by Alexander Bigelow
On a spring day, communications instructor Guy Smith, dressed in his customary Hawaiian themed t-shirt, eagerly awaits the start to his Intro to Communications class. As students begin to filter in taking their seats amongst the perfectly neat rows, Smith is chatting up a storm with the students in the front row awaiting class to begin. Time ticks away as the hour grows near to the beginning of class. Today’s topic…..listening.
Though hour-and-a-half lectures can be boring regardless of the topic, Smith delves into his inner entertainer to gain and keep his students’ attention by the use of humor, as he explains. Throughout the lecture, Smith commonly uses humor as a key component by using jokes from various characters such as Bart Simpson as well as a playful Michael Jackson dance move while singing “I’m bad, I’m bad” (You would have to be there).
With laughter streaming from the students, it seems his tactics are working. Student Alexandria Perezchica says that the mood of the class is both “friendly and playful” as well as “laid-back and involved.”
Student Jason Vasquez describes Smith as “enlightening” and “he stretches the boundaries of your mind.”
As Smith approaches the end of his seventh year here at Whatcom Community College, he says his philosophy on teaching has never changed. Smith believes that involvement and engagement are pivotal in helping students succeed. Smith said he considers himself an entertainer. “In order to inform, I have to first entertain,” he said.
As his lecture on listening comes to a close, Smith decides it’s time for a fun class activity. Smith often uses class activities that involve such things as PlayDo and Gestures but today was something a bit different: impromptu speaking. Don’t let the name fool you. The game is: you start with an idea, and each person in a row builds upon it addressing different specific criteria. The topics Smith chose were elephants, Charlie Brown, and light sabers (he almost chose Pokémon wielding light sabers).
“It’s fun,” said Zorina Chou, an international student. Chou also said that though she enjoys the class, Smith tends to speak a bit fast.
Smith’s ability to relate students may seem difficult to fathom but it actually comes from years of being a student himself. All in all, Smith tallied two bachelor’s degrees, one teaching certificate and one master’s degree, as well as being just mere credits away from receiving his Ph.D. All of his degrees were earned at Washington State University.
Aside from teaching, Smith is regularly involved in out-of-the classroom activities and clubs such as being the advisor for the communications club which he refers to as his “baby”. Currently, Smith and the communications club are gearing up for trips to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and Rochester, N.Y. in the coming weeks. The club has also traveled as far as Portland and Hawaii representing Whatcom.
Aside from the communications club, Smith is also involved in a Shakespearian play based on Richard the III and is playing George, Duke of Clarence (brother to the king) which he is very excited about. Smith can also be found umpiring the occasional little league baseball game and is involved in the campus skeptic’s society.