Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who helps you grow?

I begin today by thinking about my grandmother Mildred who believed in me on such a deep level. I remember that I would tell her of some success or achievement and she would say "Of course!". Her tone implied that she was not at all surprised, but expected such things. As she said "Of course" there was not any element of taking my work for granted, rather it was a combination of delight and faith in my abilities and my progress. I believe that my grandmother's confidence gave me a foundation of confidence and her love gave me an inner strength.

Who helps you grow? How do they help? Maybe today is a day to reflect on these important people? Maybe it's a day to say thanks. Also, I invite you to comment below with a story of someone whose love and confidence has helped you along the way.

Cheering you on in your work!

photo by HLS

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cheering you on!

Hi Friends,

I was at a training at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College over the weekend. So lots to catch up on here at home today. So no real post of substance... just sharing a photo with you, and cheering you on in your work. More later this week.


photo by HLS

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Encouragement and courage

"En-couraged people act with feeling and passion; they transcend separate self, isolation, inaction, and stasis. It often takes courage to 'move toward' and engage with others, to act from a place of authentic and strong emotion. We do not achieve courage once and for all, but we re-create it."

- Judith Jordan from "Courage and Connection: Conflict Compassion, Creativity," Work in Progress, no. 45 (Wellesley, MA: Stone Center, Wellesley College, 1990), p. 3 ((as cited in Robb, C. (2007), "This Changes Everything: The Relational Revolution in Psychology." New York: Picador.))

photo by HLS

Monday, October 19, 2009

Confidence in the classroom

A reader wrote recently about wishing for more confidence to speak during class. I had this same issue when I began my PhD program so let me first tell you a little of my own experience with this, and then offer some additional suggestions. I don't often tell my own stories on here, but perhaps it will help to hear someone else's experience.

Shortly after I began my PhD program, I met with my advisor and one of the first things I discussed was my difficulty speaking up in class. One of my realities is that it usually takes me a little time to synthesize information before I am ready to comment and so sometimes by the time I was ready to comment, the class had moved on to a different topic. A second factor was that as I was sitting there in class, thinking I had something to contribute, I would often think "this is obvious, everyone must be thinking it" and so I wouldn't comment.

My advisor suggested that I try to stop worrying about it (because worrying about it was further getting in my way!!!) and trust that when I had something to say, I would say it. This helped me relax a little bit. That was the first step for me in terms of getting more comfortable and able to speak more in class. A few things I learned after that...

1. I'm not one of those people who will have something to say all the time. I am more quiet and reflective than that. I've accepted that about myself and that brings me to number two...

2. It's cool to be known as someone who doesn't say a lot, but when she says something, it's thoughtful.

3. In those moments when I think of something to say and the class has already moved on, I assess where we are and then sometimes suggest "I would like to go back to (insert previous topic)... I was just thinking...(and then you share your thoughts on the earlier topic)." Unless the class is really involved in an intense discussion, it's ok to redirect and ask folks to go with you back to an earlier topic.

4. Prepare a few questions before class. I used to think that all those talkative students were just quick on their feet... some of them come with a list of questions that they developed while doing the readings.

5. When you catch yourself thinking "this is obvious, everyone must be thinking it" -- challenge that assumption... most often, your thoughts and perspective are more original than you think!

Readers.... other ideas on how to feel more confident in the classroom???

Good luck with the work!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Honoring priorities

Hi All, I've been thinking about today's post, and the fact is, that my priority today has to be reading student papers. So I'm going to walk the walk and honor my priority (reading paper) instead of getting pulled into something else (writing a regular post for today).

The good news is, that I already have a fun video picked out for tomorrow, and then I'll be back next week with some thoughts about confidence.

Good luck with today's priorities!

more soon,

Photo by HLS

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

More on connecting with faculty

Tera, one of my former students and a reader, posted the following as a comment to my post last week about connecting with faculty. I thought her idea was a good one, and so decided to include it as a full post, for those who don't read the comments.

Pearce states "to commit to follow a leader down an uncertain path, they have to know the leader’s personal motivation."

Personal motivation is central to trustworthiness. Perhaps before meeting directly as that might be intimidating, try some in class connection. Participate more in discussions and relate your experiences to the Professor's. Create dialogue to encourage connetions with classmates and the professor. Establishing small connections helps to build trust and soon you will see that the relationship may have just been "slow to warm up".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday morning cartoon - Evolution of Dance!

Hi Folks,

Here is an old favorite to bring you cheer on this Saturday as you begin your weekend work:

All the best,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Connecting with Faculty

Hi All, This is a continuation of my last post, in response to an anonymous reader who wrote to say that she or he is having difficulty connecting with faculty.

To be most helpful, I would need to know more about you and your faculty and whether you have tried to connect and it has not worked, or whether you aren't sure how to initiate those relationships. However, for now, I will address how to initiate a more personal/professional connection with your faculty.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Make an appointment to get help or support with class work. Certainly, if you are having trouble with any papers, projects or reading, this is a very good reason to meet with your professor. Make an appointment and be prepared with your materials and questions. Work-specific conversations can be a nice bridge to a deeper professional connection and even a mentoring relationship.

2. Look for common ground, and then make an appointment. Has your prof mentioned her or his research and/or professional interests in class? If not, that's what google is for... see if your professor has published in any areas that interest you. If you find common ground, read your professor's work and then make an appointment to discuss. Or if your professor has professional experience that interests you, ask for a time to meet and discuss.

3. Simply ask to meet. I have had a few students email me and say "you are someone I'd like to get to know professionally, can we meet for coffee?" I have really appreciated this straight-forward approach (and the compliment!). We have had terrific meetings, discussing the student's career goals and questions, my research interests and other parts of my professional background.

Other readers -- how have you connected with your professors?

Good luck with the work, all.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grad students and campus community

An anonymous reader responded to my question "how can I help" last week with a few issues. I will address one each over the next few posts.

Here is the first issue raised in the post: "...what i am struggling the most with right now is feeling like I am part of the campus community. i am a fulltime student, commute to campus, and work."

Feeling as if you are part of the campus community, as a graduate student (who works) can be a challenge. Given that you are in student affairs (that is my background too!), I can imagine that you were an involved undergraduate so the transition is even trickier.

I encourage you to think more about how it is that you would really like to feel "part of" the campus community. Is it about having a group on campus with which you are affiliated, is it about connection with faculty, is it about contributing to the campus community? Other ideas?

I think that it is generally more difficult for grad students to get connected -- the opportunities are not as obvious as they were on the undergrad level, plus as you noted, in many cases, we are commuting to campus and/or working.

We'll talk about connecting with faculty later in the week. For now, a few other ideas (and keep in mind, I don't know what your time constraints are):

- Graduate student organizations? Graduate student government?

- Committees on campus that seek graduate student participation? Check with the provost and or dean of student affairs to explore this.

- Undergraduate organizations that may be interested in a grad advisor?

- Recruit others from your dept to field an intramural team

Do any of these resonate? What kind of campus connections you are seeking?


Friday, October 2, 2009

How can I help you?

Time management? Stress management? Connecting with faculty? Setting goals? What are the aspects of your academic experience that are the most challenging? How can I help? This is your turn... send me questions, dilemmas, or topics... and I'll respond in a future post.

Either post here to comments, or email me at

cheering you on!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One day at a time

This week has felt like a rush, and not the good kind. Several of my friends and students have said the same thing -- life is feeling hectic and stressful. So today's reminder is to breathe, prioritize, and do what we can to lower the stress level.

Good luck with the work.

Deep breath.


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