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Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 Last Day on Contract

Here is a still shot from the introductory video I made for Interpersonal Communication this last fall.  It shows my desk when I lived on it.

Here is a photo from last night.

And here is picture of the sign my oldest friend, Lee, sent to me a couple of weeks ago.

And the video below shows my pup visiting Deschutes Hall for the last time.  (Wicked, wicked puppy!  She's always had trouble with the rule about dogs not being allowed on campus.)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trouble with endings

Lilli Ann & Kake
 I meant to write my last posting Saturday night.

But Saturday was way harder than I thought it would be.  Wanted to go all FUBAR -- fucked up beyond all recognition

Still processing.  I think there will be some sort of "ding" when the machinery is finished.

Until then, sing it Groucho and Gloria.

Old Doc Huck in Academadrag

Saturday, June 14, 2014

No working days left 0 WDL

But wait....

desperately seeking fubar tonight
so I really can't write.

Stay tuned.

WDL 1 (Late Again) Last Year End Lunch

This afternoon Yesterday I received my glass retirement plaque from COCC.  It came in a box and was carefully packed in layers of bubble wrap. It was complete with museum quality white cotton gloves, so I can handle it without leaving fingerprints, should I ever want to use it as a blunt instrument.  Handing it over in its box seemed safer than what they used to do, which was have all the plaques lined up on a table and hand them to the retirees as naked glass:  too easy to drop them that way.

The plaque seems a bit less practical than the gift my spouse received from Idaho State after his 33 years of service there.  He got this beautiful chair.  You can see the the seal of the University and its motto printed on the top of the chair:  Veritas vos liberabit.  The Truth shall set us free.

As a link between my past and my present I wore a t-shirt I received for service on a committee 24 years ago.  I asked Renee Brazeau-Asher to take my picture with it on.  I'd wandered to the table where Kate Miles, our department administrative assistant and Peter Meyer, potter, were sitting.  Renee, one of Kate's best friends on campus, sat down next to her and had her magic phone on top of the table so she was the closest for me to ask.  The t-shirt is printed with a picture of the wild turkey that inhabited the campus in 1989.  I don't remember who designed it -- perhaps the exchange artist from Great Britain, Richard Archer.  It was ordered by Bart Queary, then Dean of Instruction, for the members of the Instructional Affairs Committee. 

I am also wearing a CCDC scarf.  CCDC is the College Community Development Committee.  Over the past couple of years they've been handing out cool scarves for participation in various campus development events, like the campus clean-up.

I've been through almost 26 of these end-of-the-year ceremonies.  This year had three awards, a big cluster of service pins, and, I think, five retirements.  It was done with a minimum amount of fuss.  Not only were the retirement plaques handed out in boxes, but the pins weren't even handed out -- those of us scheduled to receive them were told to pick them up in the H.R. office or they would mail them to us.  I was amused that of those retiring, only the staff member was celebrated with a speech by her boss.  The retiring faculty were all simply handed their box, given a hug or handshake, and sent on our way.

I remembered years and years ago when Orde Pinckney retired at one of these luncheons up in Grandview Cafeteria.  Of course he was given a speech and gave a little speech.  But then someone in another department remembered that they'd forgotten to give a send-off to a leaving adjunct and that person was given a good-bye after Orde.  And Orde spoke to me afterwords with some anger that protocol had been violated.  His acknowledgement, as senior and ancient, should have been the last thing on the agenda.

I doubt that any of us faculty felt that way.  I certainly didn't.  I was celebrated enough at my retirement party and at Convocation.  Plus I got my departmental present -- a beautiful yellow fountain pen from Italy.  It came in a smaller box that Maestro Gesme stuck atop the larger one.  That small box generated a little curiosity and envy which, of course, increased my feeling of specialness.

After the luncheon I went to my office and read my last four student papers EVER! 

What's left?

For this quarter:  downloading my Blackboard gradebook and transferring the course grades into Banner.


Cleaning out my Dell desktop - saving all onto memory sticks then popping all into the recycle bin.
Cleaning out my office.  (Boxes from liquor store for books and trinkets, butcher paper for art.)

Figuring out who gets my gradebooks and how many years are necessary (I still have 26 years worth of grades in my file cabinet.) On our COCC website the H.R. Procedures booklet has this to say about old gradebooks:

Grade Book Retention: Each instructor is responsible for keeping an accurate and up-to-date permanent grade book. New grade books are available from department and building secretaries. Part-time instructors should turn grade books in to their department chair at the end of every quarter except when instructors are scheduled to teach the following quarter. Completely used grade books should be turned in by part-time instructors to department chairs who will keep them one full year. If instructors wish to retain grade books, they may turn in copies and keep the originals.

At the time an instructor leaves COCC, the records of all classes he/she taught will be deposited with the Department Chair.

So I'm not sure if I should give Maestro Gesme 26 years worth of gradebooks or only one.  I'll make that decision next week.

And final addenda for this blog:

In the coming couple of weeks I'll be adding four addenda or appendices, if you will:  one large story and three small video.  I'll then leave this blog up for time and eternity (or at least until Google creates other rules or the web burns down) and move my media analysis skills to another title. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

WDL 2 Late - Annoyance and Future Pleasures

I meant to post last night but got too tipsy at a garden party and then was just too tired to do anything but watch an episode of Poirot.
I've been busting my hump to get all papers graded before tomorrow and I only have six left.  I was thinking last night about two things:  What I will miss least about teaching and what I will continue to do with my scholarship.

I will least miss grading.  I will especially not miss students like these two.
  1. One who didn't read directions on a major course paper and got an F.  How?  By completely ignoring the directions for a question worth 100 points on a 160 point assignment that the class had five weeks to complete.  I had to award this paper with an F.  This hurt because I really liked the student.
  2. One who didn't read directions on the same assignment mentioned above and then didn't bother to write answers to the final exam questions.  As I entered grades into Blackboard I watched this individual's course grade drop first from an A- to a B- and then from a B- to a D.  (The final was worth 20% of the course grade.)  
When students make decisions like this I feel annoyed.  I don't enjoy grading.

Although I will abandon the ickiest part of teaching I will continue thinking about media and will probably create a new blog where I can write analyses that interest me. 

One such interest, of course, is the meaning of NCIS.   While I was department chair I often thought about what Leroy Jethro Gibbs would have done as an academic department chair.  Not very well, I bet, because of the paperwork.  And he would have been hard-pressed to withhold the Gibbs' headslap.  I was all too often tempted to use that particular management tool during my four years in the hotseat.  I want to write more about Jethro and team and so I'll not abandon blogging completely, just this site.  I might even put together a short article about Gibbs' Rules for Department Chairs.  (Regular viewers will understand when I say  "Rule 13" should be a guiding principle for all chairs.)

I've realized that I'll probably have one or two more stories to share after Saturday.  I'd planned, of course, to make graduation day the last blogpost.  But I fear I shall need to offer a few addenda between then and June 30, my last official working day.  (I'm sure eager readers will want to see a picture of my cleaned office!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WDL 3 Phi Theta Kappa

One of the greatest blessings of my early years at COCC was Steve Ball and J. J. Howard's invitation to be the faculty adviser to Phi Theta Kappa.  Although it was a ton of work that took time from my dissertation and other academic activities, it was also a lot of fun and I could depend on getting many hugs every quarter.

You see, PTK's secret handshake was a hug.  When new students were initiated at a lovely ceremony I would hand them a rose and give them a hug.  I always wound up crying at the initiation ceremonies. 

PTK is the honor society for community colleges.  During the time that I was adviser I helped the students invite new members, run meetings, run a couple of conferences, and do a whole variety of activities.  I traveled often around the state with students to various meetings.  I worked with them on fundraising as well.  I once actually baked ten dozen chocolate chip cookies so that PTK students could sell them at the (pre-Gesme) symphony concerts.  It was when I was selling cookies that the newly hired President Barber saw me and thought it was undignified for a faculty member to be shilling for a student group and so by executive decree put a line item in the college budget to support the organization.

I probably gave from two to five hours a week to PTK during the school years that I was adviser.  But I was happy to do so.  While most of the rewards were personal and emotional, there were some financial as well.  In my first year I actually got money from the school above and beyond my regular travel money to spend a week on Long Island at Adelphi at a workshop for PTK advisers.  I just went to President Boyle and asked for it (on the urging of I don't quite remember who on the faculty -- someone who said, "they've got money lying around for things like that.")

It was wonderful while it lasted and before I lost my belief in the value of the organization.  After awhile it began to seem less like fun and more like a struggle to do activities and mark them off just for the sake of getting rewards from nationals for a few people.  I lost my delight in all the cheering at state and national conferences when I knew that some of the work was just checked off, fulfilling the letter but not a spirit.

By the mid-90s I got tired of the constant push for members and dealing with all the odd rules and demands of the national organization.  I was ready for other things and so turned the advising job over to other people.  Some time in the late nineties or early part of this century COCC's chapter disbanded.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

WDL 4 Karmic Debt: PAID!

Well, it better be, because I'm retiring.  For the past 26 years I've been slowing paying off the karmic debt I owe from kindergarten through my doctorate.  The debt is all about being too intense, disruptive, uncaring about other students needs, and pretty much constantly needing to call attention to myself and make the teacher deal with me as an intelligent, reasoning creature who had a bone to pick vis a vis some aspect of the grading.

Over my three decades of teaching I've met with students who challenged me in the same way I challenged my teachers and professors.  The most recent one was a heavy-set bearded gentleman in my small group communication course.  He challenged me for points his team missed on assignments and often asked some sharp, critical questions about the assumptions of the text.  He was the sort of student I often want to engage in a dialogue with but a classroom is not an appropriate setting for a dialogue.  So, I don't act like MY teachers acted -- or like some of them acted.  I did have teachers who were wise enough to stop my challenging because they could see that the rest of the class was not engaged with it.

My small group communication class was my site of my last formal class meeting class meeting EVER!  They took their final exam tonight.  My challenging student came back to talk to me twice (most students on leaving didn't talk with me at all).  He said, "I really did enjoy your class."  His tone of voice made the point that he thought much of his arguing might have been interpreted by me as a dislike of the class.  But I never saw it that way.  He was putting forth arguments that younger me might have made to a teacher.  Karma. 

I ran across a file with notes I once took on President Bob Barber's two visits to small group communication courses in the 90s.  I invited Bob because I knew that he was able to view power with a critical eye, even though he'd been in positions of formal power since his teen years.  I always loved talking to Bob at parties about what he was seeing in the personal relationships around us. 

These are some of the comments I want to remember from those sets of notes.

"I don't have power -- people give it to me."

"Positions have very little power to coerce.  If you are playing by the rules and doing your job, people have very little power over you."

"Once I start exercising my positional power, I'm no longer effective."  He added to this that if positional power became coercive people would stop following it or participating willingly."

When you walk into a room, whether or not you think you have power, you "need to know what your personal garbage is . . ." You need to know your family issues.  "Get to know yourself as best as you can.  . . . What you need to do is find a way to get out of the interpersonal dynamics."

By this he meant that we need to be able to recognize when we are reacting to another person as if he is our parent or sibling or past relationship, rather than who she is right now.

"You need to know what pushes your buttons." [I find this quote on the notes for both visits.]  What Bob says here is so important for anyone with position power, like a teacher or president.  We need to be aware of where are button are and just stop being aroused.  We need to learn to distinguish our reasoning responses from our knee-jerk family or origin responses.

Bob explains what he caries into every meeting:  "I'm 6'4", a phD, 50 years old, male, and assertive.  Just walking into a room - - I come in with different attributes.  Be aware of where the attributes are and what they are.

"Having the power and using the power are two different things."

And he talked about one of his pet peeves in the small group setting.  He wanted people to stop wasting each others' time be repeating ideas that have already been stated.  "Everytime someone repeats themselves they chip away at their own power."  He saw repetition as a form of performed powerlessness.  (In other words, if you believe that people heard you the first time and paid attention, you wouldn't repeat yourself.)  In every committee meeting, people should only contribute  to the discussion if what they have to say is "value added."

Having Bob (college president) in my class talking about the moral nature of power was....powerful.