Waking up chipper for early morning classes

Beep-beep. Beep-beep. 7:15 a.m. alarm. Hit the snooze. Suddenly, it’s 7:45 a.m. and you are about to be late to class. Most college students drag themselves to their dreaded 8 a.m. class. But some teachers are chipper and cheerful.

“I love my Tuesday/Thursday 8 a.m. classes,” said the always chipper and cheerful Nancy Hayes. “I don’t know if it would be the same if the class were on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but I think they are just wonderful.”

Hayes, an English professor, has had 8 a.m. classes for all of the 13 years she has been at St. Ambrose. She has a very strict attendance policy and says mornings are a little problematic to get students there in the beginning of the semester. Once her predominately freshman classes have adjusted to the college life, attendance gets better. However, when grading becomes overwhelming, her alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. to get a start on the day with breakfast, coffee and newspapers.

“I am, I’m sure, obnoxious, because I’m all smiley and bouncy at 8 a.m.,” Hayes said. “I try to joke and connect with them.”

Rev. Brian Miclot, a philosophy professor of 19 years, says that comic relief can be very difficult in the morning so he takes advice he heard from an 80-year-old priest, “to take a break half way through the class because if the bum falls asleep, so does the brain.”

“I sign up for every single 8 a.m. philosophy class,” he said. “I love them.”

Miclot became a morning person in his graduate school days at Notre Dame. He says he began waking up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the YMCA at 5 a.m. to go swimming. He’s been doing that ever since.

“I wake up early so I can swim, take a nap and then get to 8 a.m. class,” Miclot said.

Rev. Joe DeFransico usually sets his alarm for 6:30 a.m. to be able to have time to watch the news and get a cup of coffee.

“I always have to see what’s on the news,” DeFransico said. “I need to see who I can pray for, who is in need–there is always a need.”
For his spring semester Prayer and Spirituality class he hopes the time becomes motivation.

“I’m hoping that by moving this class to 8 a.m., the willingness to choose this class will mean the students will be engaged,” DeFransico said. “If not, I just open the windows in the winter.”

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