Sunday Evening Reflection – December 18, 2016

Sunday evening reflection – December 18, 2016

I feel as if a whirlwind is still circling around me.

I was at a chocolate Chanukah party this evening with a friend of mine at synagogue.  The women were kind, and the chocolate was a little too sweet, but fun.  As we were leaving, a friend asked if I could volunteer to help out with a project.  I know she was disappointed in me when I said no.  I know she felt I must be able to spare the time.

I don’t like disappointing people.

I also don’t like feeling overwhelmed by all the other commitments I have.  Some voluntary, some required – all of them feel necessary to me.

The last few weeks have been overwhelming.

The semester for the college courses I teach has ended this past week.  The grades have been finalized and posted.  Teaching is a joy and a privilege to me.  I am so grateful to have a job that I feel is making a positive difference in other people’s lives.

I have several close friends who have been going through difficulties over the last month.  I do my best to help out whenever I can, from picking up children and adults who can’t drive to making meals.

Friday was a flurry of driving my children and helping out others, to having to find someone to help out us when my husband needed a ride to urgent care.  Thankfully, our neighbor was able to help as I was across town and couldn’t get home in time.  Also, thankfully, my husband didn’t lose the use of his eye, due to an untimely accident.

Saturday, we found out a dear friend of ours had died.  He had been fighting cancer for more than a year.  We visited his wife and son today.  We will see more of them this week as well.  They are lovely people going through a difficult time.  We hope to be of comfort to them during this time.

I know that my friend from synagogue was disappointed in me for not giving to her cause.  I cannot give to every cause.  Nor am I willing to try.

I know that sometimes I find judgement to come so easily.  I assume that if someone is not willing to give time or effort to my cause that the person does not care, or has other priorities which I consider unimportant.

During this holiday season, whenever you think of assuming that someone else’s life is easier than yours, step back and think again.

You do not know what else is going on in someone else’s life.  I know that there are times when I wish to slow down this rapid pace of life, and take a deep breath.

I am grateful for my friends and my family.  I am grateful for my job and my ability to volunteer whenever I can to help out my children’s school, our family, our friends, our community.

I give with my skills, my time, my heart, my soul.    I am glad to do so.

Be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with others this holiday season.

Good night —


What Inspires Me – October 25, 2016

I teach Technical Communications, aka, business writing and presentations to a group of engineering students a few times a week.

What inspires me this week would be one of my students.  We met last week to discuss one of his daily grades.  He hadn’t read the assignment thoroughly, and had made a lower grade than he liked on the assignment.

Evidently, our conversation inspired him to redo a previous assignment – a major assignment that had been turned in a couple weeks earlier.  I hadn’t had the chance to grade the finals for this major assignment.  They had been sitting in one of the online computer folders, waiting for me.  He turned in an additional copy of the major assignment.  Then he came to me yesterday afternoon before class and explained why.

I tell my students that my focus is to train them to present themselves in the best light possible.  Know your audience.  In order to present yourself in the best light possible in the business world, you must write correctly – spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting all have to be impeccable.  Our world is incredibly competitive.  You must rise to the competition and meet it, before you can surpass it.

My student asked that I accept his reworked assignment, instead of his earlier version.  He made a good case for it.  I felt as if an employee had taken aside the boss and told her that the report had been sitting on the boss’s desk for the last few weeks, and would she like a more well-researched and updated copy.  He persuaded me.

This very same student also told me about the new project he was working on for the class.  He had taken the initiative to interview 100 students over the course of the weekend.  This is what a manager likes to see –  I told him that.

When my students reach beyond the limits of the assignment, when they truly learn – in those moments, I know that I am in the right profession, and I am so grateful.  They inspire me to be better, and to encourage them to be the best they can be.

Rubrics vs. Informational Interviews


May 17, 2016

Rubrics vs. Informational Interviews

Was it last week? I think maybe it was. My husband called to me upstairs, where I was working in our home office. He was telling me that he thought he had left his watch in the pocket of his jeans, along with some coins. He reassured himself that I always emptied pants’ pockets before I washed them.

I was staring at my computer screen, which had at least six different windows open. I was trying to get a handle on the curriculum I was putting together for the courses I am slotted to teach for next semester.

This past semester was my first semester teaching college, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. I enjoyed teaching my college students tremendously. I knew I needed to make changes to the curriculum. The students had requested detailed rubrics for each major assignment, instead of a broad, general one for the entire course.

While I appreciate the students’ desire to have detailed rubrics, and I have indeed created them for this next semester, part of me rebels against the idea. In a working environment, there is no rubric. Working in corporate world for over two decades has taught me that rubrics are useful only when actually used how they were designed and not slanted to be interpreted however those in charge wish them to be.

Frankly, I think informational interviews are more useful than rubrics. I have seen rubric be twisted too many times to believe in their usefulness.

To know how to interview a client or manager successfully is a skill I think I need to include in my curriculum for this coming fall. A true informational interview is an interview in which you are able to elicit information regarding a project, or topic of choice, to determine your next action step.

Unfortunately for my husband, I had already taken the step of washing his jeans with his watch inside. I tend not to check the pockets of jeans when I realize that one of the children has no pants to wear the following day, and I throw whatever dark clothes are in the laundry pile hurriedly into the washer.

Informational interviews are only useful if done before a project is complete, and if the person doing the interviewing is paying attention, or you will most likely end up with something rather worse than a non-working watch.