Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome back! You can do it!

I know that some students return from Thanksgiving break feeling rested and ready to finish the semester. Other students return from break in a bit of a panic about the work that remains. I'm here to tell you, you can do this!

If you are feeling good, keep at it -- don't let the week slip away, but keep doing at least a little bit of work each day to stay on track.

If you are stressed, overwhelmed -- go back to the basics. Be sure that you have a to do list and that you have prioritized the work that remains before the end of the semester. Block out time in your schedule to do work. If you look at that list and aren't sure how you will meet your deadlines, explore taking some time off work to focus on school work. Or ask for extra help around the house so you can find somewhere quiet and do your own work. If you are in a crunch, something will have to give -- step back for a moment and look at your options. Also, work strategically -- do the challenging work (reading, writing, editing) when you are at your best and use the times when you are tired for the easier work (printing articles, checking citations, building your reference list, etc).

You can do this!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday morning video -- How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Hi All,

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, here is your Saturday morning video:

This video is longer than what I typically post here, but it's a hoot and some folks will get some time off this week, so I decided to post it anyway.

Trying to walk my talk, I will not be posting during the week of Thanksgiving, but instead will use the beginning of the week to focus on some writing and later in the week will take some family time away from the computer.

Cheering you on in your work, and hoping you get a break!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeling stuck?

Today's message is a simple message of encouragement. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, I understand (at least some version of these things). I've been there and know that it can be very difficult, particularly when school is just one of the things you are juggling.

The best way to get moving again is to select one thing... something that seems doable or interesting... it might even be something simple like locating articles online that you need and printing them, or answering just the first part of an essay question, or read the shortest article on your list.

Do something, anything.... and it will get you moving. Do one thing today, and another tomorrow, and soon you will begin to build some momentum.

You can do it!

photo by hls

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stress Management: Plan your reward!

At this point in the semester, many students are just plain tired. You've been working hard to balance school, work, family and other responsibilities... you may be headed into final papers, presentations, or exams... and you are tired! You are ready for break.

One strategy I have used that has reduced my stress at least a little bit at times, is to plan an end-of-semester reward. Depending on time, money and other obligations -- the reward might be big, like going away for a weekend or seemingly small, like an afternoon at the movies with friends. The reward might be shopping or taking time to paint or make music. Whatever it is, planning something that you will do, something that you enjoy, at the end of the semester reminds you that break will be here soon and also that something fun is on the horizon.

What will you do to treat yourself?

Cheering you on in your work!

photo by hls

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wise words of encouragement - a last lecture of sorts - The Rev. Susan Nelson

Hi All,

The following is a sermon given by my friend and former neighbor The Rev. Susan Nelson. Susan and her husband Dave were our dear neighbors for many years here in Pittsburgh, before they moved to California where Susan became the dean of the Claremont School of Theology. Susan passed away from brain cancer earlier this month. Her daughter Kathryn recently shared the following, a welcome address that Susan gave to her students last fall at CST. Susan's words are full of perspective, hope, and encouragement and I'm delighted to share this with you.

Dear students,

I am glad to welcome you

To what I expect will be an exciting

And challenging

Year at Claremont School of Theology.

When I began my journey

Into theological education,

The word “career”

Had not crossed my lips.

I entered my first program, rather,

As a seeker.

I loved to read and muse

And I wanted an opportunity

To think about the meaning of life

And to grow

In wisdom and knowledge

I knew that life is fragile,

But I had not yet learned

How to hold the brokenness of life

With the joy of discovery

That, broken or not

It was worth the journey.

I loved beauty,

But I had not learned that beauty is fleeting

And that finitude is part of what

Makes it so beautiful.

I yearned for loving relations,

And had yet to realize

All the ways in which

I could learn to avoid

The tension of face-to-face relations.

These learnings were critical

To my growth as a human being

And to what eventually became

My calling as teacher and administrator.

I expect that each of you

Is something of a seeker.

Curiosity and possibility

Have drawn you to this place

To this faculty and staff –

To the fellow students you will tussle with

And perhaps enjoy along the way.

I expect that you will not be the same person

When you leave CST

That you are right now.

I expect that you will know moments

When the works feels out of reach,

Your studies less than lustrous

And many other moments

When you will know the satisfaction

Of accomplishment

And the joy of doing something

Really well.

And I expect you will grow friendships

And learn an important lesson,

That mutual respect for all people

Is critical

For the flourishing of life.

May you thrive in your challenges at CST,

May you grow in appreciation

Of the privilege

Of learning

In a community of scholars

May you have stellar teachers and mentors,

May you find moments

When you are surprised by joy

Or struck by a beauty

That totally draws you in

Providing absolute distraction

And, may you risk companionship

And the messiness of life

In genuine community

A year ago,

Students asked me to consider

Giving a “last lecture” –

If I were invited

To give the final lecture of my life,

What would I say?

Since that time,

I’ve had to actually consider

“Last things”

And how to live

In a present reality

That seems so precarious.

What I would say if asked

To give that lecture on this day, is

Practice awareness,

Watch yourselves breathe, -

Every day find at least one thing to be thankful for

- Tell others what they mean to you -



And practice the discipline

Of taking nothing for granted –

Or perhaps, better said,

The discipline of forgiving yourselves

For all the ways

You will take life for granted

And receive it anyway.

Grace and peace

Be upon you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cool tools -- Collaborative workspaces -- PB Works and Huddle

Hi All, I was searching recently for an online tool that I could use to host a collaborative workspace wherein folks working from different locations could share and edit documents, share links, schedule meetings and so on. Looks like I will end up using an internal resource at Carlow and setting up access for folks from outside of the institution. In the meantime though, I found these two tools which look promising. Unfortunately, I won't get to try them out at this point, but I wanted to share them with you.

PBWorks offers a free version for educators. PBworks hosts over 300,000 educational workspaces, and has helped transform teaching and learning for millions of students, parents and teachers. Educators ranging from major universities like DePaul, school districts like Baltimore County Public Schools and individual teachers trust PBworks as their collaborative learning environment," according to the PBWorks website. PBworks is also highly-recommended by two of my colleagues -- thanks Mary and Cory for the suggestion!

Huddle does not offer an education version, but does offer a free version that allows for one workspace. Along with document management, file sharing, and wiki capability, Huddle also offers a whiteboard function.

I am eager to try these tools when a project calls for such a space. In the meantime, if you have used these, please share your experience here at the Encouragement Lounge.

Cheering you on in your work!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grad student challenge - when friends don't understand

I visited a grad class recently and asked for blog post ideas. A few students noted that they struggle with friends who are not in grad school and don't understand the associated time demands, thus pressuring them to get-together and so on. This can definitely add another layer of stress to the already challenging journey of graduate school.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Send a note to all of your friends and set a boundary. A very close friend of mine in my PhD program sent an email to all of her friends explaining that for the next few years, she would be making school her priority, asking them to understand that when she turned down their invitations, her decision was about her focus on school and not a comment on their friendship.

2. Plan a get-together after the semester. Again, tell your friends that during the semester, your focus is school, but that you'd love to see them when you are on break. Having a get-together planned shows your friends that you value the connection and allows you to feel better about not seeing them while you are busy with school.

3. Find new friends. I don't mean for that to be as harsh as it sounds. I'm all for doing the work to keep old friends (and I mean this - I'm not encouraging you to ditch your old friends!). I'm really suggesting that you find a new friend or two as well. Developing a strong friendship with at least one person in your grad program will, I believe, make your journey richer and less stressful -- having someone who "gets it" and knows the players and is engaged in the same work will be a tremendous source of support.

4. Believe in yourself. When those around you don't understand, remind yourself why you decided to go back to school. Remind yourself of your goals and dreams and know in your heart that you can do this.

Cheering you on!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

APA style -- what belongs on the reference list

To learn more about what qualifies as a reference, what you should include in your reference list, visit:

Cheering you on!

photo by hls
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