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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Would You Do Wednesday: Scenario 16

Each week we will bring you a short scenario to address issues that you, your colleagues and students might face. How would you respond to these scenarios? Would you file a report, or do something different? Talk to your colleagues about these situations - the classroom should be a safe learning environment for students AND instructors!

SCENARIO #16

Student Excuses – Isn’t this the time of year that we start to hear the whole list?

  • I was locked out of my apartment all night.
  • I had to visit my grandmother, who was having surgery.
  • I slept through my alarm clock because I was up all night studying.
  • I had the flu, then I had bronchitis, then I had a bad reaction to the antibiotics they gave me.
  • I had two other exams the day the paper was due.

I think I heard someone say that this is “The Week of Dead Grandmothers.” Which of these excuses would you allow? Does it depend on who uses the excuse and how many other excuses you’ve heard from them? Deciding how to respond to students’ excuses can be a major challenge. No single policy is perfect - inevitably, some deserving students will be unfairly punished for life’s inconveniences and some manipulative students will be unfairly rewarded for creative excuses. The best you can do is have a policy, let students know about it at the beginning of the quarter, and retain the right to be accommodating if the situation merits it. What are your policies for dealing with student excuses like this?

Post your comments below!

If you'd like someone from the 5 Star Consortium to follow up with you regarding this scenario, please email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Monday, May 29, 2017

Dear Future Student...

As we wrap up yet another quarter, I imagine many instructors giving advice to students on how to prepare for their final exams, not only in their class but other classes as well. I also offered students my “pearls of wisdom” on how to prepare for math exams: re-read the text and your notes, go back to old exams and quizzes, find your weak areas and practice, practice, practice. And no all-nighters!

Recently, I came across an article by Maryellen Weimer about giving students advice on studying. She said that she was observing a class, and as the students were packing up to leave the instructor mentioned that there was a test next week, and handed out a sheet to use for review. Suddenly, the students stopped what they were doing and sat down to read this handout. Rather than a list of do’s and don’ts from the instructor, the list included recommendations from students who had taken the class the previous term. Do students listen to our advice on how to study? No? Maybe they’ll listen to former students.

Weimer writes, “I was even more taken back by the insightful advice former students offered.

“Come to class regularly. He goes over problems in class very much like ones that show up on the exam.”

“Don’t wait until the night before the exam to start doing the homework problems. Do the problems every week.”

“If you don’t understand something, ask about it. Chances are good you aren’t the only one who doesn’t understand.”

“It helps to check homework with somebody else in class, not to copy answers, but to see how they did the problem.”

Students gave the very same advice I’d heard countless professors offer, but I never saw students taking our study advice this seriously.”

What if, at the end of this quarter, you ask your students to write a “Dear Future Student” letter that you can give students the next quarter? I believe it would give your current students an opportunity to reflect on the strategies that they use (or should have used) to be successful in your class. Weimer also suggests that we ask our current students to share their study strategies. Ask students to submit this advice and create a small poster for your classroom. Make sure you give the class credit (this advice was submitted by students in Math 142) and even credit students with their permission.

By the way, the instructor who was being observed? He told Weimer that “he started including advice from students who had struggled in the class. Many of them wrote candidly about things they’d done that didn’t work and things they’d do differently if they were taking the course again.” Even if - and especially if - a student is struggling, we can encourage them to reflect on their role as a learner in your class by thinking about both successful and unsuccessful strategies. I recently spoke to a student who took a basic math class with me a few years ago. His struggles were with time management (a nice way to say he wasn’t very committed to coming to class everyday) and lack of persistence. When I saw him he told me that he now looks back at that person and recognizes what he needed to do to be successful, made changes in later quarters, and shared that he has been accepted into a Bachelors program. The candid nature of my conversation with this former students made me realize the value of reflective student advice for future students.

If you try this in your class, let us know how it works.

Comment on this post, or send an email to fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Friday, May 26, 2017

Looking for a Job?

All of the 5 Star Consortium Colleges have job sites where you can search and apply for positions!

We've added a tab on our main menu with a page where you'll find links to each of the job sites for the colleges in the 5 Star Consortium.

To navigate to this new page, simply hover over "About" in the main menu, and select "Jobs" on the dropdown menu.

Alternatively, the links are also included in this blog post: 

Cascadia College job postings

Edmonds Community College job postings

Everett Community College job postings 

Lake Washington Institute of Technology job postings

Shoreline Community College job postings 


Questions? Email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What Would You Do Wednesday: Scenario 15

Each week we will bring you a short scenario to address issues that you, your colleagues and students might face. How would you respond to these scenarios? Would you file a report, or do something different? Talk to your colleagues about these situations - the classroom should be a safe learning environment for students AND instructors!

SCENARIO #15

An older male student in your class has good attendance, but he always sits in the back of the classroom. Even though he completes the assignments and does well on quizzes and exams, he rarely engages with other students in the class. You have designed your class to include group projects, and students will receive a substantial amount of their final grade from this project. You assign the student to a group, but the group members come to you and say that he won’t come to group meetings and will not respond to their emails. What would you do?

Post your comments below!

If you'd like someone from the 5 Star Consortium to follow up with you regarding this scenario, please email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Featured Position Opening: Russian Instructor

EvCC is hiring for a Russian Instructor position! 

Minimum Qualifications are as follows:
  • Bachelor’s degree in Russian or related field
  • Fluency at native or near native levels in English and Russian
  • Two years (or its equivalent) of college-level classroom experience teaching first- or second-year Russian
  • Experience teaching in a community college 
  • Demonstrated experience and/or classroom strategies for effectively instructing students from diverse backgrounds, including differences in culture, heritage, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, and religion
For more information, or to apply online, please go to the job posting.  

Looking for more opportunities at colleges in the 5 Star Consortium? Check out the links below for each college's job postings: 

Cascadia College job postings

Edmonds Community College job postings

Everett Community College job postings 

Lake Washington Institute of Technology job postings

Shoreline Community College job postings 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Becoming a Reflective Teacher

When I was thinking about what topic to cover for this blog post, I reviewed what we had written about
over the past 2 years. At the end of December 2016 I wrote a post with some suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions. Among them was Reflection

I mentioned that Terry Heick, founder and director of teachthought says “reflection is a fundamental tenet of learning.”

In fact, reflection has been recognized as an important component of professional learning for many years, for both teachers and students. However, according to Robert Marzano, we have not fully embraced this idea as critical to student achievement.

Let’s start with this idea, that what the teacher does in the classroom has a direct effect on student learning. Marzano, in his book Becoming a Reflective Teacher, likes to explain this with a figure:

How do we begin developing this practice ourselves, and just as importantly, how do we model this for our students? And what is reflective thinking? If you Google this (and there’s a rabbit trail I followed for a while!) you’ll find lots of sites. I liked one from http://www.hawaii.edu that had this definition:

Dewey (1933) suggests that reflective thinking is an active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge, of the grounds that support that knowledge, and the further conclusions to which that knowledge leads. Learners are aware of and control their learning by actively participating in reflective thinking – assessing what they know, what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap – during learning situations.

Great – now we know what it is, but still haven’t figured out how to make time for it. Well, there’s the rub: making time. As teachers, we have to decide that this is important, and then make opportunities for it to happen. One faculty member told me he likes to give students “wicked problems” to grapple with. Does it take a lot of time? Yes, mostly because these problems have no single or “right” answer. But they give students the opportunity to reason through a problem and then talk (or reflect) on their responses.
What if you decided the day after reading this post that you are going to take that first step, but you don’t want to completely overhaul your class. Try this – give students several minutes to do some retrieval practice: Describe the topics from the past week (assessing what they know), and describe what you still need to work on to be ready for the next exam (what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap). Have students spend some time talking with each other, and maybe have small teams combine their topics to return to you. Feedback from students is a great way for us to become more reflective, and this activity might help you prepare a better review or study session! Let us know how it works.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What Would You Do Wednesday: Scenario 14

Each week we will bring you a short scenario to address issues that you, your colleagues and students might face. How would you respond to these scenarios? Would you file a report, or do something different? Talk to your colleagues about these situations - the classroom should be a safe learning environment for students AND instructors!

SCENARIO #14

You’ve decided that you are going to do a “flipped class” this quarter. At the beginning of the term, you explain to students that you will provide both the reading material (both on Canvas and in the textbook as well as other sources), as well as practice problems based on those readings, and that they will be held responsible for reading and doing before coming to class each day. You tried this in a previous quarter, and after a bit of a rough start, you felt as though students settled into the rhythm. At the end of the quarter, there were more students with A’s than ever before! You share this with your students this quarter to impress upon them that even though it seems like more work for them, the results can be amazing – students learned more! For the first week of the new quarter, this strategy has gone well. Students seem to be more prepared and eager to engage. By the middle of the third week, some students are telling you that it takes too long and they have other classes! Halfway through the quarter, there is a group of students who clearly have not read the material, and they are demanding that you teach the material! What would you do?

Post your comments below!

If you'd like someone from the 5 Star Consortium to follow up with you regarding this scenario, please email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Friday, May 12, 2017

Welcome Marty Logan!

The 5 Star Consortium Colleges would like to extend a very warm welcome to the new Executive Director of HR at Cascadia College, Martin (Marty) Logan!

Photo courtesy Marty Logan
Martin P. Logan, MPA, SPHR is a career Human Resources professional, and has worked in Human Resources for more than 15 years. Previously, Marty was the Human Resources Director for North Seattle College where he was responsible for oversight of all HR operations. Prior to that role, he served as the Recruiting & HRIS Specialist for the Seattle College District, overseeing all district recruiting efforts. From 2007-2011, he worked for an HR Consulting firm, Waldron, where he focused on Executive Recruiting for local nonprofits and public sector clients, as well as Management of Career Transition programs.  From 1999-2007, Marty worked for American Multi-Cinema Entertainment in various titles including Operations Manager for Human Resources and General Manager.

Marty brings great knowledge and experience working in higher education, unionized environments, and customer service with a focus on diversity and inclusion efforts.

Marty was born and raised in south Snohomish County. He holds the SPHR credential (Senior Professional in Human Resources), a Master’s in Public Administration from Seattle University; BS in Psychology from the University of Washington, and an AA from Edmonds Community College.

One of our blog contributors caught up with Marty earlier this week. Hear a little about Marty below:

What was your first job? 

A pizza place located in both Bothell & Mukilteo called Pier One Pizza (closed now).

Photo courtesy Marty Logan
Do you have a favorite hobby? 

I don't know if I have a number one favorite. I enjoy hiking and being outdoors. I also enjoy going to Mariners and Seahawks games. After being on the waitlist for five years, my wife and I received Seahawks season tickets. Last year was the first year!

Tell us a little about your family.

I met my wife in High School. We have now been married 6.5 years. We have one dog; a rescue from PAWS. She turns seven this month.

What are you looking forward to most in your new position? 

One of my favorite parts of working in HR is the fact that I get to work across all the areas of the college - instruction, student services and administrative services. Getting to meet and get to know everyone is what I am looking forward to most.

Thank you, Marty, for taking the time to introduce yourself, and congratulations on your new position! 

You can find Marty at Cascadia College soon.

Marty and his wife in Perth (Western Australia).
Photo courtesy Marty Logan











Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What Would You Do Wednesday: Scenario 13

Each week we will bring you a short scenario to address issues that you, your colleagues and students might face. How would you respond to these scenarios? Would you file a report, or do something different? Talk to your colleagues about these situations - the classroom should be a safe learning environment for students AND instructors!

SCENARIO #13

It’s mid-quarter, and one of your students, Steve, is struggling with attendance, participation and grades. You have offered help multiple times, even asking him to stay after class one day so you could set up an appointment. When he said he is busy and had no time to meet outside of class, you offered to do a conference in Canvas when it was convenient for him. Still he refused. When the mid-quarter exam rolled around, you offered multiple study sessions for the entire class, hoping that Steve would be able to attend at least one of them. The day of the exam arrived, and Steve entered the classroom looking and sounding confident. When you handed him the exam he said, “I’m going to ace this one! I’ve been studying all night!” You responded  “Good luck, Steve!” The exam is underway and suddenly a lock down drill is announced. You completely forgot that your building was scheduled for a practice drill that day, and you were required to close the door, turn out the lights, and move students away from the window. This of course completely disrupted the exam. While everyone was quiet during the drill, when class was over Steve angrily walked up to your desk, slammed down the exam, and said, “Well, I blew that one thanks to you! Thanks for scheduling an exam during a drill!” You start to offer an explanation but Steve stomped out of the room. What should you do the next time you see Steve and the rest of the class?

Post your comments below!

If you'd like someone from the 5 Star Consortium to follow up with you regarding this scenario, please email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Monday, May 8, 2017

Learning from Failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Winston Churchill
Since we are at the half-way point of the quarter, I took some time to reflect on my students from the past, especially when I was a new teacher. Typically by this point, there have been multiple assessments, and students who are not doing well may just disappear from class. If they stayed, some continued to struggle, and were often embarrassed by their failures. They were reluctant to ask for help because of that embarrassment. 



I have since changed my tune about failure. In a recent article in The Chronicle for Higher Education, Creative Ways to Help Students Recover from Failure, author Raynard S. Kington, President of Grinnell College, says, “The risk of failure — that we might not ‘get it’ — is the price we pay for the gift of new knowledge, and knowledge is at the core of our mission and our efforts to make the world a better place.”
Our challenge as educators is to help students understand this. Are there ways that you help students over the failure hurdle?

We’d love to hear your ideas! Comment below, or email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What Would You Do Wednesday: Scenario 12

Each week we will bring you a short scenario to address issues that you, your colleagues and students might face. How would you respond to these scenarios? Would you file a report, or do something different? Talk to your colleagues about these situations - the classroom should be a safe learning environment for students AND instructors!

SCENARIO #12

Sometimes it’s not students we have to be concerned about. You have a colleague and friend whose office is in the same hallway. Recently your schedules have matched up and you are both leaving your offices at the same time. Coincidentally, you both teach an evening class this quarter, and because you get to campus later in the day, you have both struggled to find parking, and end up parking in the farthest lot from campus. It’s getting dark, and as you are both walking towards your cars, you notice your colleague slow down, and she gets an anxious look on her face. There is someone standing by her car – it’s another instructor from a different department, so you aren’t too worried initially. However, because your friend is hesitating, you become a little concerned. Although the other teacher seems really glad to see her, she doesn’t seem glad to see him. What should you do?

Post your comments below!

If you'd like someone from the 5 Star Consortium to follow up with you regarding this scenario, please email fivestarcolleges@gmail.com

Monday, May 1, 2017

Making Time for Deep Work


“If you’re used to jockeying among multiple browser tabs and responding to notifications all the time, your brain will crave that extra stimulus when you are trying to settle down to work more deeply,” according to the author of the article, Natalie Houston. Yep, that’s me…checking my email while I’m waiting for the bus is a matter of course for me. I tell myself that I should do this so I am not overwhelmed with email when I finally get to my desk. 

Someone recently sent me a New York Times article: You’re Too Busy. You Need a Schultz Hour by David Leonhardt. When I read it, I knew I had to add a Schultz Hour to my calendar at least once a week. I have to remind myself I don’t need to say yes to everything! And then, cleaning up some papers on my desk (organized desk = organized mind, right?) I came across a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Making Time for Deep Work.  Here’s a sentence that jumped right out and hit me hard – “No one else will protect your time.” In a world of multimedia distractions (think about your cell phone for a minute – haven’t you checked it recently? Aren’t you getting lots of notifications?) including Facebook, Instagram, etc., etc., etc., aren’t you often pulled away from your work? Have you ever considered being just a little bit bored?


In his book, Cal Newport defines Deep Work as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

So, here’s my challenge to you: can you follow a few rules for creating some deep work time? Here is what Houston suggests:

  • Look at your calendar to see how much time you actually have available.
  • Put your deep work commitment on your calendar (and be specific).
  • Protect these appointments with yourself.
  • Show up.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Ready to try this? Let us know how it works!