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/ 

My Recipe for M.A.D. Skills

My Recipe for M.A.D. Skills

I signed up for a campus writing challenge, the Write 6X6 project, to post over the next six weeks about my thoughts and experiences on teaching, learning and students success.

This week’s theme for Write 6X6 is how we make a difference. At first I thought this would be an easy post, after all, I have worked hard over the years, am good at what I do, and have made significant contributions in my profession, but then doubt crept in. Shouldn’t I have done more? We introverts often have a hard time singing our own praises. In spite of having been a long-time student advocate, and accomplishing some of my best work this past year, I began to dwell on my shortcomings. Mulling over these rather murky thoughts, I stumbled upon this quote from Bucky Fuller, one of the great innovators of the modern world, who I have long admired.

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person. ”

― R. Buckminster Fuller

Thank you Bucky, your words helped me remember, that even though I don’t always succeed in my efforts, I have always tried to be that “one person”. I’ve worked for the Maricopa Community Colleges for many years now. In my youth, I was driven by big plans to change the world. Along the way I learned, with the guidance of some wonderful people in my life who taught and led by example, how to strive to make a difference in the world on a smaller scale. My perspective gradually shifted from changing the world to shaping my microcosm to be a better place. I sought to help within my sphere of influence, for the people with whom I interact on a daily basis, most especially, for students.

In thinking this over, I’ve come to realize that having an impact begins simply by caring enough to act. Caring really matters. That said, truly making a difference goes much farther for me. I believe strongly in the power of education, taking my craft seriously, and developing whatever skills are necessary to get the job done well. I had a good laugh when I realized that my “Making a Difference” skills spelled out the acronym MAD.

And so, I offer you my recipe for M.A.D. skills. Feel free to borrow whatever you like and let me know how your recipe turns out.

My Recipe for MAD (Making A Difference) Skills

Ingredients:

  • A healthy dose of caring. Learn what matters to you and where you want to invest your energy helping others.
  • A passion for work you love and believe in.
  • An openness to learning. It is through education that we grow wiser and more understanding of ourselves, the world we live in and share.
  • Good ears. Students really appreciate knowing that someone is looking out for them and willing to listen to their problem.
  • An aptitude for asking questions and finding answers.
  • A daring to think and choose the high road.
  • An embrace of failures as essential learning opportunities.
  • Courage to be that one person that makes a difference.

Thanks Bucky!
And my deepest gratitude to all of those who taught me the power of making a difference.

~Kristin