Saturday, December 31, 2016

Don't Take it Personal

Don't Take It Personal

A line from the title song of Jermaine Jackson's 1980s album

That point in life

"What is true?" you ask. We are playing our roles. Sometimes the role requires that we line up and punch the innocent. For a visual, see Jolie's Unbroken.

It's sad but wait. The machine can only gobble us when we turn off our feelings – our minds. Without that, it hurts like hell, but we are working toward a solution. This is mentoring; it is saying, "I am struggling with!" This is what solidarity is. It's not honorable hollywood; the people revolt, and they live happily ever after. For a visual, see Smith's I, Robot. Instead, it is the mud. For a visual, see Northup's 12 Years a Slave or Knight's Free State of Jones.

Solidarity is not us vs them. It is discovering where your niche lies given the decisions of everyone else.

These are my words and don't take them personally.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Instructional Designer


Instructional Design

Online instructional design has its share of problems - not being able to see the students' and professors' body language, technical glitches in software, misunderstandings in communication.

These are remedied through video chats. With eyes making contact over the internet, all stakeholders instantly witness the reception of a given topic, one sees furrowed brows, heads nodding, and the like.

Technical glitches are a problem, yet they are also a problem within a traditional classroom. Tips on how to update software/hardware are necessary. Additionally, stakeholders must be reminded that the glitch is a temporary problem and not something that needs to be obsessed over. Issues will be resolved as soon as possible. Back up communication and assignment plans must be consulted. Again, similar situations occur in traditional classrooms as well. All is not lost.

Clear instruction must be given. Stakeholders should strive for clear and concise verbiage. Additionally, stakeholders should re-state frequently, discuss topics in other manners - handouts, video, slide presentations, web links, and so forth. Lastly, an emphasis must be placed on the importance of developed communication. Stakeholders must expect that questions may be asked and answers given in a timely manner. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who does not respect another's time and conveniently overlooks an email or a question on a discussion board. To be clear that such a "blow off" is not occurring, then stakeholders must know that a delayed response equals a repeated question. Stakeholders should have an elected mediator in place if a need arises where one of the parties continuously ignores the other party.

Does this work?

Yes. I mentor young adults in Kenya. We have video chats, emails, a website for learning management, and a number of links and presentations.

Online learning was once viewed as a fad that could not be used and viewed as a viable option to traditional education modalities. This has changed as technology has improved and stakeholders have become more comfortable with virtual learning environments.

Sunday, December 11, 2016



10s of People Injured or Killed

A new area of concern

I have been mentoring a group for several months, and we communicate via video chat. As you can imagine, our comradery has grown. We ask each other about politics, local events, and the weather. This morning I woke to a new reality.

A tanker truck exploded! I do not know how my group is doing. Our only forms of communication are email and video chat. I have emailed.

I am not naive and believe that nothing bad ever happens. Instead, I avoid those thoughts when it comes to personal contacts. I know this feeling is not isolated only to me. Numerous mentors and teachers share in this precarious reality. We communicate with "strangers" whose lives we are supposed to guard and guide while simultaneously providing appropriate space because these are not our relatives.

Yet, the concern remains. What can I do when injury occurs? Yes, there are objective items such as change dates for projects; complete forms as needed; notify stakeholders; and so forth. But, what about the subjective? The concern. The empathy. The outrage. The empathic responses that separate sentient beings from non-sentient beings.

Well, I must wait. I will see how the story develops and watch my email.


Update: The group is fine!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016



Developing Life

Reaching out

One of the most important aspects of remote mentoring happens to be the need on my end to reach out. You might say that you always reach out to your mentees and the documents on best practices. This is true and good. Nevertheless, I need to contact other stakeholders. I have to remember to contact the founders. I have to remember to develop and maintain relationships w those, who are proximically close to the mentees. These "outsiders" may not have a vested interest, but they may help guide my decisions or notify me of circumstances/events that I do not have priveleged information.

At one time, I conceived remote mentoring as having a relationship with a small cadre of individuals. No. My experience stretches beyond a small group. It's not that I am a small gardner in my green house. Instead, I am one of many forest rangers helping along education, conservation, and development of the world at large.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Stewardship...not what you think


Seeing Clearly

Stewardship is…

In my tiny corner of the world, I was taught about "stewardship". It was always akin to tithing; it was always something on Sunday. But, that's not all it is.

Do you remember those commercials featuring talking bears and owls? Let me refresh your memory. It was the late 70s, and President Carter encouraged the idea of conservation. It was seen as the right thing to do. You picked up your clothes; raked the leaves; placed trash in the proper receptacles; and prevented forest fires. You cherished your home, your state, the world.

This is stewardship. It is a posture – a praxis. In my humble opinion it isn't about being one way or another. Instead, it is about taking care of your belongings. You guard your phone, correct? You guard your family, correct? You guard your club, correct? You are a good steward. You role is who you are.

This is just my opinion. Give it a little thought. Think about it when it's convenient.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Working at Home

Home Office

5 Needs

Every Home Office Must Have…

A home office is an office at home. Not everyone realizes this. It is a place to work; it is a place to maintain your productivity. There are 5 things every home office needs.

1) Good smell - I'm not saying your home smells like a garbage can; I imagine it smells nice. Still, you are spending a substantial amount of time in your office. Consider the pressure; the long hours; the sweat. You want to find something that gels with you. Maybe you are a candle person, or maybe you like a plug-in scent. Either way, keep it handy 

2) A list - Everyone needs a sheet with the day's goals/agenda on it. Without it, you may find yourself reading blogs or searching for a black Friday deal. Careful. Make a list and cross off items as you go.

The remaining items really put the P in productivity!

3) Layers of clothing - You get hot. Take off. You get cold. Put on. There's no need to fiddle with the thermostat and play with windows. A 2-second change is all you need.

4) Music/white noise - Sometimes you get bored with listening to the clack of your keyboard. Then there are times when the silence is deafening. Have your playlist ready.

5) Take breaks.

Oops, I almost forgot to finish. I was taking a break. Ha. Ha? Anyway, take a break. Clear your head. Schedule break time on your list. You'll be amazed what 5 minutes will do.

There's your list. Enjoy your home office.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Remote Mentoring

Remote Mentoring

High to Low Bandwidth


I was asked to mentor some trainees. They needed assistance with their writing in English. I said that that sounded easy enough, and I would enjoy the experience.

Some time past, and I realized the obstacles I would face such as – principles of ELL instructors; remote teaching; resources; cultural barriers. But, I used to teach. This would not be difficult, and it really isn't.

What is difficult? The difficulty lies in a little-known truth. Internet access is not the same across the globe. What? Yes, that is correct. In the midwest in the USA, I have broadband access. My speed is not the highest, but it fits my needs, and I can buy more speed if I want.

Across the globe in Kenya, for example, speeds are slower; partially unreliable; expensive; and you cannot necessarily purchase a faster connection.

Well, at least you can connect. True. But, remember those resources? Yes. Well, those resources become high hurdles in other countries. What looks to me to be a simple video or pdf turns into a major difficulty.

Why can't more lines by laid? Good question.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

About Me


An introvert is at work.

Slow thoughtful traffic is ahead.

Do you recall those children that knew at 5yrs they wanted to be doctors and lawyers, and they were going to do great things, and they had a 4 stage plan for success, and they wrote goals in their lockers, and told everybody they met what was in store?

Well, I was not that child. Through trial and error I studied Theology, English, Secondary Education, and Music. I became a religion teacher and worked hard for 9 years.

Now, that time has transformed into my new careers. One has yet to materialize. The other is present.

I mentor students. I help students with writing in their 3rd language - English. These students are interested in all things tech, the environment, and social change. These students live in Kenya, and I live in Kentucky.

I will use this blog to reflect and teach you about this chapter of my life.


By the way, Pauses for Paws is a title from earlier this year. "Paws" stands for partiers, artists, workers, and socialites. What? That is a story for a later date.