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A New Year!

  • To get the ball rolling, I'll post here something I wrote up this morning at It would be nice to be able to import academic blog posts here, similar to the networked blogs function on Facebook. This editing format is a little lacking in features (for example, category options). I'm willing to give it a try!



    It’s hard to believe that we have launched into a new year. It’s always a strange time of year for me, because it doesn’t quite feel like a new beginning. It’s more of a continuation, if anything. I have been involved in education literally my entire life, in one form or another. For me, the new year always starts in August. My mind organizes around the academic year instead of the calendar year. Because I have been on a semester system for so long, there is a bit of a restart in January, but overall, the *big* bang happens in August.


    The one exception is the anniversary of the beginning of my college teaching career. That started with the spring semester of 1997, fifteen Januarys ago. Last week, I finally got around to unpacking some boxes in my garage that had made a couple of moves without being opened. Kind of a scary prospect, I’ll have you know. The very last box I opened was filled with treasures and made the entire dusty effort worthwhile. I pulled out folders of lecture notes from that very first semester, way back when in the early days of the Internet as we know it today. Netscape 4One of the units was titled “Information Spaces: FTPGopher, and Newsgroups“. Does anyone even know what Gopher is anymore? I used to love telling students that we were going to dive into Gopherspace, just to see the puzzled looks on their faces. I found a handout from a colleague titled “”Welcome to the Internet and Netscape Navigator“… c. 1997.” The footnote says “Special thanks to Hans Budnarowski for the parts I plagiarized”. LOL! I’m saving that just so I can someday show my grandchildren how hard we had to struggle to surf the Internet, uphill in the snow both ways!


    One of the treasures I came across was a mousepad that I got at a conference way back when. It is still one of my favorites and I was thrilled to find mine, albeit a little yellowed with age, but still awesome. It’s the coolest mousepad ever. At the time, I was teaching HTML at Porterville College. It was an awesome group of students in the class and we would get together for “movie nights” at my house on a regular basis. I remember going to the Macromedia workshop at the conference and seeing the mousepads there. I asked the facilitator if I could have some to bring home to my students. I explained to him that I taught web design and had a number of students who were intending on becoming professional designers. He sort of hemmed and hawed… so I asked him… would you rather my budding web designers have the default Microsoft mousepads that my college used, or would he rather them be reminded of Macromedia every time they sat down to work? I told him that students weren’t allowed to use the “F” word (FrontPage) in my class… I think that did it! He sent me home with 30 of them and I was able to share with my students “what the web can be”.

    what the web can be - Macromedia

    One person can make a difference, and every person should try. - John F. Kennedy


    I think one of the reasons I like this particular mousepad so much is that the byline is a good metaphor for my teaching philosophy. I always try to get students to dream about the places they can go, of the things they can be if only they believe in themselves. It is a great honor and blessing to still be in contact with students from those very first classes I taught 15 years ago, and with students from every teaching assignment at every college I’ve had since, even if I was only a part timer there teaching a single course. As a teacher, there’s nothing better than getting a random message years down the road letting you know that something you did actually meant something to someone, that it made a difference in their lives and what they are doing today.


    January 2012 marks a new year, a new path, and many new adventures ahead. I wonder what places I’ll go?


1 comment
  • Linda Brown
    Linda Brown Thank you for sharing this wonderful article! Your last paragraph "hit home" with me - I have the same philosophy about teaching at the community college level...providing ways to encourage students to dream about what their future can be. It se...  more
    January 4, 2012 - 2 like this