Office Hours with Dr. Tolu Noah
This fall will be the beginning of my fifth year as a college professor, and it’s been an incredible journey thus far. I have the privilege of teaching the next generation of teachers, that is, undergraduate students who are preparing to become K-12 classroom teachers. My courses address topics such as curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, classroom management, technology integration, and the important role diversity plays in the classroom setting.
Prior to becoming a professor, I was a 5th and 6th grade teacher for nine years. When I made the transition from K-12 to higher education, I was initially apprehensive about whether or not it would be a good fit. Would I enjoy teaching college students as much as I enjoyed teaching kids? Thankfully, the answer has been a resounding, “Yes!” While it’s definitely different and there are things that I miss from my K-12 teaching days, I truly consider it a blessing to walk alongside my college students in their journey towards becoming K-12 teachers and to help them hone their craft.
Teaching at any level is a major commitment, and when I became a professor, I wanted to ensure that I maintained a sense of balance by having a creative outlet– something outside of work that energizes me. Enter fashion blogging. I started my blog in 2013 (the same year that I began teaching at the university), and to keep the professor trend, I named it Office Hours. My initial goal was to document and share outfits that were appropriate for the workplace, but still cute, chic, modest, youthful, and budget-friendly. Over time, I’ve also included more weekend wear and casual outfits in my posts. Most of my inspiration for outfits comes while I’m shopping. I love just walking around the store, seeing what catches my eye, and playing around with different looks in the fitting room. I’m also influenced by other fashion bloggers on Instagram. Furthermore, a major part of the fun of blogging for me is finding different ways to style the same pieces. Versatility is essential as a budget-friendly fashion blogger!
While I never formally told my college students about my fashion blog, thanks to the wonders of the internet, several students discovered it and word spread from there. At first, I was concerned that my fashion blogging would be frowned upon or that it would negatively impact how my students viewed/responded to me as their professor, but my experience has been the exact opposite. Many of my students have told me that they think it’s cool, and one student even said that it was “inspiring” because it showed that you can teach and pursue other interests at the same time.
Most students who follow my blog do so via Instagram. In fact, one of the funniest moments was when I had just finished teaching my last lecture of the semester to one of my classes, and when I checked my phone afterwards, I saw that almost half of the class had “mass followed” me on Instagram at the same time. :) In a weird way, I think fashion blogging has enabled me to build a different type of connection and rapport with my students where they can see me not just as a professor, but as a multifaceted human being with varied interests. I’m really thankful to be able to pursue both my passion for teaching and my passion for fashion concurrently, and I look forward to what the future holds for Office Hours.
To keep up with Dr. Tolu Noah, check out her blog at officehoursblog.tumblr.com/ and follow her on Instagram at @officehoursbyt.
See you back here next week!