Tag Archives: inspiration

Week 2: The “One Thing” and its Powerful Sway

Welcome back to Week 2 of “The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment,” a six week “how-to” series.

Did you complete your Week 1 homework assignment? If not, take a moment to search for your name on gccaz.edu, click on your employee bio page, and make a note of any information that uniquely reflects your own personal humanity.

When it comes to class enrollment, do you leave it up to chance? You have a lot to offer, and are a passionate educator. But students don’t know this about you ahead of time. What if you could influence students before you even meet them?

Studies show that when it comes to choice, a good reputation is king. To influence a student’s choice in which class (or college) they enroll, we must increase perceived reputation. Reputation is a fragile thing, and a student’s initial experience plays a critical role in the decision-making process.

This brings us to the old adage, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” A first impression is critical to reputation, and Step Two is all about taking control of the timing of that first good impression.

Timing, they say, is everything.

So, the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace is to teach others what to think about you before you even meet.

I am going to show you how to not just make a good first impression, but a viscerally good first impression, using your employee bio page. During the decision making process, students check out who is teaching a class – why? They are looking for clues  for who to choose. The purpose of this blog series is for you learn how to make it easy for student to choose you, and thereby GCC. When you are done with your bio page, students who view it will “get” you. I have done random checks of comparable faculty at NAU, ASU, UofA and GCC. The sad fact is that very few instructors have posted any information on their bio page beyond name, email, and office hours.

As a result, students turn to sites such as RateMyProfessors.com to help them make a decision. The problem with these ratings sites is that other people are defining your reputation for you – and influencing reader choice. Remember, reputation is a fragile thing.

Consider the following:

“I grew up in a poor family, and I identify with the struggles some of my students have.” – Dr. Carlos Nunez

When I first read that quote, a picture of who this man is immediately formed in my mind: Genuine. Sincere. Empathetic. Successful. When I met Dr. Nunez, I quickly became aware that he was all this and more. He was courageous in and out of the classroom, and we all miss him, bless his soul.

Quotes – we love them. We share them, post them, tattoo them, frame them and hang them on our walls. We love quotes because quotes resonate with something deep inside of us. Quotes inspire us. Quotes give us hope. Quotes make us laugh at ourselves and life. Quotes make us cry with empathy. Quotes rally us together.

But the greatest power of a quote is that it connects us to each other’s humanity.

Your homework is to write a compelling introductory statement that reflects on a particular aspect of your personal journey through college. Here are a few examples to get your juices going:

  • “Juggling work, family, and college was hard, but I wanted a better life.” (inspires resilience).
  • “The first time I looked through a microscope I saw my future.” – (conveys vision)
  • “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. College helped me find my passion.” – (inspires hope)

Experiment writing statements that uniquely reflect your own personal humanity.

“It’s not up to chance, it’s up to you.” ― Rob Liano, Author and Business Speaker

Come back for Week 3, Step 3: The “One Thing” and It’s Not Bragging.

 

 

See me. See You. See Possibility.


My cultural reflection/inspirational story is connected to Dr. Velvie Green, the former President of Glendale Community College. I met her when I was a student at GCC. I was hanging around the Communication Department and Jim Reed, the Department Chair, was giving our newly appointed President a tour of the department. Jim came around the corner and said that he wanted to introduce me to her. When she came around the corner I saw an African American woman standing in front of me. I had a moment of pause. I looked at this stranger and felt like I was looking at my future physical self. I couldn’t tell you what I was expecting, but I could definitely tell you that I was not expecting her.

I recognized something in her that connected with me on a level I had never recognized before. I recognized possibility in something that I would have never considered without this encounter, the possibility that I could become a college president myself. I saw a cultural reflection of myself on campus and it inspired me. For years I pursued becoming a college president. My pursuit brought me to teaching and I fell in love with it and changed course.

That day motivates and inspires me daily. It really showcases the importance of cultural reflection on college campuses. That day is one of the things that motivates me to bring excellence into everything that I do, because someone out there may see themselves in me through my work. They may see me and they may be encouraged to be excellent in their career. They may see me and see the possibility of a career path that they would have never considered for themselves. They look at me and think to themselves if she can do it, I can do it too.

I encourage others to think of themselves in the same way. All it takes is someone seeing themselves represented, right in front of them to inspire and motivate them to greatness.  Each encounter that you have on this campus could make or break someone’s hopes, dreams, or desires. Be mindful of the fact that you matter to someone and that they are paying attention to what you say and do.

I don’t know Dr. Velvie Green personally. She doesn’t know the impact she has had on me. I hope that she will come across this one day, so she can read about the difference she has made in my life. I am thankful and grateful that I had the opportunity to meet her. It changed my life.

 

Theoretical War of Theory

When pursuing my Master’s I enrolled in a summer course entitled “Theory of Education”.  For many in the class it was the kind of backward psychobabble  that bore little relevancy on actual classroom technique and management, focusing primarily on Behaviorism and Constructivism.

Theory Meme

It has now been well over a decade since those early days of learning, and I have only grown in appreciation of the experience gained during those few months.

Fear not, this will not be a summation of educational theory and delivery methods. I could not give any theory justice this far removed.  No, like any good learning experience it wasn’t what was said that impacted me so much, but rather what was done.

Although most of those taking part in the class checked out day one, there were a few of us interested enough to make the classroom dialogue interesting. All the other students were already elementary or secondary teachers attempting to shore up their credentials and bank accounts by adding a Master’s to their wall. I was still in my educational infancy, a TA at the college without much in the way of practical experience.

The professor was a devote Contructivist and every lesson seemed to have a tinge of personal bias. Excellent for me who had latched on to Contructivism, but bad for the other interested parties who had seen Behaviorism work in their early education classrooms. Many of our sessions ended up turning into debates, often heated and passionate. At one point, midway through the summer semester, a frustrated elementary teacher stood up and declared that she would never understand Contructivism, and that the instructor would have to fail her on the spot because she was a Behaviorist for life.

I was at full attention, expecting some witty retort and conversion right then and there. What I got was a life lesson that stuck with me more than all the academic and education theories crammed into my textbooks. He smiled, warm, friendly, his debate tone drifted away replaced by a Bob Ross jovial melancholy, and he said that was okay, that he respected her beliefs even if they weren’t his own, and he wouldn’t want her beliefs to change simply because of his.

More important than theory I had witnessed practical implementation of the the greatest skills higher education can instill; patience, kindness, and critical thinking.  The ability to accept that there are different views beyond your own, and even if you are in a place of power you should not attempt to convert opinions, but encourage personal discovery.

Beliefs may define an individual, but they are not the reason society succeeds. Kindness, understanding, and curiosity are what propel both education and mankind, allowing us to achieve great things together, no matter what theories we happen to follow.

 

 

 

 

 Why Math?! Why?!

Ever since I can remember I have been a driven person. My parents still to this day comment on the anxiety I use to give them when I asked what we were going to do today. Come to find out I was not okay if they did not have a plan in place or decided to change the plan. My mentality has not changed much from when I was little. I still make plans and execute them. This has served me well in life and has helped me achieve my goals. As you can probably guess everyone does not have the same thoughts about planning and execution. I experienced two mathematics teachers during my freshman year that helped to shape me into who I am today.

My math teacher was unorganized and chose to run her class in “organized chaos.” The students in the class behaved well and there were very little problems but she provided very little order in her lessons. The biggest concern I had was that she only excepted problems to be solved in one way, her way. She came across as unprepared and inflexible to me, and frustration set in. Math which was one of my favorite subjects became one of my least favorite. I passed the class but was starting to feel like math was not going to be “my thing” anymore. Mind you this was my first experience with a teacher like this and I was ready to call it quits.

In the second semester of my freshman year, I took another math course with a different teacher. This math teacher not only had a plan in his lesson but showed the entire class multiple ways to solve each problem. He told us that we, as students, have options when solving problems. This class helped me to explore different strategies when solving problems which made the class more interesting. We were no longer looking for the right answer rather how many ways we could get to the right answer. This is when I started to see math as a puzzle that can be solved in multiple ways, starting with the edge pieces or the middle, with the same resulting picture.

My experience as a freshman in high school was what shaped me into the mathematics teacher I am today. I strive to provide my students with multiple strategies to complete problems. I also encourage them to explore and find other strategies to solve problems. I was given the opportunity to see that I could make multiple plans, execute those plans in multiple ways, and still each my goals. It is my hope that I can help my students to realize the same thing is possible for them.

 

Contagious Spaces

 

HeadshotGCCFall2017.jpg

My name is Tenisha Baca and I am Residential Faculty for the Communication and World Languages Department at Glendale Community College in AZ. I am also the Co-Faculty Developer for the Center for Teaching Learning and Engagement. Welcome to this post!

We’re always encouraging others in higher education, but there are moments when we need it ourselves. When we’re motivated and inspired it impacts everyone we serve. It’s contagious and I’m here to spread it.

One way to stay motivated and inspired is to surround yourself with items that cultivate that feeling within you. The best place to start is the office. We spend a significant amount of time in the office. We should surround ourselves with items that encourage us to be awesome in what we do.

My office is a haven of motivation and inspiration. I’ve included pics below. Here’s a list of some of my top motivating/inspirational items in my space.

1. Purple Heart Award: Award I received after completing chemotherapy. I’ve been a cancer survivor since 2008. It reminds me of what I overcame and it encourages me to encourage others that they can overcome what they are going through.

Purple Heart Award.jpg2. Picture of my husband and I: He strives for excellence in everything he does. It reminds me to strive for the same thing inside and outside of the classroom.

Hubby and I.png

3. Notes of appreciation on my wall: Over the year’s people have been nice enough to write me such encouraging notes. I keep all of them and it touches me to know I have touched others in my work.

Thank you notes.jpg

 4. Wonder Woman: All of my figures inspire me because I love WONDER WOMAN!!! Everything she stands for is something I strive for daily.

Wonder Woman.jpg

5. Door of Inspiration: Place where I post people, sayings, notes, etc. that encourage me to be the best version of myself every day.

Door of Inspiration.jpg

Cultivating this space and mindset makes a difference. I pass these messages along to my students when they stop by my office and we have conversations about life. I also pass them along in the classroom. One day I asked a student: “Hey, have you found all of this motivational/inspirational stuff we have discussed to be something helpful to you?” He said yes “It makes me realize that I can do anything. And that I can work hard to get there if I put in the work.” That is a great lesson a student learned, not just for the classroom, but in life. Like I said before, motivation and inspiration are contagious and I’m here to spread it. Thank you for reading.

 

 

Finding Inspiration from Isolation

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Three P’s of Inspiration

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

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

     Family–Now I know that my family is not at GCC, but they strongly inspire me to be the best employee and teacher I can be when I’m at GCC.  My brother, a strong advocate for public education and an assistant superintendent, struggled in school as a child.  He has since outpaced me in getting two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree. He has worked harder than just about anyone I know,

Holly and Andrew

and he inspires me to work hard.  Likewise, my wife continues to challenge herself, taking on new leadership roles and job experiences, stepping into unfamiliar territory. I admire her and learn more from her than any other person. She is apt to take risks and courageous to the point that sometimes I am just in awe.  She left a cushy classroom gig to enter administration and then left her familiar, safe district to lead a high school in a new district.  Her example inspires me to take on challenges that I might otherwise say no to.

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

*Names have been changed.

 

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

I have to admit I’m borderline burnout, but what keeps me going these days are the people I work with on a daily basis. My inspiration comes from all of those faculty and staff who take the time to better themselves and be the best they can be and utilize the CLTE to help them with that. I can’t be a slacker around these folks. Oh no, so I’m inspired to step my game up and help provide the services they need, and it reminds me of why I’m doing this job in the first place. It’s easy to forget at times.

So the last thing I need to be doing right now is agonizing over a journal post, but I’m inspired to do so because of the 10+ posts already posted on Write6x6.com from last week. They are my inspiration to post, to share. They are my inspiration to complete a tedious FPG application for an upcoming workshop. My inspiration to schedule FMS training in the CTLE. My inspiration to send out yet another announcement about what we have to offer, knowing very few will bother to read it. But it’s that few that inspire me.

Recently I attended a district event at SCC called TechTalks. It’s a TEDTalks type of event where 8 speakers talk about their experience with using technology in their life or work environment. These talks are very inspirational, but on this particular Friday I had every legitimate excuse to not miss work and not attend. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to any one of those excuses because that’s all they are is excuses. Attending TechTalks rejuvenated me. It inspired me. It made me want to go and do ALL those things those speakers talked about. I wanted to understand data, play with virtual reality, create portfolios for my students, create OER, and even make a music video despite my lack of music and movie making skills. I was inspired. Again by my colleagues in Maricopa. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up this one of a multitude of opportunities to be inspired because what good am I to you, my colleagues, my students if I’m not inspired to do my job?