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Here we stand

I’m not sure what I could say to adequately describe the pride I feel as an American (for the first time in a long time), or the hope welling up inside me as a woman, the wife of a Black man, and the mother of two biracial girls. 

History, faith, and reason show the way toward unity.

President Joseph R. Biden, Inaugural Address 2021

As both an academic and a Christian, I found comfort and reassurance in the words of President Biden, Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, and Father Leo O’Donovan. Poet and activist Amanda Gorman challenged, inspired, and admonished as she recited her poem The Hill We Climb. She was the cherry on top of a modest, empowering lineup.

Since our foundation, America has overcome so much – yet we still have vital work to accomplish together. Planting and sowing seeds of unity rather than discord, truth instead of lies, love in lieu of hate. 

We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and manufactured… There is truth and there are lies. Each of us has a duty and responsibility to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

President Biden

Today’s inauguration proceedings, the antithesis to the chaos at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 (a mere two weeks ago), have boosted the country into an era of dramatic positive change, and have caused me to reflect simultaneously on history and the future.

The answer is not to turn inward; we must end this uncivil war. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts… if we show tolerance and humility.

President Biden

President Biden’s speech was compassionate and powerful. I jotted down scribbles of inspiration as he spoke – words I’m sure will be written in the pages of history for generations to come. The gist of it? Americans need each other. One nation, under God.

America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We’ll lead by the power of our example.

President Biden

This has to be the beginning of something better, something deeper and more meaningful, more lasting. We’ve got to ask ourselves: What legacy are we leaving for our children and the generations who follow?

I choose to lead by example.

Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5, AMP)
 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

…et voilà!

My dissertation is officially published, and I’m experiencing a conglomeration of relief, gratitude, and excitement all at the same time. My colleagues will probably chuckle at this, but I’m already considering upcoming areas of research and what to explore next.

This year has been full of surprises and challenges, and it will be no doubt be an unforgettable one. I’m happy to wrap up the year 2020 with this accomplishment, and eager to meet the future.

Thoughts at the coffee table

There are a couple of books I’m enjoying reading simultaneously this fall, almost always with a cup of strong black coffee nearby (my preference at any time of day).

Since I wrapped up my dissertation research and began teaching online, I’ve been making it a point to keep up with the changing atmosphere of online higher education — especially as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to significantly impact the interactions between students and instructors in this forum. I’ve seen firsthand how decision making processes are influenced and prioritized based on an individual’s immediate environment. For example, if a student’s child falls ill or spouse loses their job, online learning sometimes takes a back seat (and rightly so). These things matter to me, both as a former student and a current instructor.

It’s important to me as an educator to connect with my students through their perceptions and experiences, which are certainly not limited to the online environment. Communication, collaboration, and community are dependent upon the quality of our participation at any level.

A colleague of mine suggested Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes (Darby & Lang, 2019), which focuses in part on student and instructor motivation. In short, a student’s ability to make connections between what they think they know at the get-go to what they aspire to learn by the completion of a course is essentially what drives their motivation. The other, Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking (Ruggiero, 2012), serves as the foundational text for a course I’m teaching and encourages the reader to challenge their own thought processes, beliefs, values, and biases. Both books are written in cohesively and practically, which I appreciate as an educator.

Cheers!

References

Darby, F., & Lang, J. M. (2019). Small teaching online: Applying learning science in online classes. Jossey Bass.

Ruggiero, V. R. (2012). Beyond feelings: A guide to critical thinking. McGraw-Hill.