So, grading college level work is a time-consuming and, sometimes, arduous process.  Notwithstanding that no-brainer observation, I always learn something new, something interesting, or have some void filled.  All good stuff.

When reviewing some recent student journal entries today, I read one particular submission that was, if I may say it, simply “awesome” (somehow, nowadays, I have an inherent aversion to that word…).  Anywho, and back on task, the essence of the moving journal entry went something like this;

“I am so busy taking care of myself and my daughter, that I do not have time to cry…”

Wow.  My heart ached.

Communication R Us

Every day a new book, article, or piece of research is published with some new spin on the Art of Communication – often, a re-work of common-sense principles that are well worn and “life approved”.  I’ve no idea how it all works, really – my communication ability largely predicated on some internalized win / loss metric dealing in trial and error…

So, this morning is largely dominated by a common mode of communication – responding to student email – minus the spam.  I continue to note, that student ability (effectiveness?) using this baby-boomer driven means of communication, um, generally sucks… But, not always.  Be still my heart.

Communication may work wonders; effective communication works miracles…

Turning Around

Human behavior is complex – or at least it is to me.  Even my own behavior can be perplexing, which of course occurs only when I make an effort to self-diagnose or evaluate an overt action or emotion, AKA personal reflection.  And today, I committed that crime; that is, an adult male who overtly and without forethought, malice, or external stimulus decides to take an emotional dive.

Ouch.  OK, the water was not all that deep.  I don’t swim well in those waters anyway.  And I was up and moving onward in a minute.  But, I did note that technology played an essential role in the modification of the way I do things…  Wait, no, more like technology directly caused me to change a well-established behavior – that of leaving the house and driving somewhere – in this case to class.

I turned around.  Four minutes out, and I turned around.  What, pray tell did I leave behind?  My cell phone?  Wallet?  Briefcase?  Forget to  close the garage door?  Did I leave the A/C on?  Did I forget my gourmet brown bag lunch?  Nope, none of those..  I turned around to fetch my FitBit, that was left in a state of disassociation.


Coaching 101

Recently, as in earlier this week, I noted with some measure of interest that about 1/2 of a business class had accessed a Homework prompt that had been online for weeks.  The LMS does not provide insight if an assignment prompt is “actually digested” by an unsuspecting student.  Wouldn’t that be nice, the technology is there…   Anywho, along with that nugget of information, I peeked to see if anyone had actually started on the assignment.  This was doable cuz it required a public-facing entry – a concrete measurement at the ready.  I log in.  I navigate to the assignment area.  I peek.  Nothing…  No surprise, the assignment is not due for 15 days.  Minor disappointment nonetheless – it is a good assignment that knocks off an SLO and actually can result in meaningful learning…

So, I think – what to do with this data, this negative information – hmmm, why not share it with the students?  Just maybe, doing so might provide the necessary pebble-like catalyst to garner some movement, right?  Decision made, I make it so – incorporating an old business principle into my email.  I let my students know that good business folks measure everything, injecting a favorite quote about control and measurement.  Swoosh – off it goes.

Some time has passed.  Enough time to know I over-reached.  And, I guess I did.  I mean, what 19 year old is going to turn some work in early.  Geez, Wal-Mart has developed a complex set of logistical processes specifically designed to not waste a second of valuable time – and that would include doing shit two weeks in advance of a due date!  Time is money.  What was I thinking…

The takeaway – I was outgunned by thousands of years of human nature!  I had a noble cause – my effort at best will garner marginal results – not unlike a Botox injection to abate / retard a migraine.  Being oversensitive now, I realize that it is probable that most students did not even read my “be proactive email”.  Hoping for an adjustment in student behavior may be a bit of a stretch.

But, back in the saddle now, I am not disheartened.  Like Forrest Gump and a box of chocolates, ya just never know what you’re going to get – maybe a single light bulb will go off.  Probably not, but I felt compelled to try and I will again.