Bananas

I love playing Bananagrams. I am not a big board game person, but I have a slight obsession with Bananagrams. I will play with my kids, but I prefer to quietly play the game by myself and time my game. I will scramble the letters and play with the same set and try to make different words. I might play for five or thirty minutes, but this quiet time is important for me to recalibrate and focus on one task.

I guess what I am saying here is that Bananagrams is a good way for me to unwind.

2014: Retrospect

I am thinking about the last year and I have more than a few takeaways; however, I want to focus on five. This year was filled with many highlights and I do not want to do the brag or the humble brag.

What was important to me:

1. My family. My family keeps me grounded. I love the texts from different family members: leave work. Where are you? Are you picking me up? This array keeps me focused while I am work and then focused on my time with them. They are also great at reminding me that I need to unplug.

2. Good health for me and my family. No need to explain more here.

3. Learning. This includes my own learning and others around me. I love teaching and each time I walk into the classroom I think about how lucky I am to get paid to think, read, grade, and write for a living.

4. Leadership. Here I am referring to my own leadership on campus, but also the crucial people who I am learning from thanks to their leadership and mentorship.

5. Listening. Listening is such an important skill to have and when I was an undergrad advisor a major part of that job was listening (and helping) students in my office. Leading a service unit on campus means that I must listen lots to the team and those around me.

I look forward to what the next school term holds. I know that my family will remind me to unplug and that I will continue to learn from those around me.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/fa7/15300516/files/2014/12/img_5615.jpg

Finish the Term Strong: Redux

This post is all about suggestions for student success. As a former Undergraduate Advisor and an instructor, I am supportive of student success. I have one more week in the term and due date are looming, but I realize that many of my colleagues have one to two more months left. This post will speak to some suggestions for how students can finish the term strong

1. Go to class

2. Read the syllabus

3. Go to office hours

4. Review points one through three

Seriously, I am not kidding about the above as they are extremely important to student success. As I told a group of librarians today, I might as well say that the sky is blue; however, it is key to emphasize the obvious. There are moment when we need reminding about what is the obvious Beyond the absolute obvious, I also suggest that during the last part of the term that students manage their time well. Now is the time to focus on ending on a high note. It is to easy to finish with the best that you can do in that moment, but that will not make you stand out above the others. I encourage you to become a hermit during the last week or two as you write your papers.

What else can you do? You can visit your Writing Center and then ask if your professor is willing to chat about your draft or to review your draft. Please note that most professors will not copy-edit your draft. Please remember that your professor may have 30-400 students that term, so don’t be too hard on your professor if they are only willing to chat about your paper. If you have a Teaching Assistant, by all means go to her or his office hours. Own your education. Take charge and act like you care. Acting like you care about your education and success really does count for something.

My last words of guidance are about reading the assignments and following directions. I am always surprised and frustrated by the number of students who do not read the syllabus and think that this is not important. A student approached me recently saying, “This is a 12 point font.” I responded, “Yes, it is but it is not Times New Roman 12 and is a huge font. Please review my syllabus.” Following directions is the first part of an assignment and reflect attention to detail. Good luck with the last few weeks and your papers and final!

Graduation is a mere two months away and I can’t wait to sit on the stage and witness this momentous event. Until then, I send positive energy to my students as they wind down. Finish the term well!

 

 

20140329-221218.jpg

Thinking More about Evaluating Student Work

This is timely for me, as I have been marking lots. The first part of any assignment is to read the syllabus or perhaps to read the assignment. Right?

My blog post on Equality 101 about Student Evaluation  got me thinking about grading this past weekend. I was in the midst of marking quizzes for Gender and International Relations and had just marked more than one dozen papers for The Worlds of Politics. One of the things that I was first struck with for the latter class was how some students refuse to read the assignment directions. This term I also provided a paper checklist, which I borrowed from one of my Teaching Assistants.

Some students attached the checklist and checked off the points that they had followed, but then left other requirements blank or unchecked. This baffles me. If an assignment states that you must cite 5 sources; why cite 3? I dedicated an entire class period to this large paper assignment, made my lecture available as a podcast, and posted my PowerPoint presentation on Moodle, for the students’ review. I also sent a few Moodle (CourseSpaces) messages to the class reminding them about the assignment. Even by doing this, though, I know better than to be too surprised when I start marking. I have done my part. My point here~ follow directions!

Thinking of the upper division course, Gender and International Relations, I was also noticing a pattern of merely restating the question and reviewing the material, but not offering any analysis. I did something different this term in the class and I did not require student attendance. I did not take roll and now into Week 11 of the 13 week term, I realize that I will not do this again. Several students are not coming to class and I think that they would have been persuaded to do so if class attendance influenced their course grade.

What I am getting at here–there is a correlation between attendance and overall course grade for some students. Come to class!

Girls Learning Code Day

Today my youngest daughter and one of her friends attended Girls Learning Code Day activities at UVIC. It was a packed day of coding in the Engineering Computer Science Labs for the kids and their parents. The crowed was packed with girls, a few boys, and lots of parents. The girls and their parents stormed the Ivory Tower or in this case the tower of the Engineering wing. This day probably saw the most girls and women in the building than at any other time.

There were numerous mentors at the event, too. The mentors were a good mix of UVIC graduate students, alum, and local mentors from tech companies or other businesses in Victoria. The Girls Learning Code Day took place across Canada and was sponsored by MasterCard. I would like to thanks Ladies Learning Code national, the Victoria Chapter, Erin Athene, and Linley Faulkner for all of their hard work in putting together the successful event.

IMG_5772.JPG

Childbirth Reflections

I’ve been thinking about the ways in which birth experiences influences the ways in which you feel about your health care provider and yourself. I heard a great MA Thesis defense this year and during the latter part of the defense there was some discussion about personal birth experiences. This made me think about my two birth experiences with my daughters. Both births required some intervention. And, here I am thinking about them some ten years later.

I did not opt to find out the gender of either of my girls. And, I had a birth plan in mind. I did not follow the birth plans, but I did end up with two baby girls. My eldest was encouraged to join us via the breaking of my waters and I labored for some 11 hours with her. I was quite thankful that for the epidural and will never forget the excruciating back labor. It really was like someone was trying to grate the skin off my back and hurt like nothing I had ever felt before. The next wonderful thing that I experienced were the shakes post-childbirth thanks to the epidural–with my teeth chattering. The rails of the hospital bed were cushioned so that I would not hurt myself, during my seizure like shakes.

The easiest part of my birth experience was breastfeeding. I had no issues with breastfeeding post-child birth. I also have warm memories of that first diaper change with the meconium being released by each daughter. Oh, good times.

My second (and last) child birth experience was more traumatic. I started off laboring standing and was feeling pretty good; however, in the matter of 10 minutes I went from laboring standing to the nurses realizing that something was wrong. I was summarily prepped for surgery and had an emergency c-section. I will never forget the moment on the hospital bed with my arms strapped down and feeling the doctor tug and open me up. I did not feel any of the surgery, but I could feel movement, and then my daughter was taken out of me. My doctor explained that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck twice and this explained the fetal distress. I shed tears of joy and relief. I felt guilty that every contraction strangled my poor girl. This daughter is more of a fighter and she comes by it naturally. Listening to other women’s child birth stories I am struck with the joy, honesty, and in some cases regret.

I did not feel guilty about the interventions that I had with my birth experiences, then, I do not now. And no one else is going to change my mind. Smiles.