Tag Archives: Change

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.

 

 

 

Education, breathing and humor.

Change can seem frustrating when you are on a roll.

Changes in technology, software, management, government, health, family, friends, environment, fashion, and even our own thought process. The list goes on.

Change is stressful, and how we handle change is key to the outcome of our mental and physical health. I want to share three solutions for handling the stress of change.

Education, breathing and humor.

Sometimes it seems easier to just crawl back inside our tortoise shell and live out our existence in peace.  The paper-based days were great until we learned that paper came from trees and trees give us oxygen. So off we trudged to CTLE to figure out how to use technology and not paper. The time investment in education always pays off in the end. If you can find the time…

Leadership changes have been off the charts for our district lately. It can be very discombobulating when you are being steered in one direction and you are just getting comfortable with the status quo when suddenly what was once normal is now history. My therapy for this is to take a deep breath and listen to all of the new perspectives. There is usually a bright side and some of it may not be seen for several years.

The biggest change for me lately has been getting accustomed to the outfits that my 5-year-old daughter insists on choosing for me every morning. For someone who is most comfortable in workout attire, wearing a skirt every day has been interesting. It draws many a curious question.

The hardest part is explaining the color schemes. Red stripes on top of pink flowers could drive someone into a nauseating delirium. Sometimes I have enough time to sneak back home to change before I drive to work, but last Monday I was racing against the clock. So off I went to work in my long sleeved red shirt, flowery pink skirt and black Nike shoes. Rose colored glasses would not have done it justice.

The one time I really wanted to go home and change, I could not, so I had to live with this fashion expression for a day. If you can’t laugh at a situation you would be a mental and physical wreck. Humor is good. I am glad that humor is part of the Irish way of dealing with stress and change. My sense of humor is my built-in superpower that I can take with me any where I go.

So if you are trying to find ways to cope with the stress of change, maybe one of these three techniques will suit your fancy.

 

In Between

     I heard one time that people go through one major change every ten years.  The idea is proving true for me.  The most recent change I experienced (and am experiencing) was leaving a job I had for 23 years to come to GCC. To say that I was rooted in that location, tied to the people, traditions, and processes would be an understatement.  I started and grew my career there, and I involved myself in as many parts of campus and district life as I could, from sponsoring clubs and coaching sports to helping teachers experiencing discipline and being an officer in the teachers' association.  To come to GCC meant leaving the familiar and comfortable for something different, something new.
     Being in that state of unfamiliarity is a strange place to be.  It sparked reflection about the big questions in life.  It jostled my confidence a time or two.  Sometimes those things happen and cause a change.  In this case, the change provoked what I can only call growth.
     By far the biggest assistance I've had in this change has been through my colleagues, the opportunities I've experienced, and our students.  My colleagues have accepted me with the friendliness of a thousand Quokkas.
I've attended conferences that have allowed me to stretch my classroom practices. Finally, teaching is teaching, and while students are students, the ones at GCC are particularly friendly, eager to meet their goals, and, though a little concerned, generally optimistic about their futures.  I'm optimistic, too.










Jin Xiang

Motivation for Change

This week’s blogging theme is change.  Wait for it…

Tuesday morning, I stepped into the garage, hit the button to open the door, and saw this!  (Disclaimer: This photo was cropped, which caused the snake to look bigger and like I was closer.)

snake

I wasn’t exactly sure what it was because we currently have a rope and bungee cord stuck in a tree in front of our house and the first time I saw them, I thought they were a snake. I walked through the garage as far away from the possible snake as I could and made it to the driveway. At that point, I confirmed it was a snake but since it totally ignored me, I wasn’t sure it was alive. I was fairly certain the scientific method for determining the health status of wild animals is throwing rocks at them, so I did that… but only small rocks because I didn’t want to accidentally hit it and make it squish. When I threw the rocks it didn’t move so I concluded it’s a) got nerves of steel b) a heavy sleeper or c) dead. Since my testing did not result in any conclusive findings, I did what any responsible researcher would do and left my findings to be confirmed by a more qualified researcher (my boyfriend). I trapped the crafty snake faking death in the universal recognized snake-trapping device (pictured below) and went to work.

trashcan

 

As a result of this encounter, I have CHANGED the way I enter the garage. Now, I open the garage door (so the light comes on) before stepping into the garage.

Oh… and the snake was dead. My boyfriend removed it from the garage using his 4-iron.

 

 

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

The fitness industry is booming these days. What changed, you may ask?

For years, the medical community has been focused on fighting communicable diseases. Vaccines took care of most of these problems. Today we are faced with a more challenging problem…hypokinetic disease…or the disease of inactivity.

The act of sitting too much has made us sick. It is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, cancer, back pain, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and many diseases and disorders related to mental health.

Trillions of dollars are spent on this “sickness” industry each year. I cannot fathom “trillions.”

whatsyourmed_forweb-01

Positive change is afoot.

In 2007, the American Medical Association joined forces with the American College of Sports Medicine to ignite an initiative called Exercise is Medicine. (You have probably heard about it because we are embracing it at GCC!) They are simply asking that exercise be recognized as a medical vital sign. If patients are not getting enough exercise (150 minutes per week), they should be referred to an exercise professional.

A long time ago…before times changed…the exercise professional was the person who liked sports and spent a lot of time in the gym. If you had muscle definition, you were considered an expert.

The fitness professional has evolved, thank goodness. We now have reputable organizations that certify and demand excellence through continuing education. Today’s fitness experts have a solid understanding of the skeletal and neuromuscular systems, they understand the inner workings of the heart and lungs, and they know how to fuel the body with optimum nutrition. They can design individualized exercise programs for a variety of populations, they know how to motivate and lead, and they understand their scope of practice within the allied health continuum.

The other thing that changed that has led to a booming fitness industry is the number of baby boomers hitting retirement. Sedentary baby boomers…

This is great news for graduates of the GCC Exercise Science and Personal Training programs who are looking for immediate entry into the workforce. Back in 1985 GCC was one of the first colleges in the country to offer a personal trainer certification. We were innovators on the cusp of a health revolution.

This health revolution is preventative medicine. It is very simple and it does not require any pills. It simply requires that we move more.

What does this change mean to the faculty, staff, students and GCC community? It’s time to “move” in the right direction and stop sitting so much!

 

WHAT’S MY PASSWORD?

I don’t know about you but when I transitioned from high school to college I was not ready.  Funny thing is when I talked to my dad about it he also indicated that his experience was the same.  Both of us bombed out of courses that first semester and had to recover.  However he was quicker than me as he went on to get his degree in a few years and I took…20!  I was a retention/persistence nightmare student.  I never saw an advisor, declared all sorts of majors, went to several colleges, and took a WIDE variety of courses.  Now I advise new first year students, Waahahaha!

I am sure it is easy to see why I can identify with the new student.  When a student walks onto our campus for the first time it is at that very moment life changes drastically. So much is coming at them that even something as common as setting a password becomes foreign.  We expect them to instantly understand, even know, common used words, processes, and requirements.  I don’t know about you but I only know what I LEARN and I learn faster if someone takes the time to teach me.  FYI, letting a student struggle to figure all this out is NOT student empowerment, that’s just laziness on our part. Going the extra mile will help our students go further down their educational path.

Each time we engage a student we have the opportunity to share in a learning experience.  It is in these sorts of engagements that we can create change in our students’ lives, change in our campus, and change in our community.  We need to understand that change takes time and it is our job to be patient.  Each of us have the POWER to stimulate change in those we encounter by simply taking the time to share our knowledge.

I think Spiderman says it best…

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