Friday, 30 November 2012

Boeing Renews Labor Talks

Boeing Co and the union that represents its 23,000 engineers and technicians agreed to resume labor talks earlier this week. Both sides have now been sparring over mediation of the talks as well as dates and times to meet. Boeing stated late Friday that the union declined its offer to attend meetings with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Monday. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, said that it contacted the mediator before Boeing, and have been accommodating in the places to meet. It has taken a bigger initiative in setting up dates, and has been the one waiting for Boeing to confirm these meetings. 

"I've responded that we have a mediator assigned to us ... but if Boeing is dissatisfied with that mediator, they need to take that up with FMCS not us," Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said.

"We also don't see the need to meet in a hotel. I offered to meet on Boeing property if that would make them comfortable."
Both sides have been seeking to negotiate since April for a labor contract that ended November 25th. An analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach that has followed Boeing stated that he has hope that the dispute will be resolved with mediation. He notes that there has not been a strike by the SPEEA since 2000 and are rare.
Boeing states that it has offered a fair proposal in a tough economic environment. The new proposal would still cut back the growth rate of compensation of for both engineering and technical employees significantly. These disputes come at a time when Boeing has enjoyed record production rates and orders, and is looking to increase jet production from 52 to 60 per month.
Boeing's stock price only dropped 3 cents to $74.09 reflecting the opinion that this conflict will be resolved in the near future and will not cause any serious damage to Boeing's production.
-Rishi Chheda

Thursday, 29 November 2012

New Hope for a Fiscal Cliff Solution


            President Barack Obama met with a group of CEOs from some of America’s largest companies yesterday regarding the upcoming fiscal cliff. Approximately 14 CEOs participated in the meeting, including Llyod Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo.
            The CEOs want the government to act fast before a combination of over $500 billion of spending cuts and tax hikes takes effect in 2013. Economists predict that the policies could cut GDP growth by up to four percent and raise unemployment by one percent, sending the US back into a recession. Losses from the economy are estimated at $280 billion from ending the Bush era tax cuts, $125 million from the expiration of the payroll-tax holiday, $40 million from expiring emergency unemployment benefits, and $98 billion from spending cuts under the Budget Control Act, as estimated by J.P. Morgan analysts.
            Republican and Democratic party leaders in Congress are currently at a gridlock over the relative levels of spending cuts and tax hikes. Obama along with the Democrats in the Senate are calling for around $80 billion in spending increases, while Republicans are resisting letting tax rates raise for Americans earning over $250,000.
            The general consensus among the CEOs was to allow tax rate increases for the richest Americans. Echevarria said that most CEO’s agreed that there needs to be a revenue increase. Business leaders agreeing to the tax increases could possibly cause Republicans to end their long standing opposition to tax increases, without fear of angering wealthy individuals. This new development increases the chances that a deal will be reached before the deadline, averting a financial disaster. Investor optimism for a deal caused the S&P 500 to increase 0.8% on Wednesday.

Ashish Sathe

Disney and the Biggest Entertainment Franchises

At the beginning of this month, Disney announced their acquisition of Lucasfilm, keeper of the Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion. Once again, the mass media giant is proving that it is willing to pay huge money to land a big franchise.

Three years ago, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion and that led directly to the production and release of a series of massively successful superhero movies, including Thor and Captain America last year and The Avengers earlier this year, which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide in box offices. In addition, Disney and Marvel currently have a number of sequels to these movies and even more related films in the pipeline. Dating back even further, Disney’s acquisition of Pixar for $7.6 billion brought with it the animation studio’s list of film series, including Toy Story and Monsters franchises. With the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney is hoping to take over, revive, and build upon the existing Star Wars franchise in a similar fashion.

According to Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett, this deal with Lucasfilm looks even more promising than the Marvel acquisition and “for about the same purchase price, Disney is buying another big, young male skewing franchise to expand its diversification from young females.” This is a great strategy for Disney and really filled in the gap in their audience appeal as the more traditional image of Disney is definitely heavily skewed to the female population. Lucasfilms will not only give Disney the rights to Star Wars which Disney is already taking advantage of with its planned introduction of Star Wars VII in 2015, but also the Indiana Jones franchise and a special-effects powerhouse, Industrial Light and Magic.

More recently, Disney has released an entire series of events planned in 2013. With its D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, Disney will be hosting many events in major cities such as Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, in the US. And just yesterday, Disney’s Board announced that it will be increasing annual cash dividend by 25% to $0.75 per share. All the signals are positive and Disney seems to be riding on a great wave, and it will be very interesting to keep a close eye on this media giant in early 2013.

Jennifer Zhang

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Apple Takes US Market Back

                I’m sure you’ve seen them everywhere—on the bus, on train, people going to work, kids, your professor, etc. Yes, you guessed it, the iPhone. Living in NYC, one of the most iPhone dense cities in the world, you really cannot miss this device. The noticeable white earbuds, people taking quick photos and the variety of protective covers are ubiquitous in this small city, and even more prominent amongst NYU students. Even more so with the most recent launch of the iPhone 5, to the extent that Apple’s smartphones now, once again, lead the entire US market.
                If you go to NYU and you see all of these people with iPhones, it might be hard to believe that Android phones had actually controlled the highest percentage of the market for a period of time, up until the release of the iPhone 5. According to Kantar, Apple will continue to amass even more of the market with the holiday season coming up. In Western Europe, demand for iPhones remains high but authorized dealers are saying there simply is not enough supply. On the other hand, while Apple does increasingly well in the States, it only has 1% share in Brazil compared to Android’s 56.7% and 67.5% in China, two of the fastest growing countries in the world.
                It’s clear that Apple and Android are competing neck-and-neck for the global mobile phone market and are doing very well respectively, but others aren’t so fortunate, such as BlackBerry for example. Its US market share has fallen to just 1.6% last month which led to an 8% decrease in share price, despite optimistic gains for its upcoming BlackBerry 10 phone. While iPhones and Androids continue to dominate the market, Research in Motion might be very close to its end. 

-Jonathan Louie

Monday, 26 November 2012


Last week, in each of my three classes, we were covering some extremely difficult material.   The students came to class well prepared for the most part.   They did a good job of analyzing and discussing the issues.   They came up with reasonable solutions.    They were certainly not perfect but they demonstrated a solid understanding of some truly complicated concepts.   I was proud of them.   They had come a long way.

We are now down to the last few days of the semester.   I was extremely happy to see such a good effort here near the end.   Even a grump like me had to be pleased.   Virtually every student in class had demonstrated a real improvement since we began back in August.   They not only knew more financial accounting but, just as importantly to me, they knew more about how to be good students.  

At times like these, I am always reminded of a quote that I heard a number of years ago, one that I think is terribly relevant to teaching:   "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins--not through strength but by perseverance."   Every semester I set out to be the stream.

In other words, no matter how frustrated I get with my students during the semester, if I keep my long-term goals in mind and if I pound on the students day in and day out to get to that goal, I WILL WIN.   I will simply wear down their resistance and teach them how to do what I want them to do.  

As long as I keep them moving toward the goals, we will get there. 

Okay, I never have a 100 percent success rate.   If a student sets out to fail, there is not much I can do about that.   However, most students really do not want to fail.   They would actually like to learn the material (at least at some level) and make a decent grade.  

To me, then, the only real question is whether I will get them to do what I want them to do so that they will learn the material and get that decent grade.

And the answer is:   "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins--not through strength but by perseverance."

I am convinced, when the students walk in on the first day of the semester, that I am the stream and they are the rocks and I will get them to learn what I think they need to know because I am going to stay focused on my long term goals.   To be a good teacher you need that extreme level of perseverance (or maybe “infinite patience” is a better way to put it).   Perseverance is a great help in becoming a good teacher.  

If you have read my blog previously, you know that I always have two long-term goals right from the beginning of each semester:

--On the last day of class, I want my students to say “I never knew I could work so hard, I never knew I could learn so much, I never knew I could think so deeply, and it was actually fun.”

--On the last day of class, I want my students to say “I understand this material so well that I can solve problems without needing the teacher.”  

I think those are educational goals worth achieving.   They make people better.   However, your goals may be radically different than mine.   That is absolutely fine.   I just feel like these two goals work best for me.   You need to determine what goals work best for you.

I also have facilitating goals that I use to help the class get to my long-term goals.  

--Every day, I want my students to come to class adequately prepared based on specific assignments that I have given them previously.   If they are not prepared, I am upset with them.

--Every day, I want my students to participate by analyzing new situations I pose in class.   I want their knowledge to always be pushing into new and unknown territory.  

--Every day, I want my students to go beyond memorization to achieve a level of understanding that allows them to solve questions and problems at a deeper level.

--After class, I want my students to organize the material that has been covered that day to help them come to a more concrete level of knowledge.   I don’t want them to quit when they just have “jello knowledge” but to keep working until they have a solid understanding.   Most student leave class with a squishy level of knowledge (jello knowledge) that requires more thought, work, and organization before it is truly solid.  

Does it work?   At first, of course not.   But, that’s normal; that is no reason to give up.  If I keep pushing them and guiding them and working on their mistakes, they gradually improve.   Learning is a slow, methodical process.   My only concern is whether I can get them to my goals by the last day of the semester.   And I have a strong belief that "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins--not through strength but by perseverance."   Keep pushing and they will make it.  


The Cyber Monday Deal No One Was Looking For

On Cyber Monday, shoppers found deals on laptops, cameras, phones, ... and even Amazon's debt! Today, along with many online deals on consumer goods, Amazon also sold bonds to raise over $3 Billion for what what the company calls "general corporate purposes". Taking advantage of low interest rates, Amazon tapped into the bond market to build its cash reserves for the first time since May 1998, when the company was junk-rated.

The bonds were met with mixed reactions. S&P rated the bonds double-A-minus, a relatively strong rating just 2 notches below the US government's rating. The company is expected to generate strong revenues with its products such as the Kindle over the next few years. Moody's however, rated the debt at Baa1, 2 notches lower than S&P's rating.

Amidst the chaos of the start of the holiday shopping season, it seems most people were concerned with the hottest deals on electronics. According to a few investors, however, these bonds were the best deal around. It is unlikely Amazon is in dire need of the extra cash, but with interest rates being held down so low, it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

-Smit Purohit

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The End of an Era: Bal Thackeray

Bal Thackeray, the controversial Hindu leader, died this past Saturday, November 17, at the age of 86. He had been sick in the weeks leading up to his death and ultimately passed from cardiac arrest. Thackeray is known throughout India for his Hindu nationalist beliefs and for inciting violent riots on their behalf. Many supporters refer to him as Hindu Hriday Samrat (emperor of Hindu hearts), while critics refer to him and his followers as thugs.

Thackeray, who was originally a cartoonist, became involved in politics during the
Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (United Maharashtra Movement) in the 1950s. It championed the creation of an Indian state named Maharashtra that would unite all Marathi speaking people and bolster their identity. The capital of the state would be the city of Bombay, India’s financial capital. This goal was achieved in 1960. Thackeray then founded the political part, Shiv Sena (Shiva’s Army), in 1966, and has led it since then. The Shiv Sena and Thackeray are responsible for the city of Bombay changing its name to Mumbai, after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city's patron deity. Since then, the party has pressed for entities such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Bombay High Court and Bollywood to change their names as well.

The party governed Maharashtra from 1995 to 2000, but has been unable to regain power since then. Thackeray himself has never held a political position, but is widely regarded as one of the most important political figures for Hindus. The party has been losing power in recent years, but still has countless threatening advocates.

He spent his life trying to curb the proliferation of Islam and trying to prevent migrant workers from coming to Maharashtra. He encouraged violence as a way of manifesting these goals. Thackeray is largely blamed for a series of riots in 1992 after a group of Hindus razed the Babri Masjid in North India. Thackeray is recognized as a motivating orator and political instigator. He was arrested twice for politically inciting speeches. In 2008 he wrote, “Islamic terrorism is growing and Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter it. We need suicide bomb squads to protect India and Hindus." The most recent move by the party was attacking shops and people promoting Valentine’s Day.

Upon hearing of Thackeray’s sickness, his estate received visits from Bollywood’s finest, including Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered condolences to Thackeray’s son, Uddhav Thackeray, who is thought to assume power of the party. Thackeray’s followers began to gather outside his residence upon hearing the news, leading the police to increase their presence for fear of riots outside. Followers were seen weeping in the streets.

His legacy will be one of condoning violence to promote his religious agenda and xenophobia. The way in which Uddhav Thackeray navigates the upcoming weeks will dictate the future of the party.

Written by: Lynn Bernabei

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Expiration of Hostess: Who's at Fault?

It is very likely that many of you have already run to your nearest supermarkets and bought the remaining few boxes of Twinkies. After all, the iconic company, with whom our childhoods are associated with, has come to an unfortunate demise. Hostess filed for liquidation today, after a hard-fought battle with the baker’s union over contract negotiations, ending all business operations immediately.

It is only natural after today’s events to determine who the real culprit at fault is. Some blame it on poor financial decisions made by management to raise their own salaries multiple times despite declining customer demand. This explanation is justified given a lack of improvement to Hostess’ financial statements after three previous sales and two prior bankruptcies. But that answer seems almost too simple and straightforward for such complicated failed negotiations.

Hostess had warned its bakers that a strike would force the company into filing for liquidation. The union nonetheless decided to go on strike, given their satisfaction with contractual terms. This decision was either made because the union did not want to set a precedent for other companies or believed Hostess was entirely bluffing. Regardless, Hostess has now eliminated the 5,000 union jobs as a result of the financial distress, in addition to 13,000 other jobs for employees who are not part of the baker’s union. Typically, unions are heralded as valuable components of society since they attempt to serve the greater good for people with little opportunity for expression. In this case, however, can the same be said about the baker’s union? How does one balance the discontent of 5,000 employees unwilling to concede against the cost of additional jobs of people who have no relation to the dispute? Hostess may no longer be an operating company, but what will become of the 18,000 individuals who will now join the unemployment line?

- Yannan Qiu

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Global Player Exchange

With the global football transfer market worth an estimated $3 billion, financial holding companies are increasingly interested in buying up the transfer rights of the world's biggest stars. And the returns can be enormous.

The transfer market is a complicated system but can be simplified to this: most football teams have "youth systems" that train young talent of all ages. Barcelona's La Masia Academy, from which Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta were developed, can be considered the pinnacle of these youth systems. If players are good enough, they can make the first team as teenagers. In some cases, opposing teams do youth transfers to continue developing a young player but to also bring them to the club for cheaper than a full fledged star. From then on, each time the young player changes clubs, his original club that developed him will get a "development fee" and the rest of the money involved in the transfer will be given to the team transferring the player out.

In most instances, the team owns all of a player's transfer rights. If he leaves, they get all of the money involved in the transaction. However, with the top heavy nature of modern day football, the bottom table clubs are suffering financially, resulting in these clubs selling portions of their player rights to holding companies as a method of financing their operations. If, for example, Radamel Falcao (pictured above) were to leave Atletico Madrid, Natland Financieringsmaatschappij BV would net 5% of the estimated 50 million euros he's worth.

Now as a fan of the sport, I think it's great that the value of players is going up, a testament to the popularity of the sport and the status of footballers as marketable stars. However, the concept of buying player stock worries me. The upper tier of clubs, in the league of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, etc. have enough financial power to hold on to their players without selling their rights away. This allows them to inflate the price of their players, making it virtually impossible for opposing teams to pull a star from their ranks; the reported $1 billion buyout clause in Cristiano Ronaldo's original contract at Real speaks volumes for this case. The lower tiers would have no choice but to sell out to financial holding companies and lose out on huge transfer market gains should the player develop into a bona-fide star.

And what about a player that negotiates his own player rights? If they have yet to reach it big, but a company offers a great deal for even 50% of their transfer rights, said player can lose out on millions of euros over the course of his career. This can put youth players in poorer markets at even more of a disadvantage. With the market for third party transfer rights valued at $500 million, that is half a billion dollars that can be pumped back into the system, back to the ailing bottom tier teams. The Premier League is ahead of the game and bans third party ownership of player rights, it's about time for La Liga and the Bundesliga, among the other top tier leagues, to follow suit. Empowering the players and the teams that develop them will ultimately be the first step in bringing back a competitive landscape to association football.

-Aureen Sarker (Photo Credit: Atletico Madrid S.A.D)

Monday, 12 November 2012

East versus West -- No Pain, No Gain

A few days ago, this blog moved over 65,500 page views since its inception.   It is amazing how often I receive emails from teachers (around the world) who start out by saying “A friend of mine who teaches at my school told me about your blog.”  

Consequently, I like to stop now and then and say Thanks!!! to everyone who passes along a good word about this blog.   If not for you, I would be writing all this stuff to myself.   Whether you agree or disagree, I really appreciate your passing along the blog entries.


One of the things that I try to do in my classes is talk with my students about my teaching philosophy.  I want them to understand that I do not do things randomly.   I try to have a reason for what I do and I want that reason to be logical.   I think students appreciate being brought into the conversation about their own education.   I think they are more likely to do what the teacher asks if they understand that there is a reason.  

To use an overused cliché, I want my teaching to be transparent.

Here’s an email that I sent out to my students today.   It is probably pretty obvious that I do become frustrated at times by students who simply will not try.   For some reason, they have come to the conclusion that trying is not a necessary part of learning.  Or, that trying is some type of bad omen.  

I want them to look at trying in a different light.   Here's what I wrote them.

To: Accounting Students

From: JH

A friend of mine sent me the link above from an NPR show that was aired this morning about education. As people who have been students virtually your entire lives, I thought you might find this essay interesting. It could make you question whether you have been educated by the best possible philosophy. And, it might also help you understand my style of teaching a bit better.

Basically, this article stresses a philosophy that learning is greatly improved by struggle (a word that we rarely associate with education in the US).

In fact, here is the quote that I found most interesting.

“In Eastern cultures, Stigler says, it's just assumed that struggle is a predictable part of the learning process. Everyone is expected to struggle in the process of learning, and so struggling becomes a chance to show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle”

“To show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle” – interesting concept for education. The author is apparently talking about something more than taking notes and memorizing formulas.

I think we all realize that in sports there are many sayings that stress the importance of struggle: “No pain, no gain” being probably the best known. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single athlete who didn’t subscribe to that philosophy whole heartedly. Whenever you see a championship athlete (in the Olympics, for example, or on the football field), it is simply assumed that the person has spent countless hours in rigorous training in order to become that good.  

However, we don’t exhibit the same attitude toward our best students. We rarely talk about the countless hours it takes to become a championship student. Instead, we tend to dismiss the difficult work that is necessary because “oh, he/she is just smart.”

For some reason, our education system doesn’t put much emphasis on the struggle that is necessary for deep learning. In fact, any visible sign of a struggle to learn material is often viewed as a weakness (“he/she is really not cut out for this stuff”). Is learning that takes place quickly any more beneficial than learning that occurs after considerable effort?

I believe the reason we don’t stress the need to struggle to learn is that we don’t challenge our students enough (and then we are often unhappy that they don’t turn out better prepared). From kindergarten forward, the “struggle” to learn is not often much of a struggle. After enough years, you come to believe that struggle is not really a necessary component of learning.

Oh, do I disagree with that. I want you to struggle. To repeat, I want you to struggle. Every single day. I want you to have to put up a fight. I want to make this stuff hard enough that you have to struggle to do well. I think it is good for you and it makes the learning so much more a part of your being.

If I could make learning easy for you, I would not do it.

In truth, I think about 70 percent of you are putting up the fight that I want. I am very pleased (most days) with about 70 percent of you. The other 30 percent have a tendency to give “lazy answers” that often seem to say “I didn’t feel like struggling with this material so here’s a throw away answer so that you’ll let me slide.”

My goal in this email is not to convert you to my thinking. I’m more interested in making you aware that lazy answers don’t do you any good.

My real goal here is to make one point: Champion athletes struggle mightily to get better. Champion students must do the same thing. There is no shame in having to put up a fight to learn this stuff. In fact, that’s how it ought to be.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Gray Depression

     In the next few years, the average age of the US population is going to start drastically increasing. By 2025, the population of people over 65 will almost double in the United States, while the population of working-age adults and children will only rise by about 15%. Clearly, since the older-aged population is growing faster than the middle-aged and youngsters, the American population’s average age will rise. The reason that the growth rate of the older population is so high is because the first of the people born in the baby boomer era have just begun retiring and will continue to do so until 2029. The baby boomers were people born after World War II, in the years 1946 to 1964 (marked in red on the graph below). These years were marked by high post-war birth rates, and now, 65 years later, they are aging and perhaps also taking a toll on the US economy, which is just now getting back on track.

     The graying of the US population has serious implications on the economy. As a person ages, naturally, their body starts to deteriorate and they require more care. Now, with all these people aging at once, the combined increase in payments to Social Security and Medicare can be pretty significant for the economy as a whole. One of the most common diseases associated with old-age is Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there are 5.4 million Americans who suffer from this disease, with payments for their care estimated at around $200 billion. By the end of 2025, there could be more than 15 million people with the disease. The aging population will strain the national healthcare system, and it could be argued that combined with Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, our healthcare system can get severely crippled.
     Historically, the biggest spenders in our economy are middle-aged adults from ages 45 to 54. This is because they are working in the prime of their career, usually making peak earnings, and they have a lot of expenditures at that point in their life. When you’re younger, you might not by a house or car that is high-end, but when you’re nearing retirement and you’re making the most money you’ve ever made, you’ll be feeling wealthier, which increases consumption, and thus most spending in a person’s lifetime happens in this age range. At this stage in a person’s life, they may have to finance their children through college, pay off their biggest mortgage, and make payments on their best car. Currently, we have more people in this age range than ever before because all the baby boomers have aged. Extending this, in about 10 years, after baby boomers have grayed even more past that age range, we are going to have a shockingly low amount of people from ages 45 to 54. This could severely depress our economy because the majority of spending comes from people ages 45 to 54, so when the proportion of those people decreases and the proportion of people ages 65+ increases at the same time, the economy is losing out on its biggest source of consumer spending, while having to financially support another group of people, through Social Security and Medicare. The aging of this big part of our economy could have negative implications in the near future, which is bad news for a recovering economy.

-Yashwant Chunduru

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Joe’s Top Ten List

This past Thursday, I had the great good fortune to lead a 3 ½ hour discussion of teaching at the New Faculty Seminar put on by the Virginia Community College System.   The VCCS had about 150 folks there who had joined their teaching ranks in the last year or so.   We spent our time together chatting about how to become a better college teacher.

Whenever I lead this type of discussion, I always like to give the participants something at the end that will keep the thought process moving forward even after we have parted.   Here is what I typed on Wednesday night and then distributed to these folks after our time together on Thursday.


One of my favorite class assignments is to ask my students to read a chapter and pick the top 5 or 10 things they found important in the material.   I think that does a lot for them.   It forces them to think more deeply about the subject as they read.   It also requires them to make an evaluation, something that is not often done in education.   What part of this material was really most important?   They have to do some thinking and make some judgments.

Then, I will give them my countdown of what I thought were the most important parts of the reading.   My challenge to them is to compare my list to their list and figure out why mine had some differences (or justify why their list was actually better).   So, on November 1, we are going to spend 3 ½ hours together talking about becoming a better teacher.   Before you get too far away from this session, sit down and make a list of the most important things we discuss.   Then, pick your top 10 and rank them.   I want you to really consider what was most significant factor in your goal of becoming a better teacher.  

I have made my list below.   Compare your list to my list and see what you think.   In fact, if you go out tonight with other folks from the session, pick a group top 10.   It would be a worthwhile exercise, a great step toward being a better teacher on Monday when you return to your home school.   If you think my list is messed up in some way, let me know.   You can always send me an email at Jhoyle@richmond.eduand explain why my judgment is a bit faulty (I’m getting old – I have an excuse).  

I don’t know exactly what we will get covered on Thursday but this is based on my best guess as of Wednesday.

NUMBER 12(Okay, I lied about a Top Ten list.   I just couldn’t get the number down below twelve.)    REMEMBER THAT WE ALL NEED MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION.   I gave you a quote from Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides as a celebration of teaching.   Occasionally, it is easy to get down and depressed when we teach.   Students never quite do what we want them to do.   I don’t think you should ignore your own need for inspiration.   Talk with other teachers about their best days in class.   Or, keep a list of student evaluations that talk about how much you have helped them.   Read those now and then to remind yourself of why you got into this business.

NUMBER 11.   NEVER QUIT THINKING ABOUT YOUR TEACHING.    As our quote from Fortune magazine said, when learning a new skill, most people get good at first and then stop improving.   However, a few continue to get better and go on to greatness.   I’m convinced you will stop growing when you stop thinking about your classes and how you can make things go better.   I’m also convinced that when you have a bad day or a “bad” class that a good response is to sit quietly and just think what is happening and how you can turn things around.  

NUMBER 10.   BE AMBITIOUS.    The best teachers have a fire burning in their belly that pushes them to be great.   If you are satisfied with average, you’ll never be more than average.   The world needs better teachers.   The world needs for you to be a better teacher.   Make that a passion in your life.

NUMBER 9.    DON’T FORGET THE 50-50 RULE.   Almost every teacher talks too much.   Students prefer to sit and be passive and spoon fed.   Don’t let them pull that trick.   Make them talk.   If you talk, the class quickly becomes a conveyance of “stuff” with student thinking going out the window.   The goal should always be that you never do more than half of the talking in any class.   Above that, the quality of learning goes down.

NUMBER 8.   ARE YOU A FOOTBALL COACH OR A SCOUT LEADER?   There are two ways to motivate students.   You either push them or encourage them.   Great teachers are one or the other.   You cannot ignore student motivation.   Figure out how you are most comfortable providing that motivation.

NUMBER 7.   KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ON YOUR TOMBSTONE.    I obviously like the idea that I am judged by my students to be “the scariest prof” but also “the most caring.”    That is how I would like to be remembered.    Once I realized that, it has influenced my teaching.   I didn’t want to be remembered as “most boring” or “most confusing” or “funniest.”   I really want to push my students as hard as I can (enough to scare them or, at least, keep them on their toes) but also have them realize that I was doing it solely because I cared about them.   I want that student response.   Ask yourself what you would like for students to write on your tombstone.   It will influence the way you teach.

NUMBER 6.   A MEANS EXCELLENT.   I think grade inflation has had a horrible impact on college education.   Students have come to believe that they deserve a good grade just for breathing and don’t deserve to fail no matter how poorly they do.   If that is the teacher’s attitude, there is no reason at all for a student to work very hard or think very deeply.   I know it can make you feel like a tyrant but if you really care about the students, you want them to learn.   Set a high (but fair) standard and let them know that standard right from the start.

NUMBER 5.   PREPARATION FOR CLASS IS A REAL KEY FOR LEARNING.   If you can get your students to walk in to class well prepared each day, everything goes so much better.  If they are not prepared, all they can really do is sit and take notes and fall back on memorization.   Always think about how you can improve their level of class preparation.   That alone will create a much better class and learning environment.

NUMBER 4.   AFTER THE SEMESTER, ASK YOUR STUDENTS TO TELL YOU HOW THEY MADE AN A.   This allows you to pat your best students on the back.   They will love you for that.   It also helps you evaluate how you are doing in each class.   And, you can use these written responses to guide your next group of students.   One of the best ways to improve a new class is to let them know what it takes to do well.  Getting previous students to explain “the secrets” of how they made an A puts out the message loud and clear to the next group.

NUMBER 3.   THE WAY YOU TEST IS THE WAY THEY WILL LEARN.   If you ask test questions that focus on memorization, your students will do no more than memorize.   If you want them to think deeper, you have to ask questions that will require that depth of knowledge.   Try open book tests; you’ll write better questions and the students will be forced to think at a deeper level.

NUMBER 2.   BE SURE TO KNOW YOUR FLY-ON-THE-WALL PHILOSOPHY.   What you want to hear from your students on the last day of class should guide everything you do for the entire semester.   Don’t worry so much about any one day; worry about getting them to achieve your goals by the final day.   Figure out what you want your students to say about the experience on the last class and then use that to help you to design and focus each assignment.

NUMBER 1.   BY NOVEMBER 1, 2013, SHOOT TO BE 5 PERCENT BETTER AS A TEACHER.   To become great, you must continue to improve.   No one gets great overnight.   Set a reasonable goal and then work to make sure you feel you have achieved that goal over the next year.   You can’t measure it but you’ll know if it happens.   That’s the first step toward greatness.