Practical “Mom” Tips for Remaining Sane During the Hectic School Year

Technology Failure....Now What?-3It’s Sunday morning, I get up bright and early and start my day with a cup of coffee, before I sit down in front of my computer to check-in to my classes or do a bit of planning before my little humans stir. I am a morning person. I love the quiet peacefulness of the mornings. I like to begin my day by getting some school work done so that I can focus the remainder of the day on my family and planning for the week. I also know that I am the most productive in the morning. If I don’t take care of lesson planning, responding in the forums, and grading, I will most likely be too tired later in the day to check-in and get the work done.

After that I start mentally preparing myself for the day. You see, Sundays while they should be nice and relaxing, usually don’t end up that way around our house. They are pretty hectic!  It’s usually a race against time; my husband and I against the clock. We rush around trying to prepare our family for the week. After we go to church, we stop by the grocery store. Then we rush home to clean up the house,  wash, fold, and put away baskets full of laundry, meal prep and pack lunches, get backpacks ready, pick out outfits for the following day….does this sound familiar to anyone? The “To Do” list seemed never ending. Weekends were often totally exhausting! By Sunday night, my husband and I would collapse in bed physically and mentally exhausted. This was not a good way to begin the week, tired before we even began.

During the week, evenings can be a bit hectic as well. We have three children. They keep us busy! They all have homework and different activities in the evenings. Soccer practice, gymnastics, dance lessons, flag football practice, and piano lessons…just to name a few. This keeps us very busy, preparing on the weekend definitely helps to make the week run a bit smoother in our house. However, we knew that we needed to make some changes so that everything would run a bit more smoothly. This would allow for us to relax and recharge, as well as spend some time with our little ones!

Feeling Overwhelmed?So, how did we make things a bit easier for ourselves on the weekend as well as during the week? One of the first things we did was begin to brainstorm what we could remove from the weekend “To Do” list. We began by determining what was taking up the majority of our time. Cleaning the house was the first thing we both agreed was taking a lot of time. We also felt this was a lost cause – because as quickly as we cleaned the house – it seemed the kids were able to mess it up. When our kids were younger, the perfect solution was to hire a cleaning company. The company comes two times a month when we are not home. They can clean the house from top to bottom in about two hours. With the deep cleaning done, we just have to maintain until they return. Light vacuuming, wiping down counters, touching up bathrooms, and the dreaded WASH! A daily schedule helps us to keep up with the household chores during the week. This frees up several hours on the weekend and is definitely worth the money.

Decide exactly how much your time is worth. Have you considered hiring cleaners? I will tell you it is one of the best decisions we ever made, and I was very reluctant at first. My husband was onboard long before I was. I had to consider (and so do you)….could you be spending time with family and friends? Could you be spending time recharging and preparing for the week? Could you be doing something to earn money? What could you be doing if you weren’t cleaning the house?

One important thing that I try to do every weekend is prepare meals. We sit down and plan what we will be eating for the week. We also ask the kids what they would like for breakfast and lunch each day so that we can grocery shop and meal prep on Sundays. My husband does the majority of the cooking, because he’s a better cook than I am! But I try to do my part by helping with planning and meal prep. On Sundays, I can cut and wash vegetables. I can also make sure that all of the food that is necessary for preparing the meals for the week is in the refrigerator or pantry. By having all of the necessary ingredients for evening meals ready, we are guaranteed a home cooked meal without the hassle of having to make grocery store runs during the week when we are rushing home from work or an evening activity.

Start identifying things you can take off your plate. Are there things you can do to make the week run a bit more smoothly? To free up time on the weekend? What chores do you dread? What are some things that you can take off of your plate in order to help yourself to stay mentally and physically well? Share your tips with us. What do you do on the weekend or during the week to reduce stress and improve quality of home life? Share your tips with us! Comment below.

4 Practical Apps that every College Student MUST Download

4 Practical Must Have Apps for Every College Student
New technological advancements help to improve student success on campuses. Therefore, there are a few applications and programs students should download on the first day of class that will make the semester run a bit more smoothly. Programs that help to navigate and stay connected on campus and improve writing and keep track of references are very helpful. Here are some programs that we suggest that students download on the first day of class.

Campus App

Most college campuses have an application that students can download to help them navigate campus and access resources on campus. Downloading the campus app provides students with guided campus tours, a map of campus facilities, radio and webcam streaming on campus, and campus services. This can also be a helpful tool for faculty and adjuncts, because it provides access to quickly find buildings, classrooms, and the closest coffee shop! 

I LOVE Grammarly! I put Grammarly on every laptop and desktop I own! I also ask students to download it the first day of class and they LOVE it too! Grammarly will not only let you know if you missed a comma or misspelled a word, but it also let you know if you used the wrong word or if you should rephrase part of a sentence. Grammarly can be downloaded for free or you can pay for a subscription that promises to catch more mistakes. I only use the free version and so do many of my students.


The Pro WritingAid is like Grammarly on steroids! I usually encourage upperclassmen, graduate students, and other faculty to download this in addition to Grammarly. ProWritingAid is a fantastic tool for ensuring sentence variety, word variance, complexity of paragraphs, and the list goes on to help ensure effective writing. This can help students with their paraphrasing as well, which is helpful for student new to synthesis.

Circle of 6

This is an app students can download on their phones. They can select any six people from their contacts list to put in their circle. If the student finds himself or herself in a bad situation, they can send a message with GPS location to those six people identified. This can be helpful for students taking night classes or students who go to parties.

Apps that EVERY College Student Should Download

There are countless apps and downloads available that can help students. Share some apps that you recommend that students download and use. Feel free to comment below!

Making College Move-In Easy

College Students….Parents of College Students…..have you considered shipping items from the merchant directly to campus. This could be your college move-in lifesaver!



As we prepare for the fall semester, students are also preparing……preparing to come to campus, move into dorms and apartments and begin a new semester. While moving to campus and beginning new semester is extremely exciting, it can also be a bit stressful and overwhelming. Students often question what items to bring with them. Some will be simply moving across town. Returning home to pick up forgotten items will be easy. However, others will be traveling by car or plane long distances to campuses where they will be living for several months before returning home. Packing items in suitcases may limit items they are able to pack. Forgetting essential items or not having room to pack necessary items can also lead to discomfort and distress. However, there is a simple solution – AMAZON! Amazon offers students and parents and easy and quick way have necessities delivered to campus. Amazon offers a convenient way to order school supplies, backpacks, books, and electronics such as computers, calculators, and flashdrives as well as so much more!

Student Discounts

As a student, you can sign up for a free trial and discounts through merchants to receive benefits such as free sign up or a free trial period as well as reduced rates (ex. half off for a year membership). The benefits you receive will vary but include free shipping or extra discounts on items you wish to purchase. Most merchants will simply request that you provide an email address ending in .edu to verify that you are, in fact, a student.

Dorm Room Items

Decorating your dorm room is so much fun; however, it can be tricky to determine how to get all of the items to campus. You may also arrive and realize that you and your roommate have failed to bring an essential item that you need for your room. Things like small appliances, storage and organization items, shelves, electronics, and furniture that may make dorm room or apartment living a bit more comfortable can be ordered and delivered.

Items like….

  • refrigerators
  • 3 in 1 multifunction breakfast center
  • microwaves
  • coffee pots
  • desk lamps
  • desk chairs
  • book shelves
  • bedding and towels
  • mattress topper
  • pillows
  • hangers
  • laundry baskets
  • mirrors
  • shower caddies
  • vacuum
  • waste baskets
  • picture frames
  • poster putty
  • extension cords
  • plates, cups, bowls, water bottles, utensils
  • bed risers

…can be ordered and delivered to students on campus. Most items will be delivered to a central location like a mail center unless you are living in an apartment, so make sure you are familiar with mail delivery policies on your campus. Tracking your package and checking delivery status is also important.

Tip for Parents: Is your student traveling far away from home? It is tough to pack large items when students are traveling to school by plane or even large distances by car. Shipping dorm room essentials like bedding, refrigerators and other small appliances, decorations, storage bins, and cleaning supplies can ensure that they have what they need away from home. You can do a quick search for “college essentials” and find everything your student will need (as well as items you did not realize he/she needed but now after reviewing them, know he/she must have)!

Grocery Shopping

In addition to dorm room essentials, you may also need groceries. Snacks in your dorm room are a must. Or perhaps, you are living in an apartment and have access to a kitchen. Stocking your refrigerator and pantry with some healthy food is essential. Did you know that there are many grocery stores and retailers that allow customers to order groceries and have them delivered. A quick Internet search including the keywords “grocery shopping and delivery” or “grocery delivery service” will reveal stores in your area that provide this service. In addition, there are several merchants online who offer a large variety of grocery and home items, which can be conveniently ordered and delivered. You can order food, drinks, healthy snacks, and toiletries such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoos, etc, laundry detergent, household items like toilet paper or paper towels. The list is endless. This type of service is great for college students who do not have access to a car or transportation that allows for convenient grocery shopping. Rather than carrying bags of groceries long distances from the grocery store back to your room, you can order groceries and have them delivered.

Tip for Parents: This is a great way to support your college student. Send them groceries periodically throughout the semester. This ensures that they are eating and that your money is being used on food and not other things that your student deems more important. In addition, your student can create wish lists through many of these merchants that you can see. This makes shopping easy. You can order directly from their lists, only getting things that they need and will use.

Parents – Ship It Today

Did your student forget an important item? You can order it directly from a merchant and have it shipped to campus TODAY.

Tip for Parents: Nothing is worse than when your child is sick and you are too far away to help. Now you can! Order cold medicine, aspirin, cough drops, tissues, chicken noodle soup, crackers, ginger ale, Vicks VapoRub, a humidifier. Have the items delivered to campus with ease! Items will arrive and your student will be on the road to recovery.

Regardless, of your plan, make move-in a bit easier by using some of the services that are available. This helps to ensure a stress-free, easy move-in so that you can enjoy meeting new friends and getting ready for classes to begin.

Related Articles: 5 Practical Tips for College Students


5 Tips for Healthy Living for Educators

img_9034.jpgWe often say, “Teaching is a lifestyle”. Most people who work in higher education know the toll that this type of lifestyle can take on your health. Schedules during the academic year can be extremely hectic. Teaching classes, planning for classes, grading, attending meetings, holding office hours, researching, publishing research, working with graduate assistants….and the list goes on and on. It often seems that there are not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Therefore, personal health often gets placed on the back burner, because there is not enough time to meal prep, eat well, exercise, or sleep. These are things that tend to be forgotten until the semester ends. By the end of the semester, many professionals in this field are exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The break that one has is often spent recovering from illness due to lack of self-care.

Self-care is essential to remain healthy in and out of the classroom. It allows us to perform at an optimal level and feel good. It also demonstrates that we respected our bodies, minds, and souls, which is not only important for self preservation, but also sets a positive example for the students who we influence through our words and actions daily.

Most people believe that if they are not sick, then they are healthy. But being healthy does not just mean the absence of illness. It also means that your body and mind are operating at their best.

So…why are academics unhealthy?

IMG_8549As academics, we often sit for long periods of time while grading, researching, returning emails, or driving to and from work or between campuses. In some cases, this can lead to mindless eating or unhealthy snacking. In fact, sometimes, we only have time to grab lunch out of a vending machine or from a fast food restaurant. Or maybe, we skip lunch altogether, because we are rushing between classes and campuses. In addition, each semester schedule changes make it difficult to establish long-term routines and healthy habits.

We feel a responsibility to our students, fellow colleagues, and administration; therefore, pushing through until the work is done, regardless of the cost. For this reason, we do whatever it takes to complete the tasks at hand. Spending time with family, spending time doing things for pleasure, or spending time focused on self-care often do not take precedence until the work is done. Many faculty will skip a meal or a workout, in order to meet with a struggling student or meet a research deadline. Some will forfeit a weekend, family getaway to grade student work. Being consumed with the work that we do does not always allow for time to rest, relax, and recharge.

So …the hard truth! If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot be of any help to anyone else. Eventually, your body will shut down. You will become sick, you will burn out, you will lose mental focus. You will not be able to do your job to the best of your ability or care for your students, family, and friends. This is why it is so very important to take time to take care of yourself.

5 Tips for Healthy Living

1. Meal Prep: Laura is the one who encouraged me to start meal prepping, and it really changed my life! On the weekend, we spend time grocery shopping and meal prepping for the upcoming week. Not only can you prep breakfast and lunch, but you can also store snacks like raw vegetables, almonds, and fruit in sandwich bags. Use containers and sandwich bags that make it easy to grab and go in the mornings as you head out the door to begin your day.IMG_5005

Through trial and error, we have found a system that works for both of us. We encourage you to do the same thing. Perhaps, you will meal prep on Sundays, like we do. Or maybe, you find it easier to make a little extra every night and pack the leftovers for your lunch the following day. Find a system that works for you.

2. Everything in Moderation! Look, I love Cheese-Its, beer, wine, and pasta! I still eat all of these things. But rather than have them as my meal after a long day, I eat them in moderation, as a treat. I have also found ways to enjoy these things in different forms. For example, instead of eating white flour pasta, I eat veggie, rice, or quinoa pasta. I have also tried spaghetti squash, which is a great pasta substitute. What we put in our bodies is important, so fuel your body with healthy foods. But also enjoy a beer and a good slice of pizza with friends now and then!

3. Exercise: IMG_9776
A body in motion remains in motion. I love to sweat! I love to push my body and feel like I’m getting stronger. Recently, I decided to start training for a triathlon. However, you don’t have to commit to training for a  triathlon, marathon or CrossFit contest to be healthy. In fact, you can commit to walking in the mornings or afternoons in your neighborhood, hiking on the weekends, riding bikes with your family, or signing up for a yoga or spin class. You can start by committing to three days a week; two week days and one day during the weekend. You can add a day or two as time permits. Try to select an activity that you enjoy. This will ensure that you stick to it. Many people quit workout programs, because they are not realistic in the amount of time that needs to be committed, they are not convenient, or the type of exercise is not enjoyable. Find something you enjoy doing and invite friends or family to join you. Accountability can also help to remain committed.

4. Mental Breaks: We spend a lot of time every day presenting, analyzing, and assessing complex theories, models, and concepts. This requires careful consideration so that material can be adapted and presented for the intended audience. Taking some time recharge and ensuring proper amounts of sleep prepares you to think clearly and consider different ways to present information to your students.

Additionally, it is important to take mental breaks when you are grading, researching, or writing. Often, higher education professionals will spend hours grading assignments, sifting through research, or writing. It is important to take short breaks during these long periods. This helps to prevent mental fatigue.

5. Seek Peace, Offer Forgiveness, & Make Necessary Changes:  I am a firm believer that things happen to us for a reason – good and bad. Either way, they are all part of our journey and who we are becoming. With that said, we have to take care of our soul or inner being.  This may mean having a healthy conflict, limiting the access that someone toxic has to you, or making time good, positive people in your life.  Socrates said, “that the unexamined life is not worth living”. Take the time to examine your life. Are you growing personally and professionally? Are you where you want to be? Are you achieving goals? If you keep hitting a wall and you need help, talk with a family member, friend, or seek professional guidance. The insights that others provide may be the enlightenment you need to continue to grow and move forward.

IMG_4029When we are healthy, we feel strong and empowered, genuinely capable of taking on new challenges. Consider the many different aspects of health that were discussed above. Begin by making one small change at a time. Select one category above to focus on. Consider ways to maximize your time. Involve family and friends in healthy meal planning and physical activities. Not only are you positively influencing them to live a more healthy life, but you are also spending time with them. Strong relationships keep us healthy, so foster them.

Why wait? Get started today! Continue to consider ways to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routines, because health does not mean the absence of illness.

Back to School Prep: Building Essentials Kits

This post contains affiliated links. By clicking and purchasing from the provided links, the practical professors earn a small commission at no additional cost to the buyer. 

Teaching can lead to long days with little time in between classes for self-care. So, building a car kit or devoting an office drawer to essentials can make all the difference in how you feel (and look) by the end of the day! As faculty, we often dash from here to there; classes, meetings, office hours, working lunches not to mention doctors appointments, kids practices, happy hour with friends, or rushing home to our loved ones. Our “on the go” lifestyle leaves  little time to freshen up or sit down to eat a meal, which is why preparing and having essentials at your fingertips is…well….essential!

IMG_4952Creating kits that can easily be stored in your office or car and carried in a bag that you use to take supplies to classes can assist with preparation, professionally and personally. Teaching kits that include supplies needed to successfully teach your class can be packed and stored in a teaching bag. A personal kit can also help to ensure classes run smoothly providing comfort; when you feel and look your best teaching is a bit easier. Creating an “Essentials” kit is relatively cheap and easy. In fact, most of the items below can easily be picked up from the Dollar Store, the travel size section at Target, or a local drug store. Several items in the personal kit cost a dollar or less. The lists below will serve as a guide as you build your kit.

Teaching “Essentials Kit” Items:

  • Expo markers
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Notecards
  • Clicker
  • Stapler/Staples
  • Batteries
  • Flashdrive


Personal “Essentials Kit” Items:

  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Tampons
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes
  • Gum
  • First Aid Kit
  • Medicine (ibuprofen, anti-allergy)
  • Chapstick
  • Lotion
  • Hair brush/Hair Tie/Hair Spray
  • Contact Lens Kit
  • Nail clippers/file
  • Jacket/Sweater
  • Phone Charger
  • Snacks
    • Protein Bars (e.g. Larabars, Cliff bars)
    • Trail mix
    • Almonds or other nuts
    • Pretzels
    • Cup of Soup or Microwavable Soup
    • Bottled water or a reusable water bottle

IMG_4939It was not until after an emergency that we realized some of these items needed to be carried in our kits. For example, one day I had back-to-back classes and was having trouble with my one of my contacts. I was miserable! By the time I had a chance to go to the store and buy the items I needed, my eye was bright red, watering, and I had a terrible headache. Now, I keep a contact kit in my office that holds a case, bottles for contact solution, and a small mirror. A small bottle of ibuprofen and Tylenol is also in my  desk drawer for unexpected headaches.

It is also important to consider fueling your body with nutritious food and staying hydrated throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle that can be filled at water fountains between classes. Carry non-perishable snacks in your bag or store them in your desk drawer or car. There are days when we have taught six hours in a row, gone to a meeting, and met with students to finish the day realizing we have not eaten since breakfast. Sometimes, sitting down for a meal during a hectic day is impossible. But that does not mean you cannot or should not eat. Pack smalls meals or nutritious snacks that you can carry in your bag. Carry a piece of fresh fruit or a bag of raw vegetables that you can eat while walking between classes. If you have access to a refrigerator or you carry an insulated lunch box, you can pack a wrap, string cheese, or yogurt. These are all easy to eat while on the run.

If you are keeping the essentials in your car (back seat or trunk), we highly recommend a small plastic tub, egg crate, box, or bag designated for storage of the items. This will help with organization and access. Keeping the items together in one place also allows easy removal if you need space in your car on the weekends.IMG_4950Some of the items above you may use and need to replenish every week, while others you may not need all semester or year. We recommend being conscious of what you use and being sure to replenish as needed. Some of the items may be damaged by temperatures in the car; therefore, consider what can be stored there and what will be damaged. In addition, check items that are not used regularly from time to time to ensure they are still in good condition.

As we prepare for back to school, we will continue to post pictures of different kits that we create and use on social media. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for more ideas. Share ideas for essential items. What is an essential item in your kit? Post your comments below.


A look inside my “Summer Off”

IMG_3469I love when people say to me “it must be nice to be a teacher and have your summers off”.  I don’t know about you, but time off is something that is scarce in my life. While my summer schedule definitely looks different than the schedule I follow during the academic calendar year, I would not classify it as time off. I have different tasks to complete in the summers that help to make my job a bit easier and smoother when school resumes in the fall. Preparation, during the summer, helps to make me feel relaxed at the beginning of the semester when I am not only preparing myself for the beginning of the semester but also getting my kids in ‘back to school’ mode and helping them get use to a new routine.

Write and Revise Curriculum

In the summer, there are a lot of things that I do to prepare for the upcoming school year. I update my lectures and powerpoints and find new resources such as articles, videos, and activities to incorporate into my classes. In the summer, I have more time to review resources such as textbook and research articles to incorporate into the classes I teach. I have reviewed several resources such as new textbooks and was even able to work with a publisher on a custom textbook for a course I teach.  I also explore the university library for recently published research articles that could be incorporated into classes. This allows me to stay abreast of the new developments in my field of study.

New Technologies

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.12.40 AM

I can also experiment and consider using different technologies in classes. This summer, I have been researching Loom. This is a free program that allows you to create short videos to provide feedback and comments (rather than typing them out). This seems to be a less time consuming and a bit more personal way to provide feedback. I am considering this for providing feedback to students on written assignments as well as for collaborating with colleagues on research projects.

If any readers have used this program, please feel free to share your experience below. Your feedback is appreciated!

Research and Presentations

The summer provides a great opportunity to work on research projects. I find it hard to write during the fall and spring semesters due to other responsibilities that often take precedence. Finding some time to research and write up findings is easier for me in the summer months. A colleague and I have been editing and revising an article we wrote, so that it can be submitted for publication.

I have also been working with two colleagues to prepare a study that can be conducted in the upcoming academic school year. We will be submitting our proposal through IRB and will collect data during the academic year in hopes of having the data available next summer so we can spend sometime analyzing it and writing up the findings.

I have also been preparing a conference presentation with a colleague. We will be presenting at a conference in October and have been taking advantage of the down time that we have in the summer to discuss and prepare our presentation.

Teaching Online

In addition, I have been teaching online classes this summer. I do this for several reasons. It also allows me the opportunity to teach graduate level classes. It provides the opportunity to teach classes that I would normally not teach during the regular semester and give some additional time to prep material for these classes. I enjoy teaching graduate level students. It is a nice and sometimes needed change. IMG_5519

It is also a nice way to supplement my income. This allows me to pay for vacations for my family. It also allows for some extra income to pay bills, student loans, and to make needed home improvements.

Online teaching can be time consuming; however, I can arrange my days and weeks to fit my summer schedule completing work early in the mornings or in different settings (like in my car while driving to CA for my family vacation – thank goodness for Hot Spot!).

Flexible Office Space and Hours

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.08.16 AMMy office space looks a little bit different in the summer. It is mobile. I may take my laptop to the pool and work while my kids participate in swim practice. I may wake up early and work at the kitchen table for a few hours before my little humans begin to stir. Sometimes, I head to the local library with my kids in tow and while they check out books and read or participate in one of the library activities, I get a little bit of work done. I am a mother as well as an instructor, and teaching is not my only responsibility. This also makes the term “time off” extremely humorous. Moms….do we ever really get ‘time off’?

So, while I definitely appreciate the change in pace that the summer months offer, I do not consider my summers “time off”. I never completely disconnect from my identity as an educator. I am constantly considering ways to improve my teaching practice, serve my students, and grow as a professional. I am sure some of you can relate. So…what have you been doing this summer to prepare?

Back to School Sales!

This post contains affiliated links. By clicking and purchasing from the provided links, the practical professors earn a small commission at no additional cost to the buyer. There is no obligation to buy.

IMG_3629This is my favorite time of year! Back to school supplies hit store shelves and there are some great deals. I spend the month of July checking weekly ads so that I can take advantage of smoking deals. School supplies can be rather expensive, so I stock up now in order to save money later.

Back to School Sales:

Office Max

Check the ads/flyers for stores in your area to determine what is on sale each week. New sales will usually begin Sundays. Keep in mind that sales will differ every week. In addition, really good deals will go quickly, so plan to shop early in the week (preferably on Sundays or Mondays). Some deals will also be available online, so check websites weekly too.

Personal Supplies

IMG_3623There are materials that I use personally that I purchase during the summer sales. I stock up on items such as white board markers, post-it notes, and notecards. This is also a great time to purchase an academic calendar/planner and a clicker if you don’t already own one. Personal flash drives are also very helpful for storing electronic materials that you need to conduct class.

Supplies for the Classroom

IMG_3061There are also materials that I provide to my students when I ask that they complete activities in class. There are a lot of activities that you can do with Crayola markers, 3×5 cards, and paper in your classroom. Keep it simple at first and build your arsenal of materials/supplies over time. You can add a few more things each semester or at the beginning of each new school year.

Stock Up

IMG_6731I also purchase supplies to keep at home for personal use. I buy pens and pencils. I also buy crafting supplies like glue, crayons, and markers for my house (for my kids and for me). I love different color sharpies. Last year, I found a pack of 15-20 sharpies for under $10 at Walmart. I am still using them. You can get personal supplies as well as materials to use in the classroom for activities.

Educate Students

You can also ask students to bring their own materials keeping in mind that they are college students and may be living on a tight budget. College students usually return to class after K-12 schools get started. By the time they are returning to school, most of the school sales are over. However, talk to them about “Back to School” sales and encourage them to take advantage of them next year. I educate them about the types of materials they will need so that they can plan ahead and buy during the summer sales.

As you are checking ads, making lists of needed supplies, and doing your shopping, also remember, you can ask for donations. This helps to save money. Some of my colleagues ask for old magazines, scrapbooking materials, etc. to use to complete projects and activities that they use in their classes.

Have fun! Back to school shopping is an exciting time of year. You are preparing for a new semester, a new school year, a new batch of eager students who are ready to learn from you. The new school year signals a new beginning and a fresh start. Having some new and improved supplies can make it even better!

Here is a list of supplies to use as you shop for the beginning of the school year:

List of Supplies:

Whiteboard markers
Crayola Markers
Sharpie Markers
Post-It notes
3×5 notecards
printer paper
card stock
Construction paper
paper clips
pencil boxes/bags
storage containers
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Zuca Backpack
Vera Bradley Get Carried Away Tote


5 Practical Tips for College Students

jeremy-bishop-131058Attention Students! This blog is for you. As you prepare for college, whether you are going for the first time or you are returning after your summer vacation, here are some practical tips to make your college experience more meaningful.

1. Attend class

Attend class daily. You are at college to earn a degree. This is the ultimate goal and therefore, your number one priority must be attending class, completing course work, and successfully passing each class that you take. In order to get the most out of the classes you take, sit in the front row. Take notes. Participate. Be present. Research suggests that students who take notes by hand, retain more information from the lesson and actually process the information at a deeper level, because they are forced to put the information into their own words. So….get off your devices (computers, tablets, phones). Take notes by hand.

2. Utilize University Resources

josh-felise-79991On every college campus, the number of resource available for students vary. Locate and utilize the resources that are available on your campus. Start with the library and the librarians. You will need to write papers that are supported by research; therefore, learning to use the library as well as discovering how to contact a librarian will be important to your success.

Go to Study Sessions that your instructors or teaching assistants offer. They will assist in preparing for assessments. Being prepared can help to reduce anxiety and can help you to earn a better grade.

Attend office hours. Your instructors will have scheduled office hours. It is highly encouraged to attend office hours. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. Make personal connections with your professors.

3. Talk to Your Professors

I mean really have a conversation with your professor. Introduce yourself! Share some personal information, like where you are from, your major, a future career goal, or a personal hobby. Making connections with your professors is important. They can assist you when you are having difficulty with the course material. They can also help you as you progress through your degree program. You may find that you need or want to participate in research opportunities and your professors may be able to provide those opportunities. They can also write you a letter of recommendation for graduate school or a potential job. If your professors do not know you, they may be more reluctant to help. So make connections and form relationships with your professors.

You may chat for a minute before or after class or you can attend office hours. Perhaps your professor offers additional study sessions. Find out how and when you can connect in a more personal way.

4. Get Involved

There are numerous ways to get involved on campus.

If you live on campus, check out social activities that are sponsored or arranged within your dorm. Dorms create a sense of community and belonging on large campus, making the very big campus feel a bit smaller and more intimate. So get to know those who you reside with by getting involved in activities organized by your peers and residential leaders.

Additionally, clubs play an important role on campuses. Determine if there are clubs that are associated with your major or that support your interests that you can join.

Research opportunities and internships can not only provide the opportunity to get involved but can also help to prepare you for life after college providing experience to assist with acceptance to graduate school or when applying for future jobs.

Attend sporting events. This is a great way to stir a sense of school spirit. Or if you enjoy playing, you could participate in intramural sports. Research options for joining an intramural club team.

5. Get Out of Your Dorm Room

alexis-brown-85793Find alternative locations to study. Study in the library. This provides the opportunity to utilize campus resources, and you may find that you are able to focus with a bit more ease if you are not in your dorm room where there may be distractions that prevent you from completing your work. Get out of your dorm room and visit with friends. While your number one goal is earning a degree, you should also enjoy the time you spend on a college campus, establishing relationships. Therefore, visit with friends. Attend social events. Have fun!

Academic Freedom

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 6.42.15 PMWhat are your Fourth of July traditions? Do you have a picnic with family and friends? Do you have a special place where you go to watch fireworks? Growing up, my family went to the local fair ground. My grandmother LOVED to sit in the bandstand and listen to the live band until it was time for the fireworks to begin. This was our family tradition. Sometimes, my brother and I would complain about having to go to the fairground so early and sit for so long waiting for the fireworks. Today, I wish my grandmother was still here, and I could go and sit at the fairground for hours with her listening to the music in the bandstand waiting for the fireworks to begin. You see these were things I took for granted…..the time I could spend with her….my family’s tradition. We all take things for granted both in our personal and professional lives.

If you work in higher education, you have most likely heard the term academic freedom. When this term is referred to, what exactly do academics mean? Freedom, or the right to act, speak, or think as one wants without being hindered, is applied in an academic setting. This implies that academics have the right to specific freedoms as they pertain to their role as educators and in relation to the discipline in which they are experts. At a very basic level, academic freedom affords faculty the right to decide how to teach the courses they are assigned.

Academic freedom is viewed as essential to the mission of the academy – the college or university – as well as the principles of academia. It is important that faculty and students do not fear retribution for presenting information or for engaging in discussion on topics that may be viewed as controversial that pertains to their discipline. They are provided the opportunity to freely debate these topics openly sharing thoughts and opinions in a respectful and professional manner. Faculty recognize that this type of discussion is essential to promote growth – intellectual, personal, and professional. In addition, this principle also extends to research providing faculty and students the ability to select topics of interest and conduct research related to these topics. They are also permitted to share the results from research conducted freely.

On this day, as we celebrate our freedoms as Americans, please do not forget that those include the freedom to teach our classes within our disciplines, sharing ideas and engaging in debates openly. I am proud to be an American. I am equally as proud to be university professor. I don’t take these things for granted and neither should you. Happy Fourth of July!john-silliman-140814

Dress to Impress: Practical Tips for Building a Professional Wardrobe


This post contains affiliated links. By clicking and purchasing from the provided links, the practical professors earn a small commission at no additional cost to the buyer. There is no obligation to buy.

Preparing for the semester doesn’t just involve creating captivating lectures and activities. It also involves preparing yourself – to look professional. A mentor use to tell me, don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want. Her advice was to always look professional.

Many readers may be adjuncts who hope to one day become a full time faculty member. Therefore, you should be concerned with making a good first impression as well as a continued professional impression.

Audience Awareness:
Be aware of your audience. Your attire should be stylish but modest. Shirt should not be low cut, and skirts should not be too short. Clothing should be form fitting but not too tight. Make sure pants are hemmed to an appropriate length, and that they are ironed or pressed. Avoid clothing with holes. Even if the school allows more casual attire, jeans should be free from holes. Darker fabric is preferred as this looks more professional. It is best to avoid wearing stone washed or lighter colored jean fabric in slacks. Save your more casual attire for the weekends when you are preparing your lectures – not for the week days when you are presenting them.

Before You Go Shopping:
With that being said, many of you may be considering your own personal wardrobe. You may be ecstatic about an excuse to go shopping or you may be dreading it. Some of you may be thinking, this sounds expensive! You may not have the money to spend on a new wardrobe. While you may need to do some back to school shopping, clothing – stylish clothing – does not have to break the bank.

Practical Tip: Before you hit the stores, I encourage you to go through your closet and determine what items you own that can be worn in a professional environment. As you go through your closet, make a list of what you have. This will help you focus as you shop and will ensure you buy items that will complement what you already have. In addition, you can also look for some items that are versatile and practical to add to your current clothing collection. Below is a list of some things that I recommend that you have in your wardrobe.

Closet Staples:IMG_3545IMG_0786 4

  • 2 – 3 dress pants
  • 1 Blazer
  • 2 skirts or dresses
  • 2 pairs of dress shoes

Versatile Style:
I recommend buying dress pants or skirts in neutral colors. (My favorite dress pants are Express Editor Pants – I wear the classic cut and ankle length. I also love wearing Simply Vera Vera Wang pants from Kohls.) Black, grey, dark blue, and tan or light brown work well, because they can be worn with a variety of tops. Select a variety tops, short sleeves, long sleeves, fitted, flowing, solid colors, prints. You can tailor your selection to your personal style. I recommend purchasing a blazer or suit jacket that can be worn to class or to meetings, interviews, speaking events, or professional conferences. This can be paired with a pair of dress pants or a nice skirt or dress. Select a blazer in a color that can be worn with a variety of items in your wardrobe.

Finally, let’s talk about comfortable shoes. Remember, you may be walking a rather far distance to the classroom where you will be teaching. While heels may look cute, they may not be the best option. I recommend a few pairs of flat shoes or low wedges in neutral colors. I also like a few pairs of dressy boots for colder days – which are few and far between in Phoenix, AZ. Depending upon where you live, you may get more use of these than I do.

Practical Advice: I like to wear heels. However, I also have to walk across campus to my classroom or for meetings. So, I carry ballet flats in my work bag. I can slip these on if I need to walk across campus. Then I just change into my heels when I get to my meeting or classroom.

Places to Shop:
Two of my go-to stores are Kohls and Target. I can find just about any type of clothing that I am looking for at Kohls. From seasonal options to shoes, from professional clothing to casual clothing, Kohls carries everything. They also have great sales and coupons! Target is not necessarily a store that I go to in search of clothing, I usually go in for other items and end up in the clothing section, eventually during my visit. I always start my search on the sale racks! I have purchased practical flats and boots, cardigans and light jackets, and shirts for work.

Consignment shops can also be great for updating your wardrobe. However, they tend to be more of a hit or miss in terms of what you find. You may find killer deals or you may walk out empty handed. However, if you have time to scour the racks, then this can be a great option. I have been known to find cute shirts, pants, or even a nice blazer in my searches.

I also like to shop at stores like TJ Max or Ross, but again, these are hit or miss. However, if you need to update your wardrobe with some shirts for the season, you can do so pretty easily and cheaply in these stores.

While I am willing to wear a shirt from just about anywhere as long as it is cute and comfortable, pants are a different story. I buy the majority of my dress pants from the Express. I have been wearing Editor Dress pants from Express for fifteen years. I actually have two pairs that are at least 10 years old. They are great quality, and they fit very well. I can generally find a sale or coupon to use. Sometimes, Express runs a buy one get one half off sale. I also shop at the Express outlet or online for deals. Once you know the style and size that you like, you can easily shop online too which makes finding sales and deals even easier. I definitely prefer shopping online!

Accessorizing can change the entire look of an outfit. I love scarfs! I buy them at the end of seasons when they are on sale. I tend to buy most of my scarfs from Charming Charlie’s for about $5 each; rarely do I pay more. Earrings also can dress up an outfit. One of my girlfriend’s sells Premier Designs Jewelry. This company is a direct sales company so you will need to find a jeweler if you wish to purchase the products. The quality of the jewelry as well as the return policy if something breaks has guaranteed my business for the last ten years. I try to host a party once a year. By hosting a party, I get my girlfriends together for a fun afternoon or evening out, and I earn FREE jewelry. Not bad if you are on a budget!

Sale Tips:
I LOVE a good sale! I try my very best to only shop sales. One great way to do this is to buy at the end of a season. I have found some great deals doing this. You may also have the opportunity to combine sale prices with coupons or other deals. Finally, I highly recommend asking if the stores where you shop offer discounts to teachers. There are numerous retailers who offer teacher discounts.

Dress to impress! You make an impression every time you step foot on campus. You never know who may pop into your classroom or see you walking from across campus. Make sure that every day, you are making the right impression – a good impression!