I’m in heavy training mode these last two weeks thanks to my full time faculty position with University of Phoenix. I get the pleasure of working with first year students to support their career and academic success. What I am learning is too large to put into a list…but I have dozens of PowerPoints and Word documents at my disposal!

What is clear, from all of these resources and the excellent Wiki page the faculty and staff have put together, is a structure that has been built over decades – and I get to stand on it and say – LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!  Hopefully I will do more than that. My hope is that I will be able to add a wall, or a floor, or even a curtain to a window of this amazing and ever changing structure.

What I see all to often in my professional career are folks who just never look down. Perhaps it is fear, perhaps it is hubris, perhaps just bad training or not enough hugs as a kid, these people forget their history and think they need to destroy or radically alter the city-scape they inherit in order to “leave their mark”.

In short, those people are wrong. We all know these people. We also know that they typically do not last. Their lack of vision and limited growth potential make them poorly equipped to do much useful for an organization. The employees we need to hire, train, value and care about are the ones that know they stand in greatness only because of the greatness of those who came before them. And they understand the obligation to continue that good work.

It is better to be part of something larger that will last for decades. Anyone can bring down those around them to stand tall for a minute, but the quicksand they spread all too far and wide will eventually bring them down as well. In parables from business, religion, history, or politics, our systems work best when built by caring hands who intend to grow what is in front of them and conserve it for the ones who will do the work when they are gone.


Off to another excellent week of training for this new teaching role with University of Phoenix. Week 1 hit on tons of stuff (drinking from the fire house as our trainers like to remind us!). What strikes me is the attention to student support at every stage. When we discuss the learning objectives, we talk about how the students incorporate the learning. When we talk about communication by forum or email, we talk about how the student interprets our actions and words – what we say and don’t say is heard loud and clear. When we correct, we do so from a desire to help the student improve.

It should go without saying that we don’t want to derail their motivation or crush their young college hopes and dreams. But it reminds me of how often I go into a situation only looking at the resolution and not at how the feelings of those involved are concerned. Some might say (and some of my former managers have) people should not be concerned about others feelings. I disagree. Feeling shape our perceptions – our perceptions shape what we think we are capable of learning and doing – what we learn and do BECOMES a part of who we are…which will influence how we feel.

Ah, another circle found. It bears remembering that these things tend to come round and round. Therefore, the good and the bad we leave in our wake – as managers, as teachers, as partners, as humans – affects the feelings of others. And it will still be in our path when we come around again. Better to leave things we need – things that nourish and help us grow – rather than laying traps and debris in the way.

want me to staple that for you?

want me to staple that for you?

More good training today. Everyone returned for Day 2 which is a good sign.  How cool is this…I am now one of more than 300 full time faculty working at University of Phoenix.  I love being part of something bigger than myself and that’s how it feels at the moment.

My short discussion today will focus on the more pedestrian parts of telecommuting –

Dress code/grooming – Today I’m dressed to engage my body AND mind. I’m in workout clothes, no shoes…but I did brush my teeth! I bought an exercise ball to use as a chair.  Doing core exercises and learning how to make students feel welcome on their first day, feels like a win to me.

My co-worker, Blue the Mastiff-Shepard mix, is guarding my door against intruders and interlopers – Good Boy!

Not for nothing, but I’m in a good spot to work and keep an eye on the neighborhood.  Has not been too distracting. I’ve managed to get all my work done, now I can watch some more tutorials and search for some neat things to bring to class next Wednesday!

Wow, many new and exciting things in this new job. First, I spent last night moving my new home office from my bedroom to a spare room. After looking at the set up required and the number of hours I will be working from this space, it just made sense to move it down the hall. I checked to make sure the equipment work…it did the first time!

Got plenty of sleep, woke up on time to make the “commute” down the hall for the 8 AM start!  I’m part of about 30 other newly hired full time faculty (FTF). So cool to be part of this initiative to better support student success – GPA, completion, retention, graduation. And knowing I will impact local students where this is there best chance to achieve career and academic success is key for me. I want my work to make a difference. I was pleasantly surprised to see community impact listed as a Core Value in my training this AM at University of Phoenix :)

All the technology worked well and there was a minimum of background noise…but it is still amazing that folks out there still have not mastered the “mute” button for teleconferencing…I hope I don’t run into these people at a movie.

Our structured day just ended. I’m spending the duration of the day on personalized training, setting up the new class (GEN127) I will start next week, and chatting with my new peer mentors.  It still feels unreal, those first few days are always the best, so I’m going to try and stay in this great moment as long as possible.

More to come!

I work in a bureaucracy. That’s a loaded word – myriad pictures cross your mind when you read that word, many < positive. I’m not here to argue the merits. I’m here to share good news – if you work in a big machine like this, the way you get things done is with teamwork – an overused word, true. So is “thank you” but you can’t reach your goals without liberal use of the phrase.

Over the summer I did one of those typical introspections we all subject ourselves to. The take-away – my department had vastly increased our services. What supported that achievement more than anything else? Other people’s efforts. Their support – by giving advice, referrals and stepping in to help where needed – made the difference. So, taking a page from Strengthsfinder®, I looked to our strengths to reach the next level.

At the end of our weekly “Move It Monday” meetings, I ask the team to give me some names. Some weeks, lots of names; other weeks, we might struggle for one. But every week, I write a thank you note to those people. Short and to the point, it thanks them for a specific thing they did. I know I like being thanked; I really liked being thanked for something specific. And that’s what I base my actions on – how would I like to be treated? What do I wish someone would say to me? Then I act and talk accordingly.

It does not matter where you work…if there is more than one employee, odds are you need others to help you succeed. Say Thank You, before and after you reach your goals.

The NACE Blog

The official blog of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

sue mitchell art

printmaker * mixed media artist

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