Songs to represent musical growth in teaching, performing, and composing
Stars have represented decades of growth for me as a composer, a writer, and as an educator. I’ve written operas, string quartets, choral pieces, all including stars, but, of course, I couldn’t have done it without the poets who wrote about them first.
What Do You Listen To and How Will That Help You Grow?
Learning to choose notes, write music, is something I teach by example, just as I was taught. And to bring that full circle as educators, we grow when we listen. I’ve taught ear training; taken ear training; but I really began listening when I was very, very small — and paid attention to what composers were doing to connect to listeners. To be perfectly honest, I’m falling in love again. I love lots of styles of music, and teach all about them, but in this week’s work, I chose the more difficult road, talking about my music. It would have been a lot easier to just talk a bit about a song and its history…
A composer, at least the kind I am, representationally, has to know how to make words fit the voice because singers may change vowels to create a better sound. … Acoustical physics at its finest. So, taking into consideration the difficulties vocalists face, how the words will have to be sung in order to hit that very high note, and still bring out the beauty, success will be measured.
In that blink of an eye, and with pieces I haven’t heard in years, because of this first week’s prompt, I’m opening my soul to much of my past and listening to compositions that worked, that didn’t work, that really worked, and, well, some that needed to go back to the drawing board. It’s challenging and emotionally-charged. Why didn’t it work or what did work? Sometimes it’s the composer, the performer, or the recording – or, during a live recording, an audience member who coughed loudly throughout the entire piece. I got a little taller that day.
The songs that make a listener fall in love with each word are the truest test of success. After all, the words are the most important elements. And, it’s not the applause that shows whether you truly connected with others’ ears, it’s the silence.
I chose to include a short piece, still about stars, from Songs of the Night Wind, with the Stockholm String Quartet and Olle Persson, baritone.
Bend low again, night of summer stars,
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming
So lazy and hum-strumming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
🌳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!🌳
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.
Here we go – Week 6 – the final step: today you find out how to copy and paste your story into a simple Employee Biography online form, and click “submit”.
Here’s what you’ll need:
GCC email address
Credentials (such as MS, Ph.D.)
Biography (Hint: Review Weeks 2, 3 and 5, and be relatable, not stiff)
Areas of Expertise (Special knowledge or field of study)
Headshot (This is a photo of your face. It should be cropped to a perfect square. You will click to upload a jpg, which will be resized to 280×280 pixels. See Week 4 for photo tips)
Personal Website URL (This is a separate step: To include a link to your work-related Website, login to your Maricopa profile using the Manage My Account tool, and add the url there. It may take up to a week for the link to appear on your Employee Bio page, depending on how often the Web Team refreshes the Website.)
Ready? Use this form to update your bio page. (The link to this form is listed here on the GCC website.)
For those itching to know the broader impacts, read these final bits:
Dear Faculty, you, perhaps more than anyone else, are uniquely empowered to factually communicate GCC’s reputation by explicitly stating your credentials and experience, why you continue to choose to teach at GCC, your areas of passion, and your teaching methods. You have been empowered to give the community concrete reasons to choose you, and GCC, over every other institution. The broader impacts of doing this one thing includes reputation, enrollment, media attention, and funding.
College Reputation Your employee bio page impacts the reputation of the college. Faculty completing their Employee Biography pages serves to significantly elevate GCC’s reputation and raise its credibility on a local, national and international scale. We need to tout the talent and body of experts who teach at GCC. It hinders efforts to fill classes when faculty are too humble to talk about their personal contributions and proudest moments.
Student Enrollment Your employee bio page impacts enrollment. When comparing colleges, student not only look at cost, location and facilities, but they also compare faculty between colleges. “Who will be teaching me? What are their qualifications? Will I like them?” Students want to pick the “right” instructor and are looking for a reason to choose you. Your employee bio page empowers you to teach students how to think about you. Be relatable.
Media Attention Your employee bio page impacts media attention. The enormity of all faculty specifying their “areas of expertise,” on their employee bio page cannot be emphasized enough. Members of the Media are using google to find experts to weigh in on current events and issues. For example, a USA Today reporter used a google search to find an expert on “Living Libraries,” and GCC popped up in the top of the search results. “Everybody has a fascinating story, all of us,” said GCC faculty member Heather Merrill in a USA Today article on the Human Library. “Our students are craving this, and they’re craving help having these conversations.”
Funding Awards Your employee bio page impacts the GRANT AWARD decision-making process. It is common for REVIEWERS to search the web for insight into the applicant’s reputation. When a GCC Faculty member applies for grant funding, they are competing against other institutions to win that award. Faculty bio pages provide an opportunity to showcase your integrity and past performance, both of which work to influence the REVIEWER COMMITTEE’s decision to award a grant.
Small things make a big difference. Tell your story in your employee bio page.
Hello readers! I’m super excited for this week’s post. I’m on a podcast with my colleague Beth Eyres, it mostly focuses on teaching and learning. This is our first podcast. We’re learning so much, and we know that there is still a lot more learn. We’re working on it. =>)
The first episode is all about Inspiration! We discuss what it is, what the research says, how to cultivate it, things on our radar, and little learning nuggets for the audience. Hope you get a chance to listen to it. Hope you enjoy! =>)
I often joke about wanting everyone to be my BFF. In an idyllic world, that would be possible. Unfortunately, we have an invisible professional barrier that we need to keep in place so we can do our jobs effectively.
That said, we still need to build professional relationships with our students and our peers. I hope the following does not sound preachy in any way, because I need to work on all of it myself.
Bring the joy
Recalling peoples’ names is a difficult task for me sometimes, and when I see someone outside of a familiar location it is nearly impossible for me to remember their name. Unless…I write it down, repeat their name, and say something about them to someone else. I am the queen of sticky notes.
Some people are really good with names. I don’t know if it just comes naturally, or they practice some unconscious habits in the process of saving and recalling. I find that people are really impressed when you remember their name and are secretly disappointed when you don’t. I claim most of the responsibility for learning names, but if a student is practicing the camouflage-in-the-classroom technique, I blame them!
Each semester I learn between 50 and 80 new student names. When I think about that, I wonder how I ever survive a semester! Before a class begins, I print out the roster, study it, notice commonalities and differences, and practice pronouncing names. Once in the classroom, I begin with first-day introductions. I scribble notes feverishly, usually illegibly, and then draw a map of the classroom so I know where everyone was sitting. Any paperwork I collect, I will go through and alphabetize after class. I do this with each of my classes.
When a student shows up at my office door or says hi at the Student Union for the first time, and they are not sitting at their designated classroom map location, I am typically stumped on their name! I listen and wait for clues in their conversation and hopefully can save myself the embarrassment of having to ask their name and which class they are taking. At the beginning of the semester it is not so embarrassing to ask, but after week four it is downright flabbergasting!
The students I do remember are the ones who ask questions in class and show a genuine interest in the subject matter. They are the ones that email me after class to ask questions, or have to take a makeup test. If I have three Mikes and three Marys in one class, then it will take me the full four weeks to sort them all out!
Smile. When I concentrate really hard on something, I am not smiling. I have my game face on. If I am desperately trying to remember a name, it is likely that I am not smiling. Strike 2! It turns out that when you maintain a half smile and belly breathe, you turn on the parasympathetic nervous system, get out of fight or fight mode, and turn on your pre-frontal cortex so you can actually begin thinking again. That’s a bonus!
When you smile at someone, you can change the course of their day and simultaneously affect the people they come in contact with. The ripple effect is insane! Imagine if everyone smiled at three strangers every day, and each of those people smiled at three more people and so on…imagine the impact!
Bring the joy. Let’s face it, we seek to be around people who make us happy. What can we do to ensure this? Well, smiling is a good start. Knowing people’s names really helps too. Using tasteful humor, even when things seem bleak can really help. If you know that you are about to face a difficult day and difficult decisions, it is good to plan ahead. Ask yourself “what would my best self do if xyz happens today?” “How will I bring my best energy to the people I engage with today?” Try setting a reminder on your phone that simply says “bring the joy” once every hour. See what happens!
So to recap: Remember names, smile, and bring the joy!
Positive relationships are the glue that hold an organization together. Without the glue, the organization will fall. Over the years, I have been a part of organizations where the adhesiveness of the positive relationships in the organization was strong. I’ve also been a part of organizations where the relationships were extremely negative and the organization just fell apart.
Majority of the positive relationships are held together with communication. Majority of my time in the classroom is spent teaching students how to build positive relationships with family, friends, and in the workplace. One way to build relationships is through conversation. Conversation, especially multiple conversations over a period of time, builds rapport, trust, openness, etc. through self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is the information we share about ourselves with others. Sharing information helps us discover similarities and intriguing differences between each other.
Today I will share how to carry a conversation.
Step 1: Start a conversation
Start a conversation by saying hello, stating your name, or asking a simple question. Initiation is key when starting a relationship. Tip: Take notice of anything that the person is carrying or wearing that indicates their interest. Example: Band shirts, jerseys, books, skateboard. Say something like: “Hey, I noticed your U2 shirt. Are you a fan? I’m one too.” Yesterday I saw someone with a Good Burger shirt, and I had to start a conversation with him since I am a fan of the movie.
Step 2: Keep the conversation going
Maintain the conversation by asking open-ended questions as opposed to closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions can be answered with one-word responses. Example: What is your major? Closed-ended response: Accounting. Open-ended questions encourage the listener to expand on their answers. Example: What do you like about our psychology class so far? Open-ended response: I like our teacher and the theories are so interesting. My favorite one is……Continue asking questions of interest, but don’t interrogate the person you a carrying a conversation with. I recommend trying to find a topic that excites the person you are talking to, or a topic that they are passionate about. Focus the conversation mostly on them, some people really enjoy sharing, but don’t forget to share something about yourself.
Step 3: End the conversation
This is a tough one. When is it a good time to end the conversation? Sometimes the conversation will naturally exhaust itself out. There is really nothing else that needs to be said. The conversation will eventually start slowing down. This would be a great time to make your exit with an exit statement like: “Well, I hate to end our conversation short, but I have to go. I really enjoyed talking to you. We should do it again sometime”. The statement can also be used if the conversation has not slowed down and you really have to go. If you have to check your watch for the time or your phone towards the end of the conversation, just let the listener know that you’re not trying to be rude, you’re just checking the time really quick since you are on your way to work/class/ etc.
I value relationships. They are vital to our well-being. My relationships have provided me with colleagues, friends, and mentors who have been a source of guidance, wisdom, and opportunities throughout my entire life. I encourage you to cultivate positive relationships in your life today. Start by just talking to someone. If you have no one to talk to, stop my office. I talk to everybody, and I’d love to get to know you.
The major downside to being an online instructor is the lack of meaningful interaction. Outside of a few e-mails, I rarely have a conversation with fellow faculty. Most of those are usually related to development of course materials or help with a student or technical issue.
When I taught face to face there was a fellow adjunct, Gary, who was in a similar situation. Twice a week I would walk into the adjunct office to find him sitting there at his laptop, cup of coffee in hand, smiling and commenting on the various comings and goings. Wearing a baseball cap and shorts, he made it clear he was just there to socialize. Looking back, I now understand and appreciate that longing he had to simply associate with a group of peers.
Sadly, I can’t come in a few times a week like he could, but what I can do is stress how important it is to do so if you are able.
Gary and I ended up having lunch a few times and talking about everything ranging from education techniques to our shared interest in writing fiction. I credit him with giving me enough courage to finally self-publish my first short story. Fast forward five years and I now have several short stories published, and am working on putting together a collection. Those lunch time conversations, and Gary’s need to socialize, were the main catalyst for me stretching myself to accomplish more than I would have otherwise done.
You never know how people you meet will influence you, it won’t always be positive, but more often than not in education it will be. Despite having various backgrounds, I find that most educators are open minded and friendly by nature (it is one of those unspoken requirements of staying in the field).
So, as I sign off for the last time this year, I wanted to leave everyone with a message of encouragement. Find a fellow teacher and go have lunch. Talk about ideas, education, hobbies, interests. Appreciate every moment of it, because whether you realize it or not, that ability to connect is not a given, and who knows, it may even help you become a better version of yourself.
I’m always telling students in my college success classes how important it is to make connections. Research shows that students who make connections in college – including with other students, instructors, a career interest, or a club – are more successful as evidenced by higher gpa and improved retention/graduation rates. Those connections are important even after you’ve graduated…and been working for decades.
I have maintained a relationship with a student I had in CPD150 three semesters ago (we’ll call her Maria). One assignment in our class is to register for the following semester. I helped Maria choose her classes based on how she was doing in her first semester and her career interests. Turns out we got over-excited about her first semester success and she failed two classes her second semester. She re-enrolled for the following semester, but given her lack of a clear career goal starting talking about taking a break from college.
Still Maria perseveres and we continue to meet. She’s gotten a job on campus and developed a relationship with an academic advisor. This time around, I took my own advice of using the connections available by suggesting Maria and I meet together with the advisor to help Maria choose classes for Fall. The advisor is one I talked with when she was a student and so we already have great rapport for working together. Together, the three of us came up with an academic and career exploration plan that Maria expressed excitement about and with which we are all on board. Hopefully, with this new plan, Maria will improve her gpa and stay in school until she finishes a credential.
I’m so grateful for the connections I have with colleagues on campus as well as with students. In my small way, I hope those connections make the world a friendlier, more educated, and more peace-filled place!