Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Received a Rose for Valentine’s Day

rose

On February 13th, I was sitting in my office and a young man walked by my window and then stopped at my door. I looked up from my computer and saw him standing there with a bunch of roses. “Oh, how pretty,” I commented. He walked in and gave me a rose. I thanked him and he left to continue his mission of giving out roses to the ladies in Testing Services.

I was touched and at that same time frustrated and mad at myself because I couldn’t remember his name. He is one of the DRS students we serve. I used to remember students’ names when I worked at a small private college but now I meet with several hundred students a year and the fact that being older also hinders my memory capacity. 🙂 I can’t keep all their names in my head.

For the next 45 minutes I was possessed with finding out the student’s name.  Why?  Because this student took the time to drop by my office and offer me a rose.  The least I could do is find out who he was and to thank him.

After identifying the student, I re-read my notes related to my meetings with him.  I realized that learning challenges he had during high school and college coupled with surviving a brain tumor has not hampered his spirit.
Although the limitations he experiences academically leaves him feeling useless at times. His friends from high school have abandoned him and he technically can’t work because of the medical benefits he receives. During our last conversation in November 2014 he shared that he is bored. He stays home so much and wants to do something. We brainstormed resources and volunteer opportunities to get him involved with other people and feel useful.

I directed him to Career Services for additional support. I am unsure whether he found a volunteer opportunity or not but one thing I am sure; he took the time to bring roses to the Disability and Testing Services building for Valentine’s Day and blessed my day!

 

Coming out of the closet

I am a lesbian. That is certainly not a secret. When I arrived at GCC in 2002 I was president of the Gay and Lesbian employee organization for the district (now Equality Maricopa), and I immediately became co-advisor of the LGBT student group on campus. I was out to my fellow employees, but in class, I tended not to talk about my personal life.  Every once in a while, during the before class milling around, a student would ask me  something like “How does your husband feel about being married to a psychology professor?” I would respond with “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife, and she was a psychology major in college so I think she is OK with it.” Usually the student would apologize for asking, for reasons I don’t quite understand, and then we would move awkwardly forward with the class.

Then, a few years into my time at GCC, the psychology department lost a long time adjunct instructor who had been teaching our LGBT studies class. We searched for a replacement, but we were only able to find someone for one semester. Ultimately, I decided to teach the class. It was as a result of teaching that class that I learned how important being out of the closet could be to my students.

Many of the students who enroll in the LGBT studies class are looking for something. About half of them are straight allies looking to learn more about LGBT people. The other half are students who are themselves members of the LGBT community, and they want to know more about the environment at GCC for them, the laws that pertain to them, the social environment in Phoenix, and many other things.  I learned a lot about the importance of someone like me being out from these students. All of the students told me they had not had an LGBT instructor, and I knew that was probably not true, they just did not know that they had.

A couple of semesters ago, I was teaching an Introduction to Psychology class where a student asked me a question about my husband and I answered in the typical way, that I don’t have a husband, I have a wife, and then I shared the answer with them regarding my wife. During my office hour, one of the students in the class, who was presenting as male, came to my office and told me that he was transgender, but he was afraid to be out on campus or with his family. I listened, I told him what I knew about transitioning, but I mostly listened. I gave him contact information for a transgender activist I knew personally. I continued to check in with this student during the semester. As the semester ended, I was worried about him because I knew he was living his life in a way that was not consistent with who he was inside. I knew he was living in fear of his family finding out. I knew his being closeted was eating him up inside.

This past week, I ran into that transgender activist friend of mine. She told me that she had recently been in contact with one of my former students, and she told me the name. I was so happy to hear that now that student was presenting as female, the woman she really is, and was doing well. I would not have had the opportunity to get to know my student if I had not been out in my class.

We all have closets that we can come out of with our students when appropriate. Maybe we ourselves attended community college, or maybe we were first generation college students who had to learn to navigate academia and we made it through. Maybe we went to an elite university and we can dispel myths about what they are like. Maybe we worked two jobs putting ourselves through college and we can relate to their experience. Maybe we can just listen to them sometimes, and try to connect them with resources. Sometimes for students, just seeing that someone like them can be a college professor, or administrator, or professional, can help them see themselves achieving their goals.

I want to encourage my colleagues to consider coming out of their closets.

 

Announcements on CANVAS

 

I have found utilizing the Announcement option on CANVAS has been an effective way to reach my students. After every class meeting, I create an announcement based off the date. I include what we covered in class (linking any power points and videos), along with posting the next class period’s homework.  If students are absent, I also link any recording sheets or articles they will need.

I have had many students provide feedback on the fact that I use this feature in a face-to face class. It helps them stay on track, especially since most of them all have smart phones. They do have a paper schedule, which we always go over in class, but this provides another type of support.

Another benefit is students do not have an excuse on not having their homework completed if being absent.  It is still due, absent or not.

It is also a great way of holding them accountable…..I refer them back to CANAVS and the date in question.

 

 

 

The Beauty of GCC

As this New Year came I found myself needing to make changes and one of those changes was to get out of my chair during the day and walk the campus.  I have found that not only are the walks a good form of physical exercise, but it also has been personally and intellectually stimulating.  If you have ever have the opportunity to explore our campus you will find many lovely little spots. One of my current favorite spots is a mixed bed of flowers that grow in a riot of stunning shades and sizes.

Like the flowers there’s another wonderful spot I enjoy, which is on the main mall.  The other day I took a moment to sit out under the umbrellas and listen for a while.  I soon noticed that as people passed by I could hear several exquisite languages.   I then began to look up and down the mall and I saw all types of beautiful people, from all over the world.  I was filled with an understanding that although our world is in turmoil we of all ages, origins, religions, socioeconomic stratum, etc., can come together and enjoy the “flowers” of this educational institution.

 

 

I believe in you.

6th grade. I don’t even remember her name, but my 6th grade teacher commended me on using the correct too (two/to/too).   It was at that point I felt that what I had to say (and write) in class mattered.  It set a standard for me academically; and I didn’t want to be less than what the teacher said I was (smart!).

I wish I could remember her name and thank her for believing in me more than I did.

 

Exercise is Medicine

Exercise is Medicine.  

There is no magic pill, except the kind that you see depicted in the image below.

whatsyourmed_forweb-01

Exercise is Medicine is a global initiative that was created by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. In a nutshell, they want doctors to recognize physical activity as a vital sign.  So next time you visit the doctor, don’t be surprised if you are quizzed on the amount of physical activity you are doing.

The value of this overarching message is everywhere around us. At the community college, it can be seen at every level of learning and it impacts every single one of us.  A healthy employee and a healthy student is the best recipe for college success.

Teaching: As faculty, are we taking the time to look after ourselves so we can serve our students at our optimal ability? SPICES stands for social, physical, intellectual, career, emotional, and spiritual wellness.  This is an ongoing journey, not a destination.

Learning: Students who engage in regular physical activity will benefit from improved selective visual attention (SVA), which experts agree is the key to learning.

Student Success: Regular participation in physical activity is a determinant of student success.  There are literally thousands of studies on this topic.

Trend Toward Inactivity in the Workplace: When we add online teaching and learning to our list of responsibilities, the amount of sitting time increases exponentially. In 1950, 30% of Americans worked in high-activity occupations. By 2000, only 22% worked in high-activity occupations. Conversely, the percentage of people working in low-activity occupations rose from about 23 to 41%.
Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/physical-activity-and-obesity/

Check out this infographic on Sitting is Killing You to see why inactivity is a concern for your overall health.

Do you believe exercise is important?  Please take the following survey.  The results will be shared in next week’s blog post.  Survey: My Benefits of Physical Activity.

See you next week!