Superstudents: An Open Letter to August PCP

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As I prepare to begin a new month of Professional Communication and Presentation (PCP) this week, for the first time, my heart is heavy.  I typically feel excited for a new month and ready to meet a new crop of students.  This weekend and early this week, however, I’ve only been sad about the fact that I won’t see the faces of my August superstudents who I have come to admire and love so much.

Chiara Ojeda blogged about the precious angels on Sunday.  Read her account of August PCP here.  For me, last month was just one of those classes where everything clicked.  It was my first month teaching with the new textbook: Nancy Duarte’s Resonate.  It was a month I had been anticipating for quite a bit, as Nancy Duarte herself agreed to do a Skype interview and Q&A with the class.  But these reasons alone don’t make a month successful; the students do.

Each student worked hard to become a stronger presenter.  And when I say “work,” I mean work.  These students worked harder this month than they have in any previous month of their degrees and, likely, more than they will work in future months.  They read their textbook, they spent hours on their presentations, and they practiced with me before each speech.  That hard work resulted in more As in August than I have seen in any other month; 10 out of 15 students earned a score of “A” because of the hard work they put in.  Each student put in an enormous amount of work to grow as a public speaker and presenter.

I saw students resist.  This is often a quality I love the most about a class because students who think for themselves question and challenge the world around them are students driven to learn and to succeed.  Not every person was immediately sold on the visual design concepts I taught.  Not every student understood the importance of Compfight and Flickr.  But this is a good thing!  Resistance helps a student actually learn.

I saw students change.  No student is a perfect presenter; none of us are!  But each student changed – some dramatically – from the first day of the course to the last.  Most changed their approach to visual design: they went from bullets and clip art on a template to the picture superiority effect.  Some changed their approach to delivery: they went from reading a script to working from an outline to deliver more authentically and embody TED Commandment #9.  Some changed their approach to content: they worked hard and put in many hours to analyze their audience, outline and organize, research and develop, and then storyboard their content.

I saw students flourish.  This post is for Martin, Jason, Bobby, Alex, Ruben, Dan, Gary, Tyler, Howard Zac, Bruce, Fernley, Jane, Shawn, and Adriana.  Thank you for one of the greatest months of my entire teaching career.  I can’t wait to see all of you leading the entertainment and music business industries.  And yes, Bruce, you are all certainly going down in history as some of “the best of PCP” super all-stars.  Love and miss y’all!

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