Tag Archives: education

Teaching to Excite

From our prompts, I found myself thinking about one of my favorite teachers. I thought my first favorite teacher would probably have a lot to do with discovering the fun of learning – and I was enthusiastic about learning right from the start. So, Mrs. Salter, my third grade teacher, came to mind, who introduced me to Brighty of the Grand Canyon, (whose shiny nose I have now seen and touched on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon – shiny because of all of the little kids and grown kids who have touched the wonderful nose that Marguerite Henry brought to life for so many) and Misty of Chincoteague Island, another of the many Henry books. But then I realized, I started with books much earlier than that, and I really should give credit to someone who taught me, but was not considered my teacher – my father’s roommate from college – Jim Jensen, who ultimately became a college professor in English.

I always enjoyed having Jim visit. He drove a Karmann Ghia, which I thought was very exotic, and to an extent, still do. Every time he came to our house and visited my parents, both of whom he knew from high school, if not earlier, he always brought me a book as a present. Nothing fancy but a Golden Book of some sort, and I ended up putting my name in all of my books even though I technically did not know how to write yet. I always started with the verticals and the slants and horizontal lines were added more creatively.

Yup, looking below, I knew I’d get mixed up from the first to the second N but after I had done it, I’d know it was wrong. Somehow, I couldn’t cross the vertical lines correctly twice in a row. I had no control or memory of how to do it at that age. And then the E had several lines across it, going down, but I never knew quite how many. More than two, but, in this example, obviously five was too many.

Anyway, Jim got to sleep on an air mattress in our attic, which I also thought was very exotic. I also noticed that when I looked at the air mattress in the morning it no longer had any air in it – so thinking back, it was probably the worst possible “bed” for comfort and little more than sleeping on the floor.

Learning What to and Not to Do

It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I heard the word Lifelong Learner, but knew that I was one, but had never heard the expression. It was something that I suggest to all of my students. You are not just learning in this class. You are always learning, and you will learn from every job or opportunity you have whether or not you like that job – so pay attention. Coming from so many different jobs over the years, retail sales, draftsman, receptionist, manager, editor, teacher, word processor, musician, and writer, among other jobs that I don’t even remember – I did know one thing – food service would be a disaster – so I never attempted that. The important thing was that I always paid attention, even if it meant that I would learn not to do something in a particular way because it didn’t make sense to do it the way “they” were doing it.

Favorite Authors

I appreciate some of our 6×6 authors mentioning Ray Bradbury. I went through as much of his stuff as I could find when I was younger, and loved being reminded of that journey, including “Fahrenheit 451,” among others. I’ve tried to read everyone’s work in 6×6 this spring because I’ve felt in previous years people weren’t trying to read each other’s works. I decided to make sure that I did. It’s the spirit of the thing.

I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite current authors, Louise Penny, a Canadian author, who created a wonderful arc between a number of books, to tell a much larger story, Mick Herron, of Slough Horses or Slough House fame, I’ve read even more arcs from his books, and the way he can create an introduction using a spirit is beyond inspirational. If I could write a book, I’d like to write like he writes, but I don’t think I have the talent. He also has short stories that are part of that very large arc, so I really have to pay attention when I read him because he uses so many word references to the back story of characters. My favorite line of his was when an individual was trying to dial a phone in an emergency and he created this beautiful play on words, “his fingers felt like thumbs, his thumbs like bananas.” Who hasn’t been there! Malcolm Gladwell can tell you why we can be “all thumbs” when the going gets tough – it’s psychological! John Camp (I mentioned his pen name in a different writing, but his Pulitzer is under this name), from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, whose works I simply devour – I can’t put them down. I have to re-read them later because I try to read to go to sleep, but find myself still reading at 3 a.m.! I’ve read ALL of his books. Michael Connelly is another fabulous writer. I started with the Bosch books, and have since read all of his books twice. That got me through a broken shoulder where I was in bed for the better part of three months.

I no longer put my name on the inside of books, written correctly or not, and most of what I now read is in a Kindle because my hands and neck can’t tolerate holding large books anymore. We all make adjustments; some are just to allow us to continue reading more and more from those that first introduced us to the excitement of books and learning and where authors can take us on their journeys – Berlin, London, Toronto, Brittany – and I didn’t even mention that French author, or the English one, that put Provence on everyone’s map!


My Office Accoutrements

I was on a Zoom call recently when someone looked at my background and said “Is that real?” We were in the process of setting up, and getting our meeting started so I didn’t realize she was talking to me, so I didn’t answer. (“You talkin’ to me?!”) But I digress.

As a matter of fact, my Zoom background isn’t a background at all. It is my office. It took years to learn that others used something similar as a background. In my office I have books. Behind me (while I’m sitting here writing this) looms a large two-tier floor to ceiling bookcase, and that was what she was seeing. But that was only one wall. I have two more walls of bookcases. In fact, my home is filled with books, and books, and books. Outside my office I have more floor to ceiling bookcases, which house hundreds of my husband’s books. The ones in my office are textbooks, reference books, music scores, and books and anthologies of poetry (mostly public domain) of poems I use or have used in my music. Anything I’m currently reading in fiction, Mick Herron, Ann Cleeves, or John Sanford (you have to know that reference or you won’t get the fact that he’s a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter with over forty books); or non-fiction, Malcolm Gladwell, for example, is in my Kindle, quietly holding hundreds more books. I don’t read so much as devour. But again, I digress.

Where my office doesn’t have books I have artwork, mostly paintings by my mother, whose work I greatly admire, in oils, watercolors, or pastels. When we moved her out of her home recently, we had to deal with her office – her art room. I’ll never forget when I mentioned to my husband that my mother won “Best in Show,” he glibly shot back, “What breed did she register under?” because he knew she had a fistful of ribbons that she’d won in competitions over the years. Along with ribbons were paints, paint brushes, paintings, ideas for paintings, and books about painting. We soon realized this was part of a floating iceberg – there was more art and were more canvases squirreled away in other parts of the house! She is 91, and now living in an apartment. She went to an art class recently given at her facility but pretended not to know anything so as not to show anyone up. Very Minnesotan of her – not a surprise since she was born and raised there. But again, I digress.

I happen to be very visual – and visually pleasing things help me to write and think. Sometimes I’m not looking at something as much as staring, thinking of the words I’m trying to elicit from my sometimes-slow-as-molasses brain. On my desk is a two-foot-high sculpture which I lugged on a plane, stowed between my feet coming back from Houston. I love it and am happy I went to the trouble to get it to my very first office, and every subsequent office since.

Minnesota Nice

I have finally tucked my degrees on a wall next to the aforementioned large bookcase when I moved to Arizona, but you won’t see them front and center. They would only be slightly noticeable if you completely entered the room. So, if you just stick your head in you surely won’t see them. And on a Zoom call they’re just out of focus enough that you can’t read them either. (That’s so “Minnesota” of me. You work your buns off only to place your degrees in a spot that people “might” see, but again, they “might not.” So, that’s being very Minnesotan, understated, but still honest, a bit like my mother, an award-winning artist but not about to show up a budding volunteer art teacher who was providing the little art class to other ninety-year-olds.) Again, digressing…

Office Particulars

I, too, have a stack of legal pads – I love legal pads (but prefer other colors to yellow if I have the option) and love to write things down. It’s a mnemonic, a memory tool, and I’m an inveterate doodler as well. So, somehow between the computer, the occasionally working printer – which is virtually brand new – and my legal pads I get my work completed. They all sit happily or grumpily on my desk (depending on threatening deadlines) along with a calendar of course deadlines, which week we happen to be in, and what my students’ imminent deadlines are.

Technically I have two offices and three desks. Two desks at angles to each other, in beautiful cherry, a wood that is not currently in vogue, but I don’t care. A cherry drafting table sits downstairs and looks at me imploringly under heavy brows when I descend the staircase. It sits next to the grand piano. It used to scold me, but now we have an “understanding.” When I feel like using it – I do. First plan regarding moving in, do not dream of moving a grand piano upstairs! Very good plan. At least the piano doesn’t have an attitude.

I mentioned going through my mother’s artwork and her office. Unfortunately, there will come a time when someone has to do that for me – and my music. Hopefully I’ll get to it before then, but one never knows. There are copyrights involved so there is some consolation on getting something for their trouble. Some of my music is in the closet with extra shelving. Some of the music is in a computer on pdfs (which computer does that reside in is the real question), some hard copies in file folders based on a previous method of storage. We (my husband and I) are trying to decide the next best way to store scores, parts, and recordings that go with each piece when it needs to go out to performers or conductors. This decision came after spending Christmas Break frantically searching through several computers, other closets in other rooms which hold older pieces, not to mention downstairs near the piano, where it might have also been, in an effort to find my second string quartet and vocal chamber piece that had to be sent RIGHT NOW.

My office was better organized when I taught at Hamline University because I had a secretary and an honors student assistant. But that was many pieces ago and a different institution and state. I simply have more music, larger pieces, and need a new organizational system. But it’s the middle of the semester, I’m working on two CD projects, and helping my students with their deadlines. I’ve finally gotten a couple of these 6×6 writings under my belt, which I’ve been owing. My accoutrements are scowling a little less as I walk into the room. What I probably need for my office is an assistant or perhaps less judgmental furniture . . . but I digress.


NeuroDiversity – Changing Our World

They told her that her organs were shutting down and at some point they would have to deliver the baby – no matter what. The answer to the question was that her life was to be spared – period – but they would hold off as long as they could because it was still too early.

Each nurse greeted the woman with “You will not seize on my shift!” and the woman thought, “I didn’t even know that was an option,” lying there, the clock not ticking but jumping hours, missing parts of days until they said, “Baby’s in trouble.” It was said, back then, surgeons had less than three minutes in this situation; I’ve heard from some it’s more like 90 seconds before things can go incredibly wrong. Timing is critical.

The baby remained in the hospital for three and a half months; first in the NICU, (the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, in an isolette) then the Special Care nursery – in an isolette without a top – now that he could regulate his temperature better. He never made it into the “regular” nursery – the one that everyone visits where they have balloons and ooh and aah over recent deliveries. “Ooh, I think she has your nose;” “No, I think he looks more like his father,” “Well, at least he doesn’t look like Aunt Edna!”

Fast forward down the road about twenty years. One of the doctors of this million dollar-March of Dimes baby (and yes, that’s probably what he cost – in 1990s dollars) mentioned that people (referring to colleges because the mother was having difficulty with the college’s Disability Services) would never know how far the boy had come because these individuals couldn’t imagine where his road had started at one pound five and one half ounces.

The starting point. . . How much one has been through and now that individual’s road with varying difficulties with sensory problems, learning, and communication issues, has led to the doorstep of a college. Speaking as a college professor, I’ve found that the colleges (and universities where I’ve taught) seem to concentrate on the doorstep. It’s easy not to admit someone, but to truly admit someone when that individual has special needs or is on the spectrum might be a better place to start on that road.

Not realizing how tremendously far an individual has come, remember, timing is critical, the obstacles overcome, the communication deficits struggled with and achieved is really where the conversation begins. The physicians know how incredibly smart that student is because of testing to the nth degree, witnessing the determination to achieve even while lying in an isolette trying simply to gain a few ounces. Remember, the next time someone shows up on your doorstep, that individual’s IQ might be equal to or higher than yours, but the road that person took may have been riddled with unbelievable obstacles and may have taken much longer to get to and through this doorstep. It won’t show in traditional ways.

“If we make it difficult, or at least, not any easier, maybe he’ll go away.” Is that how you want to be remembered – for making it difficult for someone else to learn? I’ve been surprised by unlikely sources as I witnessed this happen, but I believe we need to help people learn. I know that GCC has been very good in helping students, but I’m casting my net at a wider audience.

Dr. Temple Grandin, the gifted autistic author, scholar, and expert animal behaviorist, credits those with autism (just one of the many kinds of disabilities in our world) as the people who truly change our world through their new ideas. Think about it.

Remember the March of Dimes and Autism Awareness.

Dr. Anne Kilstofte volunteers with Silver Spur Therapeutic Riding Center of Cave Creek for children and adults with SPECIAL NEEDS and works very hard to ensure that her students’ disability needs are met in her Musicology classes at GCC. She is pictured below at a fundraiser for SSTRC with “Rhoney.”


Change is Good

If it wasn’t for a dramatic, earth shattering change I probably wouldn’t have a career in education.

I worked in the real estate industry for 18 years until the housing bubble burst and I was laid off. After I got over the soul crushing blow that I was just an expense that needed to be cut and after checking all the pens in the house for ink, I started looking for a job. I wanted something that was stable and had meaning. I wanted to make a difference in my work. I focused my search efforts on education, healthcare and sports. Sports didn’t have a lot of meaning but I thought it would be fun, which at the time passed as a good substitute for meaning.

I guess you know how this story ends, I got a job with MCCCD and eventually made my way to GCC. I am thankful now for the catalyst that forced change in my life and brought me to where I am today. I am honored to be part of making a difference in the world through the work we do. I am proud to say that I have a career in education.

This week’s prompt was to share a song that represents your career in education. Justin Timberlake’s “Don’t Slack” is an upbeat, dance around the room song that celebrates change and achieving your potential. Although my path to a career in education was not necessarily upbeat, the change it made in my life and the opportunity it gives me to achieve my potential is a dance around the room feeling. One of the scary things about change is not knowing if you’re making the right move or if you’ll be successful. In the video, the final scene has a sign in the background that reads “You’re Doing a Great Job.” Thank you for the encouragement JT!


The keys to student success!

The New Nursing Student 

Dr. Ingrid Simkins

A recipe for success:

Set your long term goals to a year of completion 2023-2024.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl add:

1 c. positive attitude: This may at times be on backorder, but if you search you will find it. 

1 tsp teamwork: Success tastes the same achieved all alone or in tandem with your peers.

1 TBSP motivation: Remembering why you are here and your dreams helps!

1 c. time management: An essential item in the nursing school/life process. Measure accurately!

1 oz of hope

Stir until well blended. Cover and set in a warm place allowing for Success to rise for 2 years. Bake and serve at pinning. Enjoy!

The new Graduate Nurse

Dr. Mary Resler

Congratulations! As a new graduate nurse you have successfully completed a nursing program and have completed your NCLEX exam. This may seem like the end of the road for education but it is not. Nurses are lifelong learners! Success is keeping current on evidence based practices. Success is participating in policy change. Success is improving your patient outcomes. Success is maintaining your license. Success looks different as a lifelong learner then it does for a nursing student. 

Many new graduate nurses measure success by completing a difficult patient assignment. They measure success by the years they have worked. They measure success by working on a specialty unit. They measure success by catching a medication error. They measure success by favorable patient satisfaction scores. True success as a lifelong learner or new graduate nurse is to never be complacent in your knowledge. Always push yourself to learn by asking questions and continuing in your education. Knowledge is of no use if you do not use it. 

The new Nurse Educator

Dr. Grace Paul

Students have jumped over hoops, taken several exams, sacrificed participating in several occasions, and spent several hours pondering and even working in a hospital environment to know if this is indeed what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They know what their career goal is, and now they are in our classrooms. 

HCC Henderson Association of Nursing Students - Home | Facebook

Once they are in our classroom, they are our responsibility. While there may be several factors connected to student success like age, gender, previous experiences, GPA, etc, these are all non-modifiable factors that we as educators, can do nothing about. What we have in our hands to help these students succeed are the modifiable factors – factors that we as educators can help make a difference in these students’ lives, and allow our students to be successful in their chosen careers. 

There are several modifiable factors that we can use to our advantage for student success. One such factor is responsiveness.  Responsiveness is responding to a student. This can be in the classroom during class. A slight nod, a smile, a positive gesture, direct eye contact or a positive note sent to the student are all ways by which the student feels safe and positive about themselves. Smiling eases the students and makes it easier for students to come forward with questions and be communicative. 

Cartoon boy with positive attitude N28 free image download

As the new nurse educator figures out how things work in the new environment, the curriculum, and the work culture, students are usually quick to recognize that the instructor is new. But the timely response, open communication, a smiling and respectful attitude, and humor in the classroom, makes a huge difference as to how the students accept and respond to the instructor. 

The responsiveness of the instructor makes the students feel loved and cared for, knowing that they are the priority for the instructor. Keep the classroom space non-judgmental, which helps students to focus on the learning. This creates a trusting relationship between the students and the teacher, contributing immensely to the success of the class as a whole and the individual student. 

Responsiveness is also important when corrections have to be made. When a student makes a mistake, and when the mistake is recognized and acknowledged,  use the situation as a learning opportunity. Do not make it punitive. If the student does not learn from the mistake, then it is an opportunity lost. It is important for the educator to provide resources to correct the mistake. 

Corequisite remediation showing signs of success in NC - EducationNC

Another important tool for responsiveness is remediation. Remediation is a powerful tool when it comes to improving test results. It is helpful for the instructor and the student to go through the test, and look for a pattern, and to understand the reasoning behind the right and wrong answers. It is helpful for the student to bring another student to these meetings, as students tend to learn better from their peers rather than from the instructor. 

To summarize, student success is a commitment from the student as well as the educator. There are modifiable and non-modifiable factors when it comes to student success. Responsiveness is one such tool that will help to promote trust, and therefore a positive relationship, which  will help promote student success. 


Embracing Diversity

The New Nursing Student 

Dr. Ingrid Simkins

As we always discuss the first day of nursing school, your first responsibility is to know yourself! Recognize your biases and leave them at the door. If you can’t acknowledge each person for their unique self, other career options are available. You need to treat every person as if they are your most adored member of your family and care for them as you would wish them to be cared for. None of us will be a diversity expert or culturally competent across all cultures, but we all have the capacity to be sensitive to each individual and their needs.

My name is Diversity (a poem)

Dr. Grace Paul

My Name is Diversity

I come in various forms

I come in various shapes

With unique physical attributes

Doesn’t matter, accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

My gender is male, female, either, neither or fluid

I am a gay, lesbian, straight, bi, pan, or asexual

I am a veteran, differently abled, young or old

Doesn’t matter, accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

I come from one race, or a mixture of races

My ethnicity is varied, from any part of the world

Native to the land, or an immigrant

Doesn’t matter, accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

My culture, my food, my customs

My religion, my language, my rituals

Rich, poor, lower, middle, or upper class

Doesn’t matter, accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

Take the time to know me

I am awesome and beautiful

Just the way I am

With uniqueness abound!

Talk to me, listen to me

Look at me, and include me

Respect me for what I am

Because, I am who I am!

I may look and sound different to you

But we can learn from each other

I am not a statistic

To represent diversity

Or inclusion

But an individual no matter

With so much to offer

I matter! Accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

When you accept me for who I am

There is empathy in the world

Prejudices are removed

There is more tolerance

And therefore, less violence

Accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

There is peace, love and understanding

Inspiration, Motivation and Hope

Better decision making all around

A better world for all of us

Do accept me for who I am!

Because I am who I am!

I am understood

I am valued

I am cherished

I am embraced


I am ubiquitous

Because I am who I am!

And my name is Diversity!


Can We Live Without Risks?

A statement someone made recently jumped out at me. They said they rarely take risks. I was amazed. I consider myself a very careful person, but I often feel like my risks are the challenges I take on. Of course, I’m not talking about doing anything like this!

Perhaps it’s the definition of the word risk [enter student’s clichéd discovery of dictionary definition to make written assignment longer]. Wink

I see risk as a transition and an opportunity. Now, if the risk doesn’t have that element, I won’t do it. In some ways, we all take risks every day. There are certain risks I simply won’t consider, the consequences are just too costly.

Professionally, I was always taught to say ‘yes,’ if you want to work. People want to know that you will say ‘yes,’ when they ask. It saves time for those hiring. That’s a musician’s point of view. It’s the way you keep getting more opportunities – or, for those who prefer less formal constructs – How you get more gigs. Regrets, yes, certainly. I said ‘no’ to a really good opportunity, which was a risk, because I was just getting married (hence, already in the midst of a transition) and didn’t want to spend my honeymoon thinking about the project and risking the beginnings of our marriage… I’ll always think about where that job might have led. But see, once again, I keep going back to the positive-negative balance of risks.

And I’ll admit to some positive/negative possibilities. I’ve walked into a classroom and spoken completely ‘off the cuff,’ which is definitely a risk. It’s not that I hadn’t thought about it. I had. I know my subject deeply. Some of those have been my most inspired lectures, but occasionally, they have not. It’s a risk.

How about classroom management? I had a student who sat in the front row of class and never took a note. (This is a room that is set up as a lecture/recital hall, so down in front is noticeable.) In fact, he came in without anything – no books, no notebook, no pen/pencil or computer. Nothing. An instructor would assume he didn’t come prepared for class. And we’ve all had those students who obviously weren’t. Did I mention this was a long lecture format? The class was two hours and twenty minutes long. Should I say anything to him? He wasn’t disruptive, and he did well in the subject. One day he came in with a Rubik’s cube. I saw it, but chose not to say anything. As the lecture was finishing I just happened to look over at him. He subtly showed me his work by merely opening his hand. It was finished, and it was perfect. He hadn’t been disruptive to anyone, he didn’t show anyone else, I hadn’t been interrupted by what he was doing, but it allowed him to concentrate on what we were talking about. A risk, and a reward.

Deeper Risks

I could stop there, because it would be a great place to end – but I’m going to “risk” it and go heavy. As I mentioned earlier, we take risks every day. Driving, flying, walking down a set of stairs, saying something that you wish you hadn’t. I never discuss politics. I’ve gotten to where I rarely offer comments – especially to the entire world on any of those fronts.

But I’m going to include the world community and the risks people are facing today because we need to be talking about this in our classrooms. These are the ultimate risks because they are about basic human needs. This is not something that is happening somewhere else. It will ultimately affect us here. I was just reading an article about the fact that many Russians are also leaving their homeland, just as many Ukrainians are – except those who choose to fight. There is a general surge of people trying to survive with some semblance of their lives intact. In the article, the author referred to a family’s current residence, a shared room with three mattresses on the floor. The people had a roof, they had mattresses, a floor, running water, and they still had some money. They had been well-to-do so such living conditions would not have been acceptable in their previous life, but under the circumstances they knew they were lucky. They calculated the risk and felt they’d come out ahead considering the cost.

I first saw evidence of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s in Sweden. I ended up working with two Russian musicians as part of a Swedish quartet. There were interesting cultural flare-ups that surprised me. But like other recent mass emigrations, everyone was, and had been, fleeing for their lives. It’s amazing what we are willing to risk when we feel that we have little left to lose or too much to lose – our lives or our children’s lives.

In Estonia, ten years after the last Russian troops slowly left, I moved there, and in my research I learned more of Stalin’s ’round up’ of people. Sometimes there were lists, sometimes just numbers. ‘Take this number of people. I don’t care who.’ They disappeared or went to gulags. Often, no one ever knew whether they were killed outright or just never seen again. How can you live with that threat? I was part of an interview team to determine whether a young Estonian man would study in the U.S. when he talked about the importance of the NATO alliance to his country. I knew about NATO. It also meant, in couched terms, the U.S., from where funding came for this prestigious scholarship. I occasionally thought about NATO – but not to the extent that this young man understood it because the Estonians had few defenses against the Russians on their shared border. We, as Americans, have the luxury of a different point of view.

Before I sign off, I want to mention that moving people, their craft, their professions, their influences, and their cultures affects everything. It affects the arts, music, the humanities, science, technology, engineering, people, and even education. Would you stay or would you go? Ultimately, when we talk about risks, these are the most critical risks to discuss. I truly believe as educators everything we do counts, but we are also lucky that we can talk about risks that are so relatively ordinary when others face risks that are so tremendously devastating.


To be an exceptional Nurse: Growth as a mindset

The New Nursing Student 🌳

Dr. Ingrid Simkins

As a student begins their new journey in nursing school there is a mindset that, if adopted, can garner student success and that is the ‘bloom where you are planted’ philosophy. This landscape called nursing school provides soil that is rich, fertile, and just begging for a new seedling to take root. The difference between that seedling bearing fruit and just existing is growth. 

🌳Growth, such a positive word, but one that also comes with a set of growing pains. Perhaps before nursing school classroom success took minimal effort, was a solo mission, and came with the reinforcement of an “A” to validate your contributions…what could be painful about that? Nothing at all! However, you are now in a new environment, one where the conditions are unfamiliar and success now comes with hours of practice, intentional effort, potential setbacks, and opportunities to receive constructive feedback that may not feel as good as that “A”. However, you persevere and realize that when you lean on those around you in a give and take dichotomy, your growth is less of a struggle.🌳

🌳Wherever you are in the nursing program right now, I ask you to take a moment and reflect upon your personal growth. Where are you now compared to that first day of nursing school? The end of the first semester? Whenever you feel doubt in yourself or your growth think about the following…

The New Graduate Nurse🌳

Dr. Mary Resler

As a new graduate nurse the career field is broad. It is like a blank canvas that only you as a nurse have the power to control the end products. In order to get there a lot of growth takes place. Growth in the profession can be positive and challenging at the same time.

One of my favorite quotes is “there is no growth in comfort and, there is no comfort in growth.“ 

If we are not growing then we are standing still. 

As a nurse you must be prepared for lifelong education. As evidence-based practice continues and new medical advances take place the nurse must continue to educate themselves to be the best for their patients. Many new graduate nurses feel a sense of relief and accomplishment when they pass the nursing program and the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Although the education piece may have been accomplished, the learning and growing – is just a beginning.

The New Nurse Educator🌳

Dr. Grace Paul

🌳All great students are not great test takers, and all great nurses were not great test takers. Likewise, all great bedside nurses are not necessarily the best educators! I started out as a community health nurse in India. The Vellore Christian Medical College and Hospital Nursing College has adopted quite a few villages around, and community health nurses worked alongside the government workers for the area. As a community health nurse, I was responsible for one village of about roughly 1000 people. As the College of Nursing Community Health Nurse (CONCH), among my many responsibilities, I also had 2-4 students assigned to me for their community health experience.   🌳

I still remember my first two students who were assigned to me. I was feeling awkward inside, since I was myself new in the role of a community health nurse, and then to have to be a role model to these two students! I was scared that I might say something wrong! Just like when I was a student, I used to have nightmares that I had slept through my alarm, and the student had arrived and was searching for me, and that I lost all the assignments that were submitted to me! Students rarely realize that as a new instructor, we are quite vulnerable too. But for the most part, we try to put on a brave face, because we don’t want to lose our credibility! We want the students to have a good experience! I, of course, grew out of those nightmares in a few months. 

Positive Growth Quotes. QuotesGram

🌳As a novice educator, there are so many qualities that need to be cared for, tended to, and developed. With the pandemic, all of us have evolved and grown to the extent that even we did not think we were capable of! That is what humans do, we rise to the occasion, when we are challenged. And so, it is good to keep ourselves  challenged, so that we can learn new things, keep our mind active, and although we may grow older, we can still be relevant when younger generations of students come to us.

 🌳As  an educator, we need to be relevant, and current, and learn the ways our students learn, so that we can be effective in our role as educators! We have to continually reflect on our own teaching philosophies, build on creating a trusting relationship with students, where students are able to think critically, and feel free to ask questions. Teaching a student to think critically is a skill that educators must develop. Every student learns differently, and as educators, we must meet them at their level. The pandemic has taught us the importance of self care, and this goes both ways. Just as food and rest are necessary for our physical bodies, positive thoughts, reflection or meditation are necessary for our souls!🌳

Best Growth Quotes | Readershook

Community Roots

Giving up the life of the road (or the airplane) is partly how I ended up at GCC. I’ve been a long-time traveler. Although I was born in Arizona where my father finished his structural engineering degree at the University of Arizona, my parents and I moved within eight months to Minnesota. A few years later we moved to Colorado. I lived in so many different places in Colorado, depending on the university I was attending or the degree I was seeking in Denver and Boulder, that my mother finally started using pencil to update my address in her address book. My roots are scattered because of this constant moving.

Two years before we moved to Arizona, my husband, son, and I went to Estonia for a year while I taught as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the Academy of Music and Theater in Tallinn. Everyone told us it was not the “going on” a Fulbright that would be hard, but “returning from” our year away. They were right. We had changed and the only way to live with that change was to change our surroundings. We moved.

My husband, son, and I had been living in Arizona for about a year, and I’d spent most of that year working and traveling as a Composer or Producer-in-Residence back and forth to Minnesota, as well as to Rome, Beijing, Toronto, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Atlanta – well you get the idea. My long travels ended when I came home and was greeted by my nine-year-old son, who was just waking up, when he said, “Mommy, are you really here or am I just dreaming?” Ach! It was a knife in my heart! He had never mentioned that he missed me and certainly not this much! I decided if I did travel it would only be for short trips and only occasionally from then on.

Before you ask, “What kind of a mother are you?” you need to know that my son is autistic and has always been very accepting of me going away; with a kind of “bye, see ya” sort of attitude. He loves to be alone, and it’s difficult, sometimes, to accept that. To give you an example, my husband and I went on a business trip back in 2018 (yes, he’s a musician, too), and left our son at home with the dog (by this time he had graduated from high school with honors and was capable of being alone – but it was an experiment because we would be further away – so we had support people at the ready if he needed someone). When we returned my husband kept coming back in from the garage before he left for work to make sure our son was okay with him leaving, and asked him so, and our son, who has a great sense of humor, said, “Less talking, more leaving!” From that response, although ten years later, we knew he didn’t miss us that much while we’d been gone.

Jumping back ten years, I applied to teach at GCC. The first word I think of when I remember my first days at GCC is “friendly.” I found everyone friendly and helpful. The two communities that first welcomed me were the Music Department (aka Performing Arts) and CTLE.

Before this, I’d been teaching for twelve years, after my doctorate, at two private institutions (three, if you count my alma mater – which is public) in Minnesota, so I knew my way around lots of subjects, but I knew there was a program called Blackboard, among others, but no one would teach me about it. Over the years, I had also been offered five full-time positions in Minnesota, strictly a phone call – “we’d love to have you come work for us,” but my health was not good when I was offered a few of them, and the other, which I would have loved to take, was offered just as I was receiving my Fulbright. I couldn’t take the job knowing I wouldn’t be there that next year. Also, and you’ve heard this from others if you haven’t said it yourself, the winters were about eight months long and I just couldn’t take that kind of cold anymore. I was looking to take my roots somewhere warmer although I had not planned it to be this warm.

The Music Faculty shared their syllabi, what needed to be in a syllabi technically, how to find my courses, and helped me get up to speed within a few days! I hardly knew what had hit me, but I really enjoyed the people I met. They have become friends and some of the best people I’ve worked with. I’ve missed seeing them during the pandemic at meetings and performances. We recently met in person for the first time in two years and my heart sang for hours afterwards, having been able to see so many friends again. It is truly an anomaly to have this many good people together in one department – and that includes the whole Performing Arts Department as well.

I discovered the other GCC community shortly after I started when I signed up to learn how to teach online. No one had asked me to learn this, but I saw this as a possible future — need I say more? That introduced me to Karen Russo and CTLE. For several years I took everything that CTLE offered, free seminars on teaching and best practices, free offerings on other online programs for use in online courses, district workshops, designing courses for E-readers, and master classes on being a better educator. I’ve gotten to know almost everyone in the department, and I’ve met other equally friendly and helpful educators as the department expanded.

I now have been teaching exclusively online for a little more than 10 years, and love it. I still take a workshop here or there, although mostly on Zoom or Google lately. CTLE has patiently answered questions and solved problems for me. I have learned more from them about successful teaching than I had ever known and I am thankful for it. I applaud CTLE for what they have offered through the years so I could become a better teacher of music. The Music Department and CTLE has allowed me to put down some strong roots in this community.

The women and men from the Women's International Congress, International Alliance for Women in Music Beijing, China 2008
The Great Wall of China with the International Alliance for Women in Music 2008

Lifelong Search ….

Almost Losing My Heart

Whenever I saw a piano (as a child) I felt compelled to play it. I attribute this to my birthday because it fell just after the kindergarten cutoff for enrollment by two hours, and resulted in piano lessons for a year. When I did start kindergarten a year later our class shared many miscellaneous items in Show and Tell, (one involved a large coconut which I carried ten blocks with two skinned knees – the frustration of dropping and falling over and over, and the excitement of wanting to show it to my classmates… I still remember).

I am told that one afternoon our kindergarten teacher was called out of the room. As you know, teachers rarely leave the classroom because chaos often ensues. With a bit of trepidation she returned to find the entire class quietly huddled around the piano where I was sharing some of the pieces that I had learned. I wasn’t showing off, just simply showing them things I had learned, much as teachers did for me for many years to follow.

I have memories of many teachers who made a difference. It wouldn’t be fair to single out one because I was lucky to have had so many. Everyone talks about good teachers that make a difference. They never talk about the lousy ones, but I had a crop of those, too. By that time I was much older, an accomplished pianist after decades of lessons, but now ignored primarily because I dared to try to write music instead of just play music. That also taught me a lot as a teacher. It taught me never to pre-judge a student by assuming that they didn’t have anything to offer because of the notion that only certain people can write music or learn about music. It sounds almost impossible today. People lose jobs over that. I almost lost my heart over it.

No, I didn’t teach at that school, although I did create a course at one of its sister institutions, a course in Marketing the Arts, which I taught for several semesters – much to my professors’ chagrin. I persevered in the program, and, as luck would have it, became a music critic at a major metropolitan newspaper and ended up reviewing every professor I had and their music writing. (Unlike them, I was kind). I graduated and changed schools.

At this new school I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. I expected the same treatment. My music was representational which was not in vogue. What I found instead was that the faculty and students accepted me and my music. Interestingly enough, I rarely play piano anymore except to compose. My many days of performing in order to be an accepted musician were now only as an accepted composer – I made a point of it. I taught theory classes, which is what most composers teach while finishing their terminal degree. I wrote articles and produced concerts. I reviewed concerts at another major metropolitan newspaper from time to time. But I now never introduced myself as a pianist, which was where I found my heart. I now only refer to myself as a composer, where I found it again.

It took losing my heart to find it again and it means too much to me to let it go. I love teaching music and teaching about being a musician. I love teaching about the creative process and I love the enthusiasm of my students, learning about or hearing music for the first time. That is where my heart takes me.