Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Embrace the feedback

This morning I sent my Chronicle article to my high school composition teacher. To give you some background, we had been out of touch for years, and then I was given an award by my alumni association, and remembered Mrs. Capone as being the most important teacher in my high school years, in terms of teaching me how to write. So I contacted Mrs. Capone to thank her for her influence. We exchanged a few emails and that was that. And then this morning I sent her my article.

She wrote back, said that she enjoyed the article, and commented on two grammatical aspects of my writing that I should consider! Feedback from my high school comp teacher! Her note brought an immediate smile to my face. For the record, one of her comments is something I need to consider. The other regards an rule that I occasionally break on purpose... and I think I know enough to do so (though she may disagree).

This all got me thinking about the value of feedback. When we are in the thick of things, writing and submitting papers, and getting feedback... we sometimes hope for little criticism, instead yearning for the "A" and lots of positive remarks. However Mrs. Capone's note this morning reminded me that the critical feedback is what makes us better writers. The "A's" feel good, but the criticism has a more far-reaching and important impact.

Embrace the feedback.

All the best,

amendment to Chronicle post

It appears that the link for free access only works when sent from the Chronicle site, it doesn't work when I embed it somewhere else. So just send me your email address if you want the working link and I'll send it to you. Sorry about that. H

Hot off the press -- my article in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Hi Friends, Last spring I wrote an article on being a faculty member on Facebook (and I also touched on other social media and technology). Can we mentor on Facebook? What interesting issues does Facebook raise regarding privacy and boundaries?

This link is available through Friday... check it out:


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Email docs to yourself! Avoid lost docs.

Hi All,

Quick tip.... particularly useful for those of you working on multiple computers or old computers that sometimes fail...

When you are finished with a draft of a paper or project plan or anything else, email it to yourself. By doing this, you create an instant back-up so if you somehow lose the document otherwise (computer fails, you lose your jump drive, etc.) you will still have a copy in your email.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

One of the cool things about teaching, is learning.

Earlier this week, my colleague Sandie and I held a panel relating to the G-20. The panel, G-20: Poverty, Power, and Protest was designed to help our students gain a better understanding of the G-20 (being held here in Pittsburgh right now) and to think more deeply about related issues. The panelists were terrific: Dr. Allyson Lowe, Sr. Pat McCann, Paula Harris, and Joyce Rothermel. Among them, we had a political scientist, an activist Sister of Mercy, a member of Pgh's ACLU board, and the CEO of the Pittsburgh Food Bank.

Watching the news last night, I realized just how much I learned from the panel and from the questions asked by my students... how I understood the issues more deeply. I am grateful for that opportunity. This also reminds me of how I learn, on a regular basis, from my own students. As they bring their various perspectives, informed by a range of careers from nursing to non-profit, as well as the rest of their life experiences.... my understanding, even on the things that I teach, is deepened.

Whether you sit in my class or someone else's.... know that what you bring to the conversation makes an impact... the mutuality of teaching and learning is a gift.

Thanks all! Good luck with the work!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ritual and routine can provide study support

Most adult students are on a tight timeline when it comes to meeting deadlines for school. Gone are the days of study hall fifth period and after school time to do homework. We are trying to fit school work in between our jobs, family responsibilities and so on. Ideally, we need to be able to sit down when the time is right, and just get right to work. But how do we quickly transition from job to assigned readings, or from taking care of kids to writing a paper?

Many adult students find that a particular activity helps them transition. For example, my friend Lisa takes a brisk walk with her dogs (sometimes in the park pictured above in Birmingham!) to get energized before she begins working. I have at times benefitted from a quick work out, also to increase my energy level. And at other times, I have found that folding laundry (that's right, folding laundry) or some other fairly mindless and slightly repetitive physical activity, cleared my head and allowed me to start thinking about the next page I needed to write for a paper.

How about you? Do you have rituals or routines that help you prepare to work effectively?

Cheering you on!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Staying Motivated

Here is a good post, written for graduate students, on staying motivated:

Special thanks to my friend and fellow blogger Melanie Booth who shared this post with me.

Happy Monday all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keepers - hold on to those books and papers

Here is a tip for new graduate students: keep final copies of all papers and keep your books. In grad school, it is much more likely that you will want to go back to old papers for references and to draw on various passages that you have written. In addition, in some programs you will need to write a reflective paper toward the end of your studies and/or submit a portfolio. So, keep a final copy of each paper that you write in a separate folder in your documents so that you can easily find final drafts of all papers.

In addition, you may be tempted to sell your books at the end of your course - as you may have done during your undergrad days. However, as with papers, you will very likely need to go back to those books throughout your program, so refrain from selling back those books and keep them for future use.

Cheers all! Good luck with the work!

p.s. Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah, so I will not be online. Back Monday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stress management tip from a guest blogger -- my dad!

Last night my dad emailed me to say he has been reading my blog and wanted to offer a stress management tip.... so here it is:

The following has helped me through stress and problems at work and in life in general. When faced with a problem instead of worrying about the entire problem I divide (either mentally or on paper) it into two parts.

One part consists of everything in that issue that I can change and the other part is the part I cannot control. Then when I am sure I have the list complete I throw away all the issues that I CANNOT change and only concentrate on what I can change. Why waste time, energy and worry on something you can not change?

This has saved me a lot of unnecessary worry and stress and has allowed me to sleep at night. I learned this from a "stress management course for supervisors" and believe me it works.

Thanks Dad! Good luck with the work, all!

photo by HLS

Monday, September 14, 2009

Group projects - making conflict productive

Hi All, Many of you are involved in group projects, both in school and at work. Here is a brief podcast (and written transcript) from the Center for Creative Leadership:

What are you learning from your group work? Have you had to deal with conflict?

Cheering you on!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday morning cartoon!

Hi All, I'll be offline this weekend, so I'm posting your Saturday morning cartoon early.

Good luck with the work!

Add Image

red shoes for visiting judi

Hi All, A little departure from the ordinary... my cool and wonderful friend Judi asked me to be a guest blogger on her blog. So, I had the opportunity to step away from the encouragement theme and write about something else...I chose to write about music. Check it out:


Learning is an Act of Hope - Part 2

(continued from Monday's post)

Kasworm’s middle stages reflect ongoing engagement in the academic process. The second act of hope for the adult student is to continue in school (Kasworm, 2008). “Because adults have competing lives, hopes and realities, each semester of college involvement represents either a renegotiation or adaptation of themselves and their lives” (p. 29). Adults students encounter challenges to their worldview and it is the engagement with faculty and success in the classroom that give students the support and strength they need to continue taking on these challenges (Kasworm, 2008). The adult student’s third act of hope is learning. In this phase, the adult student is actively co-creating meaning and knowledge and an evolving worldview (pp. 32-33).

The adult student’s final act of hope “is gaining a place, a position, a voice, and a related sense of valued self in the cultural worlds of higher education (Kasworm, 2008, p. 32). Given the value and meaning that society places on higher education, adult learners experience “emotional cultural demands” (p. 32) regarding their academic endeavors. Both in the classroom and in the larger campus community, students:

experience environmental and relational cues, messages and supports (or lack thereof)…through these cultural engagements, adults co-construct their sense of who they are as collegiate students (in relation to other students and in relation to their other adult roles) and their sense of possibilities to be successful and valued in both this academic world and many other adult worlds. (Kasworm, 2008, p. 33).

Kasworm, C.E. (2008). Emotional challenges of adult learners in higher education. In J.M. Dirkx (Ed.), New directions for adult and continuing education: Adult learning and the emotional self (pp. 27-34). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



Monday, September 7, 2009

"Learning is an Act of Hope" - part 1

Last year, when reviewing literature for my dissertation, I came across a piece by Dr. Carol Kasworm. Discussing adults who return to school, she declares: "Learning is an Act of Hope" (2008, p. 27). I find Dr. Kasworm's words to be wonderfully inspiring... perhaps you will too.

Today, I'll post the first part of my summary of her writing. I'll post the second part on Wednesday.

“Learning is an act of hope” suggests Kasworm (2008, p. 27) describing four challenges faced by adult learners as they return to and engage in school. Unlike traditional-aged undergraduates, adult learners do not typically separate from family and their past lives to begin school. “Rather, most adults continue their complex lives – with the added challenging role of student” (p. 27). She continues to describe this entrance phase which she calls “the first act of hope” (p. 28) as a time when adult students face a variety of new challenges, often while managing existing challenges.

Adult students must adjust to working within a new system, facing the challenge of the classroom and being evaluated in a new domain, and managing time and stress with new demands inherent in school. In addition, adult students have often been motivated to return to school by a life crisis such as divorce or job loss and are carrying the related stresses (Kasworm, 2008). Moreover, these students may be dealing with a range of responses from family and friends regarding the return to school, from those who are not supportive and complicate the endeavor, to those who are encouraging.

See you Wednesday with the second part of this post.



Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday morning cartoon!

Happy Weekend! Good luck with the work and I hope you enjoy some down time as well.

Here is your cartoon:


Friday, September 4, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What have I gotten myself into?

For some of you who have just started a new program or even for those who are starting a new semester... you might be having this feeling of "whoa, what have I gotten myself into" or you might be asking yourself, "did I bite off more than I can chew?"

These are feelings are common among graduate students. The fact is, you have taken on something BIG! Some of you have been out of school for awhile... or perhaps you are starting your dissertation which feels bigger than anything you have tackled before. Regardless of where you are in your process, know that these feelings are common among graduate students.

Despite these questions and concerns, know that you can do it! Many others before you have had the same doubts and have gone on to do great work and graduate! These feelings may be part of the process of taking on a big challenge. Again, you can do it!

cheering you on,

p.s. apologies to the vegetarians regarding the photo... but a big heap of string beans just wasn't going to have the same effect!
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