Tag Archive: teaching


Innovation, Adaptation, and Change

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Our students maneuver the world in ways that are astonishing.  Rapid innovation that allows them to access, share, store, and manipulate information with increasing speed has been almost dizzying for digital immigrants who must be intentional about adapting these changes to the learning environment.  Electronic modes of communication have evolved from the time of Samuel Morse and Alexander Graham Bell to now with individual and group texting for students who prefer to text rather than talk; Morse would probably be happier about this than Bell.  Further, increased bandwidth has allowed the evolution of video conversations to multiple people participating from a distance with near-in-person communication; imagine what Bell would have thought about this!

In education, we organize educational material in course management systems with increasing bells and whistles and even adapt the learning environment by engaging students in classes with thoughtful use of the technology they carry to access the world.  Increasing access to information and the cost of higher education have resulted in many of our students coming to SUNY Plattsburgh with a significant number of college credits they earned through dual enrollment programs; some of the courses were taken online.

We are challenged with the need to innovate, adapt, and change as many students come to us with increasing technological skills and with curricular needs that may fit into a three-year model rather than a four-year model.  We must remain intentional about adapting ways students access the world into our pedagogy.  We also must be aware of gaps that result from overuse of technology and help our students develop good interpersonal skills that occur face-to-face, especially when it comes to managing conflict.

All of this provides context for a few questions that can be framed in our shared values:

Excellence in Teaching

  • Given our commitment to academic quality, what ways must we innovate, adapt and change to meet the educational needs of our current students?
  • As more students come to college with greater numbers of general education credits, how do we adapt our traditional curricular models to ensure students leave with what we value in a college education given our commitment to liberal arts?
  • What are the best approaches for supporting students who have not had the privilege of AP courses, especially those who need some remedial support, graduate from college in four years?

Professionalism

  • How do we build stronger bridges between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to collaborate in a whole-person approach to students’ development?
  • What are the best approaches to strengthening face-to-face communication skills across the curriculum?

Inclusion/Culturally Responsive

  • With increasing numbers of racially diverse students who enrich the academic learning environment, how do we as individuals and members of a complex system need to adapt to improve communication, pedagogy, and an overall supportive campus culture/climate/community?
  • With appreciation for cultural differences in family involvement, what are the best ways to improve communication with families of our students?

Our ability to innovate, adapt, and change will chart a successful course for our future and the future for our students.  Exploring creative approaches together is exciting and focuses our energies in the right places.

Bonus:

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First image (September 27, 2016). Retrieved on April 23, 2017 from: https://m.yourstory.com/2016/09/book-review-innovation-is-a-state-of-mind-innovation-is-good-business-but-it-can-also-be-good-life-new-book-gives-creative-tips/

Second image (March 11, 2009). Retrieved on April 23, 2017 from: https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/hblowers/innovation-quotes

Excellence in Teaching

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Excellence in teaching requires us to ENGAGE students in the learning process.  It also requires a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, a pursuit that deepens the knowledge we can share, as well as deepening our knowledge about approaches for helping students learn.

There was a time when PowerPoints were engaging because they were “bright and shiny” compared to overheads; however, the phrase “death by PowerPoint” is common in our vernacular these days for a reason. I remember when I was an undergraduate student and “dyed in the wool” lecturing professors would bring in their notes that had yellowed over the years. Back then, I used to wish they would at least put some Liquid Paper around the edges to make the notes look new; this was before computers when a fresh set of notes could be printed with the click of a button. PowerPoints don’t yellow, but if sound effects occur when text appears on the screen, that’s a hint of yellowing. If slides are still being read to students in class, that may be a technique that is yellowing if overused.

When I taught a graduate voice disorders class last fall, I experimented with a flipped classroom model. Students read assignments and slides before class. Clinical cases were presented in class and in the voice lab and therapy techniques were practiced. The students helped me find my balance by requesting I review highlights from slides they had access to on a course management system, Moodle in this case. After 25 years of teaching, this felt like one of the best classes I have taught. Students were engaged more deeply with the material and feedback was positive.

Since teaching that class, I’ve been reading a book loaned to me by the Chairperson of Expeditionary Studies entitled, Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel (2014) that details better ways to help students retain material over longer periods of time. There are approaches to learning I would change the next time I teach based on information in this book. For example, I would place exercises on Moodle that required more retrieval of course content and I would increase quizzes and formative assessments in class. A few key points from the authors include:

“Practice at retrieving new knowledge or skills from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention”

“Effortful retrieval makes for stronger learning and retention.”

“After an initial test, delaying subsequent retrieval practice is more potent for reinforcing retention than immediate practice, because delayed retrieval requires more effort.”

“Repeated retrieval not only makes memories more durable but produces knowledge that can be retrieved more readily, in more varied settings, and applied to a wider variety of problems.”

Life-long learning by instructors and a willingness to try new approaches to engage students while teaching are crucial to achieving our highest shared value of Excellence in Teaching. It’s no coincidence that someone from Expeditionary Studies loaned me a book on learning so I could explore new territory for supporting students’ success. I am grateful to be in a community with colleagues who embrace this ongoing work.

Ask a few colleagues to share their most engaging teaching techniques with you this week. I suspect it will be an enlightening conversation.

Bonus: “Trying to come up with an answer rather than having it presented to you, or trying to solve a problem before being shown the solution, leads to better learning and longer retention of the correct answer or solution, even when your attempted response is wrong, so long as corrective feedback is provided” (Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel, p. 101)

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted
• Excellence in Teaching
• Lifelong learning

 

References

Brown, P., Roediger, H., & McDaniel (2014). Make it stick. Cambridge, MA: The Belkbap Press of the Harvard University Press.

Image (n.d.) Retrieved on February 12, 2017 from: http://www.newspakistan.tv/high-fructose-diet-harms-brain-genes-study/

The Foundation On Which We Stand

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New students entering Giltz Auditorium for the matriculation ceremony as faculty and staff cheer and clap.  Photograph by Konrad Odhiambo

Our students are moved in (often a Herculean family feat, both financial and physical), new students are matriculated and the first week of classes completed successfully. Now, we focus our energies on being the best learning community possible for our students and for us at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Our student-centered approach to education is supported by our shared values. The foundational values established by faculty members in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services are not collecting dust on a shelf; rather, we continually revisit our shared values to guide our work together. Today, I share student-centered thoughts and questions after each of our shared values.

Respect and Empathy
What is the best way to respect the backgrounds our students bring to our learning environments? 37% of our freshmen and 42% or our transfer students are from low-income families. There may be a need to be more flexible with rising scholars who are working several jobs, some of whom are helping to support their families. Here is a short commentary from The Chronicle of Higher Education that will provide more insight for you. Pay particular attention to the second recommendation: http://www.chronicle.com/article/What-Colleges-Can-Do-Right-Now/237589

Excellence in Teaching
What will you do this semester to learn one or two new teaching techniques you can use in class to engage students at a deeper level? I have learned numerous techniques from professors in Teacher Education. Don’t underestimate the ways in which we are resources for each other.

Lifelong Learning and Growth
It is important to consider how we are preparing our students to be life-long learners. How do you reinforce this in your classes? What skills and dispositions are needed by our students to do this successfully?

Inclusion/Culturally Responsive
Almost 25% of our incoming students are from historically underrepresented groups. How are scholars and experts from these groups represented in your curriculum? Deeper connection and learning, in that order, will result from including diverse and inclusive perspectives in the curriculum.

Social Justice
There will be a number of forums and events on campus this academic year examining and supporting social justice. They often are held at the end of a long day, but I guarantee attending and listening to students’ voices will change how you see the world in which you were raised and will inform how you teach. I hope to see you there.

Helping Students Achieve Goals
When we hand out our syllabi, the goals are written for all to see. Take the time to do a “quick write” at the end of one of your classes to ask your students about their goals in your class and take a mindful approach to aligning your goals with their goals.

Professionalism
We are the models for professionalism for our students. We must never forget this fact, not even for one second.

Broad-Minded
I walked into the graduate class I am teaching this semester and said, “How do you want me to teach this class?” They stated they had never been asked this question before. After some discussion, they came up with a model they wanted to try. I said, “the information in this class is the medium throughout which I will teach critical thinking, problem solving, diagnostic thinking, knowledge and skills. The subject matter (voice disorders) is like clay to a potter and we can make many different types of vessels together.” We are all excited about the class.

Collaboration
What person or which offices could you collaborate with this semester that would strengthen your teaching excellence? Examples include the Institute for Ethics; The Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion; The Center for Teaching Excellence, and multiple offices in Student Affairs. Commit to a new level of excellence through collaboration.

Honesty
How can we best be accountable to each other in a way that promotes each person being his or her best self for our students? Don’t be a bystander.

Appreciation
Who will you acknowledge today to show your appreciation?

Please take a few minutes to review the EHHS Shared Values document. We are all responsible for creating a culture that supports learning and inspires us to do our best work together.

Bonus: Always remember that you are not just touching the lives of your students, but you are touching the lives of their current and future families. Use your privilege wisely.

Finishing Strong: Ten Tips

Finishing Strong Together

It’s “crunch time.”  There are two weeks remaining in the semester and there is much left to do.  As with other times of the semester, not everything will go as planned and difficult events will continue to occur in our students’ lives.  During this time, some say, “the egg shells are thin,” which may be a euphemism to patience, but it goes deeper than that.  Little difficulties can seem bigger than they are and big difficulties can feel apocalyptic.

Helping our students and others to “finish strong” is important.  Here are ten tips for helping others and yourself to do this well:

  1. Talk with students about balancing mind, body, and spirit; most probably know how to do this, so encourage them to take the time to do it.
  2. Ask students what they want to be able to say in two weeks about how they met end-of-semester challenges.
  3. Emphasize the importance of kindness, especially when things get difficult.
  4. Remind students that mistakes are part of everyone’s life and provide opportunities to grow.
  5. Encourage others to communicate with the person, not about the person, when there is conflict.
  6. Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues.
  7. Reduce anxiety by focusing on the present moment rather than the past or the future. “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” Eckhart Tolle
  8. Help students understand they are more resilient than they know by helping them discover deeper levels of determination through encouragement.
  9. Reframe challenges as opportunities – “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge you limits.” Jerry Dunn
  10. Take time to let your students know you care.

I wish everyone the best as we finish the semester and look forward to seeing you at awards ceremonies and graduation.

Bonus:

Longfellow Quote

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted in this blog

Respect and Empathy

  • Communicate with the person, not about the person, when there is conflict
  • Enter into differences of opinion and conflict with respect
  • Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues

Helping Students Achieve Goals

  • Reaching out to struggling students
  • Empower students to realize goals

References

Finishing Strong Image (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2016 from:    http://shatteringthematrix.com/profiles/blogs/the-butterfly-people#.Vya23tQrJdg

Longfellow Image (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2016 from:  http://quoteaddicts.com/topic/great-beginning-quotes/

The Cost of Class Time

Lecture Cost

Have you ever thought about per hour rates students are paying to sit in your classes?  To compute this for a typical undergraduate student, you have to take 45 contact hours for a three-credit course x 5 classes per semester = 225 hours x 2 semesters = 450 total hours divided into the tuition rate; graduate would be 360 hours based on 12 credits per semester.  Using this formula, cost per hour of class time based on current tuition rates would be:

SUNY Plattsburgh In-state Out-of-state
Undergraduate $14.38 $36.26
Graduate $30.19 $61.69

Of course, the cost formula is not really this simple, but it makes a point about the monetary value of instruction time for students; payment for exceptional advisement and mentoring during office hours also can be considered.  For most classes, hundreds of dollars are on the table, so to speak, when a professor walks into the room.  Do students realize how much money is wasted when they skip a class?  Do professors think about how much money is being paid for a class if it is cancelled?  What if full payment of a professor’s salary was determined by ratings of teaching excellence?

From our Shared Values:

Excellence in Teaching

  • Clear expectations
  • Model passion and professionalism
  • Timely feedback
  • Effective assessment tools
  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to students’ needs

We strive to uphold our shared value of Excellence in Teaching, as stated above, with passion.  Bringing deep value to teaching has been an ongoing quest for me.  This is motivated in part by the responsibility students in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services will have for making a positive difference in the lives of those they will serve.  With this in mind, I share something I read last week entitled, Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content, by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, that can bring additional value to the classroom.  She presents five approaches:

  • Mix up the structure
  • Collaborative quizzing
  • Quizzing with resources
  • Quizzing after questioning
  • Online quizzes completed before class

Take a few minutes to read about these techniques (click here) and try one you have not used before.  Once you do, let me know about the outcome.  There are many ways we can bring value to the classroom.  Let’s make sure the value students receive far exceeds the “dollars placed on the table” at the beginning of each class because not only are we touching their lives, we are indirectly touching the lives they will touch in the future.

Bonus: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image (February 23, 2015).  Retrieved April 3, 2016 from: http://pbrnews.com/recommendations-for-raising-tuition-effectively/

Weimer, M. (2016, March, 30) Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content.  [Web Log Post].  Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/five-types-of-quizzes-deepen-engagement-course-content/

Leadership Skills: Hitting the Jackpot in Vegas

 

Developing Leadership Skills

I attended a TEDx talk recently at SUNY Plattsburgh by Dr. Steve Trombulak, Dean of Sciences at Middlebury College entitled, Reclaiming the Soul of Higher Education: Experiential Education for Sustainability.  Dean Trombulak spoke about an experiential summer program that embeds leadership skills in its curriculum.  Some of the skills he highlighted included:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Strategic thinking
  3. Persuasive communication
  4. Negotiation
  5. Crisis management
  6. Idea creation
  7. Networking
  8. Empathy
  9. Ethical decision making
  10. Failing forward

Dean Trombulak talked about teaching these skills (find the full list here) as students participate in various learning activities related to sustainability.  Leadership skills are important because he wants students to, “have the tools to do something with that information.”  We often talk about our students acquiring the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be successful in their fields.  How often do we think about leaderships skills under the category of skills?  How much more effective would our students be in their fields if we placed a stronger focus on the development of leadership skills?

I was at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) conference in Las Vegas last week and was amazed at how many times the leadership skills mentioned above were part of the conversation.  Dr. Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of the State University of New York System, talked about employees of P-12 schools and higher education collaborating in new ways to achieve our common goals.  This conversation took place in a session on Striving Together; the initiative in our region is called North County Thrive.  Chancellor Zimpher emphasized failing forward by learning from each other’s mistakes as we make progress.  Another session I attended was for deans where the focus was on leadership skills most used by deans.  These included:

  1. Be Vigilant
  2. Remain calm
  3. Value relationships and others’ achievements
  4. Be strategic
  5. Provide guidance an coaching
  6. Plan ahead
  7. Seek help and learn from others
  8. Solve problems creatively
  9. Follow through
  10. Set limits
  11. Trust in yourself
  12. Persist
  13. Be prepared to deal with the consequences of difficult decisions
  14. Don’t assume

In a survey sponsored by AACTE of 110 deans, leadership skills were rated revealing several of the highest rated skills to be in the area of pragmatics.  The four highest-rated leadership skills included: follow through, vigilance, calmness, and relationships (Henk, W., Lovell, S., Madison, J., & Wepner, S., 2016).   Additional leadership skills discussed by deans attending the meeting included communication, cultural competence, creativity, and vision.

After the conference concluded, I spent the remainder of the afternoon hiking/climbing in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with my lifelong friend, who is a math professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; this is the same friend I have mentioned in most of the other mountain climbing stories on this blog site.

Red Rocks 1

The relative peace and desolation of the desert was welcomed after the cacophony of Las Vegas.  One of the topics we spent the most time discussing while hiking was the importance of reframing what we do as professors in a classroom to address leadership skills.  There were times we stopped and sat on boulders to enter into deeper discussion.  I told him about the TEDx talk by Dean Trombulak that focused on students learning leadership skills along with the content of a course.  I also detailed the leadership skills addressed in the deans’ meeting.  We discussed the development of our own leadership skills and the importance of good mentors.  Our discussion revealed many opportunities we have each day as professors, mentors, and advisors to model and teach leadership skills.

You can teach leadership skills:

  • as you have students collaborate in group projects;
  • as you discuss and demonstrate the importance of relationships, particularly with regard to developing cultural competence;
  • as you display empathy by asking students how they are doing beyond the context of the classroom;
  • as you assist students to “dig deeper” and persist with their learning;
  • as you talk with students about failing forward (learning from mistakes) in order to do better; and
  • as you provide guidance for students by helping them gain insight into leadership development.

The examples could go on and on, but I will let you examine the leadership skills provided above to develop additional associations to your own work.  We are responsible for deep development of these skills in ourselves if we are expected to model them for and teach them to students.  Imagine what we and our students will accomplish if we do this!

I don’t enjoy gambling in casinos, but I felt like I hit the jackpot in Las Vegas when coalescing thoughts on the mountain about deeper development and teaching of leadership skills.  I am happy to share the wealth with you.  Which leadership skills are you going to work on and teach today?

Bonus Picture:

Red Rock Canyon is part of the Mojave Desert.  This area is 17 miles west of Las Vegas.

Red Rock 3

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted

  • Excellence in Teaching
  • Lifelong Learning/Growth
  • Helping Students Achieve Goals

Learn Lead Image (2015). Retrieved February 28, 2016 from: http://edmundrichtoh.com/mlm-personal-development/how-to-develop-your-mlm-leadership-skills/

Henk, W., Lovell, S., Madison, J., & Wepner, S. (2016, February).  Deans academy: Teacher prep and the importance of the dean – Part 1. Presentation at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Las Vegas, NV.

The Heart and Soul of Teaching

Heart 3

Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of interviewing many people for teaching positions.  Hearing their life experiences and perspectives always is enlightening and often inspiring.  Their application packets typically contain a document detailing their teaching philosophies.  Theorists are often mentioned and the multiple ways in which students can learn and we can teach are discussed.  I always pay close attention to whether the applicant is student-focused rather than self-focused.

A recent example from popular media that demonstrated being student-focused came from Kyle Schwartz, an elementary teacher in Denver.  She passed out Post-it notes to her elementary students with a sentence to be completed that read, “I wish my teacher knew…”  As you may have seen, there was an amazing response to what the children wrote.  Many of them read their responses aloud in class, something Ms. Schwartz said created a deeper sense of community.  There were statements that often spoke to their struggles, hopes, and dreams.  Teachers across the country now are using this approach with their students and using the information to guide ways to better teach their students.  This approach by Ms. Schwartz speaks to the heart and soul of teaching.   Her holistic approach is a good example of heart, something else I look for in job applicants.

Make a difference John-F.-Kennedy

 

A recent applicant’s teaching philosophy addressed the holistic perspective of the learner; it was a student-focused philosophy with heart.  This applicant spoke to educating the whole person and stated, “…this type of learning depends on the creation of a space where adult learners can bring their experiences into conversation with the content.  Effective teaching offers a holding space for crisis in one’s assumptive world.”  Powerful discussions can challenge believe systems and cause disequilibrium; this is in addition to any disequilibrium that may already exist due to a student’s life circumstances.  As we come to the last weeks of the semester, instances of disequilibrium experienced by students get amplified under the pressure and stress of finishing the semester.  The disequilibrium provides powerful teaching moments that can help students improve problem solving, inner strength, persistence, and ability to push beyond perceived limits (AKA grit).  Are we seizing these teaching moments in our day-to-day interactions to help our students improve their grit?

The job applicant who sparked the idea for this blog quoted Henri Nouwen (1997) to support the position of working holistically with learners.

Teaching means the creation of the space in which the validity of the questions does not depend on the availability of answers, but on their capability to open us to new perspectives and horizons.  Teaching means to allow all the daily experiences of life such as loneliness, fear, anxiety, insecurity, doubt, ignorance, need for affection, support, and understanding, and the long cry for love to be recognized as and essential part of the quest for meaning.  This quest, precisely because it does not lead to ready answers but to new questions, is extremely painful and at times even excruciating.  But when we ignore, and thus deny, this pain in our students, we deprive them of their humanity.  The pain of the human search is a growing pain (p. 99).

The first sentence of the quote is powerful by itself.  The whole statement by Nouwen poignantly reminds us about the complexity of learning where the inner-self struggles with growth, thus leading to more questions.  In our standardized test society, our students may be more used to focusing on answers than questions, something that can result in greater struggle.  We know for some of our students, if not all, the path to the mind is often through the heart.  This is a path that allows for the persistence necessary to explore unanswered questions.

As we come to the end of the semester, we are faced with our own struggles to reach goals and meet student learning objectives.  As you focus on completing the semester, please take time with your students to “check in” and see how they are doing.  Not a “How are you doing?” with an expected, habitual, socially-polite response of “fine,” but a sincere inquiry into their well-being as they approach the end-of-semester challenges.  This holistic approach respects students’ hearts and souls.  It also will improve their ability to learn and discover deeper levels of grit.

Bonus:  Imagine if you handed your college students a Post-it note that said, “I wish my professor knew….”

EHHS Shared Values Addressed:
Respect and Empathy
Excellence in Teaching

 

Nouwen, H. (1997). Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader. R. Durbank (Ed.). New York, NY: Doubleday.

Image (2013). Retrieved April 19, 2015 from: http://br1ana01.deviantart.com/art/Flaming-Heart-352586111

Image (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2015 from: http://emilysquotes.com/one-person-can-make-a-difference-and-everyone-should-try/

Google Chip for Your Brain: Technology and Learning

Digital Human 2

In today’s world, we are overwhelmed with information from email, text messages, social media notifications, and news media, to name a few.  According to experts at IBM, “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion [2,500,000,000,000,000,000] bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”  Satellites, cell towers, high-speed internet, Wi-Fi, and search engines help us access this data in almost magical ways. Social conditioning for the use of technology that creates and accesses the data comes in the form of non-stop announcements from tech companies about the newest devices and gadgets that will provide us with even more data; yes, many of us now know how many steps we take each day.

Quick facts and constant streams of data rarely get stored in long-term memory because the associative memory that comes with deep learning is absent.  Reinforcement of neural pathways necessary for long-term memory also is absent in a world of quick access to data.  Why commit information to memory when you can just Google it?

It is tempting to think that a Google Chip in our brains and digitally-connected contact lenses for readouts would be beneficial, but information would need to be stored in long-term memory for a Google Chip to access.  Once information is organized and placed in long-term memory, then our brains are faster than Google at accessing the information, not to mention the added benefit of being able to apply this information to the contexts in which we need it to solve problems, complete complex motor tasks, or think about meaning.

One of our shared values in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services at SUNY Plattsburgh is excellence in teaching.  Building new neural pathways and more complex synaptic connections takes dedication from faculty members who design engaging approaches to students’ learning.  Current students in our quick-access world may find the discipline necessary to build these pathways and connections more challenging than past students, in part, due to the myth of multitasking.

B0005204 Neurons in the brain

Pyramidal neurons forming a network in the brain.
Credit: Dr. Jonathan Clarke, Wellcome Images

I walked around the crowded library last semester during finals to see how students were studying and there was rarely a student who was not distracted by multiple devices.  Text messages, a quick click on a site unrelated to what was being studying came as easily as working a one-armed bandit in a casino; the psychological reinforcement principles are not that different between these things.  I could not help but think of George in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s short story, Harrison Bergeron, where George and his spouse live in a future society when everyone has been made equal.  Regarding George, the author wrote,

And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

Bringing greater focus to learning is a skill that is developed through discipline and requires a thoughtful use of technology.  I am not a Luddite; I do believe technology has a place in learning if used well.  Here are a few considerations:

  1. Emails come screaming in with bells like a three-alarm fire and distract thinking. Consider turning off the email notification on your computer and then only check email during specific times of the day.
  1. Consider not sitting in front of your computer for more than an hour at a time. Cognitive function improves during exercise (Ogoh, et.al., 2014).  If you have a problem to solve, take a walk as you think about it. Even better: walk with a colleague who can add a new perspective to solving the problem.
  1. Multitasking is not possible if you are using the same part of your brain for similar tasks (e.g., reading a book and reading text messages). You can only serial task in these instances by completing one task at a time (see more here).  Consider removing all distractions that compete with the same part of your brain needed to do the task at hand.
  1. Amid today’s vast sea of information, consider carving out time(s) each week for deep learning without any distractions. Close your email program, turn off your phone, put a sign on your door saying you are working on research, and give yourself the gift of deep concentration and learning.  Talk with your students about discovering this gift for themselves, it will not feel natural to most.

Disciplining the mind in a hyper-informational, high-tech society takes practice.  We can’t assume our students will develop this skill without some encouragement and guidance.  Technology does have its place.  In contrast to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s story, there are times when I am trying to remember something and a Google Chip in my brain would be nice.

 

References

IBM. What is Big Data? Retrieved from http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/what-is-big-data.html

Ogoh, S., Tsukamoto, H., Hirasawa, A., Hasegawa, H., Hirose, N., & Hashimoto, T. (2014). The effect of changes in cerebral blood flow on cognitive function during exercise. Physiological Reports, Vol. 2 no. e12163. Retrieved from http://physreports.physiology.org/content/2/9/e12163

Vonnegut , K. (1961). Harrison Bergeron. Retrieved from http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

 

Images

Digital Human Image (2014). Retrieved March 1, 2015 from: https://cliaoliveira.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/1512371_10202776268986474_571367483_n.jpg

Neuron Image (2011). Retrieved March 1, 2015 from: http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2011/12/07/feature-stroke-restructuring-the-brain/

Our Shared Values

 

Shared Values

Fall 2010 was when the EHHS faculty developed categories for their first shared values document.  Spring 2011, faculty breathed life into the document by creating examples that represented how each category was demonstrated with colleagues and with students.  The Shared Values document was revised/updated by the faculty this semester at our Community Gathering.  It is an honor to serve as Dean for mindful professionals who aspire to create a work environment that honors our shared values.

 

Education, Health, and Human Services
Shared Values

Respect and Empathy

  • Seek to understand before being understood
  • Listening to each other
  • Communicate with the person, not about the person, when there is conflict
  • Enter into differences of opinion and conflict with respect
  • Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues
  • Share our challenges as well as our successes
  • Trust
  • Open-mindedness,
  • Embrace diversity of opinions and perspectives


Excellence in Teaching

  • Clear expectations
  • Model passion and professionalism
  • Timely feedback
  • Effective assessment tools
  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to students’ needs


Lifelong Learning/Growth

  • Participate in professional development (inclusive of student participation)
  • Require applied assessment of student learning
  • Provide students exposure to professional experts within the community
  • Create an environment in which active engagement and learning are valued, respected, and expected.
  • Inspire critical thinking that challenges the way things have always been done

 

Inclusion/Culturally Responsive

  • Demonstrated awareness, knowledge, and skills
  • Culturally responsive teaching
  • Self-reflection
  • Caring attitude
  • Courage to discuss sensitive issues and “sit with discomfort”
  • Continued learning, challenging and changing of our attitudes

 

Social Justice

  • Recognize social justice issues
  • Advocate to enhance social change
  • Enhance community responsibility/social responsibility

 

Helping Students Achieve Goals

  • Reaching out to struggling students
  • Challenge students to create connections, follow passions, and think critically
  • Empower students to realize goals
  • Provide real-life professional experiences

 

Service

  • Contact with the public – education and resources
  • Service learning
  • Help and support for local agencies
  • Model for students

 

Professionalism

  • Demonstrate ethical decision making/behavior across all settings
  • Dependability
  • Positive attitude
  • Appropriate boundaries
  • Being present
  • Make time to share and collaborate
  • Exhibit a strong work ethic
  • Earn respect of students, colleagues, and area professionals

 

Broad-minded

  • Take a creative perspective
  • Out-of-the box problem solving
  • Be non-dogmatic
  • Embrace multicultural perspectives
  • Evolve

 

Collaboration

  • Creativity
  • Team-teaching
  • Divergent thinking
  • Drawing on diverse perspectives

 

Honesty

  • Transparency
  • Openness about our limitations
  • Following through with our campus commitments: students, colleagues, college

 

Appreciation

  • Announce achievements
  • Celebrate success
  • Make time to celebrate success in the School of EHHS

Passion Yeats

Linking our mission of preparing students for academic, professional and personal success with our passion to do this work provides an amazing sense of purpose.  At the EHHS Community Gathering, our mission was examined along with perception, perspectives, multicultural competencies, conflict management, wellbeing, and passion.  We examined results from a study by Delaney, Johnson, Johnson, and Treslan (2010) entitled Students’ Perceptions of Effective Teaching in Higher EducationRegardless of face-to-face or online format, students said the most effective teachers were identified as being respectful, knowledgeable, approachable, engaging, communicative, organized, responsive, professional, and humorous.  It was rewarding to see that the majority of these characteristics are linked to our shared values and previous group work on reflective practice.

The passion for what we do and the effectiveness of our purpose deepen when mindful steps to promoting wellbeing are taken.  Better approaches to conflict management were presented and Information from Gallup on wellbeing was shared.  I asked you to imagine how the learning/work environment would feel and what we could accomplish if students and faculty were all happy.  To punctuate the moment, I shared a video that was made by Howard University students to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCD4gBNOD28

Building on the positive energy from the video, faculty member were asked to write answers to three questions about passion and then to discuss answers with other members of their program/department; a special thank you to the Counselor Education faculty (and a few guests) for embracing the spirit of happiness by dancing at the beginning of our group activity.  The positive energy in the room was incredible.   Below, everyone’s answers have been organized into common themes for each question.

What drove your passion for getting into your field?

  • Having an impact; helping people; making a difference
  • Caring for others
  • A Teacher (two were inspired to be better than bad teachers they had)
  • Experienced care from someone in chosen profession
  • Passion for children
  • Family influence
  • Life-long learning
  • Childhood dream

What drives your passion in your current position?

  • Seeing/helping students learn; grow; be successful;
  • Learning from or working with colleagues; collaboration;
  • Scalability (teaching a few who will have a positive influence on many)
  • Create positive change in students/clients
  • Strengthen profession
  • Share love of learning
  • Fulfilling a childhood dream

How will you best use your passion for the growth of our students?

  • Model it (sharing own excitement, encourage, engage, inspire)
  • Reflect/improve my teaching/ effective teaching
  • Nurture and challenge
  • Listen/be accessible
  •  Develop relationship/community
  • Respect students
  • Respond with care/caring

The responses above provide give a peek into the depth and breadth of foundational perspectives that created and drive the passion of professors in the EHHS Division.  The topics we addressed during the EHHS Community Gathering, if embraced fully, will allow us to create a dynamic and fulfilling learning and work environment where we can achieve our mission/purpose with passion.

Image (2010). Retrieved February 2, 2014 from: http://picturespost.blogspot.com/2010/12/incredible-fire-art.html

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