Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

Today is the first day of Glendale Community College’s Write 6X6 and the birthday of one my favorite poets, Langston Hughes. His words and social activism have always resonated with me. Every year, I typically pick one of Hughes’ poems and share it with others. This year my choice seems unusually relevant given the current state of affairs in our national politics. In spite of the worries I have about our country today, the words of a son of a school teacher, speak to me and remind me of the importance of my work in higher education and make me feel a little more optimistic.

Community Colleges, by providing an accessible pathway to education, are gateways for those who might otherwise not find equality or opportunity. The feeling of helping people from all walks of life working to make a better life has always made me proud of the work I do. I’m even more proud of all of the students who have persevered and accomplished great things.  They give me hope for our future.

Written in 1935 by American poet Langston Hughes.

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

 

(America never was America to me.)

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

 

(It never was America to me.)

 

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

 

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

 

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

 

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

 

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

 

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

 

The free?

 

Who said the free?  Not me?

Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

 

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

 

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

 

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

 

Advertisements

One Last Write 6×6 Post

My last and final Write 6×6 post of 2017 goes out to Alisa Cooper and everyone at the Glendale Community College Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement (CTLE).

Thank you all for encouraging us to write about our educational experiences not to mention offering all the other amazing activities and events you do throughout the year. You have made a difference for me and always set a good example for others to follow. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for enriching the culture of Glendale Community College.

Signing off for Write 6×6 2017!

Sincerely,
Kristin

 

 

What Really Matters

Academic advisors on our campus work under a great deal of pressure and for the most part go largely unrecognized for the good work they do. There aren’t enough of us to go around, and very few on campus understand the volume of information needed to be an educated and effective advisor, not to mention the breadth of skills we must hone and use on a daily basis. Research indicates that the relationship between students and advisors has a significant correlation to student success, nonetheless, academic advisors at GCC are  not sufficiently appreciated.

With waits frequently exceeding an hour or two to see an advisor, everyone does their best to help students in the shortest time possible. Despite the challenge of time constraints, it is my belief that the most important part of an advisement conversation begins with an understanding of each student’s motivation for being in college. If you want them to be successful, you need to know where they are coming from and where they want to end up.

My advice to those new to academic advisement is to start advisement sessions with a few important questions. It isn’t enough to simply ask what you can help them with today, they often don’t really know what they don’t know. For example the young woman who came in to ask for Nursing courses. I could have given her a schedule of classes and never known that the student really loved Math but was going into Nursing because her mother thought that would be the best and most secure career. It took quite a bit of effort on my part to encourage this young woman to explore another possibility and to discover that most people with a degree in Mathematics make more than nurses and love their work. In part, because I took the time to ask and to listen, that student is now at ASU and a very happy Math major.

Students need someone in their corner. It isn’t easy to understand higher education pathways especially when students tend to be given inaccurate or incomplete information at almost every level of transition. Most are confused and not sure who to trust. As a result, I do my best to teach advisees how to verify information I offer and to show them options so that they can make an informed choice that reflects their own best interests.

One last thing, I’ve found that treating students as if they were a friend or family member allows me to keep focus and do a better job advising. I try my best to give them all a VIP experience. Going the extra mile does not make me the fastest advisor on campus, but I see my fair share and know that I’m helping in a meaningful way. Even if others on campus haven’t a clue how hard I work, I know for sure that my students are aware and appreciative.  And isn’t that what really matters? Go Gauchos!

Guided Pathways and Collaborative Advising

In the spring of 2015,  GCC advisors were asked to develop proposals for new models of advising we believed would improve our services to students. To my knowledge and dismay, none of the models gained any traction. It was an extremely valuable exercise that allowed us to reflect and determine how we would change advising at GCC if given the opportunity.

The group I participated in developed a proposal for a new model called Collaborative Advising. The model centers around stronger connections between advisement and academic departments, specialized advising, and strategic use of technological resources.

Along comes Guided Pathways, a growing national conversation in community colleges about improving student experience and completion.  Everything about Guided Pathways strengthens the case for Collaborative Advising. Maybe the model deserves a second look.

Read more about Guided Pathways and Collaborative Advising here. I’ll be happy to hear back from you if you want to talk.

Kindly,
Kristin

 

 

MEAGs & Innovation of the Year

This week’s writing ideas for Write 6×6 center around how we as members of the college community have worked to improve student learning or ways we improve our own work with students or colleagues.

A nomination for the Innovation of the Year award was submitted for the Maricopa Engineering Advising Guides. An official announcement should be out next week to learn how our nomination fared.

Maricopa Engineering Advising Guides

During and after the great recession, I got more serious about my role in advisement and how to better help students looking for secure and meaningful careers.  I made an intentional choice to improve STEM advising because I researched and learned the increasing need for a modern workforce well versed in science, technology, engineering and Mathematics. It was important to me that our students had the best possible advising to aid their success in achieving jobs that would sustain them in the future.

One of the better ways I knew to magnify the quality and quantity of advisement was to streamline advising for engineering students. Engineering pathways are among the most complex and lengthy educational paths our students navigate. Mistakes, which are frequent, cost students and advisors time and money. Trust me when I tell you how much time it used to take to get it right.  Advisors had to use multiple source documents to provide accurate information and that took time and lots of print outs.

Building on the work of Paula Cheslik, GCC Engineering Faculty who had information sheets that showed students how their GCC classes transfer to ASU, I built a 2-page “Advising Guide” that efficiently combined four distinct source documents into one. Enhancements included information on course sequences, prerequisites, GPA requirements, and options for concentrations that maximize transfer success and keeping students on track to graduate.

The guides were used at GCC, reviewed by a host of people, and refined for three years before launching them Districtwide this past summer with the help from faculty and staff. Now every engineering student at any of the Maricopa Community Colleges has a guide they and their advisor may use with consistently accurate information. The companion “Tips for Success If You Want to Be an Engineer” helps students as early as high school be informed and ready for our engineering pipeline to ASU.

Hooray! I feel really good about creating a new, highly- beneficial resource with help from a diverse group of dedicated individuals committed to student success. Special thanks to all those who took time to be involved improving and implementing the guides and resources, especially Paula Cheslik, Bassam Matar, Dr. Karen Conzelman, Dr. Ibrahim Naim, Kathy Silberman and Jay Franzen.

You can view the Maricopa Engineering Advising Guides here!

 

The Power of Kindness

When you speak kindly

The words never disappear

Their light surrounds you

~author unknown

Argh! I have written and discarded many drafts now on the topic of kindness in the workplace. It appears this is my week to deal with ideas of compassion and leadership through a lens of turbulence if I want to write anything meaningful. I’m having a hard time of it, but perhaps writing will help me sort through my conflicted points of view.

In my world, Trump is raging like a temperamental two year old on Twitter, my HOA thinks state laws don’t require compliance, and recent changes on campus have left me wondering about college priorities and a changing vision for the Maricopa Colleges that doesn’t seem well thought out or defined. I know my concerns are valid and other than moving to Canada, I need to find a response to deal with all of instability around me, … but through kindness? Really? Maybe. Perhaps I still need convincing.

People mirror emotions of their leaders and more and more people in power right now are sending the wrong message. Violence and hate crimes are on the rise and normalizing “alternative facts” is part of the daily news. It is heart wrenching. But every so often amidst all the ugliness, a glimmer of humanity is sighted and you realize that compassion in troubled times is a thing of tremendous beauty and power … and suddenly you have hope again.

Right now, a little more kindness on campus will do great things for lifting me up and reminding me what a good community we share. Bring it on! I’m ready to share the good vibes right back with you.

Kindly,
Kristin

Because being good matters

Students come here to shine

In them, our fires of knowledge burn bright

Dreams aglow and rising!

Years ago I made a transition into the work of academic advising. It was to be a short layover job of sorts before heading into teaching, but the teaching bug faded and never materialized for a variety of reasons. Advising as it turned out, suited me quite well. I found I loved the combination of helping students pursuing important educational and life goals as well as the constant research and learning advisors need to stay current in a realm of ever-changing academic and transfer information.

Advising when done right takes a breadth of skills and abilities many take lightly. You have to know or be able to quickly access volumes of information. Mistakes on your part cost students time and money. Regretfully, most advisement training is on-the-job learning from mistakes. I quickly learned that to be effective, you have to know a lot, ask frequently to verify when you don’t know something, and find help when needed to aid students in a more holistic manner when they need additional resources.

Most importantly, through advising, I was inspired every day by the stories students brought to my humble cubicle. The single mother with a terminal illness trying to make sure her daughter would be able to get an education and career prior to her death; DACA students looking for a good education in a STEM field with perfect GPA unable to get an Honor’s scholarship or any other for that matter; homeless students who made it through the semester without dropping out despite the barriers. I learned to listen to students and continue to do my best to help them while they are here at GCC. My reward is watching how often a little bit of extra effort on my part often makes the world of difference to a struggling student. And that, ladies and gents, is why I love advising and why I’m good at what I do. Because it matters.

Get your kicks on “Write 6×6”

This is my third year signing up for Write 6×6.  This year I am setting a goal for submitting a full six pieces which I haven’t yet pulled off.  Wish me luck!

Week 1 (Feb. 1-5): Who or What inspires you to do what you do here at GCC?

http://write6x6.com/intro/

WRITE 6×6 INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the Write 6×6 Challenge. Beginning the Week of February 1st, we will begin our writing challenge.

What is the challenge? Well, the CTLE invites you to create 6 pieces of writing, one each week for 6 weeks beginning February 1st. Aside from the 1 post each week for 6 weeks, the only other rule is that the writing must be about teaching, learning and student success. That’s a lot of latitude to write about pedagogy, tools, successes, challenges, or hopes and dreams.

The short term goal of the challenge is to give faculty, staff and administrators a playful space to share and learn and to see what colleagues are doing in classes and around campus. These writings will also be in a place where new and seasoned faculty can easily access them for years to come. The long term goal of the Write 6×6 Challenge is to push faculty, staff and administrators to be reflective practitioners in the field of education and share their reflections with colleagues. While the six weeks of writing may be a start, we hope that some of the participants will continue to write and share their thoughts about the educational landscape.

write6x6_logo_white_bkgndWe will use the internet as a place to write and share the work. The faculty, staff and administrator writing will be magically delivered to the CTLE Write 6×6 blog, and it will be there so that you can read the work your colleagues submit. The CTLE will help you build a place to write from and support you throughout the 6 weeks.

You can see scheduled Write 6×6 trainings here or call us anytime and we will happily make you a master of writing on the internet in less than 20 minutes. And when you run astray during the 6 weeks, we will be available to help you find the right path. Really!

What is in it for you besides sharing your thoughts and ideas with your colleagues? For completing each week, the participants will be rewarded with a variety of awesome gifts (to be determined) To sweeten the deal, we will reward you with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s delivered to your office for completing the first week of the challenge! Adjunct instructors will get to pick up your awesome rewards from the CTLE.

So, are you up for the challenge? We know you are busy. We know you already share your ideas at workshops and at the water cooler. But we challenge you to use sentences as a way to reflect and share your thoughts about teaching, learning and student success with a broader audience. Imagine if 20 teachers, staff and administrators survive all 6 weeks that would produce 120 pieces of writing from GCC Gauchos about teaching, learning and student success! We could use that!

To signup, please email ctle@gccaz.edu before February 3rd or fill out the form below. The first week’s writing is due on the 5th.

 

 

Word of the Day Haiku

I’m late. I didn’t post the last two weeks because I got that upper-respiratory thing going around and it lingered with me.  Also, because the topic of professional growth is rather large in my life right now and not the easiest thing to write about.  So I’m going to write about something else that I’m doing to work on my vocabulary and poetry writing skills.

With the help of some good and very smart friends, I’ve been part of a Word of the Day group who write smart, usually science-based mini essays using new vocabulary words.  They are masters at weaving these into science and personal stories.  Me however, I’m not that good, nor do I have the time.  So I reply with Haiku.  Nothing fancy just trying to keep the meter and intent without breaking all the rules.  I will share a few of the better ones with you now.  Hope you enjoy them.

Fallacious summer
Too hot for February
But good for my cough

Calumniating
“Would be” leaders eat their own
Ad hominem meals

Sweet palladium
My true guardian angel
Science is my rock

My New Degree In Biology

I started out in college majoring in Biology.  It wasn’t until I was finishing my Associate’s degree that I gave up science.  I had just gone through a divorce and was raising two children on my own, with little to no financial assistance from the ex.  My dream of moving to California to finish a degree in Marine Biology was crushed by the reality of single parent poverty.  Looking back, I wonder if there had been someone in my life at that time to provide a little encouragement, would I have continued a degree in a different area of Biology?  Instead, I walked away completely from science, beginning new majors in History and Spanish.

Many years have passed.  In what I believe is a bit of good karma, I find myself working temporarily in the college’s Biology department where I once worked years ago as a student.  With the Department’s support, I was able to achieve something amazing this past year.  Together, we collaborated with Western New Mexico University to create a new transfer pathway for our Biotechnology students.  Starting this fall, 24 students will begin Bachelors degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology right here on our community college campus.  The degree is a highly innovative, collaborative, affordable and rigorous program that I am proud to have helped shape.  Best of all, I believe this program brings opportunity for students who might be struggling like I did all those years ago.  Having a good quality pathway on campus that is accessible and affordable will make it easier for students who need a little encouragement to follow their dreams in science.  It completes a circle for me too.  I finally did get my degree in Biology, after all.

Applications are now being accepted for 24 students to begin this fall!  For more information on the new degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, visit this link: http://natsci.wnmu.edu/glendale/