Video Conference Review

Students+posed++with+author+Brad+Stulberg

courtesy of Alysia Puma

Students posed with author Brad Stulberg

Kate Shanahan, staff writer

On Feb. 10 English teacher Alysia Puma’s junior honors classes were given a special opportunity. Recently, the group of 49 students read Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. The students who read the novel were given the opportunity to actually speak with the authors of this book.

Differing from the typical high school fictional reads, this book is non-fiction and science based. Along with reading the book, students were asked to create a S.M.A.R.T. goal, something discussed within the book. The overall project accompanying the book was to establish a goal and over the course of several weeks implement tools to help achieve said goal. The final step of the project was to compose an email to Magness and Stulberg regarding the goal and whether or not strategies from the book were successful. 

Magness and Stulberg were initially overwhelmed with the abundant amount of emails pouring into their inboxes, so they decided to contact Puma directly. Through some correspondence via email, a video conference was officially set up for the students and their teacher to enjoy.

Although Magness was unable to join the video call due to a coaches meeting, Stulberg was excited to have the opportunity to talk with the high school students who read his book. Ironically, Stulberg did not realize at first that an entire class was contacting him and his co-author as part of an assignment. To know his book made it into a high school curriculum was rewarding, as Stulberg enjoys interacting with high school and college students. 

During the video conference, information regarding topics discussed in the book were addressed through students’ questions. Additionally, Stulberg decided to share some tips and tricks to writing well, and how to efficiently go through the drafting and writing process. His insight on being a high school student, and his own struggles with the standards of society combined with pressures for success was especially helpful to the HHS students in the conference. 

Puma collaborated with Tech Coach Valeria Pannia to help the conference run smoothly from a technical aspect. “Next time, I would do a ‘dress rehearsal’ with the class to streamline the process of asking questions, strategic seating, and maximizing the use of the camera,” Puma said. 

Puma looks forward to maintaining contact with the two authors and conducting this project for her future classes. Being able to converse with authors was an incredible experience that she hopes to continue with her classes going forward. Puma will certainly take advantage of the offer to get The Passion Paradox, Magness and Stulberg’s sequential novel, signed for her students who are interested in that opportunity.