Episode 178 – 7 Things They Don’t Teach You in College

College is great, but we don’t learn everything we need to know there. In this episode, I share seven things I wish I knew BEFORE I started teaching. Learn from my experience.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 177 – Help! I’m retiring/leaving and don’t know what kind of job to do

There is life after teaching band. It MAY be something still in music, but it may be something totally unrelated to music. You have many options!

To get my free resource 40 Ways to Make Money as a Musician send me an email at jamesthedivine@gmail.com.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 176 – Take Care of YOU

You are not going to be the best teacher you can be if you don’t put your needs first – physical, relational, spiritual. When you take care of you, you are more equipped to serve your students. Everything in life works under the pay now or pay later rule.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 175 – Creating a Great Culture

In this podcast, I share some great tips and ideas that you can use to create traditions and develop a great culture in your band. You must be intentional in this. The traditions you create will often be the memories that students think of years from now. You have the power to create a terrific culture!

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 173 – Easy Ways to Incorporate Reading Into Band

What do you think when your principal tells you she would like for you to incorporate reading into band? Do you inwardly groan? Do you dread the thought of giving up an entire day of music for reading? It doesn’t have to be that way.

In this episode, I interview reading expert Dr. Danny Brassell. He shares tips and strategies to incorporate reading WITHOUT taking away from what you are doing musically. We should incorporate reading – and history – and music theory – and lift unheard voices – but we can do it seamlessly and as part of what we are already teaching,

Danny hated reading as a kid, and now he promotes reading to others. Find out more about Danny and get a free book when you go to www.readleadandsucceed.com.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Tube Socks, Giants, and a Teacher’s Trust

Have you ever had a teacher say or do something that had a huge impact on you for your entire life? I have had many of these opportunities.

Some teachers affect you in a negative way. I’ve had my share of those. Most of my teachers had huge, positive impacts on my life. My seventh grade band teacher was one of them.

I went to a rough school in seventh grade. Remember tube socks from the 70s? On the last day of school, it was not unusual to have some of the teens in the neighborhood surround the school bus – tube socks in hand – but with the addition of a large rock in the bottom of the tube sock. These teens would swing their rock-filled tube socks with the expertise of David swinging his slingshot at Goliath – except instead of using their rock to slay evil, they were intent on causing evil by smashing the windows of the school bus. I was a terrified 13 year old about to wet my pants.

Within the school I felt very safe. We were kept safe by a group of three security guards who were very tall – they seemed like Goliath to me in the heights they reached – and well-muscled – but the friendliest giants you ever knew! They made me feel safe. They developed relationships with students. I had my share of getting in trouble in seventh grade, but these giants loved me all the same…as did my band teacher.

The band teacher played saxophone like me. I can still see his face. I remember his encouragement as I learned saxophone for the first time. I remember his praise – his gentleness – his push for high standards – not just musically but morally too. I even remember when he lost his temper at the drummers one day, flung his conductor’s baton at them, only to have it bounce off the bass drum and come back and hit him in the head. We all had a good laugh, including him. I can’t for the life of me remember his name.

One day we were taking a trip to a local music festival where we would perform, receive feedback, and listen to others perform. Those of you who took band may remember this event as Large Group Festival. As our teacher prepared us, he reminded us that we were stopping for lunch and we should bring some money. He informed us that if we forgot our money, he would be glad to loan us some, but we would have to repay it. Then he said something I’ve remembered my whole life…”And if you don’t pay me back, that’s ok. It’s worth a couple of dollars for me to find out I can’t trust you.”

That teacher’s trust meant a lot to me – and it taught me an important lesson… Trust everyone unless they show you they can’t be trusted. Thank you Mister!

***James is a music teacher at a school very similar to the one he went to as a 7th grader. He is in his 23rd year of being an educator and attributes his success to all the wonderful teachers he had along the way. James grew up in poverty and abuse, but now shares his story of Your NOW doesn’t determine your FUTURE as often as his schedule allows. Find out more at www.jamesdivine.net. Get his book on amazon Forgive: One man’s story of being molested…and God’s redemption.

Episode 172 – 5 Tips for Student Engagement in an Online Environment

Even though teaching may look differently for a while, you can still engage your students!

In this episode, I share five tips that have worked for me.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 171 – Marching Band is Needed Now More Than Ever Before

These are trying times! Even though I currently don’t teach marching band, I am considering starting one at my middle school (I started and taught marching band for a decade or more at my previous school).

Through marching band, we learn team work and socialization and leadership skills!

Also see Episode 47: How To Start a Marching Band

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

7 (Fun) Rules for Eating During the Holidays

  1. Start with a huge glass of egg nog. This is to coat your stomach lining to keep it safe. Home made fudge also works in place of or in addition to egg nog.
  2. When whoever’s cooking isn’t looking, grab a healthy sample of what they’re cooking. You want to make sure it’s safe for the family. Can’t let them see you because they’ll feel bad that they didn’t think of it
  3. Skip anything green or anything with more than 50% vegetables. No sense in using space that could be filled with meat or pie
  4. If in doubt about whether to pour gravy on something, pour extra on it. You can’t go wrong.
  5. Eat a double portion of all desserts. It’s tasty, plus double portion sounds biblical.
  6. Take a nap
  7. Repeat numbers 1-6.

And don’t forget to be thankful for all the blessings in your life.

YOU are a blessing in mine.

YOU make my life rich.

I love you.

Episode 169 – Why I Don’t Do Christmas Concerts

This is a replay of an episode I recorded in 2012. Excuse the sound quality. Many of you may not even be doing ANY concerts this year, much less a Christmas concert. In this very short episode, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on why I chose many years ago to not have Christmas concerts. Maybe this will give you an idea for the future, when concerts return and the pandemic is a thing of the past. Disclaimer – I do set students up in caroling groups and we go around the school, often with the choir. Easy – fun – very well received!

This is the last episode of 2020. I look forward to bringing you more content next year. I’d love to hear from you! Send me a question or comment at jamesthedivine@gmail.com.

Why I Don’t Trust the Media

I spent 1986-1996 as part of the Army band in Virginia, Japan, and Colorado. During that time we usually performed more than 200 times a year and often participated in high-profile events that included the media. I can’t tell you the number of wonderful events I was a part of that were featured on the news that night…

  • 1,000s of people were in attendance
  • There was free food and entertainment
  • Helicopters and tanks were on display for kids to climb on
  • Speeches were made and received with great applause
  • Veterans were celebrated, recognized, and congratulated
  • The media was everywhere, interviewing kids and veterans and joining in the festivities.

With anticipation, we all tuned in to the news that night, excited to see how our event would be portrayed on the news. Instead of the fun and festivities, we would see a two minute clip of the three protestors screaming obscenities from the base’s main gate. This was not a true representation of what had happened!

Then There was the Time I WON NCO of the Quarter

If you understand Army band musicians, you understand that we LOVE to be in the spotlight – at least when it comes to music-making – but we could care less about it when it’s an out of band recognition.

When I was in Japan, an office over the band realized we were never sending candidates for the NCO of the Quarter competition, so we were ordered to send candidates. When it was my turn to try out, I ended up winning the competition. I was a snarky early 20s young man who hadn’t even wanted to go to the competition. But I won and was interviewed by the Stars & Stripes reporter…

S&S: What made you want to enter this competition?
Me: I didn’t want to, but we were forced to send someone

S&S: What does it feel like to have won this honor?
Me: I really could care less about it.

S&S: What did you do to prepare yourself for this competition?
Me: Nothing.

I would have totally understood if the reporter had decided to not submit my story because of my lackadaisical attitude and responses. I was shocked when I read the story in the paper and it said something along the lines of, “SSG Divine spent hours preparing for the NCO of the Quarter Competition. He told Stars & Stripes, ‘I worked hard and have wanted this honor for many years. My countless hours of preparation paid off.'”

I was dumbfounded!

Now imagine this (fake) headline

Man Spends 25% 0f Daily Commute at One Stoplight!

How does this headline make you feel? Do you feel bad for the commuter? Do you think “Thank God that’s not my commute?” Do you wonder why he doesn’t take a different way? Do you wonder why traffic engineers don’t do something about this? 

What if I add that the commute is only ten minutes, 2.5 of which are at this particular stoplight at a major intersection? Does this change what you think? 

Man’s commute varies from 10, to 30, and sometimes 60 minutes

Poor guy! He must live in a populous city like New York, or D.C, or L.A to have such a varied commute. 

The truth…some days he drives the four mile commute, some days he rides a bike, and others he walks.

Now consider these three very possible headlines…

Interest rates fall – fixed income, elderly in trouble

Interest rates rise – would be homeowners priced out of the market

Interest rates stay the same – is the economy stagnating?

When you read or hear a story in any media – newspapers, news shows, radio, etc. – be EXTREMELY careful. It is often easy for the media to “tell the truth” while not being entirely honest. 

Episode 168 – Why I Made the Shift to Teaching Business

A few weeks ago I did something I thought I would NEVER do – switch to teaching something besides music. Now this isn’t permanent, and I’m not advocating this for everyone. I share this primarily to encourage you that if you find yourself needing to shift for any reason, you CAN do it.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

The Cruelty of Quarantine

By Melanie Wiseman
Reprinted with permission.
Original credit goes to:
Life After 50 October 2020 issue, The Voice of Adults 50+ in the Pikes Peak Region

A daughter’s search for compassion amid a pandemic

Until recently, the COVID-19 pandemic was a mere inconvenience. I still biked, hiked, camped and enjoyed small socially distanced gatherings with friends. Everything changed when my mother’s health suddenly and rapidly declined in a Wisconsin independent living apartment 1,200 miles away.

My siblings and I were now among the thousands of families being kept away from fragile loved ones when they needed us most. Our quarantined parents were prisoners to the virus.

Health is wholeness

On March 11, two days after celebrating my dad’s 94th birthday, their independent living facility went into lockdown. My plane ticket to visit the following week would have to wait. Never did I imagine I’d be flying out two months later, just to watch my mother through her bedroom window with tears in her eyes, arms outstretched, longing to give me a hug.

Even though it was meant to protect residents’ health, the quarantine did the opposite. With her heart weakening, lack of movement and exercise meant fluid filled Mom’s legs and around her lungs, and tethered her to an oxygen machine.

Meals were brought to my parents’ room, and all in-person socialization with friends and family came to a halt. They became depressed and anxious, with little to look forward to. The only people they had personal contact with were masked facility staff.

“Health is wholeness—the total wellbeing of the person,” said Dad. “There is physical pain and there is emotional pain.”

Their wholeness was not being cared for. Isolation took away any quality of life my mom had left. Each time I called my parents would say, “At least we have each other. We think of all the people going through this alone.”

Searching for compassion

By the time Dad ultimately said, “Come home,” I had just over a week with Mom before she died. Each day, I pleaded with the facility director to be able to physically and freely hug, hold and comfort them both. Every day I was told, “No.”

From behind windows, screens and iron fences, I watched as my mom, now a shadow of herself, was comforted by those who were strangers to me. These “strangers” then went home to their families and friends, while my mom’s own family stood outside.

My father was by my mother’s side at all times, exhausted, but extremely attentive. His being there was our only consolation as anger and frustration built up among us children and grandchildren.

Fortunately, Mom knew what was happening and was at peace, which was the greatest gift she could give us. In return, we wanted to grant her deepest desire: the ability to hold her family. We’d been denied for months; surely at the end of her life, compassion would prevail over rules.

But even as a hospice team was called, we were denied entry. The facility told us that when our mom was “actively dying”—within 48 hours of her death—family would be allowed to visit two at a time. But they never called it. We did.

After we’d visited Mom in the morning on June 11, my sister, her daughter and I recognized the nearness of my mom’s passing and pressed harder than ever to be allowed to spend time with her. The three of us were finally given one hour that afternoon. We used that hour to its fullest, taking off our masks when staff left the room and watching Mom light up like a Christmas tree as she saw our smiles and faces. We listened closely to her fading voice and reminisced over photos of her life growing up on a farm in Michigan.

“When I was a young person, I thought a lot about what my purpose was, and then I met your dad, and I knew. We would do it together,” she said. “I no longer have a purpose, but now it’s you kids’ and grandkids’ turn to take over for us.”

When the hour was up, my sister and I each gave her a hug and told her how much we loved her. As we went to leave, she quietly called me back.

“I need another hug,” she said. I tearfully complied at length and once again we told each other, “I love you.”

I assured her we would see her tomorrow morning. But there was no tomorrow. My mother, beautiful both inside and out, died in her sleep that night.

The price of protection

Why, you might ask, would I choose to share such a personal experience? Because this story is happening every day, all over the world. Facilities are “protecting” people from the virus, but at what cost?

The distressing end to lives from COVID or amid its restrictions is hard to fathom, but it’s very real. Families who just want to hold their dying loved ones face a moment in history where isolation reigns and liability overrules compassion.

I strongly believe that my mom’s death came quicker, not from heart failure, but from a broken heart. Did she die from COVID? No. Did she die much sooner because of it? Absolutely. My father agreed that the isolating confinement caused by the pandemic both rushed her death and was an undeniably cruel way to die.

“It’s time for me to grieve and adjust after falling in love with your mom every day for the last 72 years,” Dad said. “There isn’t a normal way to do that in this current situation.”

Sadly, the quarantine cruelty continues. The day after my mother died, Dad went back to being alone in their apartment, with no visitors. He FaceTimes with his children and grandchildren, but it’s no substitute for stimulating contact and social communication. He can’t leave the facility except for essential appointments. A “prisoner” once again.

In loving memory of  Wilma Katherine Baumbach July 27, 1930 – June 12, 2020

Episode 167 – Radically Rethinking Grading

It’s time to radically rethink grading – not because of a pandemic but because our current way of grading is outdated. Imagine if you showed up for work Monday-Thursday and gave it your all, 100%, every day. But then you decided to slack off on Fridays and only give 10%. Your grade would be a B, but you would still use lose your job. Listen in as I share my radical grading. Do you think it can work? Email me and let me know your thoughts.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 166 – 6 Strategies for Surviving the Stress of Teaching Music

If you don’t actively seek ways of reducing the stress in your life, you ARE going to burn out. In this episode, I share six strategies for reducing that stress. I use all of these as part of my own plan to be able to teach for a LONG time.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

4 Tips to Help you be a Better Band Director using the Acronym BAND.

4 Tips to Help you be a Better Band Director using the Acronym BAND.

There are four key areas that – if you focus on these and make them a priority – they can help you be a better band director. None of them have anything to do with music, but the word “BAND” does fall nicely into place to help you remember them.

B-Bread

Watch what you eat! When life gets busy, it can be very easy to grab something to go. I once was 30 pounds heavier than I am right now, all due to poor eating choices and failure to plan. Plan ahead what you are going to eat. Buy some healthy snacks. Keep them in a fridge at work, in your glove compartment, wherever. Pack a healthy lunch. Watch the pizza. I once ate 8 slices at a football game and regretted it for the next day and a half. I could do that when I was 18, but I’m in my 50s now.

A-Activity

Move your body. Exercise is important, not only to your physical self, but your emotional and mental health too. Pick something you like. Jogging, hiking, swimming, biking, walking. Put more ing in your life. You should strive for a minimum of 20-30 minutes 4-5x a week. It will lengthen your career and leave you feeling like you have more energy. Warning: When I was 30 pounds heavier and first embarked on exercising and eating better, I initially felt worse. This is normal.

N-Night

Get plenty of sleep. The amount is different for each person. I need 7 hours a night, so I try to make sure I get that at least 6 nights a week. Try napping. The floor of my office often became a 10 minute nap area during marching season. Students have posted hundreds of pictures of me sleeping on the bus on a trip.

D-Diversion

Have a life outside of band. I heard of a band director who does not allow himself to read anything unless it is something that will help his band. I think this is unhealthy. Take up a hobby. It might even be music related, but not be something you need to do for a living. I had to quit giving lessons for the most part because I felt like my day was never ending, but I perform, record and compose simply because I like to and it’s an outlet for me. I also hike, bike and meet with friends (and spend time with my family of course).

When life gets off track and you’re not sure what to do, think B.A.N.D.

Episode 165 – Interview with DJ Eshelman

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.”…DJ Eshelman

Wow DJ! That seems almost impossible to attain.

Music teachers – you have powerful influence to change the young people in the world for good – or for bad. Join me as DJ shares stories about his life and developing a Better Than You Found It mindset. Find out more about DJ’s coaching, his blogs, and what’s happening in his life HERE. Also listen to his podcast Better Than You Found It.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? Text here: 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 164 – Why Large Ensembles are STILL Important

Despite changes in our profession – or maybe because of these changes – large ensembles are more important than ever. Our groups invite collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, analysis, multi-tasking and dozens of other skills valued in society. In this episode I share why large ensembles are so important.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 163 – Don’t Neglect These Four Things

These four things – sleep, music, exercise, and eating properly – are ESSENTIAL if you want to be successful as a teacher.

Also check out this article about How to Say No to demands on your time.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 162 – 5 Tips to Gain 5 Hours in Your Week

We all wish we had more time, but we are all given the same amount. However, you can use your time wisely and save 5, 10, even 15 hours a week using the 5 strategies I share in this episode.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Doing Part-Time Work Within the Four Corners of Your Home

Photo Credit: Pexels

Guest Post by: Aliyah Kaye Cheney

Education offers great long-term value for our youth. However, students in high school and college need to get some work experience now to better prepare themselves for life in the workforce. For students from low-income families, working while studying is also means to an end. Unsurprisingly, they make up a big chunk of the 70% of college students who work even while enrolled.

Of course, there are drawbacks to this setup, like the possibility of declining grades. But when done right (less than 15 hours of work weekly is most ideal), the benefits are many: sustained good performance at school, improved work ethic, development of soft skills, expansion of social and professional networks, and of course, some extra cash. That said, now seems like a good a time to be part of the work-while-studying population, as opportunities for part-time work are increasing.

In fact, jobs like freelancing are fast becoming the norm thanks to a host of different factors (e.g., improvement of technology, increasing popularity of work-from-home setups, and this lingering health situation). Case in point, writer James Gonzales points out in an article on remote work that there are over 56.7 million freelancers in the U.S. as of 2018 — a 3.7 million increase from the 5 years prior. Demand for home-based work figures to rise even more with this health crisis proving the viability and usefulness of remote work. Indeed, such opportunities should not be missed by students today.

The key is finding a suitable part-time, work-from-home job. That process, incidentally, is similar to looking for full-time work, as already outlined in the post ‘Searching for a Job?’ The process takes due diligence, starting with a job search — but instead of looking at traditional job listing sites right away, you might want to check out online freelance sites such as UpWork, Guru, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Entrepreneur Laurence Bradford details in a feature on where to find freelance work how these sites can help novice freelancers find work in simple, albeit lower-paying, projects first to gain experience, build their portfolio, and expand their network. These can help lead to more opportunities to take on bigger, higher-paying projects.

Not to mention, there are different types of freelance jobs, with opportunities for students of every skillset. Content creators and creatives, like writers and artists, in particular, are in high demand. The same is true for those knowledgeable in web design, computer programming, and software troubleshooting. Students without such skills can partake in the gig economy, too, via online typing or data entry jobs, whose main skill requirement is being able to type accurately, but at above-average speeds. And as an Entrepreneur listicle of work-from home jobs notes, such jobs do not require previous experience, but can earn one a starting salary of $10 per hour.

Slightly more demanding are transcriber/transcriptionist jobs, as they entail listening to audio files and then typing out the words. But like data entry, these jobs are entry-level, though their $25-an-hour rate is much higher. In addition, students who are meticulous and highly organized can try being virtual assistants, whose tasks include sorting and replying to emails, organizing schedules, inputting data, and assisting with social media (for a rate between $10 and $15 per hour).

Indeed, students who want to do part-time work from the comforts of home have an assortment of options. But it is up to you to find those opportunities, and to take advantage of them. Good luck!


Written by Aliyah Kaye Cheney
Exclusive for jamesdivine.net

The Grandmother I (Almost) Never Had

My Italian mom told me so many stories of her father – how she struggled to keep up with his long legs while he walked with purpose, how proud she was of him providing for her family, and especially how he told Bible stories to his 9 kids, making them come alive with his story-telling skills.

(my grandfather)

I never got to meet my grandfather. He passed away too early when I was about 2 years old. And my grandmother followed very shortly after him.

We had left my dad because he was abusive, so I wasn’t connected on that side of the family. As a child I felt deprived and jealous. Other kids had a dad. Other kids had grandparents. I had a ton of aunts and uncles, but they lived in Italy, thousands of miles away.

The lifesaver for me was church. Not only was it the place I learned about my Creator and how I could have a deep relationship with him that transcends this life, but there were so many opportunities to surround myself with friends, mentors, and teachers. There were many of these relationships I didn’t fully appreciate until I was fully into my middle years.

Mom belonged to the older singles group at church. Most of the people in that group had never been married and didn’t have kids. They were in their late 20s and early 30s. Mom had two kids. The teachers of the class – Mr. and Mrs. Thomas – had two kids of their own who were about the same age as my sister and me. As part of teaching the class, they often planned fun outings to the beach, to the park, barbecues, and get togethers. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were not only class (and classy) teachers, they embraced us, loved us, poured into our lives and changed our lives. They were the first couple I can remember who showed me what a marriage could be like. This had a deep and lasting impact on me!

On one occasion we went out to dinner with the Thomas family, and Mr. Thomas’ mom was also there. I doubt the restaurant is still open, but I can show you exactly where it was in Norfolk, Virginia. I saw the way Rene and Tommy and their grandmother interacted and I was jealous. Their grandmother was such a nice and compassionate lady. She was fun, loving, and witty. She oozed joy and exuberance about life. During dinner, I expressed my dismay at not having my own grandmother. “Grandma Thomas” – as she later became known in our house – said that she would “adopt” us as her grandkids.

(L to R) my sister Mimmy, Grandma Thomas, Mom)

These were not empty words on her part. She already had a quiver full of grandkids, but she became our real grandmother. She began to be a regular part of our lives and treated us as if she WAS our grandmother. When my first child was born about a decade later, Grandma Thomas made a blanket for her. Grandma Thomas never got to hear from me what an impact her life had made. She went the way of the world and passed on to the other side.

I know we will meet in heaven someday. I will run to her, scoop her up into my arms, and tell her what an impact she made in my life! 

Who can you be a grandparent to?

(P.S. My grandmother was also a writer. She was a frequent contributor to Readers Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, Mature Living, National Enquirer, and IEA news among others. Following is a poem she wrote that is one of my favorites.)

 Spray Job

My dog is so obedient,

He does what he is bid;

The park bench said, “Wet Paint”

And that’s just what he did.

My wedding day!
(L to R) Grandma Thomas, Rene, Lynn

Lights. Cameras. Action. – Tips for Online Teaching

You don’t have to be an expert at teaching via camera. Start with what you know and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. You will get better!

In this tutorial, I share some strategies for making better videos, with tips about lighting, background, making the camera your friend, and what I mean by pre-roll and post-roll. Enjoy, and watch for my videos coming soon called “The Two Minute Teacher Tune-up”.

Purchase the light I use here (affiliate link)

Episode 161 – Starting the First Day of School Well

Investing 20 minutes or even several days in the right things at the start of the school year can reap days and maybe even weeks of saved time later. In this episode we cover greetings, getting instruments, passing out music, creating a seating chart, and more.

Create your own seating chart here: https://www.bgreco.net/band/

Get Harry Wong’s 1st Days of School here

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider making a one time donation of $5? Donate here

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

10 Steps to Writing a Book in 9 Months

If I can write a book, anyone can do it. I’ve had the honor of writing six. I’m working on number seven right now. Here are ten steps to follow…

  1. Start with an idea – you probably already have a few or you wouldn’t be reading this.
  2. Brainstorm chapter headings – sometimes just writing – not editing – makes room in your brain for more ideas.
  3. Start writing in a word document so you can save it. Don’t worry about format or editing too much at this point, or even the number of words you are writing. Set a reasonable goal for yourself, maybe 500 words a day. Many word processing programs will give you a word count. There is no right or wrong answer for how long or short a book needs to be. I think most books are too long.
  4. Post each chapter as a blog post. I was aiming for one a week. You may do more or less. Don’t worry too much about editing. What’s the purpose of this? Get some feedback from some of your (hopefully) strongest supporters – friends and family. Does the story/subject resonate with them?
  5. At some point, you will realize you are near the end. Take what you have written and begin to edit it. Cut out extra words. Add stories or details that you forgot to add the first time around. What works best for me is to actually print it out and mark all over the paper.
  6. Go to Kindle Direct Publishing and set-up an account. If you already have an amazon account, you will be able to log in using that. Start working with the online cover editor. Make decisions about the size of the book. Download their template and start formatting your material to the template.
  7. Order a proof copy. Not required but I highly recommend it. I made some changes after seeing my proof.
  8. Order your books. I ordered 50 copies originally and within two weeks had to reorder, mainly because I had given so many away. My physical books cost me about $2.50 a copy. I sell them for $12-$15. Digital books are free to make.
  9. Selling…It helps if you already have a “platform.” In other words, you should have a way to sell the book. In my case, I am a motivational speaker part time and am able to sell the book at my events. If you don’t have a platform, think of how you can create or incorporate one.
  10. Be realistic. I sold about 5 copies the first month my book was out. Dan Miller of 48 Days fame says it takes two years for a book to really get going. Be persistent and stay encouraged.

I created a course on Udemy that takes you step by step through this process. For a limited time, get 50% off by following this link.

Udemy offers a full 30 day money back guarantee. Try the course – some have even gotten through the lessons in a few days – and if you don’t think it was worth every penny, Udemy will refund your money.