Maria Varano

About Maria Varano

Detroit native and Senior majoring in Childhood Education with a concentration in TESOL. I'm an Undergraduate Peer Writing Consultant at Rockland Campus Writing Center, avid concert goer, art admirer, dream nurturer, youth group fanatic, and community enthusiast. Nyack is my home and these are my stories.

Goodbyes and Hellos

As I have finished my last semester of college and my final days of student teaching, I can confidently say that these were some of my most important days yet. Through my 16 weeks of intensive classroom experience, I have learned the ins and outs of what it takes to be a great teacher. I have seen the complications, the struggles, the frustrations, the conflict, the tension…but in the midst there is powerful healing laughter, bountiful unadulterated smiles, excitement of uncharted waters, and deeps sighs of a day well-done.

And this is how I feel now that I have finished my three and a half years at Nyack. As I write this I sigh yet again, rather dumbfounded that I graduated college and experienced the awe and wonder of fresh freedom. I have said goodbye to a firmly and strongly established community of friends, a church of deep belonging, mountains and water that accompany early mornings, and squeaky faces of young students that I’ll never forget. But in this goodbye, I am saying an even greater “hello” to a life of expectancy, of fantastical whimsy, of exploration, of boldness, of fear, and of triumph. I am saying hello to adulthood. Terrified? You wouldn’t even begin to understand (though perhaps you might…)

I am ready and well-prepared for such a time as this.

However, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say goodbye or hello. This dialogue is one that frequents many college students whether or not your heart is aware of it.

When you step foot onto campus, you say goodbye to your family, your hometown, the safe life you once lived – only to say hello to the exciting, humbling college experience.

You say “goodbye” to sleep during finals as you seep your teeth and fingers into rigorous assignments and “hello” frequently to the librarians and to those sadly uncomfortable chairs in the silent section and nod “hello” to your fellow sufferer next to you. You say hello to sacrifices for success.

You quickly say “goodbye” to a protected and established identity, one you thought was healthy and God-driven, and “hello” to healing and renewal and understanding and truth.

You say “goodbye” to the air of your hometown only to have your lungs awakened as you breathe “hello” to the atmosphere of your new surroundings.

You give a lip-quivering “goodbye” to your trusted, heart-safe, high school best friends so that you can be greeted by people who represent balance, advocacy, comfort, joy, passion, leadership, integrity, ambition, grace, belonging, challenge, light, and humor.

As you can see, every sacrificial “goodbye” is always greeted by a “hello.” The ending of those important comfortable qualities of life are always taken care of by new beginnings. We just have to trust that “goodbyes” aren’t the end. Really, they’re just the start.

And as I have had to sacrifice much to get my degree, I have been faithfully greeted by a life that never disappoints. Every goodbye has an even greater hello awaiting me.

So fellow Nyackers, don’t let this season pass you by. Don’t be scared of saying goodbye to things you once knew and called home. Say hello to the sustained promises of our Abba that he will greet you in every future you make with Him.


World Changers of Nyack: Tyrone Taylor

DSC_7838Teachers alike have an understanding that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools used in a classroom. As I finished my first nine-week student teach placement in 4th grade, I was frequently reminded that stories always captivate, always resonate, and always inspire. So when you’re stuck, share a story – whether fact or fiction.

A specific genre of stories that I love to listen to are the personal narratives of people I encounter in daily life. Someone’s story is a looking-glass into their soul, an intimate gaze upon their humanity, what drives them, and what keeps them going through life.

I have met some of the most remarkable people while a student at Nyack, and it would be a waste if I kept their stories to myself. So for the next few posts, I will be casting a spotlight on students, current and graduate, that have made the most of their time at Nyack and are using their place in the world, casually put, to shake things up.

For this first post, I interviewed a recent Youth and Family Studies graduate named Tyrone Taylor. While the stereotype on campus is that all YFS majors are future ministry workers, Tyrone’s story and gifts guide his life in a different direction. His story is worth sharing. At the ripe age of 25, he is what I like to call a “World Changer of Nyack.”

You won’t find Tyrone in church traditionally writing sermons or counseling its members, you’ll find him on city streets and townhalls snapping photos – and impressive ones at that (every shot in this feature is his original work).

When asked about his passion in life, he quickly identified himself as a “photographer and videographer who desires to impact the culture through the arts.”DSC_9141

“I desire to do this by creating photos and videos that encourage introspection. I choose this method because I’m impacted by art that displays truth and I believe that the art I present is important in this current age where subjectivity is prioritized over objectivity.”

Quite a compelling and relevant mindset, wouldn’t you say?

When asked how Nyack has prepared him for what’s ahead, Tyrone wrote this:
“Nyack has broadened my understanding of ministry. The excellent Youth and Family Studies program that Nyack provides has helped me to pay attention to how I minister to others and has equipped me with skills such as team building, public speaking, and developing a proper theology.”

“My current focus in life is to be used by God as a force that impacts culture for the glory of God. Since my time at Nyack, I’ve been working to build a collective of creatives who desire to make culture through the platforms of Film, Fashion, Photography, and Journalism. We call our ministry ‘Poiema,’ in Greek meaning ‘handiwork of God.’ We all bear the image of God, and we show that in one or another whether we subscribe to Christianity or not.”

In these months following graduation, Tyrone has been focusing on creating content for this ministry. His philosophy of ministry is to “encourage others to think twice about Jesus–the real Jesus, not some carbon copy.” He understands that people have experienced church in a myriad of ways, thus giving each of them unique perspectives on faith and life. He wishes to use their various perspectives as an advantage, to “present Jesus through a lens that encourages people to think past their previous experiences, their misconceptions, and to see clearly this Jesus we serve.”DSC_7639

Here are some additional questions I asked Tyrone to provide insight into how he wishes to craft the world to see Jesus in a new light.

Question 1: Tyrone, you produce some impressive photos. What is your biggest inspiration for what you capture?

I’m captivated by the fact that I get to participate with God in freezing moments in time. I’m most inspired by images that are intentional about telling a story. I read this magazine called Kinfolk; they take photos that enhance the words of their articles and elicit emotion in a way few have accomplished in my opinion. I desire to take photos like that; whether it be one photo or six, I want you to feel a story or sense of history behind each shot.

Question 2: What is your dream as a photographer?

My dream as a photographer is to engage and create culture in the same way people like Charles Spurgeon, C.S Lewis, and Rod Serling have. I would consider myself a mix of these three fellows. I want to use photography as a launching pad to delve into other art forms and bring the gospel to those places that are reached to a lesser degree.

Questions 3: How has Nyack shaped you as an artist?

It was at Nyack where I was able to strengthen my understanding that the Christian life is holistic. Colossians 3:17 says “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him.” I live by this.

One event that transformed my life was when I had the opportunity to attend the Simply Youth Ministry Conference with my department. During this time I had the opportunity to see so many different styles of ministry with one focus which was to bring glory and honor to the Lord. It was beautiful.

I also had the opportunity to spend some time with Walt Mueller who is an expert on how to engage culture as a Christian. It was a very important moment of my life because I was wrestling with the dichotomy of Christianity and art and I believe I was pointed in the right direction. I never would’ve experienced that moment without Nyack College. It was pivotal in my journey.

DSC_8000Question 4: How do you integrate your faith into your work?

I don’t have to integrate my faith into my work because my work is an extension of my faith. I don’t believe that we have to work very hard to integrate our faith because what we produce will be an outflow of our hearts, and that is very telling. What’s more important is to lay my desires and my gifts at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to do what He wants.

Question 5: What is some advice you have for current Nyack students about how to handle life post grad?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”(Proverbs 3: 5-6).

CTA button for Blog UGPost Grad life is different. Cultivate your dreams while in school and trust Him with those dreams after you graduate. The temptation will be to kill your dream in light of practicality. Don’t ever do that. The Lord is able.

It was an honor to hear more of Tyrone’s story. I am encouraged by his approach to fuse life, art, and work together. Faith, as Tyrone said, is holistic. We cannot disregard any aspect of our humanity for another. Tyrone has a good understanding of this and his life is living proof.

Stay tuned for another feature of a “World Changer of Nyack.”

From Writer to Teacher

Fall of 2013 marked the commencement of my position at Nyack College’s Writing Center as an Undergraduate Peer Writing Consultant. At that time, I was not aware of how this position would reveal skills I never really knew I had and foster in me the heart of a writer (clearly).

The Nyack College Writing Center serves as a feedback service to all students attending Nyack. While the stereotype is that we sit there and revise your paper, it is much more than that. Any student can come to be assisted with any part of the writing process: brainstorming, outlining, researching, drafting, grammar, citation – you name it. We are trained bi-weekly by our administrative staff to provide the best assistance and feedback possible. It’s through this professional development training and extensive appointments with students that I have grown to love writing and the power it has to shape you as a person.

I am not the same writer I was two years ago.

I have learned quite a number of things pertaining to writing that I never knew were important.

I learned that writing takes hard work and diligence. You cannot and should not just sit down to write an essay and turn that in. #1 biggest mistake! There’s a reason it’s called the writing process. It takes time. And you must have grace with yourself in that time. Think about what you want to say. Research those topics to build your argument. Find a counter-argument that completely disagrees with your opinion and process that, see if there’s something your idea was missing from the beginning. Write a draft. And another. Oh, and one last one.

This might seem like busy-work, but you’ll find that your finished product is one that time has taken care of. You aren’t the same person today sitting here writing that you were yesterday. That means your words could have changed. Add those words – they matter too.

Another element of The Writing Center that has stuck with me is the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Working with students requires you to be focused on what they have brought to the table (literally). You have the rare opportunity to offer constructive feedback to this person that could change their perception of writing forever. I’ll admit I give quite a few pep talks during the CTA button for Blog UGschool year. This leads me to my next point.

Everyone is a writer. I don’t care how poor you think your grammar is. You have a head. Your head has thoughts. Your thoughts have value. Your thoughts belong in the world. So many students see writing as black and white: either they’re good at it or they’re not. On the contrary, everyone has the potential to be an incredible writer; you just have to work hard enough at it.

All this being said, every skill that I’ve nurtured within the context of my position as a Writing Consultant has pushed me ahead in my pursuit of education. Good teachers listen. Good teachers write, and write often. Good teachers know how to handle people and their affective filters. Good teachers know that writing, and life itself, is a process. And that’s why they exist.

Making the Most of Our Time Off

11665489_10153487349857317_7694853483527247443_nOne of my Education professors revealed something to our Methods of Math class last semester that was interesting: out of the 4 “years” we’re in college, only about half of that time is spent in an actual classroom. So what was he trying to encourage us to do? Make the most of our time when school isn’t actually in session. Internships, summer jobs, volunteer work — all of these experiences play in integral part of a college education. Those months that we do have to ourselves are critical segments of opportunity to take what we learn in class and test our knowledge and skills.

Each summer in college I have indeed worked — not for the reason my professor was suggesting, but for personal needs (shoutout to all my fellow broke college students). But when he made mention of this, it stirred a realization that I really need to take every moment seriously while enrolled at Nyack. A job isn’t just a job anymore — it’s a way for me broaden my education and gain authentic, resume-boosting experiences.

CTA button for Blog UGThe first summer I came home from college I returned to the job I had in high school, which was interning for a financial adviser. Working full-time, I learned how to handle a professional office job and all of the responsibilities that came with the business. It still stands as one of the best jobs I ever had! I gained valuable experience in marketing, advertising, client management and correspondence, how to handle high-stress situations, and how to put forth an effort that aided to the unity of the stellar staff. I am thankful for the staff members that I still keep in contact with and a great job that challenged me and developed new skills.11751820_10153560728777317_4875052251518953954_n

However, the last two summers I have been lucky enough to nail down a position at Beulah Beach Camp & Retreat Center as a Resident Camp Counselor. Having grown up attending the camp, I was ecstatic to return and spend time serving a place that had changed my life deeply and eternally.

One of the biggest things I learned from these summers in paradise was that working with children was my happy place. My favorite kind of environment is one of growth, questioning, and joy — and kids are growing into that stage of life, desperately needing someone to guide down the path to genuine identity. There is this11781613_10153586616672317_7012940367213238588_n innocence that children are lucky enough to channel, reminding me that I too must live a life with a clear lens, working hard to not tarnish my view of myself, others, the world, and God (Matt 5:8).11800595_10153576325357317_6803606013702854420_n

After realizing this, I was even more confident in my decision to pursue a degree in Education. I must admit I was hesitant to stick with this career path for fear of stagnancy — but what I’m learning more and more during my student teaching is that education is always changing, always improving, and always open for development. This is where my heart fits best. And I’m glad that I had time off of classes during the summer to learn more about what my skills are and be quieted by the voice of God as He revealed more of what’s next for me.

So fellow students, don’t just sit around in the summers watching Netflix (while there is a time and place for that). There are so many different opportunities in companies, organizations, and schools that it would be silly to let them slip past you.

Conquering the First Days of Student Teaching

If you’re making your way through the education program here at Nyack, you know how big of a deal student teaching is – and probably have butterflies just thinking about it. Well, I just finished my second week of it and rest assured, you will make it through too.

There are many layers to student teaching and so many new experiences within the context. What I’d like to share are some tips on how to thrive on the first days of school – not just survive.

  1. If you are assigned your placement early enough, email your cooperating teacher and introduce yourself; if at all possible, meet them in person at the school. This is a huge advantage – this way, you are familiar with your environment prior to starting the school year and you get a head start building a relationship with your teacher. Luckily for me, I was able to meet my teacher back in April and spend a few hours observing his class. It gave me a taste of what it would be like for me once Fall came and alleviated some of the first-day jitters.
  2. Be prepared – arrive early and come with something to take notes. You will most likely be observing in the beginning, so come with an open mind, trusty pen, and notebook.
  3. Dress the part – this might be obvious, but always dress like this is your full time job (at this point it basically is). A proper professional decorum shows your teacher and colleagues that you take your time as a student teacher seriously – and nothing is more important than that as you begin your placement.
  4. Engage when you see fit – Taking initiative speaks volumes to your teacher. Offer to help and don’t be afraid to walk around and assist students. This will not only build a trusting relationship with your teacher, but the students as well. The more you know your students, the more you will be able to accommodate their learning needs and also balance classroom management.
  5. Lastly, trust who you are, how you’ve been prepared, and the work you’ve put in to get to where you are. When you’re suddenly submerged into the professional realm of teaching, it can be very easy to second guess yourself. It’s easy to start comparing your teaching style to that of what you see and question if you’re meant for the job. Don’t let your confidence deter you! You are still learning, so soak up all that you can. But remember that a healthy confidence, or lack thereof, can make or break you. Be yourself and give ample room to grow as an educator.

Oh, and don’t forget to smile too 🙂


7 Prime Study Spots for Finals Weeks

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetI hate to say this, but finals is slowly creeping towards us with no avail. If you’re ever at the Rockland Campus, the frenzy has begun. Packed study areas, limited sanity, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

I love to study, but I have found it hard to continue the routine in a monotonous setting. One can only take so much of sitting in the library all semester! So I’ve compiled a list for all you faithful study-ers out there who need a change of scenery in the midst of this crazy time.

1. Panera – Right behind the Palisades Mall there is a Panera, serving you the most reliable, tasty, and healthy food options with good seating, wifi, and even outdoor tables! I recently spent the afternoon there with my friend and it was so nice to grab lunch outside first, then hunker down in their cozy booth seats to do homework.

nyack lib2. Nyack Public Library – If you haven’t spent time here yet, you are missing out! Originally erected in 1879 and funded by legendary steel industry powerhouse, Andrew Carnegie, this beautifully historic building is open to the public providing incredible work space for students. Whether you want to sit in the front part of the building and enjoy the giant fireplaces and beautiful wood work, or hide away in a corner within the modern addition, the choice is up to you! If you have any questions or need assistance, the librarians are more than happy to help you.

3. West Nyack Free Library – this is my little secret of the semester. Located a few miles up Route 59, this library is a good place to hunker down for a day’s work. You’ll be able to interact with locals and also power through heaps of work because of the limited distractions.

4. Art Cafe – this beloved Nyack gem can get you an amazing cup of coffee, some delicious Israeli food, and also a cozy table to get work done. The staff is phenomenal and the environment is comfortable, inviting, and one of a cafe

5. Starbucks – I don’t care how overrated Starbucks may be for some people, it is the most reliable place I can go to get work done — especially if they have their fireplace on! My favorite set-up, Caramel Flat White, window seat, and the “Afternoon Groove” Spotify playlist vibing through my ears. I know of two locations, one in downtown Nyack and more locations a short car ride away.

6. Dunkin Donuts – I’ve gone to this location so many times that the midnight shift employees know me and my friends (sometimes we can even finagle free food or donuts out of them). This place is open 24/7, so it’s usually the number one choice for those desperate all-nighters

SOE button7. The Hub! – this is the latest addition to the Nyack campus. Coined the “Yack Shack,” a few students have volunteered to run the cafe from 6PM until 1AM every night until the end of the semester. This is a desperate need for students, seeing as there are limited places for students to hang out and do homework on campus other than the library. All snacks and drinks are $1 and under!

So grab your friends, pick a location, and make the most of this crazy time before the semester is officially over!


Education Across the Disciplines: 4th Annual Student Research Conference

On March 26th, 2015, Nyack College held the Fourth Annual Student Research Conference. Boasting of over a hundred student entries this year, it was a definite success. The purpose of this conference is to train students in professional development, master communication skills, engage with professors and colleagues, and learn how to showcase research.

A few fellow Education majors took part in the Conference and were able to share ideas and data gathered that explored “Visions for Tomorrow,” the theme for this year. I stopped by the Conference to see what the student body had produced — and it was awesome! Bowman Gymnasium was filled with posters and students presenting to the judges.

Since then, I’ve spoken with a few Education majors who participated to see how the experience was for them. Martine Sainvil, who is an Early Childhood Education major, and her group researched Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. This disorder, caused by consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, “leads to detrimental effects to a baby’s central nervous system and other important bodily functions,” Martine said, “It was breathtaking to shed light on a troubling issue of alcohol consumption during pregnancy to this generation.” She was grateful for the experience because it gave her an opportunity to actually teach on the topic, which is something she is deeply passionate about. She highly recommends students to participate in the conference before they graduate, seeing as there is immense support from the Science department and your classmates to do well.

Danielle Page, two sport athlete and fellow Childhood Education major, also submitted research to the conference. Her group’s topic was “The Effect of Mnemonic Device Use on Short and Long Term Memory Retention.” Seeing that the conference’s theme was “Visions for Tomorrow,” her research directly correlated to her future field in education. She learned that using mnemonic devices is an effective teaching strategy.

Stephanie Azevado, sophomore Education major, also presented with a group in the Conference. “My group and I were not only given the unforgettable opportunity to participate in the 2015 Research Poster Conference, but we were also given a very special opportunity to embark on an adventure that opened up to us the world of Angelman Syndrome,” said Stephanie, “We chose this topic because of its uniqueness and lack of awareness.” She went on to discuss how their case study, Markie Scott, was introduced into her life one year ago, but she never had the chance to really learn about the syndrome. She was very grateful for this opportunity to research and present: “This conference was an amazing intellectual and social challenge that taught me many things. I am so grateful that I was able to shed some more light on Angelman Syndrome and learn from the vast amount of information presented on every other poster, as well as from the guest speakers.”

Overall, the students were able to extensively research engaging topics and work alongside their professors to gain insight on how best to find the information and present it in the conference. Practicing these skills now is vital for any future career!

Below you’ll find some photos taken by Eric Nygard, who is a dearly loved employee of the School of Education.


The Best Way to Learn How to Teach: Get Field Experience

An article I wrote two weeks about theories of learning states that we remember 90% of what we say & do together. And for teachers, this is best executed through two important elements of the Education Program here at Nyack College. Student Teaching takes place during your senior year, with two placements in two different grades. But before any of that is set in place, you are required to fulfill required Field Experience hours each semester. And for me, Field Experience has been my favorite part of my program.

The SOE (School of Education) does a really great job working as a mediator with schools in the area to find cooperating teachers who are willing to have us in their classrooms during the semester. Being so close to New York City, the area surrounding Nyack boasts of great schools and beautiful diversity in the classrooms.

I have loved my field experience every year. So far, I’ve been placed in a 6th grade class at the middle school next to campus, a 4th grade class at the elementary school a mile downtown, a 1st grade class in New Jersey, a charter school in Manhattan, a Catholic elementary school close by, and later this semester I will be in a 3rd grade class at a Christian school. Talk about a lot of opportunity!

The goal of this is to expose us to actual teaching, not just what we read in our textbooks and hear from our professors. It also facilitates connections for potential job opportunities in the future. It’s the real deal! I love getting to know the teachers I shadow and soak up all the teaching wisdom they’ve gained over the course of their career. And getting to know the students is my absolute favorite part. Their personalities, their interactions with each other, and just watching them learn are fascinating and inspiring.

CTA button for Blog UGYesterday, I got to take a day trip to an elementary school about 20 minutes away from campus and work in a 1st grade classroom with an expert teacher who has been specializing in 1st grade education for 27 years. It was probably the best school I had ever been in  — with resources galore, moderately sized classrooms, and assistance from teacher aids, it was a productive learning environment to say the least.

The teacher I was paired with was incredible. She knew exactly how to manage their attention (being rambunctious 6 & 7 year olds), how to keep them entertained (lots of songs and “carpet time”), and stimulating activities. Everything she did had a learning purpose, from taking attendance, to talking about the weather, to doing math word problems. They were some smart 1st graders!

I’m trying to decide what my favorite part of the day was, either a little 6 year old named Summer begging me to come the next day, or being able to talk more in depth with the teacher & soak up advice after the school day was finished . In the end, it was a day well spent and made me exuberantly excited for my Student Teaching in the Fall.

Here are some pictures from my day:

Learning to Value Rest

When is the last time you took time to do nothing? Like just sat. And took deep breaths. And let your brain relax. If you’re like me, those moments come sparingly during my week. And that is really bad. Really, really bad.

Stop the glorification of busy.”

“You are not a robot — you are not built to be ‘on’ all the time.”

What a concept, huh?

Because America values success and money, something has to fall to the bottom of the totem pole: emotional, spiritual, and physical health. It’s funny because the latter should be the foundation of all that we do, not the other way around. We work and work and work and work. Statistics show that Americans work longer than anyone in the industrialized world (Schabner 2014). But are we finding fulfillment in that? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for having a job and spending hours in the library, I’ve been doing that for years. But what we miss here is the healthy balance we literally need to survive.

I reconnected with an old friend last summer when I was working at a camp and she had the most beautiful aura to her. And I quickly learned it was because she valued resting her soul. She was a very passionate, very creative, and a very whimsical follower of God — inspiration and encouragement rang in her voice whenever she spoke. Whatever she did, she it well. I wanted what she had.

And since then, I’ve grown to understand why allowing yourself to rest is the absolute best thing you can do for your health. For one, prayer and meditation are scientifically proven to relieve hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, anxiety, even aging (Martin, 2008). Sleep, too, is more important than we think. Resting makes you steady, pulls your body into equilibrium. The more balanced we are, the better we will be at accomplishing the things we need to get done.

So how do you find rest? It’s different for everyone, but it’s important to figure out what your niche is. Last semester was really the time when I nailed down some key resting periods and indulged in some activities that really put my heart at peace. This included drawing while listening to music, reading (we all know none of us really have time for a good book these days), watching Netflix guilt-free, reading some of my favorite lifestyle blogs, running outside, grabbing coffee by myself or with a close friend, going on a walk around campus just for the heck of it, and napping. And I learned to do these things and not feel bad about it.

Once I prioritized actual rest in my life, I saw dramatic changes to my response to stress and chaos that frequented my days. My mind was more at peace. My body felt better physically. I was in better moods. I wanted to be around people more. I had a greater desire to do my work and do it well.

And it’s all because I took care of my most foundational needs first. We so often prioritize the wrong things and end up burning out. In college, this is easy to do and it’s also very destructive.

So like I asked in the beginning of this article, when was the last time you just let yourself rest? Maybe take some time today, 30 minutes or an hour, to do something you love that calms you down. After all, your real wealth is your health; why CTA button for Blog UGinvest in anything else?



Martin, S. (2008). The power of the relaxation response. Monitor Staff. Vol 39 (9). 32
Schabner, D. (2014). Americans: overworked and overstressed. ABC News.

Tips on How We Learn and How We Best Learn from a Teacher in Training

Junior year is known for being the most grueling course load for Education majors at Nyack College. Big changes happen or start to happen: you start your Methods courses, you have an increased amount of student observation hours required, and you take more certification tests. This is really the year you learn to be a teacher. It’s a fast-paced, exciting time in the program that is practical to our development as future educators. Even better than that, what we learn extends to all different areas of life.

And while I’ve been learning how to teach, I’ve also understood how to learn.

It is a complex concept, learning that is, seeing that there are numerous learning styles, multiple means of representation of the material you’re teaching, and the topics themselves are infinite.

And to be an effective teacher, you must be aware of all of these variables and how to be mindful of the diversity of the students.

Teaching isn’t limited to a traditional classroom, so I know that understanding how people learn is useful for all professional fields, whether it be Business, Ministry, Nursing, and the like. That being said, I want to share with you some insightful research done in the 1960s by educator and theorist Edgar Dale. Titled “The Cone of Learning,” this information will give you a deeper look at the most effective ways that people remember information they are taught.

READ – we remember only 10% of what we read, whether it be a book, article, blog post, etc.

HEAR – we remember 20% of what we hear during lecture, podcast, radio interview, and the like.

SEE – we remember 30% of what we see, like looking at images in magazines, books, or websites.

HEAR & SEE – We remember 50% of what we hear and see, like when you watch a video, a presentation, or demonstration.

SAY – we remember 70% of what we say. So this includes participating in discussions or creating a podcast

SAY & DO – we remember 90% of what we say and do. Some examples include doing a dramatic presentation, making a video, building a project, etc.

So what do we take away from this? Educators alike, it’s important to know how the human brain best absorbs and remembers information.

And since I want to be an effective teacher, here’s a video explaining what I just wrote for you called Explaining The Cone Of Learning by Edgar Dale 1946.

Oh and here’s a graphic too


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What One Student Thinks About On Spring Break

I am very lucky. I have been spending my Spring Break in Myrtle Beach with 10 of my closest friends. It has been a trip full of laughter, bonding, family dinners, sunsets & sunrises, collecting shells on the beach, walking to get cheaply priced (but high quality) milkshakes, and late night deep talks on our balcony looking over the ocean. It feels like a dream.

My favorite conversation so far happened yesterday with my best friend as we floated through the in-door lazy river. She was sharing a life-changing experience she had in PSF (Personal Spiritual Formation class) last week and we were processing some things that God was teaching us before we came on the trip.

An underlining theme of our chat was the concept of legacy.

When my friends and I came to Nyack our freshman year, we were so focused on leaving a legacy here. They had the most beautiful souls I had ever encountered. And we wanted to be remembered for the great things we accomplished, for the open community we grew, the crazy memories we shared together, and most importantly, the God-ordained bond we share. We all knew that God brought us together for a reason. We’ve stumbled along the way, but  the connection uniting us is too deep to slip away.

With this being our third year at Nyack, my best friend and I were analyzing our time here so far and whether or not we had even been leaving an impact on the campus. A little discouraged at the lack of fruit, we were questioning why God even brought us together. Were we doing something wrong?

But then I was thinking to myself as we floated in the warm water; while our legacy might not be a grand as we wanted at Nyack, we have left a legacy within one another. And if we graduated without having accomplished inspiring and memorable feats, it didn’t matter; we had each other. And we have impacted one another in ways that are almost unexplainable in words.

This whole idea was so beautiful to me. Nyack has a great purpose for us; it’s the foundation in which we have grown and learned how to be influential within the groups of people who surround us. It is training us to leave a legacy anywhere we go; it doesn’t have to be this huge deal, it could be as “simple” as growing and changing for the better with a friend. In my eyes, that is just as important as the big picture. And I think that’s what God loves too. He cherishes the small victories just as He does the big ones.

And I’ve been learning that that’s okay. I don’t need to always have to shoot for the galaxies and beyond. I need to look right in front of me. Who do I see? How can I love them better? How can I work with them to leave a legacy of greatness in each other?

That’s what it’s all about. Having God-sized dreams will always be what fuels me every day, but I don’t ever want to lose sight of the world-changers He has put in my midst. We all were built and fashioned to be deeply button SOEconnected to people. God wants us to change the world, but He wants us to change each other first. And that’s what I need to focus on now: leaving a legacy within the small community He has trusted me with. Will you join me in that?

6 Websites That College Students Need To Know

 “The United States spent 121 billion minutes on social media sites in July 2012 alone, according to Nielsen’s annual Social Media report. That’s 388 minutes — or 6-1/2 hours — per person (if every person in the U.S. used social media). Altogether, that’s 230,060 years we spent staring into the glaring screen of so-called sharing, instead of going outside and playing with our friends, like we’re supposed to do in July!” – Helen A.S. Popkin, NBC News.

Just take a moment to let that sink in.

121 billion minutes. In one month.

6.5 hours per person

230,060 years spent staring at a screen. In one month.

Now, I don’t plan on blasting the concept of social media, because I would consider myself a social media enthusiast. But what I want to discuss here is not necessarily the amount of time we spend staring at laptops, tablets, or phones (that’s an issue in itself), but rather the content in which we are exposing ourselves to. It’s tempting to just sit and scroll aimlessly through Facebook; but the internet really has so much more to offer than “likes” and status updates.

CTA button for Blog UGWith the boom of social media comes a boom of informational resources available to every kind of person, especially students! I for one have some favorite blogs, websites, YouTube channels, Twitter accounts, and Instagram profiles that I keep up with. The purpose of those is not to let my brain melt, but to learn something new. And today I want to share with you some awesome and unique social media platforms that boast rich cultural and academic benefit.

1. Medium– Like many busy college students, I do not have much spare time to indulge in a good book. So I’ve had to rely on reading snippets of good writing to help me develop my literacy skills. Medium is just the thing for that! It’s a collaborative platform in which writers of all kinds can share their stories and ideas. According to their website, “everyone from professional journalists to amateur storytellers and non-profit leaders are writing on Medium every day.” So not only is a place where you can read the creative, legitimate, and thought-provoking work of others, you yourself can experiment too! Some top trending stories currently on the website are: “Here is How Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Can Survive,” “I’m Autistic and Believe Me It’s a Lot Better Than Measles,” “Sit Down, Shut Up, Write. Don’t Stop,” and “How to Write About Characters That Are Smarter Than You.” Check it out!

2. TED  – one of my philosophies of life: a TED Talk a day keeps the stupidity away.  If you’ve never watched or listened to a TED Talk, you are missing out. TED, standing for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a non-profit organization that devotes themselves to sharing revolutionary ideas all around the world. The greatest part of this is the collaborative approach the organization takes; they cross cultural and linguistic boundaries allowing researchers, teachers, doctors, poets, and even children to share their ideas. The videos range from 10-20 minutes long, and will make you think hard and creatively. I can say that TED talks have changed my life. Here are some of their most popular videos.

3. Pinterest – this website has more than just a million different wedding dress ideas. It’s a place where people can link useful, creative, and insightful information in one place. You “pin” different websites essentially to one location (called your “board) for easy access and learning. Pinterest has always been a great medium of inspiration for me. It has literally every topic you’d want to learn about, whether it be art, home decorating, humor, tattoos, travel, holidays, animals, illustrations, technology — you name it. “Pinners,” as they are labeled, all around the world bring together cool and unique information with an ease of access. Oh, not to mention that there are thousands of lesson plan ideas for teachers!

4. Twitter – I am an unashamed Twitter user. I have had one since 2009, when it was still an obscure entity and I did not really know what I was doing. But over time, it has evolved into a platform that blasts current information at you  in less than 140 characters. I myself use Twitter to interact with my friends, follow news stations, local schools, random funny people, artists, musicians, poets, and businesses. You could say it’s sort of like my daily newspaper. It is easy to get lost in Twitter because like any other social media site, it has a lot to offer. But if you follow the right people, you’ll be informed and entertained in no time.

5. Skillshare – my good friend showed me this site a few weeks ago and it is one of the greatest things I’ve encountered on the internet. It’s basically virtual classes for creatives. Whether you want to learn about calligraphy, graphic design, photography of ALL kinds, business management within art, photojournalism, creative writing, web design, and so many more topics, this is the place for you! Each class is taught by a professional and they record video segments teaching you concepts about the subject you want to learn about. And each class is only about an hour of video footage! To accompany the lesson, they also have discussion boards and projects you can do to practice. You can create a free account and enroll in their free courses, but if you want to get the full feel of it, you can pay $10 a month for unlimited classes. They have a student discount, so if you’re interested, you should definitely explore this site. It’s probably my favorite on the list.

button SOE6. Noisetrade – FREE BOOKS AND MUSIC. Need I say more? I get email updates from this organization weekly and they love to give away digital downloads of books. They also release free albums from popular and up-and-coming artists on a weekly basis.

So make the most of social media out there! Learn! Collaborate! The internet can be good for you (in moderation, of course).


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