Fill the Right Cup: Revisit

cloudsinmycoffee

Ray Bradbury explained, “We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” This metaphor works for me. And, I have taken care to surround myself with people who fill the cups, and not only take away from you. 

Which cups do you fill? Do you fill the cups of optimism, pragmatism, or pessimism? It is important to think about where you expend your mental energy. Thinking back to my grad school days there were moments when the pessimism cup was the cup that I filled and that was not a good thing, but those moments of overwhelm and impostor syndrome were intense. I have to thank my peer mentors and faculty mentors for helping me fill the other cups.

My networks helped me stay grounded during grad school. Sure, we had our moments when would complain about our workloads and our financial situations, but overall it was pretty fabulous to read, research, teach, and write for a living. My peer mentors were primarily from the cohorts ahead of me and to this day some of my closes friends are from my grad school days. I met both of my best-friends in grad school.

Related to this, peer mentors listened. The listening cup was overflowing and there are times when I miss that interaction–the ability to have long conversations. The cup that we need to keep filling is the listening cup. Listening is an important part of a supportive and honest network. As I am working with undergraduates through graduate students, I am thinking about the importance of them finding good peer networks. I am only one part of the puzzle and know that the rest of the puzzle must include peers.

I knew that at home I had support, and my friends and networks at work in the department and larger academic community helped me through my grad school days. Peer mentoring is invaluable and if your cohort does not feel supportive, seek out peers ahead of you for guidance or go outside of your department. This advice is appropriate for those of us years out of grad school, too. And, if you are years into your career remember to connect your students to other students and to other faculty. Expand your students’ networks–this is part of the mentoring or coaching process.

 Fill the cups! Confer, trust, connect, mentor, listen, and celebrate your success…and by all means surround yourself with your friends and family.

 

Review: danah boyd’s Work

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First of all, author danah boyd does not capitalize her name, so this is not a typographical error. I have read her book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (2014) a few times and I’m now teaching it in my Technology and Society 400: Technologies of the Future seminar. She does a great job of offering a thoughtful and respectful examination of teens use of social media. The big takeaway is that today teens use social media to socialize with one another. It is their social space.

She is not offering a wagging finger at youth about narcissism or technology addiction. Sure, she covers cyber-bullying and cyber predators, but overall she treats teens with socio-political agency and not as mindless victims to technology. She also speaks to the digital divide and the ways that youth use technology for important personal connection, and establishing their identities.

My students talked about technology use and addiction and one student noted that addiction is serious term and that we should be mindful of the use of the term. The student was correct, and we chatted about technology addiction. When I queried the class about how many sleep with their phones near their pillow, I saw many sheepish smiles.

This book provides a good opener to the seminar. I find it better to start off on a good foot and not jump right into doom and gloom about data mining, terms of service, and surveillance. That is for next week! Seriously, we are going to cover lots of material about technology and culture and very little condemns it. The class has a major project developing a mock up for an app that is needed on campus or in the greater community. Right now some students want to add to the current mobile app and others want to enhance Fitbits or other wearables for students. From my point–the future is bright.

boyd, danah. 2014. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Have: Yale U P.

Ladies Learning Code: Why the #YYJ Chapter is Great

I am lucky to live in Victoria, BC and work at UVIC. I have met some wonderful people on and off campus. I have been involved with Ladies Learning Code Victoria (#yyj) Chapter as a volunteer, learner, and sponsor. And, here I am again at an event. This weekend’s event is a Python session. We have approximately 40 learners here and a mentor at each pod.

The energy in the room is amazing. My favorite part, though, is the introduction of the mentors. Every mentor is either affiliated with UVIC or is a local business worker/owner who wants to see more women working as a programmer or developer. It’s quite breathtaking to meet the students involved with the Women in Computer Science and Engineering members. The learners vary in age from 15 – retired.

This time the session was held in one of our Active Learning Classrooms. The room is set up with the instructor in the center, and the students in pods. The set up requires lots of interaction between the students, and the instructor. I am happy to share that the attendees were blown away with the room. I do not feel smug, but rather like I am seeing the consequences of months of hard work by the leadership of the local Ladies Learning Code chapter, and the Classroom Infrastructure Committee at UVIC. OK, I take it back, maybe I feel just a little smug. Smug, and very happy.

Whenever I can see some active learning taking place, I feel a sense of pride. And, here I am witnessing the magic take place, as one of our undergrads leads the session. Yes, she’s teaching the session and doing an amazing job. Ladies Learning Code does a great job connecting our students and the local community.

 

Points of Contact

It’s the first week of the term and I am thinking lots about interactions with people. I have been in line and heard someone tell a staff member that something minor was unacceptable. I was behind a student who kicked two doors open, instead of using his hand or forearm to open the door. These are only two examples, but I could share more about poor behavior. In both instances that I noted, I intervened. Is this one thing really unacceptable? Can you respect the library and not kick our doors, but use your hand or arm?  In both instances I was ignored, but the people around me commented positively. And, honestly, the poor service worker was quite thankful. She certainly does not set the price of food. 

How do you react when you see an adult having a tantrum or otherwise rude behavior toward another in public?  I include my screen shot of Entertainment Weekly with Rey on the cover. What type of Jedi are you? Hey it’s a new year and my post cannot be only heavy–it needs some levity. 

 

Reflections: No Glares

Now that another term has almost ended, I can look over my shoulder at the previous school year and think reflect. Each year I reflect and try to learn from the previous year and then resolve to make some changes in the next year in the classroom, for my professional development or my ongoing efforts to mentor/coach students and peers. What did I do differently last year in the classroom, office hours or other interactions with my students? I resolved for more honesty. I was blunt. I was diplomatic, but more so, I was blunt. I am helpful and professional; however, I refuse to waste my students’ time with circular conversations. I do them no favors if I try to sugar-coat conversations.

What were the repercussions for me, if any? I heard more of these comments:
Thank you for being honest. I’ve never heard this before. Why am I almost done and no one has told me this? I didn’t know that this was plagiarism. Thank you for your time.

I did not have any incidents where someone stormed out of my office or a conversation escalated. If anything, I had meaningful conversations about assignments, interactions, writing, grad school, and other issues. As I have noted on numerous occasions, part of my job means that I have the good fortune to work with young people in the classroom or in my office. I love it. I would not trade this job for another as I get to teach, mentor, coach, and lead.

This last year I also thought more about my time. I strategically chose to focus my time differently. Part of it is that I had to, given a job change, but that is cause for a different post. I was not as available for extended office hours and the world did not fall apart. I expected a few day’s notice for extra appointments. What I am saying is that I established better boundaries for office houring and mentoring students. I had to protect my time thanks to the job change and I was working more. I managed my time effectively and accomplished more. And, at the same time I did not field complaints from my students. If anything, the change was better, as they commanded my full attention at times that were not pressed between meetings and I could listen.

My writing prompt for this post comes from a Swedish Proverb, “Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less love more; and all good things are yours.” This last school year was filled with so much good and change. I welcome the change with a big smile and an open mind. The 2015-16 school year is half way through and I am in a great place. And, I’ll add that my little Grumpy Cat agrees and has her head on the desk!

Affirmations

What are some of the mantras that you repeat? I love different quotes and use them as power ups, to share or to remind me about positive things. I have a few books of different quotes and refer to them, as needed. On an older version of my business card is the quote, “I believe in women.” My partner had the cards designed for me when I finished my dissertation.

What are some of your favorite quotes or affirmations that you say to yourself before a tough situation? This book is great. It’s perfect for writing prompts or just writing down the mundane. 20140227-173735.jpg

Manager: The Art of Watching & Listening

I know that my official title is Director; however, I do lots of managing. Managing of people, expectations, small to large projects, and managing my performance. Part of managing is not talking, but watching and mindfully listening. My issue is that I have to be present in the office to interact with staff, and some weeks I live meeting to meeting. The way I manage my time is with Outlook and I plan my meetings weeks in advance to carve out time to meet with my staff.

I have given everyone a copy of Thanks for the Feedback. This is for me, and for my staff. I have found that giving my staff tools to communicate with one another and me is is important. We had our annual retreat and what a difference a year makes. This retreat was important to establish the team mission, communicate, and also look forward to what is next for the team.

A good manager or leader needs to plan, watch, listen, and lead.