March 30, 2009

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Passions, Strengths and Goals

I asked Joy Soria (another virtual assistant from the Philippines) to put together some career advice and stories to share with students around the world. Her first draft was okay, but generic; I challenged her to bring her own experiences and insights. I’m thrilled by the results, which I’ve shared below. I would never have discovered those facets of hers in the normal course of work, and I really appreciate getting a glimpse into her world. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! - Sacha


Passions, Strengths and Goals

Maria Victoria (Joy) Soria


Your passions and interests motivate you to be your best in whatever endeavor you are in.

When I was three years old, I used to listen to my older sister every time she played the piano. When she practiced her musical pieces, I found myself interested in knowing how those pieces were played. I really enjoyed listening to the melodies. I became curious and I asked my mother: I ran my fingers on the keys, could I make the same music played by my sister? My mother asked me if I would like to learn how to play the piano, and I eagerly answered yes.

I was so excited about starting right away. When the piano teacher came to our house, I was overwhelmed with joy. Thus began my passion for music. I learned to play the piano quickly, because even at the very start, I was fascinated by it. I easily memorized the musical pieces the teacher taught me, and I began playing them by heart.

As I grew up, piano playing became a part of me. My colleagues noticed my talent and passion for music, frequently asking me to play for occasions and even contests which needed live accompaniment on the keyboard. So even when I was teaching computers, I was able to share my passion for music.

It is also important to examine yourself objectively and be bold enough to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

When I was a teacher, I used to encourage my students to join school organizations in order to further develop themselves and enhance whatever talents and skills they had.

One student named Melba asked my advice on what organization to join, because she was so shy. I told to her to write down her strengths and weaknesses so that we could identify what she needed to develop and what she could enhance.

After examining herself, Melba found that she had a very good voice for singing. However, she was too shy to sing in front of people. I recommended that she join the school glee club where she could sing with a group. This enabled her to gradually overcome her shyness, build up her self-confidence and became bold enough to join singing contests.

Melba won almost all of those competitions.

She was so happy and grateful. Aside from being able to share her talent in singing, she had also successfully conquered her shyness, come out from her shell, and become a winner–not only in singing contests but also in acquiring self-confidence to discover and to explore more of her hidden talents.

Don’t be afraid to find and develop your strengths.

Define your goals.

The goals we set become the targets we aim for as we face the challenges in life.

I set personal goals for my teaching career. When I was assigned as an adviser for a graduating class, I aimed to have no student drop-out from my advisory section until the end of the school year. My desire to really have all of my students successfully graduate at the end of the school year made me set this as one of my personal goals so that I could prove that I could be a very effective class adviser.

I wanted to make a positive difference in my students’ lives. This goal paved the way for me to establish open communication not only with my students, but also with their parents and guardians as well. I made myself approachable and accommodating whenever they needed me. I made it a point to always monitor each student in my class, especially their attendance and class performance, so that I could keep track of their progress and spot potential problems.

I noticed that one of my students seemed to misbehave in almost all of his subjects. His other teachers complained about how  annoying he was and even threatened to drop him from the course because he habitually cut classes. I called him to my office so that I could talk to him privately and find out the core of his problem. I was concerned that he might not graduate. In the course of our talk, he shared what made him so defiant and stubborn. He told me how his parents would always quarrel violently in front of him, that his father was a drunkard and would hit his mother when they fought.

I assured him that I would help him anyway I could. I told him that if he did his best in school, he’d have a better chance of building a better future and becoming financially independent. He could graduate and start his own career, rather than allowing himself to develop anger and hatred that could destroy his whole life. I told him to pause for a while and listen to himself and his heart so that he could find out who he wanted to become in the future.

We stayed in touch. I helped him think about his personal goals in life, combining his talents and interests with his strengths and determination. I also went out of my way to invite his parents to school so that I could talk to them about how we could team up to help their son in his studies, helping them understand his needs–not only financially but also psychologically and emotionally. As parents, they were touched when I told them of the effect of their constant fighting on the school performance of their son. I told them that if they went on, unmindful of their son’s needs, he would be the only one who would not be able to graduate. All of his classmates and their parents were cooperating with me. This challenged them. They promised to do their best to avoid fighting and to provide their son the support he needed to succeed.

Their son passed all his subjects and graduated. I could see the happiness and fulfillment in the parents’ faces as we celebrated the success of my students, their children, who were proud of all the challenges they had conquered. I had helped all of my students graduate during that school year, fulfilling the personal goal I had set as a class adviser.

What are your passions, strengths, and goals?



Maria Victoria Soria had been a public high school teacher for more than 14 years. At present, she’s using oDesk to further develop herself as a  data entry specialist, virtual assistant, and proofreader. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant, invite her to an interview!

Volunteer opportunity for teachers and retired teachers in Ontario

I know Deniz from LifecampTO, and I’m all for helping newcomers with their job search. Know anyone who might be interested in this, either as a volunteer or as someone looking for a mentor?

From Deniz:

I am wondering if you can help me on a project that I am doing for not-for profit org called Skills for Change. This is a community based, charitable org. providing educational programs and settlement service to newcomers. Currently I am looking for 20 experienced practising or retired teachers who can voluntarily coach newcomer, certified teachers in their job search process. Please see the message below and let me know if you can pass on to your network.

——————————-

Volunteer Opportunity for Teachers to become a Coach

Are you a practising or retired teacher? Would you share just 4 hours a month to help a newcomer teacher adjust to teaching in Canada?

On behalf of Teach in Ontario, Skills for Change is currently looking for experienced teachers to coach Internationally Educated Teachers (IETs) in their transition to teaching in Ontario.

For more information, please contact

Deniz Kucukceylan – Mentoring Recruiter
[email protected]
Skills for Change – Toronto, Canada
(416) 658-3101 ext. 203

Virtual assistance process: Calendar management with Timebridge

Thanks to Ana Conception-Macatiag for documenting this process and including screenshots! =)

Setting up appointments:

  1. Log in to http://www.timebridge.com, see Accounts and Passwords section for the login information.
  2. The screenshot below shows an example of the personal Timebridge Home Page.  To set up an appointment, click on Schedule a meeting at the left side of the screen.

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  3. Fill in the fields.
    1. Type in email address of the attendees in the “Send Invite to” field.
    2. Indicate subject in the “Meeting Topic” field.
    3. Meeting Location (Note unless specifically specified on my meeting details, here are my venue preferences:
      • Lunch during weekdays
        • Ichiriki – Japanese – 120 Bloor Street E, Toronto – Hours: 11:45 – 2:30?
        • Camros Eatery (http://www.camroseatery.com/) – Vegan – Hours: M-F 11:30am to 7:30pm (no travel time necessary)
      • Weekends: Linux Caffe (http://www.linuxcaffe.ca) – 326 Harbord Street, Toronto. – Hours: M-F: 7am to 11pm, Sat 10am to 11pm, Sun 10am to 5pm
    4. Click the “More Meeting Options” and make sure the meeting reminder is set to 1 day before the meeting and that TimeBridge should automatically confirm the meeting time is also checked.

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    5. Click on the button “Propose Times” to propose meeting times.  The calendar as shown in the screenshot below is linked to my Google Calendar so you will know when I’m is available. Highlight available times or as instructed by me. (Orange highlights below are the highlighted proposed times.)

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      Additional Information in selecting time:

      • Offer 3-5 choices. Conflicts and double bookings will not be a problem with Timebridge because it is synchronized with the Google Calendar.
      • For in-person meetings, I prefer lunch (12:00 PM – 1:00 PM) or coffee/tea/hot chocolate (any time between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM), preferably on a Thursday or Friday
      • For work-related phone meetings, I prefer calls on Wednesday to Friday afternoons (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM).
      • For personal phone meetings, I prefer calls on Saturday or Sunday (9:00 AM – 9:00 PM), preferring Saturday afternoon

      My Google Calendar will be automatically updated as soon as invitees send back their confirmations.

    6. Click DONE.
    7. Check if the proposed times are as correct. Click Edit if you need to change anything.
    8. Make sure the cc myself on this invitation box is checked.
  4. For the personal message, refer to instructions below. Then click Send.
  5. Unless instructed otherwise, click No, thanks on the “Share Availability” message to be sent to meeting contacts.

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  6. You should see your created meeting in the home page as encircled in the screenshot below.

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Quick tips for making the most of Sametime Unyte

More and more people are turning to virtual presentations as a way to save on travel and reach a wide audience. I’m particularly happy with Sametime Unyte, the system we use at work. Here are a few quick tips on making the most of it:

  • Save time and avoid errors by giving attendees a URL that automatically fills in your conference ID. Example: If your conference ID is 0000000, give them the URL https://www.webdialogs.com/join/?schedid=0000000 .
  • Instead of sharing your desktop in order to give a presentation, click on Publish, Manage Files, and then upload your presentation. This displays faster than desktop sharing does.
  • Enable chat by right-clicking on All Participants, choosing Manage Rights, and checking both checkboxes. Say hi and encourage people to use the chat to ask questions and discuss ideas.
  • Webcams make remote presentations more engaging. Get one, plug it in, and click on Start Video. Works best on IE on Windows. I don’t remember if it works on Firefox on Windows, and I haven’t gotten it to work on Linux.
  • When doing both an in-person and a virtual presentation, ask someone else to monitor the chat room for questions and interesting ideas. That way, you’re not distracted by the effort of keeping up. If the presentation is entirely virtual, you may be able to monitor the chat yourself. If so, you can weave responses into your speech instead of interrupting your speech in order to type.
  • Record the meeting using the Record button, providing it with your teleconference information. You will get a video file that synchronizes the slides and audio.
  • If you have audience members who can’t dial into your teleconference, you can use Audiocast to broadcast the audio through the computer
  • Call people’s attention to the Raise Hand feature and use it for quick polls, if you don’t have the time to set up a more structured poll.

What are your tips for webinar tools?