Category Archives: GCC Students

Simple, not easy

Since my hero Austin Kleon writes in bullet points, I think I will too. Here are a few thoughts about dealing with difficult situations in a positive way.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • The Four Agreements is a tiny book filled with enormous wisdom.
  • Take Away Message: Don’t take anything personally.
  • “Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.” Great quote from Chapter 3, page 48.
  • Avoid the urge to be right and make everyone else wrong.
  • Bottom Line: In a difficult situation, don’t take it personally because everyone lives in their own reality. Their anger is about them, not you. Even if they say something ugly, that’s their ugliness. Don’t make it yours too.

Unconditional Positive Regard, a concept developed by the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers.

  • Try to accept and support others without passing judgment.
  • Starting from a point of unconditional positive regard will probably improve any situation.

If all else fails, lighten your mood.

  • Imagine your current difficult situation is happening in a sitcom.
  • Think about a silly sign. Here are a few examples:

 

Flipping the Classroom, One Video at a Time

The “flipped classroom” is all the buzz lately. I really like the idea of it, and I have tried to get students to prepare ahead of time so we can do interactive activities during class. In addition to this, I assign projects that require students to apply the knowledge from their study.

Last summer, my ACE students were struggling with an activity and asked for more time in class to do the project. I obliged, with an agreement that they would have to watch the lectures outside of class. I spent the better of two afternoons recording the lectures using Screencast-O-Matic and Power Point slides. They were not perfect, but they worked, and the extra in class time to help students apply the material was awesome!

Last week, as we were working on an in-class activity about the atmosphere, one of my students remarked, “I wonder what it would be like to be a storm chaser!” Many others responded, and a great discussion ensued (I love when that happens!). I do know a storm chaser, in fact, she is a former student – and I even have had her come as a guest speaker before. So I contacted her, but unfortunately, she is now working a “real” job, and cannot get away during my class time. The next best thing is to make a video of her presentation.

…Here I go, trying out something I’ve never done before. Oh, wait, isn’t that professional development?

This time, instead of talking over Power Point slides, I thought it would be more engaging if my speaker could do her talking in front of a green screen and then display her photographs or video behind her. Lucky for me, the CTLE can help with that. I met today with Cheryl Colan to learn more about how it’s done, just to see if it is a doable project. We had so much fun! I even made a video of myself with instructions for my speaker about what she should prepare when we are ready to film. It took about an hour to film and publish the very short video. I even put one of my own storm pictures behind me. Here I am, finishing up the recording (Cheryl suggested I put this picture in my post):

6x6-screenshot

The CTLE has a recording room, complete with green screen, computer loaded with the right software, camera and microphone, special lights, and even a teleprompter. Cheryl also told me that when you reserve the recording room, you are also reserving her services – that way she is available to help you through the process.

I definitely learned something new today! I know this video will probably be the only project of this kind for this semester, but little by little, I might just end up with a collection of them.

 

Healthier, Happier and Smarter

Have you read Spark yet? It gave me goosebumps.

The book basically justified my persistence for the past 30 years in the field of Fitness and Wellness. Exercise is not just about getting fit, looking good, preventing heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and the like. It helps keep you smarter!

I finished this book on a plane flight to Dublin last summer, on my way to see my family, but more specifically, my ailing mother who is suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

The book highlighted many of the mental health issues we deal with, including Alzheimer’s, ADHD, stress, anxiety, depression and addiction. And guess what? Exercise outscores medication in every case. It may not replace it for every case, but it certainly is a great complement to treatment.

It turns out that exercise is like Miracle Gro to the brain. It promotes the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which causes neurons to grow! It was only discovered in 1990! Since then, neuroscientists have been studying it like crazy. Exercise lays down the foundation for our students to learn.

In his book, Ratey devotes an entire chapter to the “Learning Readiness PE” program in Naperville, Illinois. These high school students are outsmarting their Japanese and German counterparts on the TIMMS test! You can find out more in this video!

It is my intention to make a difference in the lives of our community college students, faculty, staff and administration by raising awareness about the importance of movement throughout the day.

Just yesterday, the following bill was passed in Senate (SB211). I read it excitedly to my students this morning! Positive change is finally happening at the national level!

“A program of physical activity (i) that consists of at least 20 minutes per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year available to all students in grades kindergarten through five and (ii) with a goal of at least 150 minutes per week on average during the regular school year available to all students in grades six through 12. Such program may include any combination of (a) physical education classes, (b) extracurricular athletics, (c) recess, or (d) other programs and physical activities deemed appropriate by the local school board. Each local school board shall incorporate into its local wellness policy a goal for the implementation of implement such program during the regular school year.

…That the provisions of this act shall become effective beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.”

Elementary schools and high schools will finally see the benefits of more movement on the brains of the students. I hope we can continue this trend at the community college level. It is critical to the success of our students.

Source: Ratey, J. J. (2012). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company.

 

Life is Not a Multiple Choice Test

… well I suppose it can be, if you know what the choices are. In many cases, however, the available choices are not fed to you. There is no bubble sheet to fill in. It’s up to you to figure it out with no hints from a prompt.

Many of our younger students have been tested to death. One thing is for certain, they are comfortable with multiple choice options.

Last semester, I told my students that I was assigning a final project instead of a final exam. They begged me for a multiple choice test instead. To their credit, I had assigned a large number of projects throughout the semester, so I caved and wrote a final exam for them.

I do believe, however, that a degree means more than regurgitating facts. There are a number of other skills employers expect when they hire someone with a degree. I think these skills are learned through the college experience as a whole.

I came across this list of traits that we really cannot measure with tests today:

Whether or not we use multiple choice tests for factual knowledge, I believe the experience of going to college and completing practical application projects helps develop these characteristics.

Next time I work with a student who is frustrated, doesn’t like group projects, writing assignments,  or has roadblocks and other issues in the way – I will come back to this list, for no matter what a student’s major is, these skills come along with it. And we all get to contribute to that!

 

 

I’ll miss you when you’re gone

Most of us who work as teachers find that working with students is the most important reward of the job. I believe it is beneficial to build some kind of relationship with each student in the class to help determine how to best to meet individual learning needs. These relationships are build over the course of the semeseter – and all to often, they end after final exams.

On the first day of a new semester, I often wonder how I will make the class have a cohesive camaraderie, and if it will live up to the one I taught the previous semester, or in previous years. People are often quiet and shy, and are not showing their true colors yet.

I spend a bit of time getting to know them by hanging out before and after class, providing comments on work turned in, walking around and interacting with small group discussions, sending emails regarding missed assignments, and offering help whenever its appropriate. In some cases, students will offer information about themselves – like work scheduling, family obligations, and outside activities. This gives me the opening to talk with them individually about more personal things.

Right around mid-semester, things start gelling, and people are talking and interacting. I know all the names in the class, and I generally know a little bit about each student other than just their student life. They also seem to be more comfortable with each other, and are more willing to contribute in class. The begin forming community.

By the end of the semester, the students genuinely enjoy being with each other. I have bonded with them, and we have a thriving community atmosphere. Often, as we are wrapping up for the semester, I might mention that we only have 2 or 3 class sessions left, and some students are visibly disappointed – and I am too.

Once the class is over, I miss the students. It seems like I only have them for a short time, and I want to know how they’re doing, and what they’re up to.

I am always so happy to run into former students at the college, or in the community. I saw one student in the enrollment center one day, and she emailed me later expressing her difficulty scholarship funding. I was able to share her story with the right people, and she was able to get what she was promised – and it made it possible for to continue going to school. Another group of my former students coordinated their schedules, and are purposefully taking classes together this semester.

Our time in class is short, and I have memories of many students long after the semester is over. I often wonder if our impact on students is limited to the time we have them in class. I know they have impacted me. I would love to see some comments on how others have retained contact with former students.

 

The Energy Enigma

It’s a weird thing about energy. It’s hard to capture. At the end of a hard day at work, it can completely evade us. On most Friday evenings, I think it gets buried in the sofa cushions with all of our lost articles.

We have all learned that energy cannot be created or destroyed. So where does it go when we are searching for it the most? Maybe there is a different formula for the type of energy we are all looking for?

Would you believe me if I told you that energy could be created by expending energy?  i.e. Energy begets energy. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it. How can I create energy if I don’t have any?

Personal example: Today I came home from work after eight hours of interviews, which consisted of sitting in a chair for most of the day. My energy meter was hovering around “empty,”  in the red zone. I had 20 minutes of free time before going to pick up the children.

I had a choice: I could melt into the sofa for a 20-minute nap (sounds delicious); or I could put on my running shoes and go run around the local park. I’m not much of a runner, but the weather was so nice and the park looked so inviting. I opted for the run.

Miracle of miracles! My energy meter was back in the green zone, and I was back in action and singing songs with the kids in the van. My brief exercise session also gave me the energy to write this blog before the Friday night deadline and fully engage with my online classes for the evening.

When you repeat this type of behavior on a regular basis, you come to rely on a brief exercise session to get your energy back on track. In fact, a brief exercise session can function just like a cup of coffee in the morning, but the benefits are far greater and last a lot longer.

There are hundreds of personal testimonials and research studies to be found on this topic.  Here is just one such post that I enjoyed reading.

If you are up for a challenge, try replacing your morning coffee with an apple and a brisk walk. I guarantee you that your energy meter will soar! (I triple dog dare you to write a blog about your experiences.)

week3photo1
Photo “borrowed” from Dr. Alisa Cooper.

p.s. I know you have an apple in your office if you have been keeping up with your Write 6×6 blogs!  :O)

 

 

Success is not just from attending class!

Community college life can certainly have its share of fears, accomplishments and yes, even set backs. It really can be a worthwhile endeavor if you find your niche in “college life”.  For some it may take only a few weeks and others it might take longer; however, the most important task “I feel” is to find your niche, that place that just feels right. If you seek out a club, find one. If you want to join an organization, do so. If you need a mentor, seek one out. If you want or need to find a job, then the career center on campus will help you find one. You really should find social circles in which “you the student” can feel like a valued participant. If you do one or more of the above mentioned things, your success rate has or will rise.
 

Being a GCC Ambassador

It’s pretty cool when you are recognized off-campus as a GCC employee, especially when you aren’t wearing your Gaucho Gear. We go through the internal process of:

  1. Why is that person staring at me?
  2. Do I know this person? Should I know this person?

Then they say, “You were my _____ teacher at GCC!” and then I think:

  1. Wait, what am I wearing right now, do I look presentable?
  2. How did they do in the class?
  3. How nice that they remembered me and their experience at GCC!

So then I get over my fears of being caught at the grocery store in sweats, with no make-up, and actually settle in to learn about where  they are in life and what they are doing currently.

This is the most rewarding part.

As much as it’s healthy to carve out a piece of your life just for you, when you live, breathe and believe in higher education, it is hard to separate that part of your life. Whether we know it or not, we are all ambassadors for GCC. I had this conversation about seven years ago with Rick Watts (you might know him) as we felt so strongly about the honor and privilege of representing GCC when outside of work hours.   Jim Reed and I frequently celebrate these occurrences, as this is a huge source of pride for Jim (I know, really!).  I love to work with people who feel this is a career with benefits beyond pay and who understand the impact they can make – these are my fellow ambassadors!

 

Where’s the Medicine?

no cookies

I promise that I am not being motivated by ice cream and chocolate chip cookies but here I am again at the end of week three of Write 6×6 and it’s time to share the wonderful exercise opportunities we have right here on our campus. Where’s the medicine?

GCC is in the running to receive national recognition for Exercise is Medicine on Campus. As part of the EIM-OC initiative, we are tasked to ensure that qualified fitness professionals are available on our campus to serve the needs of our community, which includes employees, students, and the general public.

We meet that need in two ways:

  1. We Train the Fitness Professionals!
  2. We Have Outstanding Staff and Facilities!

We Train the Professionals

Since 1983 we have prepared students to become certified fitness professionals in our Exercise Science and Personal Training programs. Our students gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to design and implement exercise programs and can immediately enter the workforce as Personal Trainers.  Many choose to transfer to university and finish programs in Exercise and Wellness, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, and Dietetics, just to name a few.

In collaboration with the Food and Nutrition Department, we share the Exercise Science and Nutrition Club, where our students can combine their knowledge and skills to help promote fitness and health on campus and in the community. A recent scavenger hunt activity drew more than 100 excited participants, sending them running to all corners of the campus hunting for clues and enjoying the excitement of the competition.

We Have Outstanding Staff and Facilities:

We hire only the most qualified, certified fitness professionals who share their expertise with employees, students and the local community.

The Fitness Centers on the Main and North campus offer state of-the-art cardiovascular and strength training equipment and a myriad of free fitness classes including yoga, cycling, lap swimming, and boot camp style sessions.

The biggest difference that sets the GCC Fitness Center apart from its competition is its professional staff and exceptional customer service. A family-friendly location, we offer personal training, nutrition consulting, blood pressure and body composition checks, massage, incentive programs, great prizes, locker facilities and a towel service. There is always a degreed and certified instructor available to answer questions and assist with exercise programming.

Special discounts are available for veterans, high school students, nursing/EMT/firefighters, student athletes/dancers and students enrolled in the Exercise Science and Personal Training programs.

Our Sports Performance Lab, located in the LSA building, offers clinical fitness screenings and evaluations for faculty, staff, students and the community. Triathletes and sports professionals can take advantage of VO2max testing, blood lactate assessment, body composition, flexibility and strength analysis.

The Adapted Fitness Center designs fitness programs for individuals with disabilities and meets a very critical need in our community. Participants receive individualized attention and enjoy the benefits of exercise using specialized equipment with the help of highly trained staff.

Our Senior Fitness program draws a great deal of interest from the local community and accepts health insurance benefits such as SilverSneakers, Prime, Flex, Cigna Medicare and Silver & Fit. The classes are designed specifically for the senior population and cater to all levels of fitness.

The line-up of Physical Activity (PED) classes for college credit includes swimming, water exercise, line dancing, hiking, camping, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, yoga…you name it, we have it. We also offer mind/body, wellness and recreation classes. Aromatherapy is one of our very popular wellness classes.

Spring 2015 Events for the Health-Minded

This year, we have collaborated with the Nursing Department on the Community Health and Wellness Fair, which will take place outside the Life Sciences Building on March 25th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and March 27th, 1 – 7 p.m. We plan to promote Exercise is Medicine and launch a 50-mile walking incentive program during the month of April using a fitness tracking app developed at GCC. Participants will receive pedometers and completers will be entered in a grand prize drawing.

May is Exercise is Medicine Month.  We plan to offer lunchtime fitness activities throughout the first week in May. Test your kickboxing skills, or try our yoga or Zumba! Stay tuned for more details on EIM Week!

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Gong Xi Fa Cai, pronounced “Gong Hey Fat Choy” in Cantonese, means Happy New Year.  It’s a phrase that I learned early on as a small child.  One of the very few and most important phrases my mother taught me in her maiden language.  She’s from Hong Kong and even though she’s been in the states for over 40 years, Chinese New Year is still the most important celebration for my family, it even trumps Christmas and Easter!

This is not surprising though as China considers this their most important holiday.  In fact, it’s also the longest holiday spanning 15 days total!  Every year is celebrated on a different day since the holiday is based on the ancient lunar calendar, which translates to sometime between January and February.  The tradition started as early as the 14th century B.C. and is still celebrated traditionally today even though China adopted the western calendar.  This year is the year of the sheep although you may hear it being called goat or ram as well.  Since the Chinese language has so many different translations all are used depending on the region you are in.

My family observes several traditions and superstitions which are both hilarious and heartwarming.  These tend to include a very large dinner with only very close friends and family, not washing your hair, cleaning before the New Year, and sleeping with money under your pillow.  My mother will cook traditional dishes including a whole steamed fish, shrimps & scallops, bok choy, sea moss, black mushrooms and other favorites.  The significance in these dishes range from long life to prosperity for the new year. Lucky money is given to all the children for luck and good fortune.  The money is placed in highly decorated red envelopes and then given on both the eve and day of the New Year.  We place the envelopes under our pillow and open them the next day.  I still look forward to my envelope every year!

If you get the opportunity, wish someone a Happy New Year.  It is such an important event to Asians and has so much meaning and tradition associated with it that I’m sure you’ll get a smile in return!!