, I survived from flunking and I will still read my book and reference it as long as I’m in the workforce and when I get enough courage to become the entrepreneur that I dream to be. Thank you! God bless!!! 


Hello Class & Ms.Bryant 

This semester has been very interesting. This has been my first online class that required a weekly assignment and a discussion. I really enjoyed that there was weekly assignments and we were able to communicate with each other. Being able to see how others react and think about situations help me understand that theres always different ways to solve problems. I really learned some great knowledge of management and will always apply them to my everyday living. I’m going to continue  to read my book so I will have all skills mastered.


The time I have spent in Prof.Bryant’s class has been fresh and a new breathe of air. I have been a student online and have never met any of you, but still felt a big connection to this wonderful class. I enjoy reading everyone’s discussion posts….I also intend to use my management information from this class to better understand people of all levels,whether an owner of their store. The management sides are enormous and able to advance to top level with hard work. I have really enjoyed this class. Thank you


I really enjoyed being in this class.  I learned a lot from the other students.  I wouldn’t mind having some of them as my supervisor or manager.  I learned a lot about them, such as what goes on at their job, how their family lives and their lives are.  I can learn from the feedback that they gave me during our discussions and apply it to my everyday life or with events happening in my family.  They were an excellent group to participate with and I enjoyed my instructor.  She said she was going to shake us a little and she did.  She kept me on my toes and there was a little pressure which made me concentrate and get the work done like it was supposed to be.  Thank you Prof Bryant and thank you class.


These 17 weeks went by very fast and I’ve enjoyed learning and growing with this class. I’ve learned so much from motivating employees, building an effective team, planning, control, ethical responsibilities, how to handle stress, along with many other things. This class also taught me management isn’t as easy as I wanted it would be but I’m more knowledgeable and gained confident. I plan to further my education and continue to learn everything there is about management.


   This semester has been great and very informative. The information I learned during this course will definitely benefit me while pursuing my dream as the future owner of my own radiology clinic. Ms. Bryant you have showed me different fundamentals of management and made me realize that its not as easy as it looks. Now I feel somewhat prepared to be a manager and I will always go to my references to refresh my memory….Thanks so much for being a great professor Ms. Bryant!!!


I am glad that I took this class with the instructor that we have had because at first I thought the class was going to be hard, not to say that it was easy writing all those assignments on Zestiful, Inc., but I must say it was a lot better experience than I thought it would be when I was sitting at my computer 17 weeks ago.  Truthfully, I thought the class was going to be a lot harder. We did work our butts off though. I am also glad that we used the whole book, even though reading it was a chore. Being that I work in a college bookstore, the main complaint that I hear from students is that the instructor never used the book at all, so I am glad we used the whole thing.      


I have learned a lot from the Principles of Management class. Professor Bryant I enjoyed being your student this semester!! Thank you for being a great professor!! I enjoyed interacting with my classmates weekly through the discussion board. I pray that everyone pass this class. I gained a lot of knowledge from this class and I will apply the management skills to my career and  everyday life.


…I have learned a great deal about planning and setting realistic goals and also about the different levels of management and what decisions and issues each level should handle. I have also learned about some of the different unethical situations that happen in the workplace and some of the ways to solve them. Learning the principles and fundamentals of management in this class has prepared me for my future in Property Management and will also help me to continue that success even in my personal life.