Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


As I write at a local coffee shop, I celebrate this calm time of year with a cuppa Earl face-to-face classes have ended, and my Online classes are only getting started.  Unlike previous years when my Online classes were on a staggered schedule, this year both Online classes are on the same exact schedule. This simple piece of scheduling luck is making classroom organization a breeze, as I have finally taken the time to create a master spreadsheet gradebook to organize student contact and feedback.  In the past, I kept track of grades in the proprietary database provided by my school and used a paper, spiral-bound gradebook for my feedback notes.  This made grading a cumbersome project with all of my feedback to students generated and distributed electronically, but all of my notes scribbled in a separate location. 

I knew this was an inefficient process; however, I began my teaching career with a paper gradebook and cautionary tales from my colleagues about the unreliability of electronic storage.  Plus, it felt strange to work without the tactile presence of my notes.  I was reluctant to streamline my grading process because I was too used to the way I had always worked.  Now, however, I can accept that letting go of the old way of thinking has made my life easier.

I have been paperless for two weeks, so far, and it has gone swimmingly!  I have my files backed up on an external hard drive in case my laptop spontaneously combusts, so I even have a Plan B in place.  It is funny that I often use technology in the classroom, but I have been slow to digitize the papers I use behind the scenes.  If my students must conform to technological advancements, such as submitting essays through the SafeAssign program and writing journals on BlackBoard discussion boards, why shouldn't I? Change can be scary, but it does not have to be that way.  I think my experience will help me more easily connect with older students who are unsure of their ability to use electronic means, especially when they compare their technological skills to their younger classmates.  I can better reassure technophobic students, no matter what age,  that habits are difficult to break but worth the effort.

What habits do you have that you would be better off breaking?  Maybe today you can take the first step to freedom! Good luck.

Friday, May 6, 2011


As another semester draws to a close, I realize how lucky I am to be a community college teacher.  I feel blessed that I get to forge relationships with remarkable adults over a sixteen-week period and I can help them progress from various stages of writing (dis)comfort to polished, prepared writers for their next semester.  The last official class before exams is a significant presentation day, as students deliver interactive, multimedia presentations about their research projects, and it is a brief moment of calm before I get a deluge of research essays to grade (hooray!!). 

For my students' research projects (which includes extensive research, drafting, revising, and a culminating class presentation) I encourage them to choose topics that are meaningful to them-- meaningful because of a personal connection or a professional responsibility.  This semester was no different, as students discussed policies relevant to their professions and issues that resonated in their hearts.  The best part of these presentations, however, was the visible engagement my students have with each other during and after each presentation.  They asked thoughtful questions,  ("I never thought about that; what should I do?" "Then what happened?") and they show their nervous classmates that they really care about the work they did, and that they genuinely want their classmates to be successful.  They remind each other that they are in the same learning community and are bound by shared learning experiences in our classroom and on campus.

One of my favorite times as a teacher is when I learn from my students-- either by gaining a better understanding of an issue based on their research or on the intangible appreciation I have for humanity when I see my class come together for one last communal moment.  While I am quick to praise them for their efforts and insights, they will never truly know how much they enrich my life. 

This week I am taking a drive back home.  I hope the road leads me where I want to go.