A New Term: The Promise

It is week 2 of 13 at work and it is filled with new faces, new courses, and lots of promise. I did something a little different last week during one of my lectures. I spent a good chunk talking about my expectations, good habits, things to avoid, and reminded my students to get involved. These points speak to the Fall term at university. I want big things for this term.

The reminder is also important for me. I am in my 17th year of teaching and this means that I am comfortable with my job. Comfort is great and has some pitfalls. I must remember that this new environment is filled with its own jargon and the new students are just figuring out the place–let alone my expectations on the first or second day. As I walked to the lecture hall last week, I had that bounce in my step and I was excited. It was great to see the new group. Welcome to campus, and welcome to my classroom. I know that this particular class is different, as it is team taught.

When I walk into the classroom, I think about my job and how important it is for the students. It is privilege to have an important part in their education. But, as I told them, they need to show up. They need to own their education. I am looking forward to this term. And, I really hope that my students are, too. I’m raising my coffee to my students. Rock this term!

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How Do You Answer?

I have read Lean In and have blogged about it previously. At BlogHer13 I heard Sheryl Sandberg speak and got to meet her and take a quick photo. I also have read the updated book for college grads. And, I’m a lapsed member of the Lean In movement and circles (Education). At this year’s BlogHer14 in San Jose, California, I attended the Lean In circle workshop.

I am looking at the great cards that Dr. Carole Robin did with Lean In. I saw the question, smiled and immediately pictured a few things: my loveys and coffee. I was chagrined that I saw his face, and my two daughters’ faces, then pictured coffee. The question is not as simple as it looks. What brings out the best in you?

My immediate answer was personal. My family and my home brings out my best. When I think of extending that circle some, I can answer that question with my family of origin, my good friends, colleagues, the warm sun on my skin, my students, a great meal, and a strong Dark and Stormy. There are different nuances to the question and answer that you might give.

When I am teaching, a great class can bring out my best. I try to give my A game to my students, but a strong group of students who like the material can make a big difference with the class. Likewise, when I sit on a committee and other are committed to the agenda and the execution of the final product, the committee work moves more smoothly.

My Loveys bring out my best. My friends bring out my best. My work brings out my best.

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Don’t Blame Technology

This is an oldy, but goody. I am reading lots of books about teaching and seeing so many new faces around campus. I felt it was worth re-blogging this post.

The New York Times article “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction” is making the rounds. You can find it here:  http://tinyurl.com/37tbzqv. It is to easy to blame technology on the disconnect that educators find with the current cohort of students in our first year courses. I am going to speak to this notion that the Net Gen are artful multi-taskers and think differently. Instead, what we really have is a cohort of young people who are used to using technology all of the time for gaming, fun, communicating, research, school work, and for making connections with others. Of course, some are using technology merely for gaming or social networking, but you get my point.

Part of my job is to acculturate students to the environment of higher education. This is why my course syllabus states that students should be taking notes or checking the course Moodle site, but not gaming during lecture. It’s distracting to those around them and frankly, if you want to game, download music–do that outside of the classroom. This notion of the Net Gen being better at multi-tasking has been disputed on several occasions this year with new research that states that the Net Gen are no better at multi-tasking than previous generations.

I am not a tech Luddite. I have an iPhone and have often been an early adopter of different technology or applications. However, I tire at the sheer number of articles that extol only the virtues of technology in reference to youth. This New York Times article doesn’t do this, but it opens up the door to excuse making for rude behavior in the classroom and in communication. If the Net Gen wasn’t spending hours online gaming or connected to Facebook, they most likely would be on the phone for hours with friends. Technology has replaced other great time vacuums that previous generations used. Here, all of this conversation is directed toward youth who have access to technology. These are really first world concerns and conversations.

We need to remember that ultimately lots of business and human interaction takes place face to face. This is where we need to remind the Net Gen about classroom etiquette and frankly communication etiquette online and offline. In much the same way, though, educators need to be realistic about their teaching and make sure that the material and means of presentation of the information is engaging. We are all in this together.

BlogHer14 Takeaways

I attended the 10th BlogHer held in San Jose, California. This was my third BlogHer and I was really looking forward to the media sessions and the future of blogging. I also wanted to network and check in with the WordPress Happiness Bar consultants, as I had some questions about my site and other more general questions related to the enterprise instance of WordPress at work.

What was different this time? Prior to the conference, BlogHer contacted attendees to sign up for different Skype groups, and queried BlogHer veterans if they would be willing to mentor a newbie. I joined a few groups: Bloggers of Color, Parents of Tweens & Teens, Scandal, and Game of Thrones. I wished there was an Orphan Black group, but where would they stop?! I was paired with a few women who were new to the conference and had Skype messaging conversations with them. I ended up meeting one of my “buddies” at registration and got to know her during the conference. A big thank you BlogHer for making this arrangement, and for continuing the conversations post-conference, as it’s a great way to keep building the community.

I do not know if the pairing was a new thing, but it worked great for me. I got to chat with my new friend about her work and reasons for attending BlogHer and we just had honest conversations about work, social media, blogging, entrepreneurship, family, and more. BlogHer is a different type of conference. It is diverse in terms of topics covered and the attendees. I sat at many sessions or keynote presentations and noticed the diversity in the room and this is a quick observation based on phenotype and not knowing every story or identity.

What else did I learn? People are doing amazing things with technology on their blogs. Lots are using different media platforms to share video, make videos or just add to the overall presentation of their sites. Infographics are used more and this could explain Canva’s presence as a sponsor. I got the sense once again that the consumerization of the platform is key for many users. People want to move their blogs forward, share their story, and in some cases make money in the process. It was interesting to see so few refer to privacy or security. And, as I noted in my Twitter posts, this is something that I am more cognizant of, given that I live in a province with the most strict privacy and records management guidelines in the country. As an expat living in Canada, I live in both worlds in the Twittersphere and Blogosphere. My personal footprint is radically different than my work footprint or use, but that is for another post.

Overall, BlogHer continues as an amazing conference and space for women (and some men and other allies). My only regret is that I do not have a clone who can attend other sessions for me to soak it all in and take notes. Rock on, BlogHer!

 

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Mexican Food & BlogHer

I’m in San Jose, Calif for BlogHer14 and while here I am having full days of networking, learning, and Mexican food. Yes, Mexican food. As an American ExPat living in Victoria, BC, Canada, it is really hard to get good Mexican food consistently. I joke that I miss my family, the weather, and Mexican food. And, on the occasional day in Victoria the order might vary. I should add that I am Latina and I grew up on Mexican food at home. I know Mexican food and it is my favorite–it reminds me of home.

I have been to Mezcal, Mexicali Grill, and Super Taqueria. The photos are from each restaurant in the order noted. I have had a great trip thus far and look forward to more conversation, learning, and Mexican food.
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Blog Her, Blog Her

I am going to a conference for professional development this week. You might have heard of the conference–BlogHer. This year marks its 10th conference. You have to figure that some 11-12 years ago the group of women founders looked around the Silicon Valley and realized that they were doing something unique and needed to network with other women. Voila–BlogHer was born.

Now, BlogHer is a tween and is going strong based on the various other conferences, website, and more. I am happy to attend this year’s conference in my home state, California. And, I am looking forward to learning more and making connections. Lifts coffee cup–to BlogHer.

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