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.

Walk 1-4

 

After being in CPD150 Learning Communities with my counselor colleagues, I’ve learned that an important part of college success is connecting with others through campus activities.  I offer extra credit to encourage students to attend.  Here are two recent promotions:

Freedom Riders:  Could you get on the bus?  Thursday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Come see another segment of the Created Equal Film Series.  The showing will be in the Student Union.  You may earn up to ten (10) extra credit points for participating in this event and writing a short summary/reflection.  You may upload your reflection to the Extra Credit assignment page in Canvas.

Extra Credit for Gaucho Spirit

Gaucho Women’s Basketball is coming to the end of their season and the following games will be played here at Glendale Community College!

Tonight vs. Scottsdale CC – 5:30 pm (WBB) & 7:30 pm (MBB)
Saturday, 1/31 vs. Pima College – 2:00 pm (WBB) & 4:00 pm (MBB)
Wednesday, 2/4 vs. Mesa CC – 5:30 pm (WBB) & 7:30 pm (MBB).

Women’s basketball is competing for a playoff spot, and has 4​th​ time player of the week recipient, Caitlyn Hetrick.

All games are FREE to GCC students. Just show your ID.

You can earn extra credit for coming out to show your support. Two (2) points extra credit per game. Take a photo of the final scoreboard or get something signed by a GCC employee AFTER the game.

Go, Gauchos!

 

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!

 

 

Connection

 

While we often think of student success in academic terms like persistence, completion or matriculation, the real word to define student success is “connection.” Do you remember your college days when that one staff member (faculty, advisor, cafeteria worker etc) reached out to you in a way that none other had? Someone who showed a real interest in your talent, your progress, your life? In my case, it was David Langley, Director of Residence Life, who took me under his wing and with great encouragement, helped me to see the path in student affairs where my early career began. We all had one or more college staffer who went above and beyond to ensure that you felt important, had a plan and the support of the college through his or her voice. That is exactly what it is like for our students as well.

Each time a student tells me about their GCC story, it always involves someone who simply took an interest in their work, their plan, their struggles, their triumphs and nurtured them along the way because they wanted to, with no expectation of external reward. When a student feels they are cared for, it gives them the extra boost, the extra self- confidence, to complete the assignment, finish the course and move on to the next semester.

Showing you care about a student is the kind of overture that goes on every day at GCC. And we are known by the “high touch” reputation that only faculty and staff can demonstrate regularly. My words of advice are to keep it up and let it become contagious within your department, in the divisions and across the college so that each student will say with a smile,” I feel like I was SOMEBODY at GCC because they actually cared about me. “ CONNECTION!

Walk 1-3

 

Our Teacher Education Program has created a Canvas course as a communication tool.  Events are posted as Discussions.  Here is a recent one that I created:

Spring Teacher Education 101 Night: For anyone considering K – 12 teaching as a pathway to personal fulfillment! Tuesday, February 10, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Join your friends for an informative evening with experts from K – 12 school districts and a variety of teacher education colleges and universities.  You will learn new information to help you choose your transfer program.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
GCC Student Union 104E

Let others know if you’re attending by posting a response to this Discussion.  Bring a friend.  We’ll have snacks!

If you have any questions, please contact the staff in the Teacher Education Program. (Links to an external site.)

 

Milo and Dilbert

 

*Milo, a GCC F-1 visa student, stuck his head into my office in the international education program one day and said, “Can I see you for a second?” He closed the door behind him (an unusual act unless there is a highly serious issue to discuss) so I was expecting the worst. But instead, Milo asked, “What’s a Dilbert?” “A Dilbert?” I repeated. “Yes, a Dilbert. An American student over in the high-tech center just called me a Dilbert.” Unfortunately, it’s not entirely unusual for international students to consult me about matters of this nature (bullying, comments, teasing). Upon arrival in America, they must traverse a sometimes unfamiliar and hostile terrain. Of course, I knew of the cartoon character, and knew that to call someone a Dilbert was considered an insult. But how was I going to explain this one? Initially, I Googled pictures of Dilbert to show to Milo, and wouldn’t you know it? The very first image I clicked on downloaded a computer virus. I myself had just been Dilberted! Through Wikipedia, I ascertained that Dilbert is a “fictional character…who has a rare medical condition…utter social ineptitude.” But I also found out that Dilbert is a graduate from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, and an employee with good ideas (though seldom pursued because “he is powerless”). Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, penned, “Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can’t handle the truth.”** I learned that “Dilbert has a strong immune system and is therefore less likely to get sick than his co- workers. While in most respects weak and un-athletic, Dilbert is a skilled badminton player…Although he is an excellent worker, and does not stop trying, he acknowledges that this will get him nowhere.” Dilbert’s mother is an adept Scrabble player, and his father has been at a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat restaurant since 1986, where he intends to stay until he’s eaten all that he can eat. Ultimately, the international student and I discovered that Dilbert is an educated, employed and skilled man in excellent health who never stops trying. He has good ideas, and two parents (though, admittedly, one is absentee!). And though it turned out that being called a Dilbert was not the best thing in the world, it was also not the worst, and in the end, the cartoon character (sadly, Dilbert was eventually killed by a wild deer in 1990) acquired two brand new fans!

*Not the student’s real name

**The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle’s-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions

Who is More Nervous on Test Day — The Teacher or The Students?

 

You’ve created amazing and interesting lectures, outlined clear objectives, assigned appropriate reading, used technology in creative ways, conducted review sessions – you may have even told the students what will be on the test. That should be enough to ensure they will succeed on test day, right?

Much to your dismay, scores were not what you had hoped. What went wrong? Do the students just not study, do they not care? What was missing?

After my first experience with this, I started looking into what could be done to identify the needs of the students better. This is where I began learning more about using informal assessment tools.

Informal assessment is a way of determining what students are learning and where they need more guidance by interacting with them without using a “test” or “quiz” to find that result.

I began by using the 321 Summary at the end of each class. It is a simple questionnaire:

  1. Write three things you learned today.
  2. Write two questions you have.
  3. Write one thing that was helpful today.

This tool provides feedback both ways – for students to assess how I did in helping them learn the material, and for me to answer any unresolved or confusing points. It also helped me learn what teaching style I should use for certain individuals to get the most from the lecture sessions.

Asking students to reflect on the class period and ask meaningful questions about it gave them the potential for better retention of the material. It also provides them with the opportunity to practice their critical thinking skills.

I generally use Canvas to respond to their questions before the next class. If there is a common theme in the questions, I know I need to spend more time on that in the next class.

As an Adjunct Faculty member, I do not have an office or office hours, and therefore, students really don’t have the opportunity to come and see me individually without making an appointment and finding a private place to meet. It’s been a great way for students to communicate important personal or other issues they have that would normally be covered during office hours.

I have found that by communicating with the students in this fashion, they become more comfortable with me and the class earlier in the semester, and I learn more about the students that can help forge a better experience for us all.

Oh, and by the way … The first semester I used this tool, average test scores went up by 8-14 percent. Students were surprised at how “easy” the test was. While the students didn’t realize they were being “assessed,” they were able to master and retain the material more effectively.

 

The Inverse Power of Praise

 

     I decided to share this concept with some of my students because I remember how powerfully it struck me.  Praising kids can have a negative effect on their intellectual performance and motivation as they grow older.  Why did this strike such a reaction in me?  As a teacher I thought of all the times I had simply said “good job” or something similar on a task as if the task were over, and there was no more learning to be gained.  I wondered if I had inadvertently fed into what my students already believed about themselves–that they were either smart or dumb, and that was it.  I started reflecting on what I thought about learning.  I started changing how I responded to my students, mostly honors classes at the time.  These were students who had most likely had been told they were really smart for most of their lives.  I started praising their efforts, the small victories they made, particularly in their writing instead of making general comments of praise that weren’t really helpful and did not refer to the process of learning.  I tried to shift the focus in my classroom to the process instead of just the outcome.  I can’t really know what sort of difference it might have made.  I can only hope that it helped in a small way.  I am grateful to have read Po Bronson’s book, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, in which “The Inverse Power of Praise” is a chapter.  At the very least it got me thinking, and at its best, it made me a better teacher.
   For my students I was hoping they would reflect on their own upbringings or consider how they speak to their own children or younger siblings or other relatives.  And reading the article did cause a lot of reflection.  A side benefit was that many of them realized how important their words can be, a definite win in an English class.

How To Survive (and Thrive In!) A Hybrid Class!

 

My idea of surviving a hybrid class, once you’ve figured out you cannot possibly deliver all your fine course lectures and lessons and assignments in less than half the physical class time, is to develop your hybrid course FIRST as an online course.  This means developing and/or capturing discussions, assignments, quizzes, videos, lectures, so forth – everything you would normally teach over the normal course session (and more) in a F2F environment.

Instead of restricting instruction in any way, I’ve found that developing the hybrid course as an online course on Canvas FIRST is “freeing.” Doing so allows me to concentrate more on how to make the hybrid class sessions, the hour-and- fifteen-minute weekly meetings, that much more interactive and engaging for students.  Plus, no matter what we manage to get through in our weekly session, I can rest assured that all students have all the information and tools they need to succeed the next week.

My course content, then, is already captured and available online.  So what do my hybrid class sessions look like?

  • I start by putting a summary lesson plan on the board (attendance, questions, last week/this week, other keywords for my own use as well as theirs to “follow along”).
  • I draw my “peace symbol” on the board (three-part agenda: “yours,” “mine” and “ours” – your questions to me, my questions to students, our questions and comments for each other).
  • I make students write the titles, identifiers (ASSIGN1-2, ASSIGN3-4), and due dates of “Assignments Last Week” and “Assignments This Week” (in summary chart form) on the board (this gets students up and moving around and already engaged in a fail-safe environment – sets a good tone and precedent, and echos the theme that this class is in large part their responsibility).
  • I’ll typically ask student volunteers to write examples from the past week’s assignments on the board to prompt discussion and reinforce concepts.
  • I’ll give a five- to ten-minute lecture, occasionally, on this week’s module or key concept(s) – and/or on something I saw in their work that needs more reinforcement and/or needs to be headed off at the pass.
  • I’ll typically ask student volunteers to write examples for upcoming assignments on the board to prompt more discussion – for instance, ideas for their narrative or comparative essays, or their thesis statements, or…or…wherever we are in the process.
  • Whenever possible, I’ll let student volunteers demonstrate some of the technology points as well (Where are our grades at? How do I sign up for Connect?). They like talking from the “teacher’s” computer up front, though often we also help each other back and forth at their seats (I wander around a lot).
  • I reserve the last 10-15 minutes, typically, for any individual questions or one-on-one time needed by students that don’t feel comfortable asking questions in front of the group.

This method contains very little information-dumping — but it has a lot of information application and information sharing.  It is much closer to coaching and facilitating than traditional lecture-based teaching.  WARNING: This is a loud, fast, often all-over-the-map, very interactive session. It can be mentally and physically exhausting.  But it can also be participatory, engaging, stimulating, sometimes exhilarating, and, dare I say it, more effective?

I tell students at the first class that to me, hybrid classes are online classes with a once-a-week support/therapy session.  I’d be hard pressed most weeks to say who benefitted more – me or my students.

Sincerity is best

 

I learned to be sincere in my teaching when I was teaching at Mesa Community College. I am not good at “edutainment” teaching, I tend to be quite straight forward in my approach, and I thought that students would not like me as an instructor because I was not very exciting. In my second year of teaching at Mesa, I was awarded a Teacher of the Year award. I wondered why, and one of the student that nominated me told me the reason was because I cared about their learning. She said that it was clear that I cared, and that the caring was what mattered, not the “smoke and mirrors” and dazzling effects. I have always remembered to be sincere in my caring and approach, and let the rest take care of itself.

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