All posts by mattcushing@gmail.com

First class is in the books

Standing out in the hallway, feeling a little awkward being back on a college campus after so many years.

“Am I prepared?”
“Will they listen?”
“Will they get it?”

Deep breath…..”Let’s roll….”

First 10 minutes or so was a little awkward, going over the syllabus, talking about me, talking about them, talking about the class requirements, etc.  Started bouncing around too much, reined it in.  Deep breaths.  Started slow, asked them about their experiences, found out more about them, used that in making my points as the class went on.
What I learned:

  • Talk to them, not at them.
  • Get them to ask questions, especially the quiet ones.
  • Appreciate ‘that person’ for speaking up repeatedly and then ask “Anyone…except Jane/Jim” and chuckle.
  • Stare at the guy on the phone until he realized you’ve stopped and everyone’s looking at him 🙂  (not have to worry about it going forward now 😉
  • Relax
  • Have Fun
  • Don’t drink your water so quickly, it’ll make you squirm while you lecture
  • Prepare differently – put together more general notes instead of specifics and stick to that list in the order you lay it out.

That’s what I learned from teaching my first class last night.  It’s a Database Design and Development class at the community college right near where I live.  22 people, FOUR HOURS, once a week.  Broke it up to give them breaks (and allow me to pee), and mostly stuck to the agenda in my head.  All of the pages of notes I wrote out sat on the desk, I didn’t even read them.

You really owe it to yourself to find something that you really enjoy doing.  If you are lucky enough, then you’ll never do a day of work.  I have to say, I’m DIGGIN teaching!  Got so fired up when they started discussing and asking questions.  Saw several ‘AHA’ moments and those are the things that make you feel really good.

Had one guy come up after class, we’ll call him G, to ask a few questions after I let them split a few minutes early.

G:      That was a great class, the best four-hour session I’ve had here.
Me:   Wow, that’s great, I’m really happy to hear that!
G:      I’m really interested in the material, but you made it so much easier to understand.  I love the way you get into it, you can tell you really love what you do and that you love teaching.  How long have you been teaching?
Me:   *looking at the clock* Um, about 3hrs and 40 min.  *smiles*
G:       Nice.  How long have you been teaching all together?
Me:   *looking back at the clock*  About 3hrs and 41 min  *smiles*
G:       That was your first class?  No way, that’s awesome!

Had a few other students walk up at that point and ask the same thing.

All:    Can’t wait till next week, Have you done lectures/public speaking before?….

and several other really nice compliments.  Ended up walking out, talking to G after closing everything down.  He’s transferring to my son’s school in the spring and was curious what I thought etc.

G:    Have you thought of teaching more classes?  You should definitely try to do more, we need more people like you here!

Even if I only reach this one kid, I’ll count this semester a success.  You know that teacher that you had for some subject in some school that you still appreciate and think about?  Yeah, that’s who I want to be.

To everyone who is thinking about breaking out of their mold/rut/routine to try something new and scary….

DO IT!

I did, and I’m stoked I did.

Giving back

One thing I’ve learned being part of the SQL Community is that they are an amazing group of people.  So many people have been incredibly supportive through my journey of the last few years, riding the highs and lows with me the whole way.

Now it’s time for me to give back some of that support.  Tonight is the first night of my class at the local community college, teaching Database Design and Development.  Four-hour class, once a week.  YIKES!

Excited, nervous, panicked, elated – I’ve been running the gauntlet of emotions for the last week, I just want to get in and start kicking stuff around.  Wish me luck!

SQL Summit Post

I’m creating a post that I will update as I go along.

8/28/17
I’ve gotten approval from my company to go for the whole week.  If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that sees the benefits in investing in their employees, be thankful 🙂

Got the room through the site for the week, we’re flying in Sunday & flying out Friday night (late).  Wife is coming with me and bringing her bestie so they’re going to go exploring while I’m at the conference.  We’re hoping to meet some friends for dinner and go to the airport afterwards.

 

  1. Look for discounts and sign up before they expire.
  2. Sign up for the First time attendee presentation by Denny Cherry & Assoc link is to the 2017 presentation.  I’ll update more once it takes place.
  3. Use Lyft or the train to get from the airport to downtown.  If you don’t have to rent a car, don’t.

Links to convince them it’s a great opportunity for you AND for them:

https://www.brentozar.com/archive/2011/02/how-ask-your-boss-for-training-money/

http://www.scarydba.com/2016/05/02/convince-boss-send-pass-summit/

http://www.allenkinsel.com/archive/2010/03/convincing-your-boss-to-pay-for-your-training/

New to Pass/Summit links

https://itsalljustelectrons.blogspot.com/2016/10/Pass-Summit-Advice-From-Newcomer.html

What do you with you knew when you started in SQL?

I have a request.  I’ve been given the opportunity to teach a course at our local community college on Database Design and Development and they’ve given me room to come up with my own curriculum.  I want to create a balance of theory, practice, quizzes, and projects, but one of the things I feel like I have a great opportunity to do is to pass on some really great knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

Please comment below and give me examples of things you wish you knew sooner.  I’d like to put as many tools in my students toolboxes before they get moving.  Feel free to leave advice on teaching in a formal setting, keeping people’s attention and the most important thing….

How do I keep people’s attention if the class if FOUR HOURS LONG?!?!?  Two hour lecture, two hour lab, once a week.

as an example – someone mentioned on twitter that one of the most important things they’ve taught their students is the practice of always writing out a select statement to get the right number of records, THEN changing the select to update/delete, etc so as to not inadvertently have an Oh $#!& moment.  (my apologies, I went back through my feed and couldn’t find the post posted by Brian Hogan)

Professor Cushing

My daughter is going to be a senior in highschool, but for a long time now, she keeps asking “Why aren’t you a teacher?”  Seems she and her friends liked the way I taught them how to roll sushi!  I’ve taught martial arts for years at a time, and I guess people liked the way I did it, because I always got a positive response.

She and I were on our way home one night from her friends, and as we were driving past the local community college, she brought it up again.  My Dad used to work near where I live now and had taught a class for a few semesters, so she wondered why I couldn’t.

“Why not?” I thought the next day.  I wrote to the Chair of the department to ask him about what credentials were needed to teach, and turned out he could grandfather me in as an adjunct because of my work experience.  We had gone back and forth over email for several days, but something clicked because we hit it off and I go to sign the HR paperwork on Monday to teach a Database Design and Development class in the fall.

Psyched/Freaked as hell, should be a lot of work, and a lot of fun.  Wondering if I’ll end up with students who are friends with my kids since some of them are going there.  Anyway, this is a reminder to everyone – you gain nothing by not risking anything.  Granted, I wasn’t risking much with an email, but here we are.

Wow!  Now I have to design my curriculum!!!

Turn the page, again :)

I’ve been at my present company for about 9 months, I’m happy here – getting the hang of things, supporting this, coming up with some cool solutions to make things easier for people.  The commute is about an hour each way, but it’s worth it.  I’m happy, I get out on time, have a really good home/work  balance.

Then a recruiter drops me a line and throws everything into a spin.  I wasn’t looking, hadn’t even updated my resume.  Calls me with an opportunity to work for a really great company, less than two miles from my house.  I had no idea this company was even there.  Had a great interview, really liked what I experienced there and what they’re offering as far as tech and solutions they’re looking to build.

On April 10th, i’ll start at Applegate Farms as a Business Intelligence Developer, working with a great bunch of people.  I’ve never had more of a stake in a company than I will with this one – they were one of the first products we found when Gillian was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007.  They make meats and cheeses, and I gotta say, some of the best bacon I’ve ever had.

Sometimes the universe just lines things up for you.  WOO!

Be Thankful & Get Off Your Ass

With everything going on in the world from Hurricane Matthew(no relation), to deciding which shiny turd to vote into office, to Clowns roaming neighborhoods on the east coast freaking people out – you have to take a minute and realize that you have a lot to be thankful for and you have a lot to do.

Life can change in an instant, do you want to be left standing there after a huge loss/disappointment/tragedy or even at the end of your days saying “I should have…” or “I wish I had…”.  There have been a lot of videos that I’ve seen lately that talk about people on the verge of death or late in life having things they wish they’d done when they had the chance.

The big question I keep asking myself is “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?”  I’ve been thinking lately that I’m a good man.  I’m a good friend (most of the time when I reach out to people), a good husband and father, and just good in general.  I like helping people, it makes me feel better about my own little world.  Lately, i’ve been feeling really mortal.  Having just left a bad situation, i’m slowly recovering, and thankfully some of the health issues I had going on are slowly but surely fixing themselves.  I’m no longer sweating through my undershirts by 10am or having trouble being around people 🙂  One thing that I do have to do once and for all is get my sinuses fixed.  Having surgery tomorrow to reduce some of the swelling in the internal bits and fixing a deviated septum I didn’t even realize I had.

Other than that, I have been making an effort to make myself uncomfortable by taking on things that are not in my sandbox.  I’ve fiddled around with the bass, but I’ve always wanted to be that guy that picks up an acoustic and plays campfire stuff everyone can sing along to.  So I finally decided to do something about it and was playing my daughter’s acoustic, which is smaller than normal and hard to learn on.  A good friend who is an excellent blue guitarist went out and bought me a new acoustic to play on and I committed to taking lessons.  Here’s what I sound like after two weeks:  (admittedly, I need to stop being so negative about my playing.  I’m going to be recording more on a weekly basis before my lesson to track my progress.  This is supposed to be Lyin Eyes by the Eagles.

It’s frustrating, my fingers are still hurting a lot, but you know what, it’s so satisfying when you get something.  It’s totally different from what I expected, and truthfully, it’s harder than I thought it’d be, but 1000x more rewarding.

So, in a long rambling way, I guess I’m saying that you should just go for it on something you’ve always wanted to do.  Worst case scenario, you can cross it off the list of “I wish I had” and move onto the next one 🙂

Good luck and let me know what you’re working on.  I’ll be your cheerleader!

 

Dreading going into work?

I had a really great realization last night around 8pm or so.  I realized that I was enjoying the company we had over, and that I wasn’t either dreading going into work the next day, or frustrated and angry that I needed to pull out my laptop to do the 100 things I needed for the next day first thing.

Do you find yourself in this situation on Sundays on a regular basis?

If so, what are you doing about it?

For way too long I have stayed in positions because I didn’t think I had an alternative.  I spent the last 15 years or so, jumping from job to job, varying in responsibilities and that when it came down to it, I was really unhappy.  I THOUGHT i knew what I wanted, but in truth, I just kept chasing the $.

Don’t quit your job, or decide to change industries or careers or anything like that.  Start simple.  What is one thing that can make that dread a little less?  Maybe you’re like me and you say yes to everything.  Start being more realistic.  You may have some friction because people are used to you always saying yes, so do it gently and don’t be all “F Everyone, I’m not doing Jack from now on!!!!  ROAR!!!!”  That might feel good, but that’ll get your ass booted 😉

I keep going back to this, but the one thing I learned from my past job was that I really didn’t know myself.  Self awareness is not comfortable at first, in fact, it’s a bit depressing.  Really take a look at who you are, what you like and don’t like, and what you really NEED, not want.  For me, I kept chasing the money through promotions and it got me farther and farther away from what I really enjoyed – solution development.

So when you’re bumming out on Sunday evening, think of one small thing you can do during the week to make it easier.  It may be as simple as going for a walk at lunch to break up the day, or it might be cleaning up your resume and have someone look at it.  Small steps create large results sometimes.  I can tell you that I was having a real problems physically – profusely sweating to the point of dehydration because of the constant level of stress.  I started meditating, doing self awareness exercises, realized I didn’t want to be a manager, and eventually I was applying to the right jobs and I got a really good one.

The other thing I found after I gave notice and had more free time, that I was able to do more with my free time.  Life is short, don’t waste it on Facebook or YouTube.  Do something productive!