Category Archives: Write6x6

Out With The Old, In With the New Part II

Two Is Better Than One…

I think we probably all have those lessons that we have taught for years and feel pretty good about. Why fix something that is already working, right?

Sherry and I discovered a way to improve our unit on point of view – give them two points of view! When Sherry and I decided to combine our classes we did not expect it to be so successful…in fact it was mostly an ingenious way to get in my PAR observation of Sherry before the end of the semester!
SHERRY: Lesson Transformation…

I admit I was a tad nervous team teaching with Cindy, but the overall lesson actually flowed beautifully…

We had our CRE 101 students come together for a mini-lesson on point of view. When planning we sorted and chose different current event cartoons to use. We had our students intermingled from both classes; it was interesting to observe the change in dynamics of some of our student’s personalities.

The eye-opening part of this experience is Cindy and I transitioned well with each other, added comments based off what we were each saying, and the students’ responses and questions monitored and adjusted where our lesson headed.

Upon reflecting, we commented on how comfortable we both felt. Both classes were also given the opportunity to reflect, and clearly enjoyed the experience. They made comments on how it was interesting to see what students from the other class were thinking, and what type of questions they asked. They also commented that hearing the lesson from two teachers enhanced their understanding.
CINDY: Combining our classes benefited both teachers and students. In total our students were together three times, including one information literacy lesson taught by Renee Smith. We tag teamed very well – filled in for each other as needed and did it naturally so students were equally comfortable. And Sherry is right – the most valuable lesson for me was about timing. Even after all these years I always seem to over plan and run out of time. I sense that it stresses out my students as much as it stresses me out! And surely it is not effective teaching!

Once again the mentor-mentee relationship is reciprocal: Sherry is modeling for me how to plan and pace my class time more effectively. When we taught together, the lesson flowed better, students were engaged and interacted with each other, and we feel they received a better presentation on point of view – 2 points of view!

SHERRY:  As we have continued in our planning, it is evident that we bring out the best in each other….for example….I make it relevant for the students and I share my time management minutes, right Cindy? 🙂

Cindy keeps me on my toes by asking the hard questions that connect to our student outcomes, and keeping our expectations high!



Top Five Changes in Higher Education in Reference to Compliance

By: Jay Kahl, PhD, Compliance Coordinator

When we think of higher education, we often think of ivory towers, hounds tooth jackets, and late-night study sessions.  Well some of us do.  Others experience higher education as part of their path while they work/parent full-time, trying to fit yet another task into their day.  While our collective experiences differ, higher education has experienced many large tide changes over the years, many in respect to Compliance. Below are 5 of the biggest changes in my opinion:

1 – Title IV Alignment – each institution that accepts Title IV funds from the federal government has to meet certain requirements.  These run the gambit from how funds are dispersed to whether Constitution Day is celebrated on your campus. Over the past 20 years, these rules have become increasingly complex, asking institutions to do more in order to remain eligible for Title IV funds.

2 – Program Integrity/Gainful Employment – in essence, these rules were brought forth to ensure that students would not leave an institution with a mountain of debt and be unemployable. While the reporting requirements are nebulous at times and we may question how useful this information is to students, this is another requirement to item #1 above. Where reporting in the past has looked to student success as indicators, we now see that new indicators may point to long-term program feasibility.

3 – NCAA/NJCAA (National (Junior) Collegiate Athletic Association) – recent developments have highlighted the need for these rules, but the NCAA/NCJAA has seen a large increase in changes regarding player eligibility, recruiting, and gifts.  Lately, student athletes have been attempting to unionize as they feel they have been cut-out of the overall profit margins.

4 – ADA/504 (Americans with Disabilities Act) – with more advanced technology, students with disabilities have more access to educational resources than they have in the past. This increase in access also means that students who may have not pursued higher education in the past are more willing to give it a go. ADA and Section 504 ensure that students with disabilities are not discriminated against, and these rules need regular updating as increased access is realized.

5 – Title IX – similar to the above, Title IX ensures that students are not discriminated against based on gender. With recent reports regarding the proclivity of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses, these rules have garnered more national attention. Institutions are being asked to take a much more active role in preventing, investigating, and (sometimes) litigating cases of assault on their campus as well.

Where will we be in the future as it relates to Compliance in higher education?  I would argue that we will see some streamlining of reporting and disclosures, but that each of the above items will continue to be further delineated and expanded upon.  More than likely, that means gainful employment for those of us who can stomach Compliance.

For more information on Compliance, please visit


Seeing ourselves

I like diversity, even though sometimes being with people who are very different from me can make me uncomfortable. It is the kind of uncomfortable that challenges me to grow as a person, as a teacher, and as a scholar and I appreciate that kind of uncomfortable. I am sharing that because I want to encourage all of us to go outside of our comfort zones when it comes to diversity because I think it benefits our students if we do.

One of the ways that faculty and administrators can go outside of our comfort zones is to have honest conversations about the racial diversity on campus among the faculty and staff. Personally I don’t think that trying to have the faculty and staff reflect the diversity of our student population is an ambitious enough goal. I think every student deserves to be able to encounter someone on the faculty and staff with whom they can identity.

As a student at The University of Oklahoma, I had two African-American professors. One of them was a psychology professor. She was a Princeton and Stanford graduate, and she was the most amazing person I had ever met (in fact, she is still the most amazing person I have ever met).  She inspired me to pursue my own graduate education. Meeting her was like opening up an entirely new world to me. I had not considered the possibility that someone like me could go to graduate school and become a professor until I met her. Now maybe I am unusual in that way (I know I am unusual in other ways) but I doubt it. I needed to see it to believe it, and I don’t think our students are that different from the way that I was as a student. Yes, I know, there are a lot more ways for students to be exposed to people who can model behaviors for them, there is all the information we can access on our tablets and smartphones, however there is no substitute for one-on-one contact with someone who can do more than just show us that it is possible to succeed. There is no substitute for having access to a real live person who can help us to learn the culture of the professional world.

There is no substitute for students being able to see themselves in us.



Big Lesson in a Small Moment

Last spring, I was leaving the college later in the afternoon on a Friday. Anyone who has stayed late on a Friday knows that there aren’t too many people around after about 3:30. About that time on this day, I realized I was a little late for picking up my son, so I added a dash of hurry as I crossed the north parking lot to my car. The lot was almost empty, open and still like a sea of pavement.

I tossed my work bag in the back seat, hopped in and pulled around near the Life Science building to head toward the exit. In the distance, I saw two young men at the fringe of the lot, near the Tech buildings, waving at me with both arms over their heads as if to hail me. I thought to myself, “Do they need help? If they need help, I’m going to have to refer them to security. I just don’t have time to help anyone right now.” But I turned the car in their direction.

They kept waving as I drove toward them. Finally, one guy broke into a run, heading straight for the car, leaving his friend behind him, so I stopped and rolled down my window.

“Hey! You’re driving with your trunk open!” he shouted. I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed. But I hadn’t. When I checked the review mirror, the view was indeed blocked by a sheet of silver.

At this point, he was nearing the car. “Do you want me to close it for you?”

“Sure,” I mumbled.


He slammed it shut, and I saw him in the rearview mirror waving amiably as I headed for 59th Ave. I waved thanks to him out the window.

The lesson for me at that moment was clear: we all need help even when we don’t know that we need help. The best I (or anyone) can do is let myself receive help gratefully when it comes–especially when it arrives before I even know that I need it.


Week 3 Stats for Write6x6

We have had continued success with Write6x6 at Glendale Community College. In our third week we were able to produce another set of meaningful, inspiring, enlightening pieces of writing – 18 total for week 3. We slipped a bit in number of posts, but the quality is still high. This week we wrote about professional development, fitness, student success and two administrators wrote about being a student then and now. Good stuff, and I expect a few more will come in over the weekend for Week 3.

ParticipantsWe now have a total of 65 posts in only three weeks from 25 participants. We represent administration (8), faculty (10), adjunct (4), student services (3), administrative/business services (3) and other (2). Thirty total signed up, but 5 have not posted yet or are part of a team. For instance, Dean of Strategy, Planning and Accountability (SPA), Alka Arora Singh, has not posted, but her team has contributed 3 awesome posts about our student demographics and internships for students in their department. I’m a big fan of the team approach. We also have a joint post this week from two faculty who team teach, so 1 post for 2 people. Again team work is awesome.


Twitter Shot

We are all unique in who we are and what we do on our campus, and sharing what we do, how we feel, how we make a difference and what we do for student success is the best professional development anyone can ask for. I look forward to each post each week and do my best to get others in the education community to read our blog. Just yesterday while at the Wired & Inspired conference in Vegas, I crashed Todd Conaway’s session on his 9x9x25 Challenge at the #eLearning2015 conference across the street. He was presenting to an audience of about 23 on his awesome idea to get faculty blogging at his college. This is the idea we stole borrowed for Write6x6. What’s really cool about this is other colleges across the country are also using Todd’s idea on their campuses. We have various renditions of it:

It was fun listening to Todd, Dr. Karly Way, a Yavapai instructor, and Skyped in guest Mark Dulong from NMC talk about their projects. Thanks for inviting me to tag along Todd. Be sure to check out their blogs and read posts from their faculty and staff. And for a little extra entertainment, check out NMC’s video about their 4x4x16 Challenge in Michigan. You’ll be glad you live in Arizona after watching the opening scene.


Where’s the Medicine?

no cookies

I promise that I am not being motivated by ice cream and chocolate chip cookies but here I am again at the end of week three of Write 6×6 and it’s time to share the wonderful exercise opportunities we have right here on our campus. Where’s the medicine?

GCC is in the running to receive national recognition for Exercise is Medicine on Campus. As part of the EIM-OC initiative, we are tasked to ensure that qualified fitness professionals are available on our campus to serve the needs of our community, which includes employees, students, and the general public.

We meet that need in two ways:

  1. We Train the Fitness Professionals!
  2. We Have Outstanding Staff and Facilities!

We Train the Professionals

Since 1983 we have prepared students to become certified fitness professionals in our Exercise Science and Personal Training programs. Our students gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to design and implement exercise programs and can immediately enter the workforce as Personal Trainers.  Many choose to transfer to university and finish programs in Exercise and Wellness, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, and Dietetics, just to name a few.

In collaboration with the Food and Nutrition Department, we share the Exercise Science and Nutrition Club, where our students can combine their knowledge and skills to help promote fitness and health on campus and in the community. A recent scavenger hunt activity drew more than 100 excited participants, sending them running to all corners of the campus hunting for clues and enjoying the excitement of the competition.

We Have Outstanding Staff and Facilities:

We hire only the most qualified, certified fitness professionals who share their expertise with employees, students and the local community.

The Fitness Centers on the Main and North campus offer state of-the-art cardiovascular and strength training equipment and a myriad of free fitness classes including yoga, cycling, lap swimming, and boot camp style sessions.

The biggest difference that sets the GCC Fitness Center apart from its competition is its professional staff and exceptional customer service. A family-friendly location, we offer personal training, nutrition consulting, blood pressure and body composition checks, massage, incentive programs, great prizes, locker facilities and a towel service. There is always a degreed and certified instructor available to answer questions and assist with exercise programming.

Special discounts are available for veterans, high school students, nursing/EMT/firefighters, student athletes/dancers and students enrolled in the Exercise Science and Personal Training programs.

Our Sports Performance Lab, located in the LSA building, offers clinical fitness screenings and evaluations for faculty, staff, students and the community. Triathletes and sports professionals can take advantage of VO2max testing, blood lactate assessment, body composition, flexibility and strength analysis.

The Adapted Fitness Center designs fitness programs for individuals with disabilities and meets a very critical need in our community. Participants receive individualized attention and enjoy the benefits of exercise using specialized equipment with the help of highly trained staff.

Our Senior Fitness program draws a great deal of interest from the local community and accepts health insurance benefits such as SilverSneakers, Prime, Flex, Cigna Medicare and Silver & Fit. The classes are designed specifically for the senior population and cater to all levels of fitness.

The line-up of Physical Activity (PED) classes for college credit includes swimming, water exercise, line dancing, hiking, camping, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, yoga…you name it, we have it. We also offer mind/body, wellness and recreation classes. Aromatherapy is one of our very popular wellness classes.

Spring 2015 Events for the Health-Minded

This year, we have collaborated with the Nursing Department on the Community Health and Wellness Fair, which will take place outside the Life Sciences Building on March 25th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and March 27th, 1 – 7 p.m. We plan to promote Exercise is Medicine and launch a 50-mile walking incentive program during the month of April using a fitness tracking app developed at GCC. Participants will receive pedometers and completers will be entered in a grand prize drawing.

May is Exercise is Medicine Month.  We plan to offer lunchtime fitness activities throughout the first week in May. Test your kickboxing skills, or try our yoga or Zumba! Stay tuned for more details on EIM Week!



A Sound Investment

After teaching here for five semesters, I can say that one of the best parts of working for a college in the Maricopa District is the plethora professional development opportunities available.  Everything from the robust CTLE’s we find on each Maricopa campus to the MCLI Learn Shops and the individual funding for conferences makes for invaluable growth opportunities that can be found everywhere from right on campus, across the Valley, or across the country.

I am the kind of faculty person to take advantage of every development opportunity that I can–as much as my schedule, energy, and family allow.  I love to travel to new places, and am grateful that since I’ve joined GCC, I’ve been able to go to conferences as far away as New Orleans and Seattle.

The past few weeks, however, I’ve been making the long drive out to Scottdale Community College to attend an MCLI Learn Shop — Engaging Students through Active Learning (ESAL) taught by Rosie Magarelli.  This is, by far and away, the best professional development I’ve experienced in many years–and there’s some pretty stiff competition.  Still, attending this Learn Shop has reinvigorated my teaching in more direct ways than any other opportunity has.  Most importantly, it’s made me incredibly mindful of my connections with each student in class.  The ESAL Learn Shop has me asking some important questions that professors can begin to take for granted after teaching for so long (in my case, since 1992 at the college level): 1) Am I constructing a safe environment for each student in class to participate, speak up, and engage in?  2) Am I doing the most to get and retain the students’ attentions?  3) What can I do differently and more effectively to provide these important aspects of learning for my students?

I’ve also learned about neurons and the brain — *how* humans learn. I’ve learned about Brain Myths and brain plasticity.  I’ve learned the biology of learning.  That’s pretty cool.

Rosie teaches the Learn Shop to model the content: we faculty are actively engaged learners–the entire time.   And since sessions run for just over three hours each, that’s been important.  This past month, I’ve been able feel exactly how engaging active learning feels, and I’ve been learning simple techniques, which I can work into my courses right away or little by little over time.  But by being in Rosie’s Learn Shop, I’ve put back on the learners shoes, and they feel great to walk in!

Last night (Thursday), as I was making the long drive home through rush hour traffic  from Scottsdale to the Phoenix/Glendale border, I felt such gratitude for the ESAL Learn Shop.  But I also felt immense gratitude to be able to work for an organization that really provides professional development as a top priority. In investing time, energy and resources into me, MCCCD is investing time and energy into our students and our entire learning community.


EDU 250 – More than what I thought!

In my ongoing journey of professional development to increase my knowledge and skills as an academic advisor I am currently in the process of working on the  Foundations of Student Services Certificate Program.  As part of the program I was required to take EDU 250 – Teaching and Learning in the Community College.  As an academic advisor I was tenaciously focused on delving into my craft and learning all I could about ADVISING students, so this class really wasn’t at the  top of my list.  As is goes, it has been the class which I was disinclined to take that has been the most useful! Little did I know that EDU 250 would provide me with some of the most essential skills I needed to serve students and help my team as we built the Gaucho 101 Program.

With the EDU 250 course under my belt I acquired a critical understanding of the many characteristics a community college student might have and the challenges some those characteristics bring.  I have a new respect for our students and what it has taken for many of them to simply walk onto the campus.  From the 1st Generation Student to the young parent who is balancing home, work, and school it is vital that each get advisement that suits their individual needs.

Then after examining the different learning styles of a student that awareness impressed upon me how important it is to build programs which incorporate different learning styles.  I now deeply understand that just talking at a student might not serve their needs and how vital it is to include visual and tactile moments of learning when possible.  Admittedly it takes time to add such elements to an advisement session but it gives the student more opportunity to truly learn.

What really rocked my advisor world was learning about course planning and design, as it gave me a good action plan for both advising students and building programs.    I have endeavored to make these four elements of course design part of my every interaction with students and to do my best to bring them into any program our team designs.

  • Knowing the aim, goals and objectives for the student
  • Finding clear ways to present the subject matter
  • Include learning activities
  • Evaluating

Beyond giving our instructors a solid foundation the EDU 250 course offers valuable knowledge at the heart of Student Services.  I highly encourage anyone who advises students or works on student programming to enroll!!



SPA logo.fw

By: The Office of Strategy, Planning & Accountability (SPA)

 In 2012, ASU conducted a Preliminary Stakeholder Needs Assessment for GCC. One of the findings pointed out that there was a need for GCC STEM students to have practical experience in research through internship opportunities. In response to this need, the Office of Strategy, Planning & Accountability (SPA) established a formal internship opportunity with GCC’s psychology department. Each spring semester, psychology professors recommend a small number of high-performing students who have successfully completed (or in the process of completing) Introduction to Statistics (PSY230) and Research Methods (PSY290) and are interested in the internship. The research team then interviews them and makes a selection. The selected student works with the research team throughout the semester on specific projects.

SPA’s pioneering student intern Wendie, completed her internship in spring 2014. Following is Wendie’s feedback regarding her learning outcomes from her experience at SPA.

1) First and foremost, I learned that a successful research study takes not only teamwork within the office, but also teamwork from the organization, as well. I was working on one specific project all semester, which was the Gaucho Student Survey (GSS). The making of the survey had just started right before I began my internship and the making of the survey itself was continuing after I left. I never really understood how beneficial it is to have outside collaborators, until I went to SPA meetings to talk about this specific survey. It is so powerful to have different knowledgeable people work together because they may have ideas no one else thought of, they may catch a mistake we missed, or they would help us better word something for a person at the college level to understand. I have no doubt that the survey I helped with was successful due to the amount of team effort and work went into it. That is what makes anything successful: teamwork.

2) I learned an extensive amount about survey work. Phil, my director, showed me past survey studies that had been administered at GCC and this helped myself tremendously when brainstorming about the GSS. In addition, I had the opportunity to help Jay with an organizing a survey that was already going to be administered at all Maricopa Community Colleges. Survey studies take just as much work as any other research project and the results can be very powerful after finding the correct organizing, word choice, and main idea you are trying to find. This was my first quasi-experimental study I participated in and it was a great experience nonetheless.

3) I learned much more about SPSS. SPSS is program where data is entered and analyses can be performed. Since I was fresh out of my research methods class, I was still (and still am) learning all about SPSS. I was able, towards the end of my internship, to actually input data to get some practice. There are so many different types of tests a person can run in SPSS that it can be overwhelming. Thankfully, Phil explained everything thoroughly and efficiently to where I was able to run a few tests he wanted me to perform on data he already possessed. I was looking for significance within the analyses and recorded which results were significant and which were not. SPSS is something that has to be consistently practiced, but as I grow in my education, I will one day be just as good as everyone within the SPA team.

4) I learned how to successfully research past research articles. Before any research project can begin, you must have information backing up what exactly you want to research. There are multiple different articles out in the internet database and even books that is takes an extensive amount of time to do. When I first began with SPA, I began researching from day one until my very last day. You have to thoroughly read through everything to get an idea of what an article is about and if it will help in what you are trying to research now. There is never a limit on how much research that can be used within a research project. The more information, the better. I definitely learned that from the amount of hours I spent doing so. Not only do you have to successful research various articles, but everything must be cited correctly within a bibliography, as well. For myself personally, finding research is the hardest part of any project because this sets a foundation of where your specific project will go. The amount of research I did for SPA has helped me even within my schoolwork because with anything anyone does anymore, it needs research.

5) Most importantly to myself, I learned exactly what I want to do one day in the field of Psychology thanks to this internship. I have decided to become an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist and I hope to one-day work for a school system doing some form of research. This internship opportunity with SPA taught me a lot about how I want students to be successful in their studies, what exactly will draw them into college, and what will keep them in their studies. School is something I hold dear to my heart and working hands on with something that will be impactful for students is very satisfying. The SPA teams works very hard to get the results that the organization itself needs and I could tell how passionate each member of SPA is in regards to their studies. Each and every one of them including Phil, Alka, Jay, Eddie, Heather, and Lisa, has inspired me to follow along in their footsteps. I am not sure where I will end up in the future in regards to my future practice, but it will be very similar to what I have taken away from SPA. The internship in a whole was a wonderful experience that I will always be grateful for.

Our newest intern, Amiee, from the psychology department began her internship this semester with SPA and is hard at work with the research team! For more information, please email us at


I Received a Rose for Valentine’s Day


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!