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Students, be intentional and be successful

By Jen Krueger

School is gearing up around the county for students of all ages, grades, and adult education courses of study. Court reporting students looking forward to starting a new steno program, or continuing in their steno program, or finishing and moving into a job should adopt an attitude of intention.

So, what is an “attitude of intention”? It means that you are going to identify what you need to do and then identify what you intend to do to attain that goal. We can replace the word “intend” with aim, plan, anticipate, or expect. You expect to practice and you must therefore intentionally plan those practice times. You are going to take your best shot of doing well in a test, so you aim for optimal preparation, focused writing, and thoughtful proofreading. An attitude of intention requires that you are intentional – or purposeful – in the actions you choose to build knowledge and skill. 

As a court reporting student, you have identified something that is important. At the moment, what is overarchingly important is becoming a court reporter. At some point, you, the student, decided you wanted to join this wonderful profession. You moved from that decision with intention to enroll in a program. You aim to go from an enrolled student to a graduated student, to move from having a dream job to having an actual job. To reach those expectations and make them reality, you must be very intentional about all aspects of your training. Your education has to happen within the context of the rest of your life. To move toward your career, you have to also manage such things as a job, a spouse or partner, parents, children, financial concerns, and more. Let’s consider how an attitude of intention toward the successful acquisition of steno skill and court reporting education can move us forward efficiently and effectively.

You must make conscientious decisions about what you are going to do with your time so that your actions promote learning and skill development. Intentionally set small goals that are attainable and take decisive action to reach those goals. As you achieve small goals, you will feel satisfaction and motivation to continue onward. Take a moment as you attain your goals to be self-aware and show yourself some gratitude. Be pleased and proud of what you have had to do to reach those goals. Their attainment did not come without sacrifice and hard work. 

When a goal has been attained, it deserves attention. Intentionally share the news of your success with friends and family. Let them know what you have been doing and why. So often students complain that people ask them “How much longer until you are done?”  Rather than wait for that question, intentionally share good news of progress along the way. You will receive recognition. You will feel proud and excited. Those emotions shared by you promote more support from those family and friends and prompt personal motivation for to keep going.

In an attitude of intention, you must be focused on your goals and what it is that you want to achieve.  Your goal must be important to you. It must be a step on the way to the bigger goal of working as a reporter. Make a list of the outcomes you must attain on your way to completion, regardless of where you are in your journey from brand-new student to brand-new court reporter at this moment. Make that full list.

Once that list has been created, highlight the outcomes you intentionally plan to attain in the fall semester. Seeing your goals in writing is an intentional way recognizing them. As you achieve them, cross them off the list. As the list diminishes in size, you will be inspired by your success and will intentionally make plans to go after the next objective.

Whatever you do in school, do it thoughtfully, and with distinct intention. Do not “just” review a lesson on punctuation, but really think about the rules for commas and semicolons that may be introduced. Do not “just” sit down to practice, but instead sit down with a plan and a goal. Here are some intentional practice and study strategies for you to utilize. Build on these with ideas of your own.

The Machine: When introduced to the steno keyboard, memorize the look and feel of your keyboard.  Practice sitting down and reaching toward the machine with your eyes closed. Position your hands as quickly as you can in their home position. Open your eyes and make sure your fingers are where they should be. Comfort with the steno machine allows you to begin to strike the keys in the multitude of keystroke combinations with increasing ease.

Theory Rules: As you are introduced to rules, write them down and memorize them. Create your own word lists that utilize the rules. Review theory rules frequently. As you learn to write more and more words, every time you have a writing error, identify the theory rule that should have been applied. Say the rules out loud to yourself. Intentionally learn the rules.

Speedbuilding and Stroking Errors: As soon as you know you have made an error in your writing, stop writing. Identify the error by listening to the words or phrase, explain the error to yourself out loud.  After all, you are a person who likes to listen to words, so use those talents and interests and listen to yourself. Rewrite the error alone multiple times and then use the word(s) in the sentence that was dictated and then in a few additional sentences of your own creation. Expand the use of the word beyond what has been presented to you. Intentionally write with accuracy.

Speedbuilding and Dropping Words: If you realize you are dropping words as you are trying to keep up with the speaker, stop immediately. Rewind and rewrite the dictation just before the drop. It is most likely that it was something in the words prior to what was dropped that caused some hesitation at that prior moment leading to an inability to capture the words in the next moment. Intentionally look back and determine what led to the hesitation and then the drop.

Practice Activities: No matter what kind of practice you engage in, do it with purpose. Work on drills to reinforce briefs, phrases, or outlines. Work on numbers and alphabet keystroking to build that specific style of fluency. Write for one minute at a time at a higher-than-usual pace to push for increased speed.  Practice an exercise two times in a row to build endurance. Practice reading back steno to strengthen your steno-to-English language skills and vice versa. Intentionally make an action plan each time you practice.

Reflect: Take time for reflection of all you are doing. Recognize weaknesses and make a plan to address them. Realize successes and revel in the achievements. Compliment yourself daily on your efforts. Be kind to yourself. Intentionally reflect on your efforts. Intentionally appreciate your determination.

Do not go into your newest semester in a casual manner. Do not let things happen to you, but make things happen that bring you closer to your goals. Be intentional every day and soon your intent to be a professional court reporter, captioner, or CART provider will be your everyday reality.

Jen Krueger, FAPR, RMR, CRI, CPE, is an instructor in the Captioning and Court Reporting Program at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio.