I'm teaching Media Writing at the University of New Hampshire now. As in right this moment now. We're writing a blog for our proposed business sites as part of this week's quiz.
Each semester the class evolves, but this semester it completely changed. So much so that I am doing the homework with my students. Why? Because I'm teaching from an entirely new book. It focuses on launching a successful small business, and all the social media and internet outreach that involves.
While my focus is ever on the writing, I am also eager to learn from my students. Each week we explore what we've discovered during the homework phase of reading and completing the exercises at the end of each chapter in Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed by Patrick Schwerdtfeger, a book suggested to me by a colleague.
The book compliments my students' natural internet abilities, and often highlights my own weaknesses in an online world. "Here's what turns out to be an example of what NOT to do," is a phrase I uttered after studying the chapters on building a perfect website. (I've since redesigned and relaunched my still imperfect site.)
My students seem to appreciate that I am learning alongside them--or I hope they do, anyway. I appreciate that they're willing to do things like brainstorm for each other at a moment's notice. When one student had trouble writing a one-line description for her company, we took it to the board and hashed it out until it was perfect. Today, when another had trouble with the focus of her blog and the site descriptor, we again took it to the board.
Last week we each sent around a sheet of paper that brainstormed possible blog topics; at the end of the exercise, each of us was surprised to see a valuable list of genuinely great ideas for future blogs. Not only are we learning about each person's business idea, but we're starting to think like the customers we hope to attract.
My customers--my students--have become my teachers, my inspiration, and my sounding board. I know every semester this is true of any of my classes, but here and now, in this moment, as the last student completes his quiz-assigned blog post, it is especially true. I only hope I can pass their tests, and be the professor they need me to be in order to help them see the possibilities in writing and in business.