Stop Teaching Me!

 Posted by at 8:04 am
Sep 022017
 

Getting students engaged in their own (and their classmates’) education opens up a world of opportunity for reaching today’s real estate student.

Thus sayeth Bruce Moyer, a North Carolina Real Estate Instructor, in a recent issue of Dearborn Real Estate Education’s newsletter. Before you respond “Keen grasp of the obvious,” the context for his statement is an attempt to answer the question “Are students’ attention spans shrinking?” I rather enjoyed the way he handled the question. A short interpretation of his answer is that he renders the question somewhat invalid by pointing out that today’s younger adult students have grown up learning differently. As an elementary/middle school substitute teacher, I can attest to the fact he’s correct.

One of the sadder comments I’ve heard recently in a real estate class came from a student who said, “I’m so tired of learning…” (She’d been maintaining an aggressive college schedule and some other “learning experiences,” including the real estate sales agent course.)

I wanted to respond, “I’ll bet you’re not tired of learning. I think you’re probably tired of being taught.” That’s more than a semantic difference.

While real estate education is not the only place we see it, the reality is we’ve been very slow to acknowledge the changes in learners and accept what has always been true–an engaged student is a learning student. I think that’s always been true. What’s different is that today’s real estate students are coming to our courses with different learning habits. One of many reasons I love teaching little kids is I get to see those differences in action. But make no mistake–it’s not about age. Kids are just little people who are not so different than us bigger ones. I have seen five-year-olds so engaged in something (reading a book, drawing a picture) they actually lose track of time.

When’s the last time you lost track of time in a real estate class?

Five years ago I announced that I was “giving up teaching.” It was admittedly a play on words, but the point was to explain a shift in my focus to “interactive learning.” I gave a lot of credit for the shift to the kids. I pointed out in the article that if a second grader asks me how to pronounce a word (a sign they are engaged in learning) I don’t just tell them. We work on it together, perhaps by breaking the word down, sounding it out, and considering the context. Those techniques maintain and perhaps increase the engagement and very likely increase the odds the lesson ends up in long-term memory.

So why are we clinging to an outdated real estate model that emphasizes the “sage on the stage” wherein the “best” instructors have the deepest knowledge of real estate law and practice, telling the students the answers? In fairness to sages everywhere, knowledge of the subject is important. I confess I enjoy seeing high ratings and positive comments on my evaluation sheets regarding “knowledge of instructor.” But it shouldn’t stop there.

I was drafted into substitute teaching a second-year Spanish class at our high school last year. As the kids were filing in and taking their seats, one in the first row challenged me. “Mr. Boomsma, do you even know Spanish?” I somewhat surprised myself when I replied, “No, but I know how to teach it. Let’s get started.” We actually had a good class with lots of “interactive” and “self-directed” learning. It was the other end of the spectrum–I was truly acting as the “guide on the side.” The only way I could answer questions was to work with the student on finding the answer.

Ultimately, being a sage or a guide is not an “either or” decision–it’s what works best for all the stakeholders. One of my public school teacher colleagues recently shared with me how she used a bandaid to explain to her class that she would be doing her very best to work with the different needs of each student and she expected those students to both understand and help her. As an advocate for schools and kids, I wish more people could see what many of today’s teachers are doing and some of the challenges they are facing.

She teaches fourth grade so if I live long enough I may see some of her students in a real estate class. I hope by then we’ve figured this out. Today and tomorrow’s learners are different and those differences need to be met with changes in instructor skill sets and teaching strategies.

In Dearborn’s Real Estate Education survey, “shrinking student attention spans” was rated “very challenging” by 31% of the respondents and an additional 56% classified it as “somewhat challenging.” But is that the real challenge? We all want success. In order to achieve it, we may have to give up teaching and focus on learning. That means we are going to need facilitation skills and an ability to introduce different classroom and learning management strategies. Our students’ mental abilities aren’t shrinking–they are learning differently and probably better. The challenge is whether or not we will expand to accommodate that.

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Let’s Make Learning Fun

 Posted by at 8:07 am
Feb 262017
 

Teachers are, I think, students just by nature of the profession.  But in this case, I became a student both officially and formally by completing an online course offered by STEDI (Substitute Teacher Division, Utah State University) titled “Advanced Classroom Management.”

I wish I could tell you that it was a grueling and stressful experience. Truth be told, I’d actually taken an older version of the course some years ago. So this was a bit of a review and I was able to complete the self-paced course quickly.  Being a typical adult learner, I undervalued the material–at least until I finished.

Then I remembered, sometimes the greatest value of a course is that it reinforces what you already know and increases your confidence. I use many of these techniques while teaching. They are integrated into the Substitute Teacher’s Workshop I offer in conjunction with several adult education programs. So, as the saying goes, “It’s all good.”

Students of all ages often ask, “Do we have to learn this?” I understand the question but also find it a sad one. What happened to the joy of learning?

Seth Godin recently posted some thoughts about the smoker’s lounge at the Helsinki Airport. (There’s still one there.) He observed that most smokers in the lounge didn’t look particularly happy. They had the appearance of doing something because they had to do it.  He also observed many people standing about the lounge checking their phones. They didn’t seem particularly happy either–probably for the same reason. He wondered when we are going to start building social media lounges.

One thing to like about Seth is he makes you think. I’m not sure if his post is about addiction, human nature, social media or something else.

But I do know this: Things that initially bring us pleasure can easily turn into habit and drudgery.  We continue to do them because we have to do them even though the value has diminished. That may include learning.  But when we really start to think about it, the cigarettes, phones, and I would include lessons, do not change. We change–collectively and individually.

But when we really start to think about it, the cigarettes, phones, and I would include lessons, do not change. We change–collectively and individually–how we think about things and our attitude towards them.

Let’s make learning fun.

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Dec 292016
 

It’s that time of year when cars occasionally need help getting started in the form of a jump or boost that puts more power into the process. If you’ve been “thinking” about a career in real estate, now is a good time to put some power to your thoughts and dreams by taking the Sales Agent Course starting on January 25, 2017 at the Ramada Inn in Bangor Maine. *

This is a live (and lively!) course… admittedly intense and demanding–most students concede they didn’t realize how much there is to learn. But our material and teaching methods have a proven track record. Alumni Renee Jarvis says, “I enjoyed the way Walter taught the subject matter so it would be understood and not just memorized.  I truly love Walter’s teaching style…”

For additional information, course dates, and to register online, visit the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate Website or call the school at 207 856-1712. If you have questions about course content or a career in real estate let me know–I’ll be happy to help!


* The state of Maine requires that a person pass the 55 hour Sales Agent course and a state exam, both with a 75% or better, in order to qualify for a Sales Agent license. Our 55 hour Sales Agent course covers all of the material required by Maine License Law and Rules to qualify for a Sales Agent license.

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Take a Course Schedule Survey!

 Posted by at 8:01 am
Nov 112016
 

im-right-1458410_1280Here’s your opportunity to contribute to how a course is scheduled. There are only five easy questions!

While this survey is specific to the course required to qualify for a broker’s license, it might give us some ideas for others! (The course is called “The Role of the Designated Broker,” but it is not just for those who are planning to be a designated broker. The course also applies to those seeking a broker’s license. For more information, see this post “Should I take the Designated Broker Course?”)

And no worries, this is not a poll about your political opinion or candidate preferences!

Continue reading »

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Sep 092016
 
Seagulls or birds? An argument worth having?

Seagulls or birds? An argument worth having?

When my oldest daughter was a toddler we were at the beach. In a parental desire to show her things and develop her understanding and vocabulary, I pointed out sea gulls. (She liked animals and birds–still does.) In short order, she began pointing and saying, “Daddy! Birds!” Somewhat absent-mindedly I would reply, “Those are seagulls, Bethanie.”

After several of those exchanges, she said pointedly, “Daddy, you can call them seagulls. I’m going to call them birds.” I have always admired her independence. On this occasion, I opted to accept her refusal to adopt my vocabulary.

But names can be important. So after announcing that “new core courses” are being released, we will not be referring to them as “new” and “old.” We need some fairly precise language here, so I will refer to them by their proper names. Effective October 1, 2016, there be a Core Course for Designated Brokers 2 and a Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2. These courses effectively replace the Core Course for Designated Brokers 1 and the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 1. When I say “replace,” understand that the courses numbered 2 are different than the courses numbered 1–both in content and application.

So what should you take (or have taken) before you renew your license?

What hasn’t changed:

Designated Brokers must take the “Core Course for Designated Brokers.” Brokers and Associate Brokers must take the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers. That’s actually pretty straight-forward.

Where it potentially gets confusing:

Whenever there’s a change in core courses, the question always raised is “which core course do I need to have completed when I renew my license?” The answer is, “It depends!” While figuring out the answer initially sounds a bit daunting, this too is fairly straight forward for most licensees. It depends on the expiration of the license you are renewing. It might help if you have that information before reading further.

Brokers and Associate Brokers with a license expiration date prior to April 1, 2017 may fulfill the core course requirement with either the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 1 OR the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2.

Designated Brokers with a license expiration date prior to April 1, 2017 may fulfill the core course requirement with either the Core Course for Designated Brokers 1 OR the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2.

Brokers and Associate Brokers with a license expiration date on or after April 1, 2017  must fulfill the core course requirement with the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2.

Designated Brokers with a license expiration date on or after April 1, 2017 must fulfill the core course requirement with  the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2.

The same explanation would apply to activating a currently inactive license. If you activate before April 1, 2017, either course is acceptable. On or after April 1, 2017, you must have the appropriate Course 2.

For most, the expiration date will determine which course is required. However, if your license expired prior to April 1, 2017, but you do not renew it until after April 1, 2017, you would need Core Course 2.

If you are at all confused, don’t guess! You can, of course, also ask your DB or call the Maine Real Estate Commission if you need some help determining the answer.

As a reminder, continuing education is only required to renew a license. Sales Agents, for example, are not required to have continuing education hours–a Sales Agent License is not renewable. A Sales Agent’s “continuing education” is the Associate Broker Course. Associate Brokers who plan to take the required course and apply for a Broker License would also not need “continuing education.” Personally, I still think continuing education is a great idea in both of those scenarios even though it’s not required. I remember one sales agent who came to the Associate Broker Course with a lot of “under contracts” during a very depressed market. His classmates were in awe and wonder. He explained, “I’ve taken over 40 hours of continuing education. There might be a correlation!”

I will be teaching both the Core Course for Brokers and Associate Brokers 2 and the Core Course for Designated Brokers 2 on Friday, October 7, 2016 at the Ramada Inn in Bangor. For more information and to register, you can call the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate at 856-1712 or visit the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate Website.

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I might be crazy…
- you decide!

 Posted by at 7:49 am
Aug 222016
 

comic-1583655_1280Every so often I find myself in a position where I ask myself, “Why did I do that, am I crazy?” While you may not be interested in my mental health, if you’re on the site looking for something, you might find things a bit out of whack. Let me explain. (The good news is, I can explain–so I’m not irrational. At least at the moment.

My two primary sites are currently undergoing significant changes. My Brain Leaks and Musings site is in the process of being migrated to a different server. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that migration means lots of updating and changes are required. Some of those changes are impacting my real estate site (this one) and, in general, I’m discovering lots of opportunities (not using the word “problems”) for change. Some are to improve the visitor’s experience, some will make my job easier. So, in short, if you can’t find something on the site or find something broken, please let me know.

The reason I might be crazy is that I selected absolutely the worst month of the year to undertake this. This is the month when fall courses must be scheduled and planned. It’s also historically the month I do much of my course development and improvement work. Taking on an additional project of this magnitude might be crazy, right?

In an interesting way, the decision to do this at such a “crazy” time is linked to mental health. As most will know, I teach a number of subjects in addition to real estate and, in my spare time work with kids. Several years ago I became a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) certified mental health specialist for youth and adults. Since I am also gatekeeper trained, I began offering a suicide awareness and prevention course. Suicide is a serious public health concern. Maine is not an exception. Our state averages 196 deaths by suicide each year; in 2009 alone, 2,800 high school students and 4,000 adults attempted suicide while 6,700 high school students and 27,000 adults considered suicide.

In part because of this, a law was passed several years ago that request anyone receiving a paycheck from a Maine Public School system to complete this research-based course. Since I also teach a substitute teacher’s course, it made sense for me to offer the required Suicide Awareness Course through several adult education programs where I teach the Substitute Teacher’s Course.

This year one of those adult education programs opted not to offer the program and I needed to find a different venue. In that I have succeeded– and I’m really excited about the possibilities it will create. However, since the courses I’ll be offering at that venue will be sponsored by my company, Abbot Village Press. That means I will be handling the course administration responsibilities usually handled by the course “provider.”

So I need to develop an “online” system that will allow students to register for those courses. (Real Estate Courses will still be sponsored by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate.) I’m working on it. But in the interim things might look a little messy and confusing. One of my many goals is to avoid creating confusion. So bear with me… and if you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

2016 Fall Suicide Awareness Classes — A complete listing of available classes on this important subject.

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Dec 282015
 

 

board-928390_1280Here’s a summary of the real estate continuing education classes I plan to teach this spring. Note that most of the classes are part of a day or more of classes being offered by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate and check their website for a complete selection.

January 21, Thursday, 5:00—8:00 p.m.
Getting Licensees and Appraisers in the Same Boat*

Are you assisting sellers and buyers in pricing residential property only to have the appraisal come in low? If so, this is the course for you. This course goes over the restrictions placed on appraisers and the methods the appraiser uses in determining value. The closer the real estate licensee is to using the appraiser methodology, the more the likelihood the property will appraise after it is under contract. The class will discuss amounts to use for adjustments, which properties to use for comparables, presenting the CMA to your buyer and seller client, and much more.


April  5, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. —12:00 p.m.
Widen Your Horizon When You List  Real Estate*

Red flags are an important part of the real estate business. Real estate licensees are expected to disclose those things that they know, or should have known. Topics covered in this course include, property condition red flags as well as red flags when dealing with deeds, property restrictions, insurance, financing, building uses, purchase and sales agreements, etc.


April 5, Tuesday, 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Core Course for Designated Brokers*

As of April 1, 2015, Designated Brokers are required to take this course in order to renew their license. This would also be an excellent course for Associate Brokers and Brokers to take for three elective clock hours toward license renewal. Come to this course so that you will know what the Designated Broker is required to do so that you will be able to practice in a manner that assists the Designated Broker in doing the job properly.


May 12, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.
Market Analysis—More Than a Price**

This course is in development and pending approval by the Maine Real Estate Commission. What does it mean to complete a market analysis? In this course, we’ll look at the types of analysis that arrive at more than a price. You’ll discover some untapped resources and ideas for developing more than a boilerplate marketing plan. Further information should be available by early spring!


May 12, Thursday, 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Transaction Troubleshooting*

Every transaction has issues that crop up at some point. How do effective licensees handle these issues? What are the Licensee’s duties and opportunities in helping solve problems that arise? Can some of these issues be avoided in the first place? These and many more questions will be answered during this lively course. Topics will include clauses in a purchase and sale agreement, stigmatized property, handling of offers and counter offers, due diligence, earnest money deposits, and much more. This is an intermediate level course featuring lots of class discussion and input.


Thursday, July 14, 5:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
What Should I do in this Situation?*

Case studies and discussion points are used to determine how selected situations should be handled by real estate licensees. The case studies and discussion points are discussed including with how they apply to Maine License Law and Rules as well as various other laws that real estate licensees are required to follow. Come and enter into the discussion and voice you opinions in this highly interactive program.


* Course is approved by the Maine Real Estate Commission for three clock hours of continuing education.

** Course is pending approval by the Maine Real Estate Commission  for three clock hours of continuing education.

All classes will be held at the Ramada Inn, 357 Odlin Road, Bangor

 

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