So, this week’s challenge is to reflect on our 9x9x25 experience – what we would improve, what seemed to work. Well, actually, all of it seemed to work!

I found out so much from everyone; mostly about their commitment to students and teaching.  It makes me more thankful and thoughtful of those with whom I work.

I’m thankful I responded to the challenge.  Because of having to post weekly, I have a better sense of why my students sometimes get frustrated with one of my assignments (…why can’t she see that I have four other classes too?!).  Or comments about other instructors (…why can’t he see that I have four other classes too?!).   In reflection, I’ll make a concerted effort to remember those other assignments when I plan next semester.

I’m thankful that I really read your blogs.  It’s been inspiring, funny, thought-provoking, and interesting.  Seriously, I don’t know how I’m going to take all of your classes, but will just have to give it a go.  In reflection, your blogs showed me much more about you as a person, teacher, and colleague.  I got to read all about your humor, frustration, and commitment – to your students and to your profession.

I’m thankful to learn new ideas.  All of you shared some great stuff!  It was akin to what I ask students to share – new ideas – new thinking – different thinking – questioning norms in a participatory way.  In reflection, this 9x9x25 challenge was both a learning and social process or, if you will, a moderated discussion; exactly I want from students.  If I lecture students then test them, they aren’t learning a lot.  If I propose a set of new ideas, listen to what they have to say, encourage interaction with others, and manage conversations in directions that seem useful based on interactions, they are probably going to learn a lot.  Just as I did over the past nine weeks.

Improvements?  More ice cream; maybe wine – more participants.  I like the idea of a week of just commenting.



What I Learned Away from the Office

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

OK – I’ve had a couple of weeks in “God’s Country” – Montana and, yes, I am in love with Montana too.  My hubby and I needed to help his Mom (she’s almost 91) and as part of this fall trek, we traveled up for a cattle drive to the Northeast part of Montana, to a little town called Saco.  It’s about 25 miles south of the Canadian Border, and consists of predominately dry-land farming/ranching, and we have some really good friends there.  There is just about no cell phone reception, and Internet access is 40 miles due west, so you really do unplug.   Below are pictures of ranch views and the ‘thriving metropolis of Saco. The hottest place in town in OB’s Café.


saco3 saco4

My best thinking and best ideas have always come while I’m ‘away from the office’.  The daily prep, grading, emails, phone calls, self-created silos, and just the chaos of being at the office detracts from true thinking and letting my brain come up with better solutions to things – new ideas of how to improve things – reflecting on systems and solutions.  Having the space to just ‘be’ is, for me, critical.

I don’t have to tell any of you (and it’s been proven many times) that we are more productive if we can relax and get away once in a while.  According to a survey by Harris Interactive, Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 — up from 6.2 days in 2011.

Think about your days and tasks.  How many days do you wake up already tired? Check email before you even get to your office (most days)?  Yep, I’ve gotten emails from some of you at 5:30 am.  You eat breakfast and lunch at your desk (most days)?  Run from meeting to meeting – class to class; responding to a meeting – running to another class – grade – grade some more.  What’s really being accomplished?  How is this constant pace affecting you?  Your teaching?  Your class? More?

So what did have time to think about?  I thought and wrote a new story board for a class – it’s in need of a real re-do to make it bitstripmore interactive.   I took Ruth Alsobrook-Hurich’s info on Bitstrips and created some fun announcements.  I also rewrote the welcome letter – boy was it stale.

Then I new syllabusre-did my syllabus to look more like a Newsletter (another Ruth tip).

Here’s what else I learned away from the office:

  • Breathe – it’s healthy & opens your brain to new ideas
  • Walk More – get fresh air at least once a day!
  • Sleep – Going to bed at 8:30 pm is really okay!  A 10-minute power nap works too
  • Read – something totally outside of any subject you teach   (I like historical fiction)
  • Try something totally new – I fed baby lambs – Adorable
  • Appreciate Balance – what and where & family and friends
  • Be in Awe – The Northern Lights really are a marvel.  Learning is like that too.

So, in just a few weeks all of us will have some time “away”.  What will you do?