Tag Archives: staff

Conversation = Relationship


relatinoships pics


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.


Difficult Situations: Black Panther Edition (Non-Spoiler)


Wakanda Forever
Me doing the Wakandan greeting. Wakanda Forever!


My husband and I have seen Black Panther twice. It was great and I walked away with many takeaways. Here was one of my takeaways:

When faced with difficult situations it is imperative that you do not face them on your own, but that you have people that you trust surrounding you, supporting you, and backing you up when you need it most.

T’Challa, the Black Panther, faced several problems throughout the movie, but one specific problem almost cost him everything. One of the things I noticed about the movie was that T’Challa had a circle of support when he faced the problems. There was his general/second in command Okoye, the love of his life Nakia, his sister Shuri, his keeper of traditions Zuri, and the list goes on and on and on. Ultimately, it was the efforts of the collective few that helped T’Challa face adversity in extremely dark times. T’Challa’s father encouraged his son to surround himself with great people, and you clearly saw the reason why.

When you are faced with a difficult situation rally your circle of support together for the support that you need. Facing adversity on your own can be exhausting and draining and lonely. I know, because I have chosen that route in the past. When I went through chemotherapy and radiation for non-hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, I only let a couple of people in. I felt my experience was my experience and that it was private and I didn’t want to let people in because I didn’t want them to worry. I wanted to protect others from the experience. I didn’t share the details of that experience with others until 2015 at the Ignite GCC event.

I have learned from that experience. Facing difficult situations requires strength from the self, but also the support of others. I pull strength from the self by focusing on optimism, positivity, spirituality, and a belief that everything will eventually work itself out. The strength I pull from others comes from my circle of support which includes the love of my life, mentors, colleagues, and friends. My circle includes people I trust, who support me, and have backed me up when I needed it most.

My question to you is who is your circle of support? When times are tough and uncertain and dark, who do you turn to? How do you get back up when life has punched you in the face and has left you on the ground watching and waiting to see if you dare to get back up again? Rally together a circle of support to help to rise after the fall. The encouragement you receive from your circle can inspire you, motivate you, reinvigorate you, and challenge you to keep moving forward.

T’Challa is a great hero. He has integrity and he represents all that is good in the world and the leader that many of us aspire to be. He also had a circle of support that really contributed to how he was able to face difficult situations. I encourage you to form your circle of support so that you can get through your difficult situation or be ready when the situation presents itself at your door.


What’s Your Pur Pur?



     During an interview with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Oprah said that “Everybody has a purpose, so your whole thing is to figure out what that is, your real job is to figure out why you’re really here, and then get about the business of doing it.” I wholeheartedly agree with Oprah. Here is my purpose:

“Because I value professional development and personal growth I will use my expertise to empower, motivate, and inspire faculty, staff, and students.”

      I believe in my purpose. I think that it’s critical that we help faculty, staff, and students become the best versions of themselves so that they can succeed in their lives and touch the lives of others. Purpose is a motivator, and it pushes me to strive for excellence daily. I’m actively working towards fulfilling my purpose. I have a long list of how I’d like to fulfill my purpose in my office. I’ve provided an abridged version of my list below.

Here are my questions to you: What’s your purpose? What’s your purpose statement? Are you taking the time to figure it out? Have you already figured it out? How will you fulfill your purpose? Did you give up on it? Why did you give up? Was it fear/doubt? Have you taken the time to work through it?

Why is this important? Purpose provides direction and focus in a noisy distracted world. Purpose is important when you are facing adversity and uncertainty. It’s that shining light in the darkness that can help you to find your way out. Purpose builds strength, and it’s needed when it feels like your world is collapsing and caving in on you.

If you don’t know your purpose, you’ll find it. If you’ve found it, you’re hopefully working towards it. I encourage you to find it, to not to give up on it, and to fulfill it.

How I am actively fulfilling my purpose based off of my purpose statement (abridged list):

  1. Help faculty and staff become master teachers and become a master teacher myself. How?
  • Co-faculty Developer: I am currently the co-faculty developer for the Center for Teaching Learning and Engagement. I am also an active participant in the Faculty Development Council.
  • Faculty Professional Growth: I am committed to investing 36 hours per academic year to my professional growth, not because I have to, but because I want to. I’ve already accomplished that goal for the academic year.
  • The 10,000-hour rule: The rule focuses on how an individual could become a master at something with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. I am practicing teaching. I have acquired 4,130 hours thus far. (The concept can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers)
  1. Become a Motivational/Inspirational Speaker for Faculty, Staff, and Students. How?
  • Blogging: I use this to serve others. I hope they benefit from it. Especially during the rough times. My goal is to post once per week.
  • Public Presentations: Participate in at least two community engagements per year.

Recovering Assessment Hater



“Boring, lame, inconvenient, and unnecessary.” If you would have asked me several years ago my thoughts on assessment, this would have been my response when I was adjunct faculty. I abhorred assessment because I didn’t get it, but I didn’t get it because I was not educated in it. I had a resistance to it, and my resistance was rooted in my insecurities and my ignorance in the area.


When it was that time of year for the assessment reports, I thought to myself WHY!!???, and I submitted my assessment reports, gritting my teeth, just wanting to get them over with, and out of my face.


     It’s really hard for me to admit that I knew nothing about assessment when I started teaching as an adjunct. When I say I knew nothing, I knew NOTHING. I didn’t even know that the exams I had in my course were actually a form of assessment, that was how bad it was. When I started teaching part time, my knowledge of assessment was not a requirement. I met the qualifications on paper, I was handed a book and a syllabus, and off I went.

When I was hired as residential faculty I knew a little more. I had previous experience as a curriculum developer and I knew that I wanted to do better and I wanted to change my negative attitude. I had to be honest with myself by raising my hand and saying “My name is Tenisha Baca and there’s a lot about assessment that I still don’t know, but feel like I should know.” I knew that the only way to remedy my negative attitude towards it was to commit to taking the time to properly learn what it is, how it works, and why it’s important. So, I signed up for the assessment seminar at the Center for Teaching Learning and Engagement (CTLE), and my mind opened up to a whole new world of amazing in the following ways:

  1. Assessment is really not that big, bad, or scary. It’s simple and informative.
  2. I can do this, I can do a better job, and the CTLE can help me.
  3. If I’m all about student success, I need to do it and take it more seriously for the benefit of the student’s learning experience.

I applied it and I’m happy that I did. I have seen an improvement in my student’s exam scores, I revised the curricular areas where my students were struggling, and I have criteria that is clearer and grading that is more consistent. The commitment to assessment had a significant impact in my courses.

If you were like me several years ago, I encourage you to give assessment a chance and really look at the potential and the possibilities behind it. I see the value in assessment because of the improvements I have seen, not only in my students, but myself. Assessment is needed and our decision to take it on and do it right, or do it half way, or not at all, can make a huge difference in student success in the classroom.