A funny thing happened when I was instructing my English 121 class today, the teacher (me!) became the student. In the blink of an eye, I was in awe of how much my "kids" as I affectionately call them, know about themselves, writing and life in general.

I have to admit, it isn't always easy teaching at a college level. In high school and under, the students know each other so there is a sense of camraderie and friendship (most of the time) in a classroom setting. However, at a college level, especially at a community college, there are all different ages, cultural and economic backgrounds. For me, this is what I love about teaching at at a community college. For others, this can be a breeding ground for classes that lack substance and depth out of fear of being judged simply by speaking.

So, my secret ingredient to teaching is trying to unite the class the first few sessions so we touch base on topics that are fun to discuss such as the media, music, the web, and one of their favorite subject, reality t.v. Usually, by the third class the kids are speaking freely and laughing with one another. And much to my amazement, they like coming to school for perhaps the first time in their lives.

Today I learned that not only is it a pleasure to teach them as to the fundamentals as to how to write, but I was simply amazed as to the content they choose and how passionately they expressed themselves - it never ceases to amaze me. For example, during our class I learned how much they think that music "soothes the soul" (although may soothe with a genre of music I can't quite pronounce!) I was nevertheless introduced to bits and pieces to the worlds' of my students, their culture, or as Morrie would say from Tuesdays with Morrie, their own personal culture.

I had the good fortune to observe the students' desire to look down on those societal expectations and to each of them seek their individual purpose. And, it seemed, that they are all looking for ways to be the best they can be, as opposed to what society has deemed them along the way.

So, that is my AHA moment for the week. How pleasantly surprised as well as how proud I am of my students, my kids. As we write about our lives week to week, they equally explore and educate themselves of the lives of their fellow students with dignity and respect thinking about ways to define their own personal culture.

What a wonderful world this would be if we could all be students for a day.

Author's Bio: 

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1. Who is Patti?

I am a forty something single mom of two awesome kids. In the past six years, I have: separated and divorced, finished a graduate degree with honor’s, started a part-time career as a writing instructor at a local college, opened up my own business as a transition coach, and as of November 2008, became newly engaged! In addition, I have finished my basic training to become part of a collaborative law team.
As you can see, it has been quite an eventful few years! However, I have never felt more fulfilled in my life.

2. How did I do it?

I can honestly tell you that I have utilized many of the same principles I learned in graduate school (I have a Master’s of Arts in Teaching) and applied them to my life. I thought, “What are my goals? Where do I want to be in one year – two years – five years? How am I going to get there?” (Think of this as being your own tutor!)
Like a teacher does with her class, I wrote out my lesson plans on how to achieve those goals. Hour-by-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, slowly but surely, I kept my eye on those goals and made sure that I kept forging ahead, even on the days I barely could get out of bed. (On those days, I gave myself a gold star for even making myself a pot of coffee or going to the dry cleaners!)

This is a true testimony on how you can use a crisis to create a new path for your future. That is what I did. I took all the pain and suffering I had during my divorce, turned it around into a positive learning experience.

3. What is the magic formula that makes my business thrive?

I knew that knowledge was power and the better educated I was as to what I could expect from the transition going on in my life – my transition process – the better. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game when meeting with the professionals and my goal was to be the ideal client.I wanted to use this change as a way of exploring my character and my drive.

So, I challenged myself – I wanted to get the most for my money when meeting with my lawyers and other professionals for many reasons – I wanted to save money, not waste my time talking about emotional issues during our meetings and I wanted to get it over with as smoothly (and quickly) and possible. And, most of all, I wanted to learn the tools on how to learn and grow from this time of change in my life. I didn’t want this possibly uncertain time to define who I was. I wanted to own it and move on.
In the meantime, I read and studied books on goal-setting and laws of attraction as well as countless books on people who not only survived, but thrived during times of transition (refer to recommended book list). I realized there was very little information out there on how people overcame obstacles in their lives and the techniques they had when accomplishing goals during tough times.

While I was studying and researching the various aspects of life transitioning and how to do it right, so to speak, I would reward myself with reading books on how to achieve your dreams! As a result, Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A., the Transition Coach, was created!

All you need to do is commit to wanting to move forward in a positive direction.

Let’s get started! www.positivelifetransitions.com - (50% of my coaching is done via telephone and/or online correspondence)

4. What material will we cover at your coaching sessions?

* We will find the necessary resources for you during this transition process.

* We will focus on creating a positive client-based relationship that will give you the ability to compartmentalize this transition process separate from your emotions.

* I will help you achieve your goals and find a balance between the transition you are facing and moving on with your life.

* A step-by-step plan will be devised on how to come up with an action plan towards obtaining your goals.

* By creating a road map for you to follow during this time of uncertainty in your life, we can concentrate on empowering you with the peace, self-respect and hope that may have been lost along the way.

5. Background Information and Training

A. Adjunct Writing Instructor - Brookdale Community College

* specialty: collaborative teaching and process writing approach, basic skills teacher.

* focus: instruction via academic coaching – my goal is to have the students feel academically enthusiastic and confident upon completion of the class while mastering the fundamentals of essay writing.

* areas of interest/themes of the lessons: modern day heroes, laws of attraction, life lessons with Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie, the Pay it Forward movement, how to stay motivated in an academic world.

B. Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC – Founder

* specialty - motivational speaker, consultant, coach – business and professional.

* focus - executive coaching, social media networking, finding professional resources for clients going through transition, working as part of a legal team on assisting clients to stay-solution focused and goal-oriented, utilize proactive methods on how to navigate the waters of change – both professionally and personally, how to encourage moving forward during times of transition.

* areas of interest - Collaborative Law. Social Media and Marketing, Strategic Planning, Success Principles for Entrepreneurs.

Mediation Training- as approved by AOC for CLE hours.
Basic Collaborative Law Training – completed 6/13/09

Graduate Student - Rowan University

* candidate for M.A. In Writing - 4.0 GPA (previously obtained an M.A. in Teaching - 3.97 GPA)

Favorite Quotes:

“We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness.”

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” T.S. Eliot

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real.” Bruce Springsteen

Business Address:

Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC

Piff – Tomaro Professional Building

1704 Maxwell Drive

Suite 302

Wall, New Jersey 07719

(732) 865-5377


“Helping you find the resources you need to stay focused and balanced during professional and personal times of transition.”