Category Archives: Write6x6

To Change or not to Change? That is the Question.

The topic this week is change. For me just having to write something regularly is a change. Give me a math problem and my eyes light up and I get excited. Ask me to write and it is like when I go to Joann Fabrics with my wife. I get drowsy and lose energy immediately upon entering the story. I think people have these two reactions when the discussion turns to change. They are either excited about the prospect of changing something (fixing it) or dread it, thinking here we go making my life more difficult again. It seems that sometimes change is pursued because someone is trying to justify the necessity for their job position. But, at other times, change is sought in order to fix something that isn’t working as well as it should. Of course change also occurs when leadership changes. In many areas there are several processes that can get the job done well, it is just a matter of choice.

What I think is important, is to remain objective. Listen to each new proposed change and analysis the merits of the change. Can it improve what is done? Will things be more efficient? Will it make work more difficult? Does it involve more paperwork and is it important enough to warrant that? Will it add or subtract from the budget? Is it proposed because someone had too much time on their hands? To be honest to you, the reader, I hate the term disruptive innovation. It sounds like a term made up by a “glass half empty” kind of person. We should use the term Constructive Innovation! Sure you are destructing something that exists when you change, but let’s be more positive and talk about how it is going to make life better. If it won’t make processes better we shouldn’t be changing.

Bottom line, don’t let people change stuff just for change sake. Analysis the proposed change, decide its merits and then get behind it or challenge it and use facts to support your position.


The Pressure is on for English Teachers

freshmancompI teach English at GCC. Technically I teach Freshman Composition, but we say English when asked what we teach. Composition is writing. This is a very interesting considering I majored in English Literature. You know: Beowulf, Shakespeare, Austen, Joyce and Lawrence. I was never taught to write beyond ENG101 and ENG102 in undergrad, but I was expected to do it in every literature class I took. I eventually graduated with a degree in English Literature. So what kind of job does one get with a degree in English Literature? Education or teaching is the number one option. So here I am, teaching English at GCC.

What you can garner from that short story is that most college students get very few opportunities to learn how to write, even when you are studying to be an English teacher. I eventually earned a masters degree in education where I learned to teach writing, but composition classes prior to that were minimal. That is why ENG101 and ENG102 for our students is so crucial. For most it will be their only opportunity to learn to write for their college careers and life in general. Those important skills they learn in Freshman Composition include:

  • Written and other communication skills
  • Understanding complex ideas and theories
  • Research

So the pressure is on for English teachers – ENG101 and ENG102 teachers. These are important skills that go beyond just writing an essay. We’re trying to teach students to think critically, read critically, research critically, and then write. That’s what makes Freshman Composition challenging for students. For the most part, students know how to write or they should considering they just spend four years in high school learning how to do it. But college writing is different. There’s more at stake considering this may be students only chance to learn these skills. Yet many students don’t see the importance of these two courses. They take it for granted.
As I sit here reflecting and writing, I’m all that more thankful for the English teachers I had at Phoenix College and Yavapai College. Because with out that foundation those instructors instilled in me, I really don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing today. And I don’t just mean teaching English. I mean blogging and writing all over the internet in social media sites, writing emails to my colleagues, and writing in my profession. I’m thankful I have the skills, written and other communication skills, critical thinking skills, and research skills, to do my job and do it well.


The Energy Enigma

It’s a weird thing about energy. It’s hard to capture. At the end of a hard day at work, it can completely evade us. On most Friday evenings, I think it gets buried in the sofa cushions with all of our lost articles.

We have all learned that energy cannot be created or destroyed. So where does it go when we are searching for it the most? Maybe there is a different formula for the type of energy we are all looking for?

Would you believe me if I told you that energy could be created by expending energy?  i.e. Energy begets energy. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it. How can I create energy if I don’t have any?

Personal example: Today I came home from work after eight hours of interviews, which consisted of sitting in a chair for most of the day. My energy meter was hovering around “empty,”  in the red zone. I had 20 minutes of free time before going to pick up the children.

I had a choice: I could melt into the sofa for a 20-minute nap (sounds delicious); or I could put on my running shoes and go run around the local park. I’m not much of a runner, but the weather was so nice and the park looked so inviting. I opted for the run.

Miracle of miracles! My energy meter was back in the green zone, and I was back in action and singing songs with the kids in the van. My brief exercise session also gave me the energy to write this blog before the Friday night deadline and fully engage with my online classes for the evening.

When you repeat this type of behavior on a regular basis, you come to rely on a brief exercise session to get your energy back on track. In fact, a brief exercise session can function just like a cup of coffee in the morning, but the benefits are far greater and last a lot longer.

There are hundreds of personal testimonials and research studies to be found on this topic.  Here is just one such post that I enjoyed reading.

If you are up for a challenge, try replacing your morning coffee with an apple and a brisk walk. I guarantee you that your energy meter will soar! (I triple dog dare you to write a blog about your experiences.)

Photo “borrowed” from Dr. Alisa Cooper.

p.s. I know you have an apple in your office if you have been keeping up with your Write 6×6 blogs!  :O)



I F$#%*!@ don’t want your help!

Oh the student interactions we all must patiently work through! The above title is an actual email response from one of our students  when invited to participate in the Early Alert Pilot program. As if the email, in all its colorful intensity, did not express the student’s  feelings well enough he decided to come by personally.   At the time it would have been so easy, and certainly justifiable to send this student on his Public Safety escorted way.  As a spoiler, this did not happen.

In the community college each of us are called to educate, to bring growth,  and to transform our students whenever we can.  It is with those ideas in mind that we are an institution of many chances.  It wasn’t known if is behavior might be because he was  a first generation student, or for that matter, had any one or multiple combinations of a possible issues, because it really didn’t matter.  Since what was known for certain is that he’s our student (GCC’s) and in need of our guidance to succeed.  Yes, his words (in writing and spoken) were offensive but putting the reasons aside here was that moment to make an educational difference.   One which could help a student change,  grow, and move towards transformation. Student Success is impeded by a variety of elements but one of those elements should never be those of us who are suppose to guide.

After steering the student into a civil conversation it was determined that not only did he need the program, he also needed a lot of assistance simply understanding college concepts. Since the initial contact he’s been met with several times and although he still struggles,  a relationship and the conversations are continuing.  Our students need a place to mess-up, to find direction, to have those hard conversations, and to build healthy relationships.  I’m proud to be apart of a team, and a institution that strives to create such a place.  Go Gauchos!!


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!