Category Archives: GCC

Flying Books Deliver Daily Inspiration

This is my reality: All day…every day, books fly through the library and ultimately land in my hands. It’s as if these items take flight from the book stacks and land right on my desk… This experience of coming into direct contact with countless, random books every day inspires me tremendously. I wish I could track how much I’ve grown and learned, professionally and personally, since I joined the GCC Library family. Working in Access Services at an academic library is certainly a dream come true for a bookworm like me. A sample of our library’s extensive collection materializes each day. On every horizontal surface, books perch patiently, inviting me to take a closer look.

The written word speaks to my soul. Spoken words are fine, but reading words on a page transcends an auditory experience. Silent and deep, books change my life, one sentence at a time. Each book feels like a stepping stone. Or maybe more like shells on the beach…I ignore most, but certain gems capture my attention. In the same way, some books go unnoticed while others introduce me to a perfectly-timed message with lasting effects. It’s magical actually.

Momentary, random encounters can yield deep thoughts.
Recently I found the words of Octavia Butler and Brian Bilston.  In the library, inspiration is just a page away…

Refugees by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

          (now read from bottom to top)

 


 

If you see something nice, say something nice…

 

Adding small doses of daily kindness to GCC and the world in general is a dream of mine. I’d like to offer some explicit, easy, painless examples of how we can all increase kindness on a daily basis. Imagine how a collective effort of small actions could impact our lives. Gratitude and kindness are powerful ideas. See if you can incorporate one of the following suggestions into your super-busy daily schedule and notice the win-win feeling.

  1. While walking on campus, make a daily effort to notice on a pleasant sight. Examples: “Wow, that display in the student union is amazing.” Or “The roses are beautiful.” Usually, we might just think this thought and forget it. Take it a step further and send a quick email to recognize someone’s hard work. Email the department or individual responsible. The key is to be mindful and have an intention to recognize the positive.
  2. Acknowledge the success of others. Congratulate a faculty member or student who has succeed. Acknowledgments don’t have to be mushy compliments. Just recognizing the effort or outcome is enough.
  3. Even a semi-specific question to spark a quick dialogue conveys kindness and caring. Ask someone while you’re waiting in line for coffee or lunch “So how’s your semester going?” You might be surprised at the amount of enthusiasm that is returned to your inquiry.

Try to find opportunities to be kind to yourself and others. It’s easy to walk around campus on auto-pilot. Experience the present moment. See if you notice anything that brings a split second of joy.

 

 

Please let me know if you hate this.

 

 

I feel like everything is inspired by something else. There is no 100 percent original thought                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Ne-Yo

From Best Selling Author  Steven Pressfield’s blog regarding a new project:

“The book is about writing.

I don’t have a title yet but the premise is that there’s such a thing as “the artist’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is different from “the hero’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is the process we embark upon once we’ve found our calling, once we know we’re writers but we don’t know yet exactly what we’ll write or how we’ll write it.”

I lifted the lines above from Steven Pressfield’s website http://www.stevenpressfield.com. I decided to share them with the 6X6 writers because I loved how honest Pressfield was…he admitted he doesn’t know exactly what to write or exactly how he’ll write it. He’s a professional, best selling author and he was brave enough to admit that on the world wide web. I LOVE THAT. I never thought I was really allowed to admit to things like that out loud, let alone in a professional community. But now I realize that by sharing his uncertainty, Pressfield just endeared himself to me as a writer and fellow human being. I admire him. I’m now more likely to read his blog and books…he offered a way to make a sincere connection. And now I’m quoting him and passing along his info in hopes that someone else might gain a spark of inspiration.

Since I’m on a roll about stealing and being honest, two topics that make good writing, I have to give credit for the title of this post. I stole that from Pressfield’s blog too. This line encouraged me to be brave. It’s like Pressfield is saying, “What do you think? Be honest… I can take it…”

So, let me know if you hate this. But, please be kind. I’m not as tough as I will be someday. This is my first day at being fearless…sometimes every day feels like my first day…

Check out Oprah’s interview with Pressfield:

 

 

It’s a Library Thing…

 

This 6X6 Writing Challenge is a great example of basking in the reflection of my culture on the GCC campus. I’m in love with the idea of life-long learning and the exchange of ideas.

GCC is the epitome of life-long learning. Specifically, my position in GCC Library Access Services offers constant opportunities to celebrate student and staff success in regards to providing access to information. My goal is simple: If you need information, I want to help you access it. If what you need is not housed in our library, I want to help you find it.

At times, I love to stand back and look at the BIG picture in library terms: Historically, the library is at the foundation of civilization. This is a powerful idea as I walk through our library…it’s a big deal to experience this academic setting and appreciate the limitless opportunities that might begin here.  I like to imagine that all the mental effort that takes place in the library is transformed into positive futures and a better world. I love to savor my BIG picture idea and realize that what I do today really matters.

Also, I love to lean in and appreciate the small, everyday moments I share with library patrons. It is almost magical to meet others who share my specific love for library books and learning. It’s an over-the-edge, possessive behavior. I totally understand the patrons who feel like 28 days is never long enough to keep a book…who have a hard time actually letting go and setting the book on the counter to return it. Don’t laugh, there are a few of us who clutch certain books and wish we could keep them just a little longer since we never seem to feel truly done. ( I know, why don’t we just buy it, you say…but that’s not how we roll…remember, the library is a cornerstone of civilization, Amazon is not…and some of us need to feel the pages in our hands…electronic words don’t feed our souls)

When’s the last time you walked through our library? Stop in and experience the sheer joy of 90,000+ books – all in one big room. It’s old-school awesome!

Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.                                                                                                                                                                                     ~Maya Angelou

 

 

Week 1: The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment

A six week “how-to” series
Week 1, Step 1: How to Impact Enrollment. But first, a story.

My biggest failure happened when I was a wet-behind-the-ears youth leader. I was actively looking to raise money for youth activities and I had responded to an ad pitching a T-shirt fundraiser. The company featured exciting, fun, faith-based designs on sleeveless T-shirts, and, for a limited time, was selling the shirts at a steep discount. The deal involved paying in advance with no returns and no refunds, but these things did not matter because these sleeveless shirts would sell themselves. I used my tax refund money to purchase the shirts. The shirts arrived and we began selling. But, instead of buying the shirts, our friends and families asked: Don’t you have any T-shirts with short sleeves? It turns out that people are so adverse to wearing sleeveless T’s that the fundraiser tanked horribly. It was a hard pill to swallow, but it changed my life.

I learned to never make decisions “based on a hunch.” I came to love data informed decision-making, and I am not alone. In this data driven age, even the youngest consumers are making informed decisions by comparing products, pricing, and reputation, including incoming college students and their families.

You’ve probably guessed by now, the “one thing” you can do is based on what works, study proven methods, and not gut instinct. So, what is the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace?

Before I spill the beans, you should know that conversely, by not doing this “one thing,” you risk falling off your potential students’ radar completely, and losing them to a competitor. There is a lot at stake and much to be gained.

The first step:

Go to www.gccaz.edu, and type your last name into the search box. Take a look at your employee biography webpage. What do you see?  If you were a student, is there anything on your page that would make you choose you?

What’s ahead:

WEEK 2: THE “ONE THING” AND ITS POWERFUL SWAY
When it comes to students choosing your classes, leaving choice up to chance is not your only option.

WEEK 3: THE “ONE THING” AND IT’S NOT BRAGGING
Reputation is king. Making your achievements public enables people to make informed choices.

WEEK 4: THE “ONE THING,” AND HOW TO INFLUENCE ASSUMPTIONS
Learn the top trait people assess when viewing strangers’ photos, and how your face, wrinkles and all, makes people choose you.

WEEK 5: The “One Thing” Before and After
If two faculty are each offering the same class, who would YOU choose?

WEEK 6: The “One Thing” and the Final Step

 

Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

Today is the first day of Glendale Community College’s Write 6X6 and the birthday of one my favorite poets, Langston Hughes. His words and social activism have always resonated with me. Every year, I typically pick one of Hughes’ poems and share it with others. This year my choice seems unusually relevant given the current state of affairs in our national politics. In spite of the worries I have about our country today, the words of a son of a school teacher, speak to me and remind me of the importance of my work in higher education and make me feel a little more optimistic.

Community Colleges, by providing an accessible pathway to education, are gateways for those who might otherwise not find equality or opportunity. The feeling of helping people from all walks of life working to make a better life has always made me proud of the work I do. I’m even more proud of all of the students who have persevered and accomplished great things.  They give me hope for our future.

Written in 1935 by American poet Langston Hughes.

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

 

(America never was America to me.)

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

 

(It never was America to me.)

 

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

 

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

 

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

 

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

 

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

 

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

 

The free?

 

Who said the free?  Not me?

Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

 

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

 

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

 

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

 

 

What Really Matters

Academic advisors on our campus work under a great deal of pressure and for the most part go largely unrecognized for the good work they do. There aren’t enough of us to go around, and very few on campus understand the volume of information needed to be an educated and effective advisor, not to mention the breadth of skills we must hone and use on a daily basis. Research indicates that the relationship between students and advisors has a significant correlation to student success, nonetheless, academic advisors at GCC are  not sufficiently appreciated.

With waits frequently exceeding an hour or two to see an advisor, everyone does their best to help students in the shortest time possible. Despite the challenge of time constraints, it is my belief that the most important part of an advisement conversation begins with an understanding of each student’s motivation for being in college. If you want them to be successful, you need to know where they are coming from and where they want to end up.

My advice to those new to academic advisement is to start advisement sessions with a few important questions. It isn’t enough to simply ask what you can help them with today, they often don’t really know what they don’t know. For example the young woman who came in to ask for Nursing courses. I could have given her a schedule of classes and never known that the student really loved Math but was going into Nursing because her mother thought that would be the best and most secure career. It took quite a bit of effort on my part to encourage this young woman to explore another possibility and to discover that most people with a degree in Mathematics make more than nurses and love their work. In part, because I took the time to ask and to listen, that student is now at ASU and a very happy Math major.

Students need someone in their corner. It isn’t easy to understand higher education pathways especially when students tend to be given inaccurate or incomplete information at almost every level of transition. Most are confused and not sure who to trust. As a result, I do my best to teach advisees how to verify information I offer and to show them options so that they can make an informed choice that reflects their own best interests.

One last thing, I’ve found that treating students as if they were a friend or family member allows me to keep focus and do a better job advising. I try my best to give them all a VIP experience. Going the extra mile does not make me the fastest advisor on campus, but I see my fair share and know that I’m helping in a meaningful way. Even if others on campus haven’t a clue how hard I work, I know for sure that my students are aware and appreciative.  And isn’t that what really matters? Go Gauchos!

Filed under: STEAM Tagged: Academic Advisement, GCC, What really matters, Write 6X6

 

Making an Entrance

In my heart of hearts, I genuinely want those around me to succeed, and I take pleasure in watching them do well as they develop. I’d rather help people work out their problems than tell them what they need to do. I don’t consider any of those things character faults, but very early in my teaching experience I learned that certain actions can be confused with weakness. Weakness in the classroom leads to problems that are not easy to correct.

To say I was nervous on my first day in the classroom would be an understatement. I made the mistake of not wearing an undershirt, and my  light blue dress shirt was a drenched dark mess by the end of the 45-minute period. I imagine I seemed as ridiculous as Sir James Martin from Love & Friendship:

That lack of self-confidence and abundance of nerves  lead to problems throughout the rest of the semester. I found out very quickly that if a classroom doesn’t respect you as a person, they also will not respect your lectures, your grading, or your discipline.

That was a difficult semester, but as time went on I gained confidence and my nerves subsided. This lead to better relationships with my students and more success in the classroom. Year to year things improved incrementally. Eventually though, something happened.

Image of Luke from Star Wars about Overconfidence.
Ah George Lucas, your horrible dialogue rings true.

With my nerves fully at bay, my inner-nice guy came out again. With it, the entire catalog of issues I had in my early years started to manifest themselves again. Why?  Because while my students may have liked me, they did not respect me.

So here we are at the heart of the lesson folks: Respect is key. Respect should always be in the back of your mind when standing behind that desk. Whether it was nerves or being “Mr. Nice Guy”, I lost the respect of my students, and with it, full control of my classroom.

It wasn’t easy, and I still make mistakes, but I have learned to balance my kind demeanor with the responsibilities of being an educator. I found that I can still joke, have fun, and be myself, as long as students know I am serious about my job.

The most effective method I have found to encourage a healthy classroom dynamic is to start off strong. I like to make my first week of class filled to the brim with activity. I like to give students things to do, show them the gamut of what is to come: a journal, a discussion, a short essay, a quiz, and a reading. I do it all, because it lets students know that the primary goal of my course is for them to learn. If we end up having fun in the process, that is a bonus.

The classroom is a world with its own environment, dynamics, and life. It has the power to evolve and overtake you if you let it. Start off strong, confident, and focused, and that classroom will turn into an environment that encourages both learning and respect.

 

 

 

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:

 

Getting to know you…

Sing with me (again)!

Getting to know all about…your colleagues

source

So a couple of weeks ago, the new group of GCC Residential faculty (lovingly referred to as the FYRE group) embarked on a tour of GCC that each of them partially lead. The “FYRE Guided Tour” is an opportunity to show off the different areas of campus where each member of FYRE works on a regular basis. Instead of parading the FYRE group around campus with me posing as the all-knowing tour guide, I created an opportunity that helps build community and connection between the group, while also learning about different programs and resources available to students.

I personally have learned quite a bit about GCC from the three FYRE Guided tours I have been on, and I know many of our new faculty have enjoyed learning about their colleagues and the campus at the same time. I mean, think about yourself and how well you really know what is happening on our campus. Even if you know of many of our programs, there is a good chance you have not seen some of the interesting, hands on learning opportunities many of our faculty create on a regular basis.

I am sure most of you know we have a fantastic nursing program, but have you actually seen the simulation lab that our students learn in? Have you seen the capabilities the mannequins have? Do you have any idea how the faculty that teach and operate these simulations plan for and pull off these lessons? Wow! Check out some our very own GCC students running through simulations.

Or did you know we have a Children Lab (or know what one is for that matter)? In our Child and Family Studies department, there is an active daycare that is part of the learning environment for our students. Through a two-way mirror and an intercom system, GCC students are able to observe the behavior of children in the daycare and analyze the way the childcare professionals interact, teach and play with the kids, all while the professor connects theory to practice. Awesome!

There are many other programs and resources on campus besides these two, and as I mentioned already, many of us know of them, but  unfortunately, we don’t really know them.

We haven’t really seen the materials, the labs, and the behind-the-scenes rooms (full of costumes and rocks and chemicals and plastinated body parts and props and fire engines and grand pianos and toys and boom mics and pinned insects and Corvettes) all over campus.

We know the people who work in these fields, who have dedicated countless hours planning and prepping, and we love catching up with them in the common areas of campus, but we often haven’t seen them in their domain, which means we don’t really know what our colleagues do here at GCC.

Is this a missed opportunity? Might this be the clue we’ve been searching for in our quest to tear down (or at least connect) the silos? It could be, or it might just be me wishing we could all see more of the inner workings of different departments and different disciplines. Anyone game to host an “Open Department” someday?!