Category Archives: Uncategorized

Steal Like An Artist


I don’t know how I ended up with this idea, but I love it. Thinking about dreams for improving my job led me to one of my favorite authors, Austin Kleon. I found one of his books years ago while browsing at Urban Outfitters and I’ve been a fan ever since. He writes about work and the creative process in a fun, meaningful way.

  • He writes short chapters.
  • He draws simple illustrations that make sense.
  • His books are fun to read and teach life-changing ideas at the same time.
  • He writes in lists and bullet points.
  • I love reading his stuff.

I flipped through his book, Steal Like an Artist to find inspiration for this post. So now, I’m stealing from page 108 with the following idea: Write Fan Letters. Here is a loose quote, “If you truly love somebody’s work, write them a public fan letter. Write a blog post about someone’s work that you admire and link to their site. Write something and dedicate it to your hero.”

  • Who better to write about than the author of this idea?
  • Austin Kleon, this post is dedicated to you.

Check out his website:

Watch a video:

Read his books:

steal like an artist Show Your Work


  • Whose work do you admire?
  • Write them a fan letter.

Dream on…

Yes, we are singing again and again (you probably missed the second one because it is on another blog!).

Dream until your dreams come true…and you get to do some cool things on campus with your colleagues.

Yeah, so that one was a bit off melody! 😉 No disrespect!

I am not going to write about my dreams. Nope. I won’t be writing about lofty dreams of peace, or the elimination of poverty, or even meal times that don’t include my kids complaining about “vegetables again.” I am not going to do that. That discussion is worthwhile, but that is not what Steven is telling me to write about, and right now, I’m listening to Steven.

Dream until your dreams come true. In other words, don’t give up (thanks for that translation, Captain Obvious!). We can talk all day about how cool it would be to have virtual reality glasses in every classroom, or give every new student a brand new laptop when they enroll, or how great it would be if faculty members from all corners of campus regularly attended workshops in the CTLE, but we can’t go that big all the time. Don’t get me wrong, those are fun conversations to have, and sometimes they are useful or necessary; however, they tend to lead no where because often no first step is taken.

Really BIG first steps are scary. So are chocolate covered sardines.


Both happen. We may not know how, and we may not know why, and sometimes we may not like it, but sometimes BIG dreams do come true. And the coolest thing about it is that those big dreams come true the same way those “regular” dreams come true: take the first step. It doesn’t have to be a big step just because it is a big dream, it just has to be a step. We just have to work towards those goals one step at a time; we just have to dream on.



Everything Is Assessment

     True/False quiz. Final exam. Furrowed brow. Essay test. Ticket out the door. Socrative. Questions posed to students. Body language. Summary of lesson learned. Poll Everywhere. Reflection. Leaning in to see what a student has written. Conversation. An assignment. In class activities. A math problem. Writing a sentence. Types of questions asked in class. KWL. A team competition. Canvas course analytics. Research papers. Listening to students in groups. Student presentations. Quiz at end of class. Midterm exams. Benchmark tests. Observation. Self assessment. Think pair share. Clearest point, muddiest point. Projects. Conversation right after class. Office hours. Thumbs up, down, or sideways. Ranking from 1-5. Clarifying questions. Socrative discussion. 3-2-1. Conferencing.

Life Lesson

Way back when, half a lifetime ago when I worked in a lab, I learned the lesson of follow through. Or to be more exact, I learned the consequences of not following through. Let me clear up your confusion by sharing some back history.

My mother and most of my family go to a doctor in my little hometown, I will call him Dr. Big Stuff.  I never cared for Dr. Big Stuff, I just couldn’t relate or talk to him, ever.  I think it’s important to be comfortable with and able to talk with your doctor, to share intimate details about yourself. Not going happen with Dr. BS.  I was a young adult when I realized I didn’t have to see him, I could choose to see someone else, which is what I did.  Dr. BS discovered this fact one day and he was never nice to me again, not that he ever was in the first place.  I worked in the local hospital and had many occasions to interact with him.  He treated me with barely veiled contempt.  Whatever.  The fact that my Mom and family were his patients didn’t give me a pass.  Nope, I had rejected him, HIM, and deserved his contempt.  Again, whatever.

One day I received a call from his office nurse who phoned in a lab order for one of his patients.  I quickly jotted it down, and instead of going to the front office and filing the order, I shoved the paper in my pocket, I would do it later.  Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.  I was a procrastinator from way back.  To be fair, I wasn’t such a procrastinator anymore and was very busy, running my fanny off that day, but I should have filed it right then and there.  I didn’t.

Back in the day we wore paper lab coats and they got gross, covered in all manner of body fluids.  Can you say DNA?  The following day I was wearing my shiny new, clean lab coat, going about my business when it hit me.  I remembered the lab order from Dr. BS that I had shoved in my pocket and neglected to file.  It was gone, still in the pocket of the lab coat I threw in the biohazard trash at the end of my shift.  Horror!  I struggled to remember the patient name and orders, but of course, that was also gone.  Nothing for it but to suck it up and phone his office to beg Sue (his nurse) to forgive me, pull the chart, and repeat the order.  It really was no biggie, not really.  So who do you suppose answered the phone when I called the office?  Why, Dr. Big Stuff, of course.  And heaven only knows why, I still question it to this day, but he was delighted to hear from me!  He was so pleasant and kind, downright cheery. Until I confessed my sin of not following through and throwing away his lab order. His voice got really flat and he handed me off to Sue as quickly as possible.  I know my face was burning with shame.  Seriously?  It was not a big deal, not really, an honest mistake, but it was a big deal to me.

What is it about shame that teaches us (me, for sure) some very valuable life lessons?  I need to search psychology books on this phenomenon, it’s kind of fascinating to me.  I swore that day to always follow through and try my very best to complete a task as accurately and quickly as possible.  And for the most part, I do a decent job with follow through.  When asked about qualities I consider most valuable in colleagues, I always reply with the practice of follow through, it’s right up there for me.  It tells me that my request and time is important, that the person who follows through cares about me and my needs.  Or the needs of our students and colleagues.

I learned a painful lesson that day, but it has stuck with me through all of these years.  I am grateful to Dr. Big Stuff.  He was a player in an interesting chain of events that reinforced a quality I hold most dear.  Our relationship has mellowed over the years and grown to one of mutual respect.  I email him for news of my mom’s health, and he always follows through, replying to me very quickly.  Thank you, Dr. BS, I appreciate you and all you do for my mom.  Thank you for teaching me this valuable life lesson.


Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

It is simple to say, “Be kind.” It takes more work to apply it. It takes even more work to synthesize it (Right, CRE Learning Community Colleague Sherry? I’m bringing in my Bloom’s here.). One way I think about crafting my skill of kindness is to think of myself, thanks to Carol McCloud’s work and my first grader, as either a bucket filler or a bucket dipper. A bucket filler is a person who practices kindness by proverbially filling people’s emotional buckets. The best way to fill a bucket is by being kind. Listen. Give a compliment. Show gratitude. Of course, the yang to this cheery yin is the gloomy bucket dipper. A bucket dipper is someone who empties other people’s buckets by saying or doing cruel things.

A moment of authentic kindness functions as a salve to soothe emotional shards of absolute grief, frustration, sadness, desolation. Despite this, research shows that our brains pack boxes of negative memories and associations, because of their impact, for safe-keeping more frequently than those that are positive. I believe that seconds of genuine kindness can reverberate, sink in, sponge through the bones eventually attaching themselves to our long term memory, and begin to overlap or push over and supersede the negative.

At the end of the day, we are in the work of helping people and doing what is best for students. When you have the choice to fill or dip, I hope you decide to fill and pass it on.


Kindness = Benevolent = Our focus at GCC

I like the different definitions behind the definitions.  Here’s what I found when I looked up kind and it took me to benevolent:

1.  characterized by or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings: a benevolent attitude; her benevolent smile.
2.  desiring to help others; charitable: gifts from several benevolent alumni.

3.  intended for benefits rather than profit: a benevolent institution.

I especially like the expressions goodwill; desiring to help others; and intended for benefits rather than profit.
That certainly sounds like GCC to me!  We are always looking out for our students.  When I updated my Canvas announcements for the week, here’s what I included today:

Campus Resources

Glendale Community College is focused on student success, and today’s announcement contains resources that might be helpful to you or someone you know.

GCC Food Pantry
9 a.m. – Noon
Student Union – Room 123A
February 15, 2017 and
Every Wednesday Campus is Open
Students can visit and select up to five non-perishable food items.
No ID or paperwork required.
This project is made possible through a partnership with the Salvation Army Glendale Corps.
Do you need money for college? Apply online.  (Links to an external site.) There are also workshops to help you write your applications.
Scholarship Assistance.png
What a great place to teach!

The Power of Vulnerability

Dr. Brené Brown is my hero. Vulnerability is one of her favorite topics. When I read the writing prompt this week, I immediately thought of Brené. She describes herself as a researcher and a story teller. That sounds like an unusual mix. However, Brené demonstrates that stories are “data with a soul.” I love that.

Rather than try to paraphrase her incredible work, I’d encourage you to invest 20 minutes and watch her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability.


My hope is that Brené’s ideas will help us all lean into vulnerability. Vulnerability can lead to more happiness, so give it a try. Try to notice the connection between kindness and vulnerability. Take a chance…be mindful as you walk around campus…be the first one to make eye contact and say Hello. Challenge your students to make human connections instead of just texting. An emoji can’t compare to a warm, face-to-face smile. I think our campus workplace provides limitless opportunities to spread real-life kindness since many of us work face-to-face with human beings- all day, every day. In today’s social media world, we have the chance to promote in-person kindness.  Be brave and be kind.


Just T.H.I.N.K

I am not a fan of acronyms, but this one speaks volumes.

In the spirit of kindness on campus, we should stop and THINK before we speak. There is always a choice in how we react to a situation.

Optimal health is tied to wellness, and wellness is a dynamic wheel rolling down the road of life. We know it is important to exercise and eat well (physical wellness). We know it is important to socialize and engage with others (social wellness). We know it is important to learn and challenge our minds (intellectual wellness). We know it is important to meditate, pray or dwell on our purpose in life (spiritual wellness).

Emotional wellness  is the fifth aspect of a well-rounded life and it needs more attention. If we are not happy, then all of the other dimensions of wellness are affected. Happiness is the key. The pathway to happiness is to not only look after our own well being, but to look out for the happiness of others.

Small acts of kindness create a ripple effect that we can’t even fathom!  One smile can change a day for someone who is sad or suffering. That smile could end up on the faces of many people through the course of the day because of the smile you chose to initiate. Imagine if everyone did that!

Any act where you give something and you don’t expect anything in return. Buying a coffee or a lunch for a stranger, or a colleague, or a student who could use a boost. Stopping to say more than “hi” even if you are in a hurry (leave 5 minutes early so you can create these moments).

Every day, try at least one act of kindness and watch how your emotional wellness takes an enormous boost!



Lord it’s hard to be humble

Many of us “old timers” might remember the Mac Davis song “Lord It’s Hard to be Humble”. As I have thought about this week’s discussion topic this old song came to mind. Our society seems to think this song is true (..when you are perfect in every way..). I think a good leader starts with the opposite of this song. If you are humble, because you know you are human and can make mistakes, you are more likely to have an attitude that respects others and values their input. When you have a humble approach to life you show a caring attitude and tend to put other before self. A humble leader will tend to exhibit the following in the work place: openness to others opinions, attentiveness to their needs, not hesitate to admit mistakes and take ownership of them, accepts change and shows flexibility, is good at self-reflecting, and they put people in positions and LETS them do their job. Most entities seems to taut strength, charisma, enthusiasm, vision, decisiveness as prime characteristics of good leaders but all of those go awry if not controlled first by Humility.


Why am I here?

As I sat here contemplating my answer to the prompt, this message popped on my screen:

 Dear proffesor Cindy,

             I am so sorry for wasting your time today 😀 

             I love you so much 

 So that is my answer: I am here to waste my time helping students.

I am here to waste my time helping students, because there is nothing like wasting my time to help one who stays after class until we figure out the technology. There is nothing like wasting my time explaining the homework for the 17th time because they didn’t understand the assignment sheet, the directions in Canvas, OR the directions I provided in class. There is nothing like wasting my time helping a student rewrite a reflection because “the directions weren’t clear.”

There are many more; but in the end, I am here wasting my time because I love my students so much!