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Leeward Community College
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A University Powered by the ‘Good Will’ of Others

Fri, 2017-09-22 10:17
The University of the People charges no tuition and now serves more than 10,000 students. Its founder, Shai Reshef, speaks about the volunteers who have made it a beacon for Syrian refugees, earthquake victims in Haiti, and undocumented students in the United States.

Unapproved Minutes September 11, 2017

Fri, 2017-09-15 14:12
Meeting called to order at 3:05 p.m. Minutes from April 24, 2017 meeting approved. Attendees: Karim Khan, Michelle Igarashi, Christy Takamure, Anemarie Paikai, Warren Kawano, Daniela Dutra Elliot, Rachael Inake. Feedback and suggestions on marketing the DE Liaison Program Present… Read more ›

Agenda September 11, 2017

Mon, 2017-09-11 14:34
Approval from Minutes April 24, 2017 Welcome and introductions Meeting minutes note takers for the year DE Committee Report 2016-2017 2016-2017 Google Drive folder Creation of 2017-2018 Google Drive folder Follow-up and feedback DE Liaison Program Getting the word out… Read more ›

How to Help Students Feel Powerful at School

Tue, 2017-09-05 06:44
Educators can exert power over students—or they can create an environment where students feel energized and capable themselves.


Recently, a high school teacher and friend of mine started thinking more carefully about the power dynamics in her classroom. With the current political situation in mind, she was worried that she was exerting too much control over what students were learning and when. Instead, her vision was to empower them to take charge of their own educational experience, better preparing them for school and beyond.

“How can you get students to identify what theyneed and want to discuss rather than summarizing it for them?” a colleague had asked her.

Power is defined as the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others. In the classroom, educators exert power through the class materials they select, the learning activities they design, and the ways in which they include students in classroom discussions.

In The Power Paradox, GGSC founding director Dacher Keltner reminds us that when we abuse our power, those around us can experience stress, anxiety, shame, and even poor health, which are all signs of powerlessness. So how can educators consciously use their power for the good?

This teacher and I explored some things she could do to shift the power dynamics in her classroom. The following suggestions may help your students to feel powerful at school.

1. Use a strengths-based approach to learning

One surefire way to make students feel powerless is to focus on everything they are weak and failing at. When problems loom large, they can undermine your students’ sense of self and capacity to engage in class. No doubt students who feel hopeless generally aren’t going to be excited about learning.

If you want your students to see themselves as potential leaders, take a strengths-based approach: Start by supporting them in identifying their strengths, aptitudes, and interests. A focus on students’ assets celebrates resilience, resources, and solutions.

Here are several activities that you might consider using in the classroom to capitalize on students’ strengths:

  • The VIA Survey of Character StrengthsTake time in class to have your students (ages 10 and above) complete this survey. It will help them to identify character strengths they have, such as hope, humility, honesty, kindness, and perseverance.
  • Use Your Strengths practice. Ask them to focus on one personal strength each day for a week, and choose a different way to experience that strength. For example, if curiosity is a strength, they might choose one new activity or idea to explore each day.
  • Best Possible Self practiceInvite your students to dream about their future (relative to school, career, relationships) and write about it each day for two weeks.
2. Identify your biases

An authentic, strengths-based approach to teaching and learning isn’t really possible unless teacher-leaders are committed to addressing their biases. Any biases we harbor against groups of students can manifest in our behavior, giving some students more power and opportunities than others.

Of course, the tricky business with biases is that they are often unconscious. However, we can use practical tools to help us unearth them. Invite a few trusted colleagues to visit and observe in your classroom. Ask your colleagues to watch your interactions with students and record their findings.

Consider tracking the following over time:

  • Who do you call on (based on gender, ethnicity, etc.)?
  • What is the tone of your responses (i.e., the ratio of positively to negatively worded comments)?
  • What is the content of your feedback (i.e., specific and concrete responses vs. general and/or dismissive responses)?

An honest look at this data could spark rich conversations with your colleagues and your own “aha” moments of learning and personal growth.

3. Be a warm demander

Apart from the ongoing work of acknowledging our negative biases, genuine care for our students means holding high positive expectations for all of them—and believing in their potential for growth. Numerous studies suggest that when adults have high expectations for students, students increase their motivation and achieve more. Our expectations may be the most powerful force in the classroom.

If you walk into your classroom believing that every student has the capacity for growth, then your students begin to believe it, too. Students read and respond to perceived expectations and biases. Stereotype threat is alive and well—students are at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their respective social groups if they sense you hold them.

Perhaps just as dangerous is a kind yet neutral approach to students that leans toward dismissiveness. Quiet concern is not enough.

“Teachers have to care so much about ethnically diverse students and their achievement that they accept nothing less than high-level success from them and work diligently to accomplish it. This is a very different conception of caring than the often-cited notion of ‘gentle nurturing and altruistic concern,’ which can lead to benign neglect,” says researcher Geneva Gay. This is a quote I often share with new teachers, and it may be the most important message in this article.

4. Create student-centered learning experiences

If we want students to feel empowered to take charge of their own learning, then student-centered learning experiences are essential. How do we create classroom environments that honor students’ voices and encourage active collaboration in the classroom?

Although highly structured, teacher-controlled lessons can be effective in helping all students meet a learning target, these types of lessons don’t always allow for rich and meaningful student participation.

Several other instructional approaches can be used to foster this kind of participation, including project-based learningcooperative learning, and service learning. All three of these methods can be thoughtfully structured to create an environment where students are engaging as a community, taking on meaningful roles, and striving for real-world, performance-based outcomes.

Finally, rather than defaulting to lectures and individual seat work, teachers can consciously weave in opportunities for students to share their day-to-day thinking with one another in a variety of classroom participant structures such as a think-pair-share or a fishbowl discussion. Students can also regularly use think alouds in pairs or small groups as they attempt to solve problems or understand texts.

5. Foster ongoing and active student reflection on learning

Another way students can direct their own educational experience—and end up learning more—is by establishing personally relevant learning goals and actively engaging in ongoing self-assessment.

There are several concrete ways that students can take the reins in monitoring and reflecting on their learning.

  • Portfolios. When students assemble portfolios of their work, problem solve around their challenges, and assess their growth relative to personal learning goals, they are more empowered in the learning process.
  • Multiple intelligences. If we help students to identify their capacities relative to multiple intelligences, we can collaborate with them to design personalized assessments that capture their performance and learning.
  • Conferences. Students can facilitate formal conferences with their teacher and family members (or portions of conferences) where they share their learning goals and progress toward meeting those goals.
6. Focus on modeling and practicing the “Big Five”

Students often feel more personally empowered if they are reflecting on their individual learning. Yet power grows and thrives (or not) in the social world of school.

In The Power Paradox, Keltner helps us to understand how power plays out in our daily lives. Across dormitories, camps, schools, businesses, and more, individuals who demonstrate the “Big Five social tendencies”—enthusiasm, kindness, focus, calmness, and openness—are considered more powerful by those in their social circle. “Enduring power comes from a focus on others,” he concludes.

If we translate this research to the classroom, teachers should not simply model these five ways of acting in the world, but provide opportunities for their students to experience and cherish the “Big Five” themselves:

  • Enthusiasm. Take a look at this clip of a teacher greeting his students before class. It will make your day. He shares an energetic, fun, and personalized handshake with every child in his classroom. Do you have rituals or practices that energize your students and connect them to you and each other?
  • Kindness. Research demonstrates that it is easier to be kind to people we know well than to those outside of our immediate social circle. Use this “shared identity” exercise in class to help your students move beyond their differences to seek out their commonalities.
  • Focus. Discuss and identify shared values at the start of the year. Then list the classroom expectations that will bring those values into focus throughout the year. Create a classroom constitution.
  • Calmness. Help yourself and your students slow down and reduce stress by engaging in brief periods of mindful breathing in the classroom.
  • Openness. Incorporate active listening activities to encourage students (and yourself) to attune to each other’s thoughts and feelings.

There may not be a better time to pause and examine how we use our power in classrooms and schools. Ultimately, a more democratic, empowered classroom is one where all members feel that they belong, they are valued, and they are capable of achieving their learning goals.

As my teacher-friend shared last week during our brainstorm: “The only answer to all of this craziness is to really know each other.” I think she is right on target.

Repost from Greater Good Science

That Hilarious Tweet About an Instructor’s Big Mistake? Almost Certainly Fake

Fri, 2017-09-01 11:05
The internet went wild over a student’s tale of the professor who got mad when no one showed up in the classroom for an online course.

Parker Palmer on Education as a Spiritual Practice

Mon, 2017-08-28 10:15
Parker Palmer on Education as a Spiritual Practice – an inspired vision for our path to truth.
by Maria Popova

Original Post from Charter of Compassion 

“Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary,” Emerson wrote in his spectacular 1837 speech on the life of the mind and the enterprise of education, adding: “A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.” And yet in the century and a half since Emerson, the notion that education’s highest task is the cultivation of a great soul has become increasingly radical as we’ve grown more and more reliant on measuring the intellect and standardizing those measurements to the point of absurdity.

How to reclaim education’s essential engagement with the spirit is what writer and longtime educator Parker Palmer, a contemporary counterpart of Emerson’s, explores in his 1983 treatise To Know as We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education (public library).

More than three decades before his fantastic recent Naropa University commencement address and twenty years before his clarion call for inhabiting our hidden wholeness, Palmer writes:

I call the pain that permeates education “the pain of disconnection.” … Most [educators] go into teaching not for fame or fortune but because of a passion to connect. We feel deep kinship with some subject; we want to bring students into that relationship, to link them with the knowledge that is so life-giving to us; we want to work in community with colleagues who share our values and our vocation. But when institutional conditions create more combat than community, when the life of the mind alienates more than it connects, the heart goes out of things, and there is little left to sustain us.

In the midst of such pain, the spiritual traditions offer hope that is hard to find elsewhere, for all of them are ultimately concerned with getting us reconnected. These traditions build on the great truth that beneath the broken surface of our lives there remains — in the words of Thomas Merton — “a hidden wholeness.” The hope of every wisdom tradition is to recall us to that wholeness in the midst of our torn world, to reweave us into the community that is so threadbare today.

Photograph by Martine Franck, 1965

Pointing out that spiritual traditions have all too often been hijacked for obstructing rather than encouraging inquiry, Palmer argues for a spirituality of “sources” in education rather than one of “ends”:

A spirituality of ends wants to dictate the desirable outcomes of education in the life of the student. It uses the spiritual tradition as a template against which the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors of the student are to be measured. The goal is to shape the student to the template by the time his or her formal education concludes.

But that sort of education never gets started; it is no education at all. Authentic spirituality wants to open us to truth — whatever truth may be, wherever truth may take us. Such a spirituality does not dictate where we must go, but trusts that any path walked with integrity will take us to a place of knowledge. Such a spirituality encourages us to welcome diversity and conflict, to tolerate ambiguity, and to embrace paradox. By this understanding, the spirituality of education is not about dictating ends. It is about examining and clarifying the inner sources of teaching and learning, ridding us of the toxins that poison our hearts and minds… An authentic spirituality of education will address the fear that so often permeates and destroys teaching and learning. It will understand that fear, not ignorance, is the enemy of learning, and that fear is what gives ignorance its power.


To teach is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced.

In the remainder of To Know as We Are Known, tremendously timely three decades later, Palmer goes on to explore how to cultivate that space, why civic community is integral to it, and where the experience of education fits with the broader question of how we come to know reality. Complement it with John Dewey on the true purpose of education, Aldous Huxley on how to get out of your own light, and Victoria Safford on what it really means to “live our mission,” then revisit Palmer on the art of letting your soul speak.

Student Understandings- Google Form

Mon, 2017-08-28 10:07

How do you use the ideas and strategies in the courses you teach to foster a rich conception of critical thinking  in all aspects of life, including teaching and learning?  

Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder, in their How to Improve Student Learning, begin with two premises:

  1. that to learn a subject well, students must master the thinking that defines that subject, and
  2. that we, in turn, as their instructors, must design activities and assignments that require students to think actively within the concepts and principles of the subject.

Students should master fundamental concepts and principles before they attempt to learn more advanced concepts. If class time is focused on helping students perform well on these foundational activities, we feel confident that the goals of most instruction will be achieved. It is up to you, the instructor, to decide which of these ideas you will test in the classroom. Only you can decide how to teach your students.

Recommendation:  Use a “student understandings” Google form. This Google form should be given to students during the orientation to the course, with an explanation
of each item. Students then check off each item as they understand it. Here are sample:

It is important that students clearly understand what instructors expected of them.


Making your syllabus viewable in Laulima

Mon, 2017-08-21 16:20
The Syllabus tool in Laulima allows you to post your syllabus for your students to access. To add the Syllabus tool:
  1. Log into Laulima.
  2. Click on your course site in the blue tabs across the top.
  3. Click on Site Info in the left menu of tools.
  4. Click on Edit Tools.
  5. Checkmark the Syllabus tool and click Continue and then Finish.
  6. Click on the Syllabus tool in the left menu and add your syllabus.
By default, the Syllabus tool is not published to students. To make it viewable to students, you’ll need to click the lightbulb icon ‘on’. And now to check/preview as a student, click the drop-down menu, “View site as:” at the top-right of your screen and choose “Student”. You should be able to see it. When you’re done, go back to the drop-down menu and select “Instructor.”

Experiments in Kindness

Tue, 2017-08-15 11:40

Audrey Lin is a volunteer extraordinaire with ServiceSpace. With a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, Lin has volunteered at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India; at Karma Kitchen in Berkeley, California; and has served as an educator on both the east and west coasts of the United States. While not everyone has the ability to travel abroad to volunteer, Lin’s life and perspectives remind us that anyone can participate in acts of kindness. In today’s busy world we are all ‘connected’ on social media, but often fail to connect in real life. Taking time out to really see and acknowledge people can have profound effects on both the person doing the kind act, and the person receiving it. In this talk she shares stories about the powerful ripple effects of kindness within and without.

New Venture Will Offer Free Courses That Students Can Take for College Credit

Tue, 2017-08-08 23:00
The leaders of Freshman Year for Free call it an “on ramp” to college. It’s backed by a philanthropy in New York City called the Modern States Education Alliance.

4 Questions for 2 Experts on the Future of Higher Education

Thu, 2017-08-03 12:20
Ithaka is a nonprofit organization focused on technology and academic transformation. We asked Kevin M. Guthrie, its president, and Catharine Bond Hill, managing director of its Ithaka S+R consulting arm, which trends show the most promise and which are most overhyped.