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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Turning the mind away from war...what it takes

Roger came back from his time in Washington D.C. and offered this observation: The mind of engineering and higher education is turned toward war and the consolidation of profit (or that unholy alliance of the two).  In essence, the dynamic is "domination for personal gratification."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some more data...

I asked the SUSTAIN students a few simple questions in order to undated some of the financial analysis. I am still working on the financial analysis, but here are a few tidbits of information. 
  • When asked if they are leaving Cal Poly next year 2 of the 37 answered "yes." This is a 94% retention rate approximately equal to Cal Poly's one-year retention rate of 93% in 2010.
  • When asked if they are considering a major change, 13 (48%) said they are.  Of the 13,  9 indicated they were considering a change before entering SUSTAIN. For comparison purposes each year 6% of Cal Poly students change major.
  • When asked if SUSTAIN had helped them to determine there "life's work," 15 (67%) answered in the affirmative. 
  • Finally, 30 out of 37 students indicated they wanted to help next year in SUSTAIN. 

What are the differences?

Of course, there are no perfect measures of anything.  We used an instrument called the Course Valuing Inventory. It has four scales within it: Course Valuing, Course Learning, Personal Learning, Behavioral Learning.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

So, I like you, just not when you're visiting my class

Like Ginger, Monday's check-in conversation struck me in a few different ways. During my conversation with Bill on Tuesday, we discussed it and explored ideas around its emergence. For me, the hypothetical notion of faculty visiting my classes sounded wonderful. "Please, come in, sit down, and enjoy the wonders of my rich learning environment." said to me, in my head with some sense of delusion. When reality arrived and I received my first faculty email requesting a visit, that ball of acid exploded in my stomach before I finished reading the one sentence request. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? How did I go from some degree of excitement and interest to fear and dread?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What if they left hungry?

I had a really great time teaching Project Management last quarter. Roger and I collaborated on the content and delivery. I must say when I was teaching, or preparing, I felt very much like Roger was "slowing me down." I could have covered so much more, I asserted. If you know Roger, you will know why this happened. His "ignorance," that Linda spoke of, causes so many questions. It was actually very life giving for me. I struggled with my felt "obligation" to deliver content, but I sat with it. Experimented.

I am certain that another reason for the student's engagement was the strong connection of the course with their community project. They care about their partners and their project's success.

What happened is that the students left hungry for more content. Most of them asked if they could attend the course again this quarter, without receiving credit, just because they wanted to learn more.

What if at the end of every course the students want more? What if they didn't see the class as a box to be checked, but as something interesting? What if we stopped cramming stuff down their throat in order for them to regurgitate the content on an exam, and gave them tasty morsels that they will seek out in the future? This is my yardstick now: When the course is over, are the students hungry for more?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

our successes...don't forget them!

One of the things that we noticed during our last faculty collaboration meeting of the quarter was that we are intolerant of talking about our successes. We will spend hours on "problem solving" but after 10 minutes of reviewing what "went right," we were saying, "Okay, what is the point of this meeting?  Why are we talking about this?"

I also noticed my tendency to document my complaints, and not the celebrations. 

Here is a record of some of both. 

SUSTAIN Winter 2012 After Action Review

The good news/success of what we captured this quarter

it's all too much

miraculously, we have made it through the first quarter. to hear me talk, you'd think that we were in some sort of collective "donner pass"-hell scenario, when in fact we are simply learning together.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SUSTAINing each other

Our colleague and friend (and vilified teacher of Physics) had a terrible life threatening health crisis on Thursday. It was horrific and wonderful all in the same moment. It looks like he will be fine, but is in the ICU about an hour away.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

relinquishing control

Each Friday, during the last hour, we have a "check-out." The faculty often design something: a sticky wall, a team building exercise, or a discussion about Spring quarter. This last Friday we thought of a lot of things we could do, fish bowl or debrief on the emotional upheaval of physics, but Linda had a brilliant idea of asking the students what they wanted as a gesture of our co-ownership of SUSTAIN. It was so fun. Linda talked for a few minutes about jointly creating something, then we (the faculty) sat down.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

what if..... fails?

....I will most definitely blame Physics.

the hidden cost of change - week 6

it's been nearly a month since my last entry here.

i've been reflecting a great deal on all that is happening, but not here...not in the open. there is a way in which i don't want my thoughts to be known.  in terms of the students in SUSTAIN, in some ways, they are thriving. their relationships with one another are strong and they are deeply engaged in their community projects. they have all said that they have never worked this much in their (short) college career, but it is meanful work, in contrast to the meaningless work that they see their non-SUSTAIN peers doing.

but there is a great and terrible thing that is happening...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 9-Profoundly grateful

i am profoundly grateful for my colleagues. today, while the students were checking-in in their project teams, the faculty rounded up to also check in.  this is always a sweet time for me because i have such feelings of warmth toward all my colleagues.  by the way, it is true that not all of us were there and i do miss those who weren't.

pete and i recreated a conflict that we allegedly "had" during the day. it turned out that it was a live conflict, rather than one that we were "over."  in the end, i found myself crying quitely to myself, really for the poignant beautfy of the acts of love and kindness that were so subtley ocurring.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Faculty collaboration - The only hope

We, the faculty teaching in SUSTAIN, have been meeting for almost a year each week for two hours. Right now the meetings are on Friday from 9 to 11. So here we are. Roger reminded us that we did this because we wanted to confront and consider how to live sustainably. We are now inside of this thing we call SUSTAIN and are confronted in a direct way with the ways we are, the system is, unsustainable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When students are given a choice, they take it

We, the faculty, have been talking with the students about treating them as co-learners. We have been talking about treating them as people, with values, interests, motivations of their own.

Among the first thing that we discovered is that they want to exercise their human rights:  During the times that they don't have assigned classes, they asked if they have to "be there."

The ways we oppress each other

I am teaching the Physics for the liberal arts and business students. This course is a conceptual course that includes some math, but is more of a survey than a focus on proficiency of analysis.

Last Thursday, it was announced that there were two different sets of physics students. One of the very motivated students in my class took me aside and wanted to know if they were really going to be learning physics because it sounded, from what the other instructor said, that they would not be learning real physics.

In the room, one of the students called my class "baby physics."  It is really kind of a horrible thing we do to each other, creating an imagined separation between the "tough ones" (i.e, men) and the "soft ones (i.e., sissies or women) and all the misogynistic value judgments that are embedded into that separation.

Day 6-Down for the count already

My colleague Liz just dropped me off at home out of mercy for me. I'm so sick that I'm rather a menace to society. I was supposed to be 2-hours in studio time today with SUSTAIN.

It feels like we are in a delightful whirlwind of creativity, but these whirlwinds are someone personal vortices, colliding with others in the 60 seconds after a meeting in which we are all running in different directions.

Today, they are MINE!

Today, I get to spend two hours with my sustain students. I have so much to say, so much to talk about, and so much to simply observe. I believe I bring creativity into the classroom (delusional, perhaps, but that's my mental model of my teaching.) My biggest criticism from students, poor execution of that creativity, especially by students who have a lack luster attitude about learning. Maybe, this will be a little different. Now, I just need to figure out what to say . . . oh, the choices available to me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 4 - the view from here

There have been several moments in the past few days when I have been so moved that I've nearly cried (oh, and several moments when I actually have cried).

Today was the end of the first SUSTAIN week.  After a week of "living" orientation in our 2-hour meetings, students presented their research to the community agencies and chose teams. It was remarkable.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Inauguration Day

Everything (stress, planning, some background conversations) temporarily melted away during the first meeting of the SUSTAIN-ers. Everyone (faculty, students) seemed at a higher level of sensation/sensititivity -- everyone wanted to have this thing work. I rarely come into the first meeting of a class where students are really ready to move in a new direction. I hope to replicate this in my classes in the future.

Well done, SUSTAIN. It is only a first step but, for me, it will make all the future planning and stress worth it -- because we have true learning partners.