New Semester Resolutions

Photo by Lukas Becker on Unsplash

Yes, it’s the end of January, but my life seems to be driven more by the academic calendar than the calendar year, so it seems like this resolutions post comes just in time.

In writing this post (and making sure that I hadn’t already written a New Year’s Resolution post because it’s 3 weeks into the new year and that seems like something I’d do…), I reread all of my posts this month. I saw a pretty clear theme. This month has been about finding calm in the storm, taking time to appreciate the beauty of moments, and taking a breath.

And that’s what I want this semester to be.

Here are my resolutions for this semester:

  1. Cook more. Eat out less.
  2. Spend more time with my family. Limit weekend and nightly commitments to what is REALLY important to me.
  3. Check in with an accountability partner before taking on ANY new commitments.
  4. Get 7+ hours of sleep per night.
  5. Run a half marathon in under 2 hours.
  6. Take a moment out of every day to reflect (and breathe).
  7. Write (something besides e-mail) everyday.
  8. Use my voice to advocate, in some way, everyday.

Any (academic) friends want to share their resolutions with me for this spring semester (or winter/ spring quarter)? Or anyone want to check-in with me to make sure these resolutions stick?  Growth is about accountability and this semester, I’m committed to growing in peace and community.

Rejection, Reflection & Integrity: Being Who I Am When No One and Everyone is Looking

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So, here I am, writing about rejection again…because, well, in addition to my grant proposal, I just had an article manuscript rejected this week as well.

I’m also exhausted, with a million things to do, school and daycare upheaval for my kids, and on my way home today, my tire pressure light came on.

But, I just had an amazing class, in a room with tables!

And, we got to talk about and represent our identities:

AND we got to connect our identities with those of our students, in thinking about what we want students to take from our courses:

And what it all helped me to realize was that identity and integrity is all about who I am in moments of rejection and reflection–just as much as it’s about who I am when I’m celebrating a momentous victory. It’s about who I am when I am in the spotlight and when I’m silent. It is the totality of my being, the good and the bad.

So, now, I will drown the rough part of my day (week, semester) in a plate of homemade nachos and get in some last precious moments with my family before their bedtime and my next few hours of work.

And tomorrow will be a new day, for me to try it all again.

Welcome to the New School Year


It’s the beginning of another school year–something like my 15th start of the school year as a teacher (or teacher of teachers) and my 10th start of the school year as a mother.  I decided to start this school year with a 20-day blogging challenge, inspired by my friend Wes Kriessel of Santa Ana Unified School District who, with his colleagues, began this challenge to make the 21st century learning they’re doing more transparent and public. I believe in transparency and being public with my work and my writing so I thought, “Why not?” They will be blogging 8-12 times a day for 20-days.  I am committing to blogging at least once a day, more as I’m able, but time, it is precious, and thinking time, it is rare, particularly when my kids start school after I do.

For this post, I wanted to focus on welcoming students to the school year.  Every semester, a couple weeks before our classes begin, I send out an introductory e-mail and invite students to check out our course website on the university’s learning management system.  I also ask them to begin connecting to myself and one another through an introductions discussion board prompt.  The basic prompt is simple: Tell us your name, your twitter handle, your content area, a little about yourself. Then, depending on the course, I’ll ask a topic-relevant question: What inspires you about teaching? What was the last thing you read that really stuck with you? What’s your experience with educational research?

It’s slow-going at first, sometimes no one responds until the last few days before (or the day before, or the day of) class, and often students won’t start responding to one another without some prompting, but this welcome is an important part of creating classroom community in each of my courses.  It helps me to know a bit about my students before I meet them in person, and it gives them a sense of who I am as a teacher/professor.  I’m a community builder and I like how technology supports face-to-face communities.  At the post-secondary level, I think it’s critical that students know who they’re dealing with so that they can make an informed choice about whether my pedagogical style aligns with their learning goals.

As a teacher/professor, I believe it’s critical to know our students and build community.  As a mom, I’m hopeful that, as my son starts school this week, his teacher(s) will also make as much of an effort to know him as an individual. Without knowing our students as individuals and where they are coming in related to our courses and curriculum, we can’t begin the work of growth and development that meets their needs.