The Final Update on my Flagstaff Journey

by Dr. David Miles
My 4 months commitment to Northern Arizona University and the School of Hospitality Management is rapidly coming to a close.  With Thanksgiving Holidays and final exams all but a few class sessions have been accomplished.  My last interactions with my students will be Thursday, December 2.  Some will have finals in certain classes and commencement is the following week.  Amazing how quickly time goes by and there is so much to cover in a 15 week semester.  It has definitely been a positive experience and has actually gone better than I expected.  My students are finally getting comfortable with re-emerging into a live classroom.  With over 20 months of remote only learning, they are finally feeling comfortable to express their thoughts and opinions in class and face to face.  While we still are wearing face masks at all times in class, it is good to see them participate in discussions.
My course title is "Leadership and Ethics" for Juniors and or Seniors.  A required course for all to take in the Hospitality major.  My approach, to coordinate with the Program’s guidelines was to utilize a student text on the “art” of leadership that incorporates the basic fundamentals.  Most of us call this a collaborative style of leadership gaining input from each person.  We utilized the Kouzes/Posner book on the Student Leadership Challenge.  Being a writing course, each class the students were required to turn in a two page summary of the learning points and how they will/plan to integrate into their own style.  We are also fortunate that three retired Disney executives of prominence created an 8 module Disney Leadership program, with videos and lesson themes.  This branded Leadership approach was then compared to the Kouzes/Possner leadership models.  The students could easily see how Disney adopted sound leadership but added the Magic to implementation.  Hopefully each will remember the key attributes of Humanistic Leadership as they move forward in their careers.
For me it also was a great learning experience.  I found that relating to today’s students, at least in this area of the country, is not that difficult if I take the time to listen and ask questions versus lecturing.  I am today a better listener than before.  Faculty are challenged on an ongoing basis with how to best share and discuss learning objectives.  20% of students are still online only.  This group will probably not come back on campus.  In some cases this set up is called a-synchronize because the lessons are recorded and they sign in and complete 24/7.  Fortunately my class was designated all in person.  Others had a hybrid opportunity with some classes in person and some in real time on line.  I mention all of this because I am sure most of us, including myself, were not aware of these multiple class options.
In addition to teaching my other role was career coaching for students.  This included all of the key elements from resume writing, to elevators pitch, to interview management.  Fortunately the formats they were using are very much in synch with our approach at MLC.  This part I found enjoyable, but like all of us their fear factor around these issues has only been heightened from COVID withdrawal.  With so many opportunities for all graduates, they will work through these fear issues.
I have totally enjoyed the experience and appreciate that Melanie and the MLC team assisted in supporting myself as well as our clients.  Personally I will be pleased to return to VA and continue consulting.  Missing the family has been the most difficult part.  On a positive side I will not be “abandoning” NAU and the Faculty.  I will make a few trips to campus and support various functions as well as participate in online conferences.  In summary: What a Learning Experience! 
Have a great Holiday Season.