Category Archives: training

All You do to Me is [TED] Talk, Talk

Not to brag, but I teach at three colleges. It’s a cold hard fact of the college professor lifestyle.  One is a traditional community college where I teach in the classroom.  Another is a non-profit liberal arts college operating mostly online.  My third and longest employer was a publicly traded for profit college that went into the hands of private for-profit investors in 2016.  I teach here in person and online.

I appreciate my varied teaching history for the simple reason that it provides ample evidence and example to test my beliefs as they relate to higher education.  Further, as I believe higher education’s delivery methods and purpose is experiencing rapid change, it may be best to keep many eggs in my basket.  Historically (a good critical thinking lens to employ), I know at least one will falter and one will flourish.  I take the same approach to financial investment – buy what you know but diversify as much as is reasonable.

I’m preparing for a July class at University of Phoenix (UOP), which means it’s time to dust off the syllabus and see what to cut and what to revise.  Certainly, more about spotting fake news is appropriate.

Related to that, I have been reading and re-reading this: the [ill] logic of climate denial and still crafting details to make it a classroom exercise rather than a lecture.  I’ve found the really important thinking parts of the class need to be discussed. I can test terminology knowledge and MLA formatting with little effort.  It’s the big points, mostly that your thinking is at the very least a “shared” phenomenon, I want them to analyze.

Each college schedules under a different philosophy. However, each of those philosophies embrace TED Talks!  UOP holds all undergraduate classes once per week, at night, for four hours, over five consecutive weeks. With twenty hours of class time to fill, my behavior is like a shark’s. I am in constant motion, seeking the signs of new content and relevant activities and useful discussion topics.  I just bought a thesaurus, thanks for asking.

This TED Talk video, linked below, is wonderful on many levels. I find it best to introduce at the end of week one (analysis of the state of our own thinking) or the start of week two (exploring ways of asking questions to uncover knowledge…aka the Socratic method…named for Dave Socrates).

First, it breaks the ice.  Giving people a video demonstrating how silly “other people’s” ideas are generates some laughs.

Second, it aligns with the learning outcomes of the course and the pace of the textbook reading.

Third, it let’s me introduce my personal biography and history with critical thinking.  The section on backward masking transported me to junior high, the early 80’s. I completed 4th-12th grade at an evangelical Christian school. I grew up learning the facts about the Bible and America that are on full display today at the highest levels of our government.  Backward masking was introduced as the means by which secular society influences behavior.  We mostly just found it funny, at times a bit scary.

I learned then that if you want someone to believe like you do, you must teach them. It rarely happens organically.  Yes, I do believe the best higher education is non-organic.  I might someday come to the conclusion that the best higher education is delivered by non-humans. I might even concede that it may be best to circumnavigate the person entirely, and just teach AI inspired devices directly.  But that’s a blog for another day.

Living as a human my entire life, the last decade paddling around in higher education, shaped my belief that teaching via processes like “childhood” and “school” generate behaviors and values we desire most consistently.  The everyday observations by a child regarding adult behavior, and the standardized lesson planning in education shape our beliefs, often to the detriment of other types of critical thinking evidence.

Media often gets the credit.  Media however, is the wall of your echo chamber, bouncing back what you’ve already put into the universe.  When it reaches your ear again, it sounds like confirmation. But it’s not…

It’s like this video I show in my critical thinking class.  When we are told what is “there”, lo and behold, we usually “see” it. And that is where critical thinking begins in earnest!

 

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Filed under belief, classroom management, college teaching, critical thinking, higher education, leadership, metrics, training, Uncategorized, UOPX

Will You Be a First Responder to ITT Tech Students?

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Teaching and college administration has been my calling for well over a decade. From 2005-2009, I fulfilled that passion at ITT Technical Institute. When I read the news today, that they were no more, my first thought was, “Good! This is long overdue.” It was quickly followed by, “What will happen to all those students?” I am going to put aside the analysis of all the bad things done under the banner of higher education while the colors of ITT Tech flew high upon the helm.  I am not going to think about the fortunes gained and lost by shareholders, employees, and taxpayers.  Today, I want to talk about that secondary concern…the students.

Now that the school is closed, where will these students finish their education?  As outlined, some will seek loan forgiveness, some will drop out, the rest will seek a new college. My hope is that most of them will find another college. My fear is that many that wish to finish somewhere else, will find that there is no room at the inn.  State and private schools have record numbers of applications and not enough seats to accept them.  A similar scenario for different reasons awaits them if they remain in the market driven college realm. Those systems have experienced significant slowdowns, with several meeting the same fate as ITT Tech, or operating as a much smaller college.

If you are like me, you look at that data and ask yourself – “What can I do about this?” My brief answer, in two parts:

  1. I will prepare myself to meet more students who have had a negative education experience, or hear more negative than positive these days regarding college overall. It is more than school closures – it is noticeable safety issues, degrees with few marketable skills, high debt, the list is truly without end. When I hear these issues in class, I will actively listen and not try to defend. I will facilitate understanding.
  2. I will support local movements that seek to meet with students and provide options to them. Even though these students are not “mine”, I am pledging my willingness to educate any one of these affected students. I will do so formally through my University, but also ask other education leaders in the region what can be done. I think about the RED teams that a city will dispatch to court an employer or secure a regulation that will facilitate solid job creation and economic development.

I choose these two actions because they are within my area of control. I proudly work as an associate professor at University of Phoenix. I have been active in causes supporting business and education for two decades in and around Riverside, CA.

One thing I teach first year students is that they need to assess their skills and abilities, then apply them to the problem at hand. I can imagine no better service to students than to follow my own advice and work tirelessly until I make a positive difference in their lives and help them reach their career and academic goals.

What will you do? #ITTTechstudents

Note – Bruce Baron and the San Bernardino Community College District are already doing great work, see the article here

 

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Filed under classroom management, college teaching, employment, higher education, leadership, training, Uncategorized

My First Art Exhibit 7/7/16

cover for event aka seven

A year ago, I started a 12 month new artist training program provided by the Riverside Art Museum. I joined to support my effort to bring art into all the corners of my life. For the last year, I have been writing and constructing and training and planning. And it all comes to a head this Thursday!

Please join me and over a dozen “newish” artists as we take over the Riverside Art Museum during a four-day free exhibition.  You can come anytime over these four days, but if you want to watch me pour you a drink and chat, please come to the opening reception on July 7th anytime from 5-9 pm.

Here are other ways to be involved:

I’ve created a poetry chat book, a companion piece to my exhibit.  If you’d like to buy a copy, visit one of the stores below. Hard copy and electronic available. 100% of the dollars on all sales through August 2016 go to RAM and the 52 Project.

Createspace store

Amazon

Donate to Riverside Art Museum (RAM) and support these types of projects:

Donate to RAM here

Like us and promote the event on Facebook:

Follow this on Facebook

 

Thanks for your support.

I look forward to seeing you on the 7th!

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Filed under art, training, Uncategorized, writing

Your Career Memoir

Going into the final weeks of my University Studies course, career development gets some well deserved attention. One of the skills a successful student (and student of teaching) must have is intrapersonal intelligence.  For me, it’s the ability dial in your GPS career coordinates in the now.  Then, look back to understand the motivations, people, and circumstances that brought you to this moment. Then use that data to glimpse potential futures.

I’ve had my fair share of juicy plot twists along the way.

I worked for my first employer from ’86 to ’96. In ’93 I had my first son and took three weeks vacation to be home with him and my wife. Result? My old-school boss wrote me up for “lack of dedication” to my job. Human Resources helped my boss understand that the world had changed since he worked for Sterling Cooper.

Lesson learned? Take nothing for granted – not your legal work rights and certainly never assume your employer has your best interests in mind.

In 1996, I cashed in my 401(k), left the only company I ever worked for, and joined the entrepreneur-class. I was a third generation printer; what could go wrong? Eighteen months later, I joined the ranks of the failed business owner. I even sold my car to keep the business alive a few more months.

Lessons learned? One, don’t go into a business just because you think it can make money. I did not like printing but it was all I knew. I probably would have failed in another business though because I also learned…I prefer to work for other people. There! I have outed myself. In this vague period of self-directed and self-employed and completely empowered version of work we see today, I say “no thanks”.

I like being part of a group, I like not having to make all the decisions, and I really like a dependable paycheck!

The rest of the 90’s and early 2000’s were various sales jobs. Good jobs sure, but the limited jobs available to a person with hustle, the ability to wear a tie, and NO COLLEGE degree. So just like in 1992, when I realized how much more career advancement was possible in an office vs a production line, I leveraged my relationships and experience and vaulted onto a new path.

Frogger

My volunteer efforts landed me an interview for a Director of Career Services job with a 9-month certification school.  I was not qualified but got the job anyway (see previous paragraph, re: Hustle). This was six months after earning my English degree. Then I did some calculated jumping, similar to what James Citrin advises in his blog, How to Move From Job to Job.  My goal? To get a job at a degree granting college.

Over the next ten years, I stayed in the same role (Director), in the same field (Career Development) in the same industry (Post Secondary Education). But I learned about the many ways education is delivered. I worked at nationally accredited colleges, market-driven colleges, and a state college. It was not always pretty, but I also was fortunate to serve a similar student cohort everywhere I worked – first generation college students from Inland Southern California.

So, flipping to the last chapter, I gear up to break into a new career in Summer 2014. My gift arrives, just at the top of the story arc, 3 days after Christmas: An interview to teach first year college students full time. I get the job! How? Patient and deliberate (somewhat) planning. It was the culmination of my effort and intentions over the last two decades. It was setting up a SMART goal. It was using the tools at hand.

I wrote, revised, and edited that story for years.  Lots of blank pages left. Time to get to class and write some more.

What’s your career story? Ready to tell it? Better yet, are you ready to live it? If not, today is a great day to start.

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Filed under career, college teaching, employment, higher education, training

Speaking of the First Year Experience…

Whew! I just completed week 3 of my first 7 week course as a full time faculty member.  Teaching University Studies, University Writing, and Critical Thinking to students just starting their college experience – or perhaps back from an extended break – is a true joy and privilege. Over the next year, I intend to share my experiences here. I will leave the data crunching and success metrics to the experts at University of Phoenix.  What I wish to share are impressions, interesting anecdotes, and light advice for anyone interested in the college experience, particularly that fraught first year.

My first piece of advice?  Work in a community you care about. I am fortunate to say I have been able to serve students from Inland Southern California (aka – Inland Empire, aka – Inlandia, aka “that place east of LA”) since 2004.  I tell my students the first day:

“Listen, I’m here for selfish reasons. As members of my community, if I help you finish your degree, you will likely be happier with your career. That career happiness translates into economic improvements for where I live. Which in turn improves revenues which can be used to improve schools, services and infrastructure.  I help you, my community wins, I win!”

My first observation? The less I talk, the more they listen. When I start the discussion and pass it off to them, they pay attention to each other.  Here’s how they helped me build MY faculty schedule. At the third hour of a four hour class!

larry's schedule

My first lesson? Set your expectations high. I erroneously assumed that since I would be teaching freshman, they may not be well prepared and need MANY HOURS of work just to get them up to speed. I have found myself in the enviable position of seeking out advanced activities to bring to the classroom to keep them from becoming bored! Thanks to the book, An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi (free plug, I am not a paid hack – www.bookofbadarguments.com) I know that was the logical fallacy of a Hasty Generalization. Thanks Ali!

I could go on, for pages, but will stop here. Thanks for listening!  Next week we are discussing learning styles, study habits and ways analyze and discuss the writing of others.  Any suggestions to help those topics? Most welcome!

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Filed under career, college teaching, higher education, training

Look Down! You are Standing on Someone’s Shoulders

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I’m in heavy training mode these last two weeks thanks to my full time faculty position with University of Phoenix. I get the pleasure of working with first year students to support their career and academic success. What I am learning is too large to put into a list…but I have dozens of PowerPoints and Word documents at my disposal!

What is clear, from all of these resources and the excellent Wiki page the faculty and staff have put together, is a structure that has been built over decades – and I get to stand on it and say – LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!  Hopefully I will do more than that. My hope is that I will be able to add a wall, or a floor, or even a curtain to a window of this amazing and ever changing structure.

What I see all to often in my professional career are folks who just never look down. Perhaps it is fear, perhaps it is hubris, perhaps just bad training or not enough hugs as a kid, these people forget their history and think they need to destroy or radically alter the city-scape they inherit in order to “leave their mark”.

In short, those people are wrong. We all know these people. We also know that they typically do not last. Their lack of vision and limited growth potential make them poorly equipped to do much useful for an organization. The employees we need to hire, train, value and care about are the ones that know they stand in greatness only because of the greatness of those who came before them. And they understand the obligation to continue that good work.

It is better to be part of something larger that will last for decades. Anyone can bring down those around them to stand tall for a minute, but the quicksand they spread all too far and wide will eventually bring them down as well. In parables from business, religion, history, or politics, our systems work best when built by caring hands who intend to grow what is in front of them and conserve it for the ones who will do the work when they are gone.

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Week #2 Training – Telecommuting 102 – Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Well…

Off to another excellent week of training for this new teaching role with University of Phoenix. Week 1 hit on tons of stuff (drinking from the fire house as our trainers like to remind us!). What strikes me is the attention to student support at every stage. When we discuss the learning objectives, we talk about how the students incorporate the learning. When we talk about communication by forum or email, we talk about how the student interprets our actions and words – what we say and don’t say is heard loud and clear. When we correct, we do so from a desire to help the student improve.

It should go without saying that we don’t want to derail their motivation or crush their young college hopes and dreams. But it reminds me of how often I go into a situation only looking at the resolution and not at how the feelings of those involved are concerned. Some might say (and some of my former managers have) people should not be concerned about others feelings. I disagree. Feeling shape our perceptions – our perceptions shape what we think we are capable of learning and doing – what we learn and do BECOMES a part of who we are…which will influence how we feel.

Ah, another circle found. It bears remembering that these things tend to come round and round. Therefore, the good and the bad we leave in our wake – as managers, as teachers, as partners, as humans – affects the feelings of others. And it will still be in our path when we come around again. Better to leave things we need – things that nourish and help us grow – rather than laying traps and debris in the way.

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Filed under employment, higher education, telecommuting, training, Uncategorized