Blog: Teacher Feature: Rachel Friend, Communications Studies Instructor

This week’s Teacher Feature will definitely spark joy. Meet Rachel Friend, Coastline College’s Communications Studies Instructor and recently featured on Netflix’s new show “Tidying up with Marie Kondo’. With a positive approach to teaching, learn more about our Friend in the Communications Department.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a Communications Studies Instructor at Coastline College. 2019 is the start of my second year with the college and I am so excited to see what this year holds for my students. I received my bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and completed my master ’s degree program in Human Communication at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), which is where I first began my teaching career.

What do you love about working at Coastline?

I love the small class sizes at Coastline combined with a more intimate campus feel. This allows me to get to know my students and address their individual needs much better. It is my goal to create a safe class environment where everyone feels welcome and free to be themselves.

What makes your classes unique?

I have a different approach when it comes to my all of the communication classes I teach at Coastline.

Public speaking tends to give some, if not all, of my students some level of anxiety, more specifically when they are tasked to present in front of the class. I aim to minimize this as much as I can by providing numerous opportunities to practice honing necessary skills for public speaking while in the comfort of small groups. This small group format is less intimidating, but still allows for the student to get peer feedback and test out their ideas in a participation-based setting. It isn’t until students get more comfortable with their speaking skills and with each other, that I have them speak in front of the entire class for a grade. After all of that practicing, I hear some pretty great speeches!

Rachel Friend allows her students to build trust with each other in her classes.

In my Interpersonal Communication classes, my objective is to have the students actively implement the skills I am teaching them with their classmates. I do this by having them share A LOT with their peers. This allows for students to build trust with one another and put the concepts we are studying, to work. I love when students learn that they share common with another person. I truly believe through being open and sharing our stories with others that we can really connect and feel closer. I’ve been told that my Interpersonal class is like a group therapy session. Whether or not that feedback is a good thing, I take it as a compliment because I think opening up is essential for growth!

What about teaching brings you JOY?

Teaching brings me so much JOY! To me, teaching is such a wonderful combination of getting to know new people and learning from their unique stories. I love being able to share tools with my students that can change their experience of life. Something that gets me excited about teaching my classes in particular, is when students think they are just coming into a basic communication course and have no idea how REAL we are about to get. It’s such a cool experience to be a part of.

One of the most amazing things to witness is the connection students form with each other in my classes. At the beginning of the semester, students are usually apprehensive to interact with one another, however, by the end of the class series, they have built lasting connections and had some very deep conversations with each other. I think this is so important because many people struggle with communication in general and I don’t think the rise in technology is helping bring us any closer together in terms of “deep human connection.” Connecting with others is not so common anymore and I feel like I create a space for that in my classes. I will always value genuine face to face communication as because it what we are wired to do—connect! This is why I find so much joy in teaching Communication courses because we all really want to feel connected to others at our core; it is through effective communication that we can accomplish connecting with others.

What do most students not know about you?

Photo courtesy by Rachel Friend
  • I am a big special needs advocate as my oldest son has a rare genetic disorder. It’s a role I’ve embraced and learned so much about myself through. I love sharing my experience with others who may be in similar situations.
  • I am a major crier when I watch something that speaks to my soul on TV.
  • I love watching singing competitions and am a sucker for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
  • I have been on two TV shows! The Peoples Couch on Bravo & more recently Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. The Konmari method completely changed my life and how we maintain our household. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to declutter their home and in turn, their life! If we can do it with 2 toddlers, ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Talk about your passion project.

I recently started a side project where I hold online workshops for those looking to get out of their own way and find more joy on their journey. I am a Mindset Coach and I work with women who want to break their repeating cycles of shame and guilt so they can learn to embrace who they really are and be an example for others. My overall message is “Your Only Limit Is You” and that in order to move forward and find inner peace it must start with YOU taking action and doing what really matters to you. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with some amazing and courageous women.

Who do you look up to and why?

There are so many people I admire. The first person who comes to mind is Ellen DeGeneres. I admire her courage to remain so kind, generous, and funny, despite everything she’s been through. I could say the same thing about Oprah Winfrey—another kind soul who chooses to find joy in the darkness and share that with others.

Your 3 final thoughts for Coastline Students to take away.

  1. Prioritize your work. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by your school load in college which can lead to more stress and anxiety. To navigate this more effectively, I always suggest making a list of what is due and when so that way you can focus on what needs to be done first. More often than not we often look at the big picture when it comes to homework and papers. Instead, I suggest for you to break down what is due first so you can focus on smaller amounts of work at a time.
  2. Build a support group. Having support is so important to our mental and emotional well-being. Try and connect with other students who are in school as well so you can support each other throughout your journey.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I believe that asking question is how you learn! If you are not sure of something, ask! If you need more clarification, ask! If you want to double check, ask! If you want to get to know someone, ask them questions about who they are. Asking can help you move forward in many situations.

About the Teacher Feature Series

Coastline College proudly highlights their renowned faculty through the Teacher Feature blog series. This week’s feature showcases Rachel Friend, Adjunct Faculty and Communication Studies Instructor. For a daily dose of inspiration follow Rachel on Instagram or visit her website. Feeling like Rachel’s class would be a good fit for you? See her course offerings through our class schedule. Enroll today!

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