14
Jan 17

Write More

Over the years, I have found that my students inspire me in many ways. This past fall semester, in the Marketing Capstone where we have students build their Professional Digital Identity, I was inspired by everyone — but one student’s approach to the assignment has been digging at me.

Ben challenged himself with “the More project” where he decided to do “more” of something and then write about it. As I watched him develop this and keep it going over the fall semester, I kept thinking to myself that as a professor who is pushing her students to create and build content, I’ve not been holding up my end of the bargain.

Ben Villnave

I’ve fallen into a state of non-writing. Going from one thing to the next, but not pausing to reflect, think, and explore. The very things I ask of my students.

So as we head into an uncertain political climate (although, truth be told, it’s getting more and more certain every day), face constant change in the discipline I teach, and I get ready to celebrate my half century birthday, it’s clear that it is time to WRITE MORE.

And so, I begin, with thanks to Ben and all my students. So much content to create..so little time!


16
May 16

Class of 2016 Ready to Take on the World

It was a beautiful day for a graduation. And this year I was privileged to sit up on the platform with the VIPs which included the regular suspects AND Grace Potter (who thought we all looked “super hot”!)

But even more awesome was the vantage point I had as I watched the students I have been lucky enough to teach, guide, and get to know over their four years at Champlain walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and bring closure to their college experience (at least for now).

Although, at first, as they all filed in, it was a bit lonely.


I SnapChatted a lot and also used Twitter from the stage and caught a few moments of students taking that grand walk.


As I said. It was an AWESOME DAY.

And at the end of the day, I went home and these outstanding graduates began their launch into their professional lives. Graduating is an ending AND a beginning. It’s joyful and also a little sad as one chapter ends and a new one begins.

The Marketing students from this Spring’s Capstone also walked across the stage. I didn’t capture most of them because I was too busy clapping and cheering. Showing my #ccssb pride! Even though I don’t have that graduation moment captured for them all, what follows is a look at their PDI Projects for the Capstone.

Each student is required to develop their Professional Digital Identity. This past semester I had students who wrote about branding, travelling, digital marketing, sports, cars, project management, beer (of course!), real estate, innovation, entrepreneurship, media and environmental issues.

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The students had specializations/minors in Digital Marketing, Event Management, Advertising, Environmental Policy and I even had several majors outside of Marketing — but we adopted them anyway! Many lessons were learned as these students found their voices, created content, connected and networked with professionals and used their PDI work (plus their internships) to help them get jobs!

Everett Ackerman: HIRED at New Breed Marketing in VT
Kayleigh Arthur: Hire this Grad!
Deane Banker: Looking for a project manager in IT? Hire this Grad!
Dan Bornstein: HIRED at Stone Corral Brewery in VT
Lauren Buniva: HIRED at Mullen-Lowe in BOS
Ian Corcoran: Hire this Grad!
Joey Favara: Hire this Grad!
Sam Fessman: Hire this Grad! (in Maine)
Ben Follett: Hire this Grad!
Amanda Merlo: HIRED at Onia Swimwear in NYC
Greg Moores: HIRED at The Sticky Brand in VT
Alex Nathanson: Hire this Grad!
Greg Salwen: Real Estate is his passion! Hire this Grad!
Todd Steiner: Hire this Grad! He wants to stay in BTV.
Melissa Thebarge: Running her own Photography Business.
Katherine Weed: Hire this Grad! She is looking in NYC.

And that is a wrap!

If you want you can enjoy my SnapChat story from the day!

Elaine’s ChampGrad 2016 SnapChat Story


07
Apr 15

Oh The Places You Will Go. #HireThisGrad

It seems just like yesterday when I wrote the post about students in the Fall 2014 Marketing Capstone class and their Professional Digital Identities. And yet, here we are a few months later and it is time to highlight another crop of outstanding soon to be professionals.

If you follow this blog you know that each semester that I teach Capstone, the students are required to build their online Professional Digital Identities. Essentially they are creating/building/maintaining their online brand. As a marketing professional who will have to utilize online tools to be successful, being able to showcase how they used some of those tools to promote themselves is an important challenge.

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What have these students learned?

  1. How to find their voice. This is not easy, as many of us know. It takes practice and time to figure out the right balance between personality and professionalism.
  2. Which online channels have the biggest reach and impact on SEO. For some students ego searches on their names are easy and spit back all their results, for others (like myself) there is always one or more “alter-egos” that get in the way. Producing content on multiple channels allows students to learn which channels help raise their content faster.
  3. Managing multiple channels is not easy. It takes work. It takes time. It takes dedication.
  4. It takes a village. Linking to one another, sharing each others content, supporting one another, enables students to increase their visibility in positive ways.

I really can’t wait to see the places these students will go…and just maybe you might get lucky enough to hire one of these amazing graduates! In this group we have several who are already employed, others who have amazing travel aspirations, ones who plan to move on to graduate school, and a few others who are actively seeking opportunities. So without further ado, may I introduce you to the Spring 2015 Marketing Capstone Students:

Mikayla Caprio

Mikayla Caprio

Meg Carrington

Meg Carrington

Steven Charnley

Steven Charnley

Melissa Chase

Melissa Chase

Luke Garnet

Luke Garnet

Julia Haass

Julia Haass

Sarah Hebert

Sarah Hebert

Katherine O'Neil Murphy

Katherine O’Neil Murphy

Julia Nittler

Julia Nittler

Casey Reagan

Casey Reagan

Kayleigh Vespa

Kayleigh Vespa

Christian Williams

Christian Williams

Jake Wollman

Jake Wollman

Emily Zelko

Emily Zelko

So check them out and connect with them on LinkedIn. Watch them launch and be ready for the great things these Champlain Graduates will accomplish. And as always don’t miss your opportunity to #HireThisGrad.


06
Jan 14

Kick off the New Year and #hirethisgrad

I think there is no better way to kick off the New Year (and a bit of a blog hiatus) than highlighting the work done by Marketing Seniors from the fall semester. A great group of students with a variety of backgrounds and interests — all building their professional digital identity as they get ready to launch their professional lives. Most of these students are graduating in May so act now and #hirethisgrad! I know they will be in great demand!

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Tess Cristen: Focus on Fitness and Nutrition. She’s planning on becoming a personal trainer and with her background and knowledge I’m sure she’ll go far! http://tcristen.wordpress.com/

Lochlan Dougherty: Sports of many kinds and branding are his interests. If you are a sports organization needing to up your digital profile and engage your fan base he’s a great hire! http://lochlandougherty.wordpress.com/

Johanna French: A passion for entrepreneurship and marketing means she has an agile mind and she’s ready to help you grow your start-up  into the next big thing. And she graduated in December.  http://jomarfrench.wordpress.com/

Leif Gurdin: Numbers cruncher, and e-Sports fan, he gets analytics in many different forms. Couple that with a passion for marketing and you have someone who will help you make it count when it matters. http://leifgudin.wordpress.com/

Kayla Hedman: A prolific story teller with a creative eye and a wide mix of strong marketing skills, she has a passion for interior design. Are you a magazine looking for a young, energetic and creative addition to your team? http://kaylamhedman.wordpress.com/

Matt Leap: Marketing major along with an MIS minor. He has a love of sports and a passion for digital marketing and analytics. Are you a sports organization looking to for a digital marketing wiz? He might be the perfect fit! http://mattleap.wordpress.com/

Joey Pellegrino: A creative writer with interests that range far and wide. One of the only people I’ve every known to spend time over the summer WWOOFing (read his post about it to find out more). Here’s an individual who will do very interesting things. I wonder if the Peace Corps is in his future!  http://joeypellegrino.wordpress.com/

Adam Rowe: If you’ve ever read Lovemarks you would understand Adam’s passion and interest for branding (if you haven’t read it, you should).  He truly enjoys looking at ways to communicate the benefits of a luxury brand. http://adamtimothyrowe.wordpress.com/

Matt Scarpa: His passion lies in snowboarding and snow sports. Whether it’s for a brand or a mountain, he loves the lifestyle and the East Coast snow scene. So much so he’s started an addtional blog all about it. Read more here: http://mattscarpa.wordpress.com/

Mike Snook: Personable and humorous, Mike is what I would call an old school marketer — someone who gets how important people relationships are. And he’s taking that old school approach and going new school with his work in digital marketing and most specifically social media marketing. He’s putting it to work for a local country music personality…perhaps he can put it to work for your organization. http://michaelsnooksite.wordpress.com/

Joey Szela: A small business owner, Joey doesn’t need a job per se, he needs clients. His work speaks for itself, but what I can tell you is that his video skills are first rate and they are only getting better. Take a look at his blog, and then contact him for your next video project! http://josephszela.com/ 

Ryan Terry: Another student into sports, but his focus is snow sports.  He’s already interned for a sports marketing firm in Canada and with his background and skills he’ll be a great asset to your firm or your mountain. http://ryanterry92.wordpress.com/

Matt Upshall: More than an action sports fan, Matt wants to combine his marketing interests with an industry that he loves. His motto is to do what he loves, and his passion for the action sports industry shines through. http://upshallmatt.wordpress.com/

And there you have it. The seniors from the fall 2013 semester of the marketing capstone. Ready to take on the world, or at least their own little piece of it. Take some time to look through their work. You won’t be disappointed, and hey, you just might hire one of these grads!


08
Aug 13

Doing something NEWISH in NEWISH ways

In just a few short weeks, the new academic year begins. This is the time I use to prep my classes, think about new things to try, old things to keep or toss or change. It’s a time of excitement, organization, and process that I’ve come to both enjoy and dread at the same time.

classroomkitties

Preparing a college course is fraught with uncertainty.  Essentially I’m thinking through what I believe students need to know in a field that changes daily. In a field where I don’t know what the jobs will be in two years. I’m also preparing material for students I haven’t met yet, trying to figure out the best way to deliver that content to a room of individuals who will have their own dynamic, learning styles, interests, passions, and abilities.

For example, in my Marketing Metrics and Analysis class (MKT355), all students have to have taken Digital Marketing. However, some of them might have taken it as they studied abroad, others might have taken it over a year ago from someone else. Can I assume that they retained that knowledge? That they have actually achieved the learning objectives so I can start day one in MKT355 with new material? Naturally I cannot. I have to bring everyone up to speed in each of my classes. Make sure we have a level start and build from there.

So here I sit, trying to figure out the best path. The best structure. It has to be cohesive enough to deliver on promised learning objectives within 15 weeks in a way that builds knowledge , structured enough to ensure I cover all the main points in the 15 weeks to get to those learning objectives, and flexible enough to accommodate student needs and the inevitable changes that will occur thanks to Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the digital marketing universe.

As you can see, it’s no easy process — teachers all over the world go through it.

From the outside looking in, though, it can be very hard to understand that process. An employer or business person, for example, only knows that they need a specific skill set when they need it and they wonder why colleges aren’t teaching the skills they need right now.  It is easy to assume that if you’ve been to college, you know what is going on in a college classroom because you remember your experience. So it is even easier to call out professors and tell us to do our job differently or better or change what we do because you might remember a class that had a great deal of potential, but didn’t reach you, or you are thinking about a lecture-style delivery, or you never had an internship, or you just flat out picked the wrong college for yourself.

There is a  great deal of conversations going on about K-12 and Higher Education in the U.S. and what it means to educate a person for today’s world vs. yesterday’s world. Skill sets that we needed pre-digital and pre-connectedness we no longer need, while today’s workplace demands skills that, in some cases, weren’t even around four years ago!

So, when someone who I pay attention to in order ensure I stay relevant in my classroom challenges me (ok, really educators) to be innovative, I take notice.

And that is what happened back in January.  It was a simple question posed by @chrisbrogan via Twitter.  He tweeted, “Who is an INNOVATIVE educator you know (you KNOW, not you’ve heard of) on Twitter? 😉.  Perhaps you saw the exchange or participated in it? He got a lot of answers.  From me, he got a question.  My question back was, “What do you mean by INNOVATIVE?”. (One of my students at the time,  @nikkiTrex responded to him as well.)

broganoninnovation

Clearly, I’ve been thinking on this exchange for a long time. Actually this post has been one of those that has been a “work in progress” since that exchange.  One might use professorial words like “ruminating”  or “cogitating”.  As an educator I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people who are not educators talk about how important it is to have innovation in the classroom. But when you ask them what that is, or what it looks like, that’s when things get really difficult.

Innovation in the classroom = doing something newish in newish ways.

What do I do with that? What does it even mean?

As you can imagine, I’ve let this roll around in my head for some time. For that I have to thank Chris. But what I wish was that he took it further and told me more specifically what he means by this.

At Champlain, where I teach, and have had the privilege to teach for thirteen years, we see ourselves as innovative. Our motto is “Let Us Dare”. We have professionally focused majors, with an integrated liberal arts curriculum that forces students to confront their thinking about themselves, their community, our country, and the world through a myriad of different lenses. We have a non-credit bearing required program that gets students thinking about and experiencing service, what it means to have a career, and how to be financially-savvy. We have programs that are national leaders, and we change the curriculum in response to the needs of employers more than we change it based on accreditation. VP Chuck Maniscalco had a recent post about what we do that makes us special.

At the end of their four years with us, students get jobs. In the Marketing area our 2011 stats show that 95% of our marketing grads were employed within the marketing field less than 6 months after graduation. 100% of marketing students were employed in some capacity less than 6 months after graduation.

But…is that innovation? Or is that just what has to happen today to justify our existence?

So Chris, as I get my classes ready for this fall, I need more feedback from you. What do you mean by doing something newish in newish ways? For context, here’s what I will be doing in the classes I’ll be teaching this semester (please check out our catalog for the course descriptions):

  • BUS 110: Business and the Entrepreneurial Mindset (#ccbus110). It’s for first year students enrolled in the Stiller School of Business. We take them through the main areas of business as they work in teams to run a virtual coffee shop. Key assignments include visiting local coffee shops (we have a ton of them in #btv), creating a marketing brief, solving HR issues, managing inventory and operations. All the faculty teaching the course are also competing against one another to see who comes up on top at the end with their coffee shop.
  • MKT 350: Digital Marketing (#ccmkt350). This is a required course for all marketing majors as well as PR students (and has been since 2000 when it was “Internet-based Marketing”). It’s the entry into the Digital Marketing specialization. As a project-based class, students form teams, or work as individuals, to help a small business client of their choosing with their digital marketing. The students conduct a full environmental scan after they have interviewed their client and present their research results at midterm, and then they spend the rest of the semester building a recommendation paper for their clients. This paper covers all of the content they learn during the semester, from analytics and metrics to measure, SEO keyword strategy, SEM including creating, buying, and placing of ads, email marketing (they actually create a test email campaign for their client using a tool like Constant Contact), blogging and micro blogging, social media marketing, mobile marketing, gamification and whatever else needs to be covered based on what is on the horizon. So for this semester you better believe we will be talking about the possibilities of Google Glass.
  • MKT 355: Digital Marketing Metrics and Analysis (#ccmkt355). An elective course for marketing students and others who have successfully completed MKT350, this course is all about learning the current world of digital marketing metrics. Students will not just learn tools in this class, but actually learn about the process of goal setting, figuring out how and what to measure so they can know if they are reaching their goals, and most importantly how to know what data is helpful and not helpful in that process. They will take part in our local Web Analytics Wednesday events with local experts like Gahlord Dewald,  have speakers (thanks Danny Brown), work with Google Analytics, and have sprint projects with real clients to help those clients better manage their data and analyze it for business decisions.
  • CCC410: Marketing Capstone (#ccc410mkt). A required senior-level class for marketing students where they will develop their own Personal Digital Identity, have class speakers, explore career choices, think deep thoughts about ethics, and get themselves ready to be successful once they graduate. Here’s a few examples of students who have done this really well: Nichole Magoon ’11, Hans Bardenheuer ’12Brittany Leaning ’12, Samanthan Winchell ’13, Nikki Tetreault ’13 (there are others, but you can look at past posts tagged CCC410MKT or MKT 420 or Social Media Ninjas to see them).

Note that in the Marketing classes, students will participate in tweetchats including blogchat and u30pro, read blogs and follow key people on Twitter, and will not have traditional text books — they will have to read what I’m reading which I share through Twitter in our class hashtags and via my delicious account. There are not tests or quizzes either.

So Chris, what, in your opinion, as a social media expert, author, and entrepreneur, should I do in my marketing courses that I’m not already doing? Based on what I’ve written above and the course description, how can I do something newish in newish ways this semester?

I’m all ears.

IMGP3026


21
Apr 13

Teaching Social Media Marketing Means Getting Hands On

kittyeducationChamplain College is getting ready to graduate the class of 2013 (commencement is just a few short weeks away!) and that means a whole host of Marketing grads are ready for YOU to hire them!

And unlike that little kitty right here, these students know exactly what to do with their education. At a time when employer expectations are high and many individuals assume that college graduates automagically know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade, I can say with confidence that the young women and men I’m about ready to showcase actually do know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade. And they can prove it.

It takes getting hands on to really understand the tools in demand in marketing.  From SEO, to analytics, to blogging, to social media marketing, to building an online brand, these students have actually done it.  Teaching social media marketing means creating a curriculum that weaves the tools throughout their classes, where expectations are that students will not just read about the tools, but they will use them. From their first year at Champlain, marketing students have had to utilize tools such as Twitter (yes I even developed a rubric for it!) and various blogging software to tell stories and fulfill academic requirements. They have had to read and follow bloggers ranging from David Armano, to Danny Brown, to Avanash Kaushik, to Laura Fitton, to Ann Handley. They have had to work on class projects for brands ranging from Sugarbush, to Fiddlehead Brewery, to Darn Tough Socks. They’ve written marketing plans, implemented events, made digital marketing recommendations, analyzed analytics, and created branding campaigns. And it all culminates in their senior capstone class where they bring it all together.

The goal, as they graduate, is to get found on Google. To build a social brand that has clout (and Klout). To create a full Professional Digital Identity (PDI). An online ecosystem that shows employers:

  • Writing and thinking through an ongoing blog
  • Personal philosophy through a reflective statement
  • Strengths/Values/Work illustrated through narrative and images
  • Social media experience through a presence on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others

The PDI is designed to help our students provide employers with a dimensional look at who they are, what type of employee they might, and to help our students get fully hands on with the tools of the trade. The assignment requirements are in-depth, and emphasize critical thinking and a holistic approach to building their online digital identity. Their final work will be graded on how well they met the requirements which include content, social media, SEO, visual identity, and how they have measured success (we’ve explored quantitative tools like Google Analytics and the built in WordPress analytics as well as qualitative tools like Klout, Kred and Tweetgrader).

Just 15 weeks ago most of these students had a basic LinkedIn profile, very little on Google+, and a mix of content on Twitter. Some had blogs they had started, most hadn’t been keeping them up. They have learned what it takes to have to create ongoing content, utilize social media to build their following, write search engine friendly content, link their online properties, and endorse and follow one another in order to build stronger results. They have had to set goals and see how those goals have been met…or not. In other words, they have been learning…by doing.

So when one of these students shows up at an interview, they won’t be afraid to show their social media, they’ll be proud of it and you’ll really, really want to hire that grad!

Each of these students has been working hard, and since their final PDI isn’t actually due until the 25th, I anticipate they will be continuing to update and even change their content as they complete the assignment, so don’t be surprised if you go to their sites to check them out and find that they’ve made even more changes!

Kaisey Arena:
http://kaiseyarena.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 33| Current Klout: 65

@kaisey_a

Samantha Beebe:
http://sammiebeebe.com/
Initial Klout: 16 | Current Klout: 43

@samzbeebs

John Desmond:
http://nineballrider.com
Initial Klout: 49 | Current Klout: 54

@nineballrider


Ricky Fitzpatrick

http://ykcir999.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 36 | Current Klout 42

fitzpatrick-2013

Ollie Fichera:
 http://olliefichera.com/
Initial Klout: 46 |Current Klout: 60

@olliefichera

Quillan George:
http://quillangeorge.com/
Initial Klout: 55 | Current Klout: 62

@quillangeorge

Jess Lowell:
http://jessicalowell91.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 44 | Current Klout: 60

@jesse_christine

Tommy Lyga:
http://tommylyga.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 33 | Current Klout: 62

@tommylyga

Adam Miller:
http://adammiller802.com/
Initial Klout: 19 | Current Klout:  44

@adammiller802

Colby Sears:
http://searscolby.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 15 | Current Klout: 63

@colby_sears

Nikki Tetreault:
http://sincerelynikki.wordpress.com/
 Initial Klout: 51 | Current Klout: 61

@nikkitrex

Samantha Winchell:
http://samanthawinchell.wordpress.com/
Initial Klout: 24 | Current Klout: 56

@samwinchell

 

And there you have it. To get graduates ready to take on the jobs that are available, it takes giving them an opportunity to get comfortable with the tools of the trade. It takes more than theory and discussion. It takes doing the work and building a professional digital identity. This is not just the culmination of four years of academic, project based, internship focused, education. It is the stepping stone to a career in marketing. It is not just an ending but the beginning of great things yet to come.

Note: This page was updated on 4/22 to reflect a new domain for one of the students, and to update the name of another student. It was updated on 4/26 to add a new student to the list.


23
Jan 13

A joyful re-entry isn’t that hard…really!

I’m stunned. Seriously. It seems like just a few hours ago that I left campus for my sabbatical, and here it is already the third week of classes in the Spring 2013 semester. I’ve been officially back to work now for three weeks. And I’m already sick, and have already had to miss one of my classes (thankfully, didn’t need to cancel it since my partner in crime, Professor Kelly Thomas was fit and healthy!).

sicklolcat Put me back into the petri dish that is a college campus at the beginning of the semester and no matter how much antioxidant foods, and antibacterial soaps I utilize, it is no match.  For those of you who teach, you know what I mean.  That third week pandemic that hits every semester. It’s shear luck to beat it.  Clearly my luck in this case did not hold.

You’d think I’d be upset about it.

But I’m not.

Really.

I’ve been away for months. I’ve had the summer and fall of a lifetime enjoying this amazing privilege called “sabbatical”. I’ve rested. I’ve relaxed. I’ve re-energized.  I’ve done amazing things, like level my blood elf, Lisaralisa, to an 88, overcome my fear of riding motorcycles, continue on a journey of health and wellness and I’ve slept… a lot. Oh, and I’ve been writing a book too! But something in all of that has been missing.  As wonderful as it has all been (and it’s been wonderful!), there was something that I have come to realize about my absence that has moved my re-entry from being onerous and difficult to a time of joy.

I’ll start by saying that it was clear to everyone, even myself, that I was burned out, exhausted and needed a break. Life as an administrator was very difficult and even my spring semester last year, when I no longer had the administrative responsibilities was still very difficult. I am the first to admit I was not a pleasant person to be around, and certainly not a good model for my students.  I even questioned if I should continue being a teacher. I’ve been doing this for thirteen years.  I didn’t feel I could reach the students any longer.  I walked into my sabbatical unsure, unclear, exhausted, and burned out.

funny-pictures-happy-recharge-grey-kitten

Thanks to several former students (you know who you are), I pretty quickly came to realize that I love teaching and I love being in the classroom with students who are learning, growing, and teaching me new things every day.

This became even more clear to me as I walked back onto campus this January. My first day back, I started meeting with students. My first office hours were jammed packed. My classes have been fun, engaging, and super interesting. Quite joyful actually.After just a few short weeks into my sabbatical I was able to notice that the one thing I missed was the interaction I had with students.

It’s all about the students.

The reason why I became a professor in the first place was to teach. I felt that my background and interests would translate well into the classroom and that I could bring a lot to students. Over the years I’ve had good classes and bad classes. I’ve had great relationships with students and I’ve had very bad situations happen. It’s been an amazing ride and my sabbatical has provided me with a real gift.  A gift to come away, see things clearly, and remember why I decided to become a teacher in the first place.

My father was a teacher. I remember as a child watching him help high school students learn, and I remember him trying to teach me math (algebra was when we realized I make a really good writer). He was patient, kind, and met students where they were.  I’ve always respected his ability to calmly and thoughtfully reframe answers over and over helping his students make mental connections that allowed them to learn.  When I became a teacher I think he was proud of me.  We talked about it once recently while he was in the nursing home and he told me stories of his teaching and how he was able to connect with and reach his students in meaningful ways.  I talked about my work and I remember how engaged he got as I told him about issues with students. He would give me advice and we realized that we had some common ground, which is nice to remember.  My Dad passed away on Monday, December 3. This Thursday would have been his 77th birthday.  I think about this connection we shared as I walk into my classrooms now after sabbatical and after saying goodbye to this wonderful teacher and I am filled with gratitude.

And that, my friends, is why my re-entry is joyful.


28
Sep 12

Thank you Mr. Cannon for inspiring my daughter…and for inspiring me

On Monday morning I received a text message from my daughter.

She asked me if I could take her to lunch that day.  I fired off a list of things I had to do as I was walking on the treadmill (don’t do this at home, it’s very dangerous to text and treadmill at the same time).  Honestly, what was she thinking, asking me something silly like that.

And then I got her response.

Mr. Cannon died.

Just like that. Everything stopped.

Mr. Cannon died.

George Cannon, South Burlington High School Teacher via the Burlington Free Press

Photo via the Burlington Free Press. George Cannon teaching Chemistry class.

And just like that everything changed.

Several days have now passed. I won’t bore you with the details of the process we’ve gone through here in my household except to say that it’s been a time of sadness, tears, avoidance, reflection, laughter, stories, and unease.

My heart goes out to Mr. Cannon’s family and close friends and to his students. Based on the memorial group in Facebook, it is clear that he touched so many lives in a positive way, it is almost unbelievable.

But I believe it.

I’ve seen what he has done for my daughter in just a few short weeks. She went into her chemistry class with a sense of uncertainty, and some curiosity…and came out after the first day ecstatic.  I began to hear stories of burp charts, juggling, chemistry experiments, and saw her come alive as she talked about her favorite class and what a great day she had.

As an educator myself reading the comments from students (even some of my students) who had him at South Burlington has been a learning opportunity. Taking a break from my teaching on sabbatical has allowed me to rest, refresh and begin to think about my teaching approach. I never thought that a man I never met would leave me with inspiration to dig even deeper to explore how I might do things differently. Change my approach. Rethink my process.

And yet, he has.

There is much to say about a man who can touch lives of people he hasn’t even met.

I’m grateful today for the internet. No. Really.  It is because of YouTube, and several video interviews that George Cannon participated in that I can be even further inspired and challenged in my work.

On Classroom Climate:

On Advice to Educators:

As the SB Community comes together to mourn and then celebrate the life of this amazing man (here’s a link to the obit) I’m left with a sense of loss of never having had the chance to know this man personally, and yet also a sense of optimism as I reflect on his advice that has been left for educators all over to consider:

The biggest impediment to optimal student learning is the limitation of their teacher.

Anything that comes out of a student’s mouth, in my mind, is the beginning of correctness.

So thank you Mr. Cannon.  Thank you for what you have done for my daughter. For your kind words last week when she turned on the showers, and they wouldn’t stop, and you thanked her for creating a wonderful and memorable learning opportunity for the class as you raced around sopping up the water that was leaking everywhere.

Thank you for inspiring me to be an even better teacher.