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Yearly Archives: 2014
by Dr. Alex Spatariu
The semester end is almost here! Before we can all relax during the winter break, assignments have to be turned in, a few more classes need to be attended, and the finals are pressing for more study time. All of these could make one tired or feel overwhelmed. My best advice to you all for navigating through busy times well is to divide work into smaller tasks and take things one step at a time. Try not to think too much about what you have to do overall, just chunk things and work on each of the smaller parts. Then piece them together.
Here are some motivational video interviews to watch when you have a few minutes. These are done by Dr. Bob Hoffman, a good friend of mine, who is a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Central Florida. These folks come from all walks of life, but they all have something in common: overcoming hardships and experiencing success by finding their motivation! You can also sign up for Twitter and follow Dr. Bob.
by Dr. Julie Fernandez
Why would anyone want the job of a school principal? It is a tough position. People yell at you, challenge you, and at times steal your parking space. The responsibilities of a principal have grown exponentially during the past 10 years. School accountability means the test scores are pinned to a principal’s shirt for all to see. There is nowhere to hide when it comes to the endless responsibilities of the job. You must have knowledge of instructional strategies, human resources, special education, budgeting, scheduling, discipline, and serving food in the cafeteria. If there is a problem on a campus, it is the principal’s problem. However, the job is not all about stress and gloom. There is joy.
When the day is over and everyone goes home, you can sit back and reflect on the enormity of the job that God entrusted you to do. It is a calling far beyond any thoughts of glory you had when you first dreamed of this career path. Children depend on you to hire the best teachers. They come in the doors hoping for unconditional love and acceptance. They look to you as their parent away from home. It is an overwhelming honor.
How you keep all the stress from sucking the joy out of your passion for the job is the biggest challenge. I struggled with this problem all the time, but I finally found a simple solution. On particularly stressful days, I went to kindergarteners for advice. It was at the end of the day when they were resting from a long day of letters, numbers, and songs. I asked them to sit with me and give me their wisdom for living a life full of joy. One little boy who smelled like Play-doh and sweat looked me in the eye and said, “When I am tired, I take my blanket and snuggle with my mom. She makes me feel good. She loves me.” When I arrived home that evening, I took my blanket and snuggled with my Father. He made me feel good. He loves me. “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand so he may lift you up in due time, casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5: 6-7, NIV)
Never underestimate His love and care for you when you follow His calling to positions where you are entrusted with the care of His children. Stress in any job is inevitable especially in jobs where leadership is vital. However, how we manage our stress is what separates the believers from the non-believers. Snuggle with your Father and allow Him to take your burdens and lighten your load. There you will find joy.
by Dr. Kaye Busiek
Are you thinking that you want to “finish strong” this semester, but you aren’t quite sure if you have the physical, emotional, or mental strength to get there? It’s that time in the semester when major papers, projects, and final exams are coming due, and it might be helpful to read a few tips that can help you do your personal best.
Positive thinking means we look at the unpleasantness in the world—and there’s plenty of that—in a way that is hopeful and aims to get something done well rather than avoid it. Those thoughts that pop into our head when we have difficult or challenging things to accomplish are called self-talk. Some of us tend to have more negative self-talk (pessimism) than others. Conversely, some are prone to letting positive self-talk (optimism) rule the day. There are some major benefits that positive thinking, or positive self-talk, can provide. Some of them include lower rates of depression, greater resistance to illness, better coping skills during difficult times, and even a longer life span.
In order to tell if you are a negative thinking or a positive thinking, you might consider the following forms of negative thinking. (1) Even after a day of completing tasks ahead of time and receiving compliments at school or work, do you focus on the unfinished tasks and forget about the compliments? (2) When something bad happens, do you automatically blame yourself, even though there were other people who influenced the outcome? (3) When a graded test or paper is returned to you, do you automatically expect to get a bad grade—even though you know you prepared well and may have felt pretty good when you turned the test or paper in to the teacher? (4) Do you feel like you’re a failure if you aren’t perfect (by your own standards)?
So, how can you turn your negative thinking into positive thinking so that you “finish strong” this semester?
* Identify areas to change. Focus on at least one area that would make a big difference if you thought about it in a positive way. One area may be to “chunk” your reading, writing, and general studying tasks because they may be more easily accomplished if you don’t have so much to do at one time. You may also benefit from taking breaks between the “chunks.”
* Check yourself. Positive self-talkers check in during the day to make sure they are focusing on what they are doing well and not all that still needs to be done. They reward themselves in healthy ways, and refrain from thinking or saying condescending or derogatory comments about their performance or attitude.
* Be open to humor. We need to laugh—sometimes even at ourselves—so that we break the cycle that makes every task a “make-it-or-break-it” obligation.
* Follow a healthy lifestyle. Do you eat healthy throughout the day—and while you are studying? Do you take a 5-minute break about every hour of studying? Do you practice deep breathing to relieve the occasional stress? Do you get plenty of sleep in order to avoid feeling tired or “fuzzy” throughout the day?
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive self-talk is much easier if we surround ourselves with people who are also thinking positively about you and about themselves.
* Practice positive self-talk. Replace any negative conversation you’re having with yourself into positive affirmations and gentle encouragement.
Most importantly, don’t forget about the power of prayer! God is ready for you to give your concerns to Him. He knows your struggles and your negative thoughts, and He’s ready to guide you as you strive every day to “finish strong”!
Summarized from Healthy Lifestyle, Stress Management, by Mayo Clinic Staff
Here are some resources for finding research articles in the field of education:
- American Education Research Association’s Paper Repository This resource is free and published by the largest education association in the US, if not in the world. It contains recent research on almost any educational topic.
- Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education This resource is not free, but you can search the titles and abstracts first to see if you have any interest in their research. The association is the premier organization for education and information technology research, so you will find a wide variety of research.
- Google Scholar Yes, I do use Google Scholar 🙂 to find abstracts as well as full text articles. It also has a feature that gives you the proper citation in different styles, including APA!
The semester is almost half way completed, and many of you have taken midterms in your classes. Of all classes I am teaching, statistics seems to be a rather difficult one for many students, and it is a class requirement for at least some majors. It is difficult, as the concepts presented are complex and quite abstract, and there are a few math calculations involved. I encourage seeking help outside the classroom from our tutors in the library. Here is a link to the Academic Success Center at HBU: http://www.hbu.edu/Students-Alumni/Student-Life/Academic-Success-Center.
If it helps you feel more at ease about the class, I, too, encountered many challenges back in the day when I took the class as a student, especially the more advanced statistical procedures. However, if you attend the classes, put time in to do the homework, do the practice quizzes, and get tutoring help as needed, you will be able to succeed in the course. Have a good rest of the semester!
by Dr. Stephanie Ellis
When you have concerns about your academic future, who do you go talk to? Your professor, right? Or your advisor? You don’t go to President Sloan!
When you need help or seek change, do you know who implements that? You! You talk to a professor, they talk to their chairs, who talk to their deans, who talk to the Provosts, who talk to President Sloan. And sometimes there’s a committee in there. 🙂
Can I encourage you that more than the US Presidential Election matters? Now that you can vote, I want to challenge you to figure out what matters to you – to YOU – and go find out what the candidates for State Representative, State Board of Education, Congress, Supreme Courts, and Governor say about those things. And then go vote. You may never have the ear of the President of the United States, but you easily might have the ear of your district representative for Congress.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably eligible to vote. But are you registered? The last day to register to vote in the 2014 Elections is Monday, October 6th! You can register to vote here. And then you can find out all your district voting information (who are my representatives? who are the candidates?) here. And you can find out where you can go to vote here.
Here at HBU, we want and expect you to be world changers. Start now. Go vote.
Last spring there was an episode of 60 Minutes discussing the Leisure World Cohort. These residents of the California retirement community were thoroughly evaluated in the 1980’s on everything from their physical activity to what vitamins they took. Years later, despite their advancing ages, the population from this community has aged exceptionally well and preserved the integrity of their brains.
What did they do to live longer?
Did they discover the fountain of youth?
No, of course, they didn’t. Instead the residents of this community learned how to live well. Check out this short clip on what the residents of this community teach us about living life and aging well.
by Dr. Polly Trevino
At HBU, professors care about our students. We get to know our students and form strong connections with them, which is one characteristic that distinguishes HBU from other institutions. As we build our online programs and increase our online course offerings, we want to establish rapport with our online students, just as we would our on-campus students. At first glance, it appears difficult to create similar rapport with online students; however, you can connect with your students in the virtual classroom. Here are 5 simple ways that you can connect with students in an online course.
Begin the course with introductions. Introduce yourself, and give students a chance to introduce themselves. Introduce yourself in a short video or post a page with a biography and pictures. Describe your professional background, your scholarly interests, and any personal details that you feel comfortable sharing with your students. I include pictures of myself with my family on my bio page because it humanizes me. After viewing the page, students know that a real person, not an automated cyber-bot, is teaching the course. Don’t stop at just introducing yourself. Give students a chance to introduce themselves in a forum. Respond to each student’s introduction. Welcome him/her to the class and comment on something they mentioned in their introduction.
Use students’ names. Address students by their names. In the online classroom, most posts or participation is accompanied by a student name/username, so it is obvious who is commenting or posting. Nevertheless, address students by name in forums, emails, chats, and other communication. Not only does this humanize students in your mind, it helps you remember their names. Moreover, when the class sees you addressing students by name, they will be more likely to address classmates by name and direct comments, questions, and conversation to classmates. This encourages a sense of community in the online classroom.
Be present in the course. Remember, you are still the same caring, enthusiastic professor that you are in the face-to-face classroom. Only the modality for expressing your professorial identity has changed in an online classroom. Because your online students do not physically see you, you must use course tools to be present and be “seen” by students. Post messages, such as announcements and reminders, several times a week. Give previews or summaries of course topics in a News/Announcements forum or as class messages. In forums, participate in the discussion and respond to student posts. As you respond, synthesize student posts and ask questions to extend students’ thinking (just as you would in a face-to-face discussion). Give regular feedback using rubrics to grade discussions and assignments.
Relate content to students’ life experiences or contexts. You can do this in your class messages or announcements. You can also design discussion tasks that require students to apply course learning to their own experience or context. You will learn a lot about students from their responses to topics that ask them to link new knowledge to previous knowledge and experience. Then, you can incorporate what you’ve learned about them into your responses to their posts and in future discussion posts.
Incorporate synchronous sessions. Synchronous sessions, when you meet with students in real time, can be chat sessions or video conferencing sessions using Blackboard Collaborate. Attendance at these sessions can be required or optional. In my experience, students appreciate the extra support that these sessions provide. Many attend, even when attendance is optional. These sessions give students a chance to ask questions, hear you lecture, or interact with you and with each other. Students get a sense of who you are as a professor, and they realize that you care about their learning.
So there you go! Five simple ways that you can foster relationships and build a learning community with your online students. Try them in your virtual classroom!
by Dr. Stephanie Ellis
In this first week of school, as I meet new groups of students, I always go through my roll and ask students their preferred name and how to pronounce it. And it never fails – at least one student will correct a mispronunciation on my part with something like “just call me Jane – it’s easier.” And it never fails – I’m sad about that.
What’s in a name? In a constructivist way of thinking, words are just sounds that people, over time, have given a certain shared meaning. But isn’t a name different? Whether you love yours or hate it, have changed it legally, or go by a nickname – the name you go by is a part of your identity. And it belongs more to YOU than it does to other people. Your name isn’t just a random set of sounds that over time people came to recognize you by, as if others (besides your parents!) have any say in what you ought to be called. This has been YOUR name for some time, and it has more meaning to you than it does to someone else.
I don’t have a traditionally difficult-to-pronounce name, so maybe I’m not the best person to judge. But when I hear “oh, just call me _____” – I hear a diminishing. Why can’t the burden be on ME to learn to pronounce your name as you do? Why do you need to accommodate me (or anyone) with something so personal?
And God has some thoughts about your name, too …
Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
the Lord has forgotten us.”
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.
I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
I don’t mind getting out of my ethnocentric head and doing the work of saying your name properly. I want to honor you for exactly who you are and want to be. I don’t want to diminish you.
by Dr. Dawn Wilson, Associate Professor of Instructional Technology
The beginning of a new school year brings renewed energy and new initiatives. Districts work all summer planning for improved ways to increase student achievement and enhance teacher productivity. In Houston, school districts are also rolling out new plans to increase students’ achievement as well as their 21st Century skills.
This year, Houston Independent School District will distribute laptops to every student in 29 of its high school campuses (the final 11 will get them next year) as part of it’s PowerUp initiative. Many other districts are following suit, rolling out 1-1 access to technology for their students either through BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives or district supported technology initiatives.
How will all this technology in the classroom affect learning? Well not at all, unless the teachers have been given the time, tools and support to change their teaching strategies in the classroom. Teaching and learning won’t really improve unless the pedagogy is modified to fit the new teaching environment. Providing digital devices for students is a great first step, but it will just function like an ereader or etextbook (a different way to take in the same information) unless teachers learn how to change to a more student-centered teaching and learning environment.
In these new classrooms, students should be collaborating as they research content, analyze and synthesize the information and then find a way to represent their learning using these new tools they have at their fingertips. Students can create videos, animations, websites, blog, even tweet to demonstrate what they are learning. No longer do teachers need to create a PowerPoint to deliver content to students telling them everything they need to know, but instead they should be designing and facilitate learning activities that engage students in learning what they need to about the content. Then the fun part starts. The teachers allow the students to use any number of creative ways to demonstrate what they have learned and how this information is relevant today.
How are teachers going to learn this new pedagogy? It is probably not going to happen by attending a summer technology workshop. Instead, teachers need to be given the time to learn from each other. They need to rethink instructional strategies. Peer-coaching and instructional-coaching are both professional development methods which have shown positive effects on teaching, but it requires an investment of time and people. Teachers need time to meet together, share what they are doing, and try new things. Teachers learn best when the learning is targeted (something for their own discipline that they can use right away), scaffolded, and differentiated (don’t we encourage this for our own students learning).
In order for all of this technology to make a difference for students, we need to be sure the needs of our teachers are being addressed in personal and meaningful ways. School districts need to find ways to address the needs of the individual teacher, while also reaching the masses, and teachers need to find ways to invest in themselves and share their successes! When they create a great new technology rich lesson that works – share it with other teachers!
So all you teachers out there…increase your own personal learning community. Reach out to teachers on other campuses that teach what you teach! Connect with others using social media! Partner with another teacher on your campus to learn how to use a new tool with your students. Partner with your students to try something new. Don’t be afraid! Get connected! Make a difference in a student’s life! Make the 2014 school year your most innovative school year yet!