Category Archives: Innovation

Is Anybody Out There?

Teaching a hybrid public speaking class has certainly challenged my “classroom skills!” Classroom? I only meet with the class five times during the semester, while the remaining weeks are completed through Canvas. The major difficulty has been in making that personal connection with each student. I pride myself in providing a welcoming and enthusiastic atmosphere in traditional structures, but establishing a positive feeling-tone is a bit daunting from afar. Should I care? Should the students need my illustrious “connection?”

Of course, we should all care! Communication is more naturally achieved in face-to-face interactions, and even though the students and I are accustomed to text and e-mail “social skills,” it doesn’t ensure that our messages are understood or that our attitude or emotional message is conveyed. Emojis only do so muchūüė≥. I need to know more than names prior to the first speech, and I must develop trust and collegiality among the students to give them the needed courage and confidence to walk up front and begin.

What to do? What to do?

1. In my perfect world, each student would have a clear photograph that appeared by their names in Canvas. (My brain’s memory bank is overloaded with data from 32 years in public high schools, preventing me from easily matching faces and names when we first meet. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!).
2. Two on-line assignments that help have been an outline for a speech introducing them to me. Once submitted, I can comment on an individual basis. I look for common ground and any unique tidbits thrown to me. The other is a discussion post, requiring each to react to a minimum of two other students. Most address each other by first name and respond to a specific idea posed.
3. The first speech had been a speech of introduction, but for the past two semesters, I have required a personal experience speech. Students really seem to respond to each other on a more intimate level when they listen to the wide variety of stories and what made the experience memorable or important. Before the first speech, students participate in an ice breaker so they have to get up and move around the room. That helps loosen them up a bit.

What I have found is that now the students feel comfortable asking me questions through Canvas e-mail. ¬†When provided with an optional workshop to prepare the longest speech, ¬†many attend. ¬†They also know that I WANT them to do well, so there is less “out of sight; out of mind” and more exchange and participation. The highest compliment I can receive is to have a student tell me that they dreaded speaking in front of the class but they actually “kinda” enjoyed it.


My New Degree In Biology

I started out in college majoring in Biology. ¬†It wasn’t until I was finishing my Associate’s degree that I gave up science. ¬†I had just gone through a¬†divorce and was raising two children on my own, with little to no financial assistance from the ex. ¬†My dream of moving to California to finish a degree in Marine Biology was crushed by the reality of single parent poverty. ¬†Looking back, I wonder if there had been someone in my life at that time to provide a little encouragement, would I have continued a degree in a different area of Biology? ¬†Instead, I walked away completely from science, beginning new majors in History and Spanish.

Many years have passed. ¬†In what I believe is a bit of good karma, I find myself working temporarily in the college’s Biology department where I once worked years ago as a student. ¬†With the Department’s support, I was able to achieve something amazing this past year. ¬†Together, we collaborated with Western New Mexico University to create a new transfer pathway for our Biotechnology students. ¬†Starting this fall, 24 students will begin Bachelors degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology right here on our community college campus. ¬†The degree is a highly innovative, collaborative, affordable and rigorous program that I am proud to have helped shape. ¬†Best of all, I believe this program brings opportunity¬†for students who might be struggling like I did all those years ago. ¬†Having a good quality pathway on campus that is accessible and affordable will make it¬†easier for students who need a little encouragement to follow their dreams in science. ¬†It completes a circle for me too. ¬†I finally did get my degree in Biology, after all.

Applications are now being accepted for 24 students to begin this fall!  For more information on the new degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, visit this link: 

Filed under: Arizona, Biology, Science Tagged: Arizona, Glendale Community College, Innovation, Science, Write 6X6