Tag Archives: inspiration

Finding Inspiration from Isolation

This year marks the three-year anniversary of my teaching solely online as an Adjunct Faculty at GCC. At first glance teaching from the comforts of home might seem like a win-win situation, but I can assure you there are many setbacks, each of which deserving its own article. The most obvious and problematic setback is that of isolation. I don’t get to see my students face-to-face unless it is via a rare Skype conference. I don’t get to have my treasured lunch outings with Gary or Andy. I don’t even get to participate in Assessment Day or Adjunct Appreciation. I am, by most respects, a ghost in a machine that sometimes sends out e-mails and makes videos to remind the world I exist.

So where do I find inspiration in such a situation? Fortunately, even behind a keyboard and monitor, there are those who have managed to help keep me improving my courses and teaching, and grading all those essays.

Although not a part of GCC, my wife’s support is essential to my improvement. She is a workaholic, a zealot for her career and passions, and a stickler for punctuality. Her work ethic and drive have, over the course of our fifteen years together, rubbed off. I do my best to seize what opportunities come my way now, one example being that I volunteer as an emergency substitute teacher at my community’s local school. When my schedule permits, I get to work with and teach children ranging from kindergarten all the way to High School seniors; it is a blessing, and something I would not have pursued if not for my wife’s example.

Despite being a solid twenty-hour drive away from campus, I still treasure my conversations with the faculty at GCC. This includes both full-time faculty and fellow adjuncts like myself. Alisa Cooper has been my bedrock ever since I left the desert valley. Her drive and curiosity about new and exciting technologies has prompted me to reform how I approach online learning, all for the better. During her time as my direct supervisor she pointed me in the direction of opportunities and helped me correct and learn from my mistakes. Thanks to her I am now a video fiend. I’ve started my own youtube series of power lectures, and made myself less of a digital phantom to my students by posting videos and voice overs regularly. This continued with Beth Eyres who took over for Alisa after “Dr. Coop” (#cooperize) moved to the CTLE. Beth has helped me feel like I am still connected to the English faculty and community at GCC. She often informs me about events that I can take part in from a distance, like this blog. Most importantly she has made me feel like a contributor. I have worked as adjunct for four colleges in my ten years as an educator and she was one of the first supervisors to make me feel like my opinion mattered. Helping to create and develop the online English 101 shell has been one of the best experiences of my career, and I have Beth and her faith in me to thank for that.

Inspiration, even in isolation, is not hard to find when you stay in contact with the right people. My family at home and my family at GCC continue to be the right people to help me improve and better myself every day.

 

The Three P’s of Inspiration

     Alisa Cooper--If you have not had the opportunity of learning from Alisa, you're missing out.  A true mentor, Alisa has taught me not just directly when I have a question, but also by modeling her own courses which she generously lets me look at and materials she lets me borrow.  She has inspired me to "Alisa-Cooper-my-courses," a phrasing I'm sure she doesn't like.  I feel like my online and hybrid courses get better and better because I have her models to follow.  Her level of achievement pushes me to work harder. Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks, and I'm learning a lot of mine lately from her.

     GCC Students--Every day when I walk into my classrooms, I am reminded that our students are here to improve themselves.  I save many of them in my memory--those who have really impressed me with their grit and courage, those I see a semester or two later who are still truckin' and sometimes telling me about their upcoming graduation.  I see Mary*, a single mother who started out doubtful and questioning her decision to attend school and make a life change, who is now closer than ever to her goal of becoming a nurse.  I see Nick*, a veteran, who is looking to start a second career after gaining the degree he needs.  I see Tammy*, a student who lived in foster care as a child and now wants to advocate for changes to the system. How could I not be inspired?

     Family--Now I know that my family is not at GCC, but they strongly inspire me to be the best employee and teacher I can be when I'm at GCC.  My brother, a strong advocate for public education and an assistant superintendent, struggled in school as a child.  He has since outpaced me in getting two master's degrees and a doctorate degree. He has worked harder than just about anyone I know,
Holly and Andrew
and he inspires me to work hard.  Likewise, my wife continues to challenge herself, taking on new leadership roles and job experiences, stepping into unfamiliar territory. I admire her and learn more from her than any other person. She is apt to take risks and courageous to the point that sometimes I am just in awe.  She left a cushy classroom gig to enter administration and then left her familiar, safe district to lead a high school in a new district.  Her example inspires me to take on challenges that I might otherwise say no to.

     What do they all have in common?  Possibility.  Passion. Permission.  Their work and achievements demonstrate what is possible.  Their passions buoy them to the next achievement.  Unwittingly, they inspire me to say "Yes" to the Universe and its challenges.
   


*Names have been changed.

In Search of My Inspiration. How Do I Expand Beyond?

I have to admit I’m borderline burnout, but what keeps me going these days are the people I work with on a daily basis. My inspiration comes from all of those faculty and staff who take the time to better themselves and be the best they can be and utilize the CLTE to help them with that. I can’t be a slacker around these folks. Oh no, so I’m inspired to step my game up and help provide the services they need, and it reminds me of why I’m doing this job in the first place. It’s easy to forget at times. So the last thing I need to be doing right now is agonizing over a journal post, but I’m inspired to do so because of the 10+ posts already posted on Write6x6.com from last week. They are my inspiration to post, to share. They are my inspiration to complete a tedious FPG application for an upcoming workshop. My inspiration to schedule FMS training in the CTLE. My inspiration to send out yet another announcement about what we have to offer, knowing very few will bother to read it. But it’s that few that inspire me. Recently I attended a district event at SCC called TechTalks. It’s a TEDTalks type of event where 8 speakers talk about their experience with using technology in their life or work environment. These talks are very inspirational, but on this particular Friday I had every legitimate excuse to not miss work and not attend. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to any one of those excuses because that’s all they are is excuses. Attending TechTalks rejuvenated me. It inspired me. It made me want to go and do ALL those things those speakers talked about. I wanted to understand data, play with virtual reality, create portfolios for my students, create OER, and even make a music video despite my lack of music and movie making skills. I was inspired. Again by my colleagues in Maricopa. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up this one of a multitude of opportunities to be inspired because what good am I to you, my colleagues, my students if I’m not inspired to do my job?