Change of direction? Or am I just lost?

Change – Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com   

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Someone seems to have turned up the speed on the merry-go-round.

If you are a subscriber to the counselorssoapbox blog or a regular reader, you probably noticed that I missed posting my regular Monday mental health posts for the last few weeks. I have been posting pretty regularly on Mondays ever since 2012. But with all the changes over the last year and having produced more than 1800 posts, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to come up with new topics every Monday. If you have questions you’d like to pose, please send them to me, and I’ll try to work that into future posts.

Now seems like a good time to tell you about some of the changes I’ve been through over the last year. Some of these changes, I think, are predictors of what life will be like in the future. My future anyway.

Moving my classes online has been a challenge.

I typically teach 2 to 3 classes per semester. A little over a year ago, when Covid was raging, and any solution to the pandemic seemed far off in the distance, the safest thing to do, particularly for somebody my age, was to hunker down and avoid going out where you might be exposed to the virus.

Just for the record, I think of myself as a relatively young 73-year-old. While I am now fully vaccinated, I am still being cautious. If you’re wondering, I took the two-dose Moderna vaccine. The only side effect I experienced was a minor muscle soreness at the injection site.  I usually get the flu shot every year, and the Covid vaccine was not much worse than my annual flu shot.

So, what’s different about teaching online?

Some of my students did exceptionally well in the online format, and others did not. If you’re internally motivated, online education has a lot of advantages. Online education varies considerably. Since I teach for two different colleges, I experienced at least four different ways of doing online education. To further complicate this picture while converting my own classes to an online format, I was busily taking several courses in how to teach online.

Synchronous versus asynchronous classes.

One of the classes I taught was synchronous. Every Monday night, I met online with a group of graduate students, and I ran through my PowerPoints and delivered my lecture via Zoom. The students were asked to read the chapter in the textbook before that night’s class session. After I was done, there was plenty of time for students to ask questions, and occasionally, we even had a lively discussion.

Two of the classes I taught at the City College were set up as asynchronous. Each week’s work began at 12:01 Monday morning and was available to students until midnight Sunday night. Just as in the regular classroom, the students had a section in the textbook to read each week. I also used a weekly discussion question to see if students were participating. Students frequently got into lively discussions with each other about the weekly discussion question. Answering the discussion question counted as attendance in class. If you didn’t comment on the question, you are absent that week.

Students in the asynchronous class also had a brief quiz each week. The material on the quiz or similar questions reappeared on both the midterm and the final. I hoped that if I tested a student often enough, they would retain the material even after the class was over. Quizzes and tests had time limits though most students didn’t require the full allotted time. Initially, I had some worries about students googling or checking the textbook for answers to the questions. But I quickly realized in the time they had to do it; they couldn’t be doing much looking for answers.

How did the students do when learning online?

When we got to the end of the classes, both the synchronous and the asynchronous, the grade distribution was pretty much the same thing I had seen in my regular in-person courses. Students who read the book, answered the discussion questions, and submitted the required paperwork, received relatively good grades. Just as when we were in the classroom. Students who failed to participate during several weeks, did not do the assigned quizzes and discussion questions, or did not turn in the required term paper, receives substantially lower grades.

What was the biggest challenge I experienced in teaching online?

The largest challenge both for students and me was technology. Between taking online classes and teaching online at two different colleges, I had to learn many different technologies.

Just a short list of the new technologies I had to learn. I’ve used Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Canvas companion, and Zoom. Each one had a learning curve, and switching from one system to another in the same week sometimes gets confusing. But if an old guy like me can figure it out, I think college students and high school students should be able to.

What have I learned about online classes?

My conclusion about online classes is that if the students are motivated to learn the material online learning can be every bit as beneficial as in-class sessions. Some students need in-person or individual encouragement, which is easier to do when you see them each week in class. If someone is taking an online class and needs help, they should reach out to their instructor and let them know they’re having difficulty. Of course, having reliable access to technology platforms and the Internet is essential. I also think both teachers and students need more help in learning the platform they’re going to use before they launch into remote education.

Is online education a second-class method?

Not at all. I think I learned just as much, possibly more, in the online classes I took as I used to learn using in-class education. I found it very convenient to teach online, and many of my students reported that it worked better for them than having to drive to and from campus. I can see from the logins that some students worked on their assignments during the day, some worked late into the night, and some students primarily completed their assignments on the weekend. The flexibility in learning when you have the time and for me in grading assignments when I had the time was very beneficial.

Like all the other technological advances, I think it will take some time for this to be absorbed into our culture. It was a real challenge for me to learn to use a cell phone and then learn to receive and send texts. But now that I know how to do all those things, I’m not sure how we ever got by without them. I firmly believe that we will see a time in the future when online–distance learning is just as common, maybe even more common, than in-class learning.

Were the main changes in my life over the last year moving into the field of online education?

Don’t I wish? Just as the pandemic impacted education, it has also had an immense effect on the counseling field. Over the last year, I’ve been doing online or distance counseling and doing group clinical supervision remotely. Because of not being physically present, I’ve also learned to pre-record material and create videos. If you’d like to look at the videos I’ve produced so far, please check out Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel.

The frantic pace of the last year has also significantly influenced my writing. I’ve had less time for writing blog posts, and the two books I was working on have not made it to completion at this point. I’ve been seriously rethinking what I want to write, given the limited time I have and the messages or themes that I want to write about.

In future posts, I’ll talk to you a little more about all these other changes.

Please feel free to leave comments about this blog post and about how this last year living in a time of Covid has affected you. You can either use the comment box or send me a personal message using the contact me form.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Did you get that book written?

I get this question every year.

Ever since I started to take my writing career seriously, I participated in the NaNoWriMo contest every November. The purpose of this contest is to challenge writers and would-be writers to complete a first draft of a novel or other book during November. The goal traditionally has been to write 50,000 words though some people are overachievers and exceed that number.

Setting writing goals has helped me immensely.

Whether you’re one of those people or just know one of those people who has been saying for years that someday they’ll write a book, this may be the path for you to take. That book I wanted to write stayed floating around in my head but never made it onto paper for decades. And I’ll be honest that the first time I tried writing a full 50,000-word novel in one month, I fizzled out early on. But like playing a sport or an instrument, you must practice your moves before you can play in the big time.

November 2020 marked another completed novel.

Having that deadline hanging over me pushes me to write just another hundred words before bedtime or squeeze in an extra chapter during my lunch hour. That self-imposed pressure to reach a specific goal has transformed my writing process. Knowing that I need to get it done by a deadline keeps me moving forward even when I don’t know what will happen next or can’t think of the right word.

November 2020 included an additional challenge.

I spent five days in the hospital, most of it in the Covid ICU unit. If you want to read about that adventure, look at Monday’s post titled At Least I didn’t die. This absence resulted in the loss of five writing days, and I struggled with being extremely tired for the rest of the month. Despite my doubts, somehow, I still managed to reach that 50,000-word goal.

Absolutely, this book is a first draft.

I’ve heard from writing coaches and repeatedly read in books on writing that you can’t edit a blank page. Almost all writers write atrocious first drafts. Mine are no exception. My goal is for my final drafts to be as good as some famous writers’ first drafts. There will be a lot of revision and rewriting needed to move this book from the first draft to a published version. Some of my first drafts never make it to the publication stage. But having that first draft, that work in progress, is a huge step in the right direction. Typically, it takes me six months or more to transform that first draft into something I want others to read.

So, what is The Olmsted Bridge about?

The Olmsted Bridge is the story of a young reporter, Walter Bush, no relation to the political family, who writes for a weekly local newspaper called the Olmsted Outlook. Late one night, Walter hears a call on the police scanner. Teenagers have been racing cars along the River Road, and one of the cars went into the water. The female passenger in that car, Lily May Olmsted, is the daughter of Sheriff Olmsted. Her body is never recovered.

Sheriff Olmsted and the town believe that the driver of that car, a young man named Samuel Heard, is responsible for Lily May’s death. The rest of the book is about Walter’s efforts to uncover the truth about what happened that night.

So what genre is it?

Readers of every genre have certain expectations. As you can see from my list of finished books below, I’ve been experimenting with several different genres.

The Olmsted Bridge is a fictionalized true crime story. I’ve drawn on several true crime stories to create this tale, which is mostly about how a reporter sticks to the trail of a story even when people don’t want him to find out the truth. There are, of course, elements of a mystery. There’s a dead girl, or is she dead? And if she is dead, why can’t they find the body?

Would you like to read this story?

Such a deal I’ve got for you. It’s going to be a while before the book is completed, but I would like to get an advanced draft into the hands of some selected alpha readers. Or is that beta readers? Either way, I’ll be putting together a mailing list and sending out advance copies, looking for feedback on my writing efforts in a new genre. The advance copies will be free. All I ask is that you read what I send out and give me feedback. Come release time; I would also appreciate readers who can leave an honest review once the book gets published on Amazon.

Would you like to read some of my previous books for free?

I’m still looking for some people who would like to read my previous books and leave a review. Several of my earlier books will be available for a certain number of free days on Amazon during January. If you read this blog, I will be announcing those free days here.

Thanks for being a reader of this blog and take really good care of yourself and those you care about during these trying times.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Winning.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Winning at creative activities.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Today is the 1st day of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month Contest. Winning doesn’t only apply to sports and wars, it can also apply to writing and the arts. Here are some quotes about winning in your artistic endeavors.

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

― Stephen King

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

― Neil Gaiman

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Sasquatch Attacks Book – Free Today

Today October 2, 2020 – Sasquatch Attacks  – Kindle edition will be free on Amazon.

Sasquatch Attacks.

Sasquatch Attacks is an action-packed time travel thriller mystery.

Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

Earl and Nancy, lost in the past, are looking for a way home. Sasquatch bars their way. Will they survive their time in the desert?

Sasquatch Attacks Book – Free Today

Today October 1 2020 – Sasquatch Attacks  – Kindle edition will be free on Amazon.

Sasquatch Attacks.

Sasquatch Attacks is an action-packed time travel thriller mystery.

Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

Earl and Nancy, lost in the past, are looking for a way home. Sasquatch bars their way. Will they survive their time in the desert?

Sasquatch Attacks Book – Free Today

Today September 30th – Sasquatch Attacks  – Kindle edition will be free on Amazon.

Sasquatch Attacks.

Sasquatch Attacks is an action-packed time travel thriller mystery.

Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

Earl and Nancy, lost in the past, are looking for a way home. Sasquatch bars their way. Will they survive their time in the desert?

Sasquatch Attacks Book – Free Today

Today September 29th – Sasquatch Attacks  – Kindle edition will be free on Amazon.

Sasquatch Attacks.

Sasquatch Attacks is an action-packed time travel thriller mystery.

Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

Earl and Nancy, lost in the past, are looking for a way home. Sasquatch bars their way. Will they survive their time in the desert?

Story Bureau – Kindle edition is Free today

Story Bureau – a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel is now available.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Story Bureau – Kindle edition, free today 9/9. Grab your copy now before this offer ends.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty Baldwin takes a job in the capital city working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Story Bureau – my seventh book and the first book in the Surviving the Apocalypse Series, is available on Amazon both in paperback and Kindle editions.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Story Bureau – Free for two more days

Story Bureau – a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel is now available.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Story Bureau – Kindle edition, will be free for two more days, Tuesday 9/8, and Wednesday 9/9. Grab your copy now.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty Baldwin takes a job in the capital city working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Story Bureau – my seventh book and the first book in the Surviving the Apocalypse Series, is available on Amazon both in paperback and Kindle editions.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Story Bureau – Free for three days only

Story Bureau – a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel is now available.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Story Bureau – Kindle edition, will be free for three days Monday 9/7, Tuesday 9/8, and Wednesday 9/9. Grab your copy now.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty Baldwin takes a job in the capital city working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Story Bureau – my seventh book and the first book in the Surviving the Apocalypse Series, is available on Amazon both in paperback and Kindle editions.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel