Reclaiming Identities Through Migrant Literature

For as long as I can remember – at least since I began implementing servant leadership in the classroom to increase engagement – students have served as Discussant, Oracle, Colombo and Mr/s. Rogers. This semester, wanting to underscore activism, I changed the names of the roles to Perpetrator, Rescuer, Bystander and Survivor. Originally, perpetrate simply meant ‘to commit’. My goal is to inspire myself and others to commit to scholarship, compassion and transformation. A short description of each role (from the syllabus) is included at the end of this post. The purpose for this writing is to share what today’s Perpetrator invited us to consider and my response to her question.

What do you expect to learn about the culture / background you identify with?

“I identify with a culture of once-apathetic-now engaged activists. I hope to learn the steps from apathy to activism so I can blog about them and make a scalable model for educators who want their disciplines to matter to the species beyond the 21st century. (Note: It’s freewriting, so nothing is too off the wall to include.)

Why is being a species-level thinker so important to me? First I should define what a species-level thinker is. A species-level thinker is one who knows who she is as well as who she might appear to be in various contexts from various Big 8 Little 4 perspectives, and continues to think about the whole and moving toward pro social ends using pro social means.

It’s one thing to be a do-gooder but another to make a greater difference than sleeping with a clear conscience. Wrecked, by Jeff Goins, helps to clarify the distinction. I wonder if the Gipsy Kings-like music is distracting to others’ writing. So why is it that important to me that I and other educators unleash such initiative in the most effective and strategic ways possible? Because I believe life is beautiful and that the challenges we face as a species will require all of us to solve or take all of us out.

I look to the clouds and see the footprints of God in all His glory. I wonder why people don’t look up and take notice in much the same way [Shug] in the Color Purple said:

I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.  Shug

It’s a pity when lives are so embattled and people so submerged that we don’t notice the beauty of everyday things around us and within one another. There’s loud drumming in the next classroom drowning out the Alto (?) sax crooning in ours through Pandora…”

We went on to discuss the identities people hoped to learn about and whether what we believe is as important as why we believe it.


Service Roles Described:

  • Perpetrator: Selects in-class writing & dyad (paired discussion) topics related to the assigned reading /activities for the week. Moderates class discussion.  See Conversational Roles in Course Resources.
  • Bystander: Summarizes daily activities and upcoming assignments 10 minutes before end of class. Opens Thursday class by following up on Tuesday’s Discovery & Intention while Perpetrator is writing topic on the board.
  • Rescuer: Takes notes during class and posts to Service Notes discussion Board in Angel; collects week’s attendance, emails absent members. This prevents absentees from asking the instructor, what did I miss.
  • Survivor:  Serves as translator, time and peace-keeper to keep class on schedule. Observes class to identify random acts scholarship to be celebrated and muddy moments to be clarified. Reports before Bystander’s summary.

Can I Say That?

Can I ask for my room to be changed because the one we were moved to smells like white male privilege? It’s the second day meeting in that room and the colleague whose class is in that room before and after my class has left late and arrived early and today, to add icing on top, began erasing my white board without so much as a by your leave at 22 minutes past the hour. My class ends at 12:20 and the professional courtesy, in most cases, is to split the 10 minutes between classes when set up or break down time is needed.

As I slowly packed my things with this professor behind me, I considered saying something but couldn’t trust myself to remain professional or civil. Twenty years of the S.O.S has left me raw around the edges. So instead of saying something to my colleague, I told the three students with questions that I would meet them for further discussion outside. After two were satisfied with clarification offered about the homework, I led the third to the computer lab where we tried unsuccessfully to get him access to the network. A HELP Desk ticket was submitted and access is expected within the next two days.

As I walked across campus back to my office, I considered putting in a request to change rooms and thought the better of it. Occupy till I come is the Lord’s command. Occupy, I will. And, if my colleague persists in his privileged ways and disrespects me again, I will be sure to return the favor. Sometimes, experience is the best teacher.

Celebrating A Life of Reflection

Today marks my 20th year of entering college classrooms in the role of instructor, sage, guide on the side, teacher, professor, provocateur. Our mission, as I understand and accept it, is to subvert with the appearance of conformity. Lucille CliftonPaulo Freire and James Baldwin are my models. My role is that of witness. I am not given to shrinking from harsh realities or tender truths. I try, as Parker Palmer instructs, to hold the tensions between the two with the grace of a fractured soul. Self-knowledge is shared power.

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

–Paulo Freire, Banned author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fifteen of 18 registered students were present and accounted for. I did not let the room change, non-cooperative computer, non-responsive HELP Desk or growling tummy get in the way of having a blast and drafting everyone to my 8-week party celebrating 20 years on the front lines of education. I even left, outside of consciousness, the images of the student whose smoke I was forced to share to get out of my building, and the frown of the VP who did not acknowledge my greeting and gratitude for accepting grill duty on the first day of the semester.

I was consoled by a colleague’s thanks after class for a workshop I co-facilitated on resilience and motivation last week, and another colleague’s bringing a student by to meet me because the student and I have things spiritual in common. On balance, after so many years of braving the campus and classroom, my good days outweigh my bad days. I won’t complain.

Raw Notes on Canvas LMS

When the teacher is ready, the LMS will appear. Canvas is here. – Dr. K. Urbina

Built in modules, Canvas requires students progress through each unit according to your requirements.

What if scores allow students to visualize excellence.

Woohoo for drag and drop to change assignment dates!!!

You can easily create webcam overviews of any assignment AND embed outside videos by simply pasting the link inside your assignment or event.

Peer review requirement is available in ‘more options’ on assignment creation page.

Individual Accommodation options are available in Quiz Editor: extended testing time, additional attempts, etc.

Muting assignments allows you to complete grading all submissions before releasing any scores.

(Ask CD opinion) Speed grader uses existing rubrics to respond to submissions. Also available for iPad.

Switching to crocs doc from scrbd.

Grade book made hide names for anonymous grading.

Are sample study guides & standing assignments available in one location elsewhere for students and instructors?

Communal Blog or private journal tools?

How does Canvas support use of multimedia ePortfolios? See student settings.

Are teams easy to set up? Yes.

Are their ways to include all learning styles in curriculum design?

Any templates available?

Independent or imbedded Scribd account needed?

Raw Notes from the 3rd National Summit on Working Women

The Women’s Bureau, the Summit’s organizer, is 92 years old.

Some 72 million women are either working or looking for work in the United States.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Works to end domestic violence, teen pregnancy, and increase Green Initiatives.

Dr. David Micheals from OSHA in DC addressed the audience regarding current efforts to increase health and safety of American workers.

How do economics, education, immigration affect women?

Lily Ledbetter Pay Act was signed into law by President Obama January of 2009.

Let’s level the playing field.

Stating the obvious:

Robbing a woman of her earning ability is eroding society. Dr. Karen Urbina

Office of Federal Contract Compliance

Explore the White House Council on Women & Girls to engage in competitive, non-traditional careers.

A nation can’t under-develop 50% of a population and reach its full potential. – Dr. Karen Urbina


Gender Gap App screenshot

Women veterans enter a male environment when seeking help for assault. They also often return from tours of duty to homeless families.

Technical training and what the business community wants are the wave of the future. $2 billion in TAA funding available for expansion of such programs.

Literacy efforts and collaboration with community-based organizations are also necessary. How can we provide services and advocacy in environments that are not intimidating?

How can we empower women & members of vulnerable communities  to know and access their rights without fear of retribution? More needs to be done to prevent injuries in beautification, home healthcare, and other industries where women workers predominate.

Hiring, wages and family care leave are other areas where Department of Labor is working.


To improve employability, redundant workers must get help translating skills and life/work experience credits.

Free Trauma Guide is available for churches and other community-based organizations.

Enhancing STEM skills and participating in renewable energy are a place to start.

In Their Own Words a vIdeo clip on Working Women in Vulnerable populations

OSHA’s Dr. David Michaels

There’s an OSHA Training Institute @ CSN

OSHA is 40+ years old. In that time their work has reduced the death rate from 38 to 13 fatalities daily.

Brazilian Blow-out contains formaldehyde which has been linked to several diseases.

One in six career-destroying, life-changing injuries take place in healthcare-related industries where women are a majority of the workforce.

Dr. Michael’s plea: Remember the sometimes invisible workers as we push toward progress as a nation. Everyone should have a safe job with a fair wage.

We know how to prevent injuries to healthcare workers. Doing so is essential to taking care of patients.

The number 1 reason the Women’s Bureau gets calls is pregnancy discrimination which can take many forms.

Pay discrimination is the next biggest issue. Over a lifetime 77 cents on the dollar for every dollar earned by a man adds up to a $400,000 difference which often leads to raising children in poverty and retiring in poverty.

Check out their Equal pay app.

Life, It Turns Out, Is THAT Simple

The Things I Shouldn’t Do

I know my left hip would be better off if I sat without my right leg tucked under it, yet…

I know Morning Pages should be written before everything else, as I roll out of bed, yet I return a text, take my folic acid tablet, wash my face – sometimes even peel and eat a banana, not to mention put on a pot of steel cut oats.

I know these things and yet remain, the way I know I shouldn’t be this unhappy, this heavy of spirit, this sad or angry or double-minded every day, yet…

Today, however, in honor of President Barack Hussein Obama’s 51st birthday, before writing or even praying, I take these few words and moments to glory in the light filtering in my East-facing window, dancing through the leaves making their way across the carpet, filling my heart with a joy as true and ineluctable as one’s most holy vows.

91° Sunny
Spring Valley, Nevada, United States

May grace and mercy encircle you.