Irene learns about teaching – Part 1c

Old style school desk painted blue against a blue wall.

The final piece of this module was a two-page written assignment exploring Pratt and Collins (2000-2020) Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI). I was able to determine that my dominant perspectives are Developmental and Apprenticeship, my fall back perspectives are Transmission and Nurturing, and my recessive perspective is Social Reform (Pratt & Collins, 2000-2020). However, given that my current teaching practice is not the traditional classroom/semester model, I found Pratt and Collins explanations of the perspectives limited and I turned to Bates (2015) work on teaching, specifically explanations of campus-focused and online-focused teaching to deepen my understanding.

Tony Bates has written a creative commons licensed text on teaching in online and digital environments for University professors. In Chapter 3, Bates considers teaching methods currently used in campus-based environments and illustrates the five teaching perspectives from Pratt and Collins using examples, historical references and analysis. Using terms like “learning by listening” (p. 84),”learning by talking” (p. 91), “learning by doing” (p.95), and “learning by feeling,” Bates (2015) expanded my understanding of the different perspectives and what they can offer when reflecting on teaching and learning.

In particular, I gained at better understanding of the Nurturing and Social Reform perspectives, the two areas that I had the lowest scores in on the TPI. The Nurturing summary from Pratt and Collins discussed developing self-esteem and enhancing effort in a safe environment. On the surface, I had some objection to this idea, not because I want students to be in an unsafe environment or not to have good self-esteem but rather that at the college level, results matter, not just effort, and learning can be uncomfortable and frustrating. It seems like Nurturing was being too nice or feeling sorry for students. Through Bates, I understood Nurturing to be empathizing with the learner. encouraging learning with appropriate supports; a perspective where the teacher takes the role of a critical friend (Costa & Kallick, 1993).

The Social Reform perspective seemed to put the teacher in the role of knowing all that is good and right for society and molding students into that image. I see a danger in this if the teacher is not able to be open to learners’ value and viewpoints. There are aspects of this perspective in college level education with the emphasis on developing well rounded citizens in addition to proving vocational outcomes. Through Bates, I drew a parallel between Social Reform and collectivism.

I have more thinking, reading, talking, and feeling to do about the Nurturing and Social Reform to sort out what benefits these could bring to my teaching rather than to continue to reject them out of hand.


Bates, A. W. (2015) Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning [Electronic version]. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from

Costa, A. L. & Kallick, B. (1993). Through the lens of a critical friend. Educational Leadership, 51,(2), 49 – 51. Retrieved from

Pratt, D. D. & Collins, J. B. (2000-2020). Teaching perspective inventory. Retrieved from

Featured image: Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

Irene learns about teaching – Part 1b

Successful students get involved - photo of staff and students at Chatham Campus for Bee Positive Day.

So, how do I know if I am connecting and motivating my students. THRIVES, the course I am using as a focus for these reflections, is a course in our LMS designed to introduce students to the culture of the college and present a model of successful student skills, behaviours and attitudes that new student can follow. Given that THRIVES is a non-mandatory course and, unfortunately at the moment, has little opportunity for student to instructor communication and no opportunity for student to student interaction, I have had to turn to other indicators to judge rates of engagement.

First, a little background on how we set up the course. In order to ensure the materials and design were learner-focused, we used Fink’s Intergrated Course Design model. In particular, examining the situational factors of the course lead to design changes. Considering the context of our teaching and learning situation and the nature of our subject along with the characteristics of our learner and of our teacher forced us to debate how to address the challenges we knew would be part of this project. This lead to a careful consideration on how we would introduce the course to students and how we would communicate with students during the course, the adaptation of an OER textbook, the use of video lectures and the addition of H5P interactive learning elements. I use we for the development as I still had collegues to work with by the time the pilot began, I was alone in the implementation with the exception of my Director.

During the Spring 2019 semester, I piloted THRIVES with approximately 1,000 1st semester students. I planned two emails to introduce and explain THRIVES and designated Thursdays for THRIVES for weekly announcements. In addition to the instructor email within the course, I mentioned our THRIVES email in every communication. One way I could check student reaction was to monitor these emails. Based on the questions received, I did two more emails to all students to clarify our purpose for enrolling students into THRIVES and clear common confusion.

Using Blackboard Course Activity reports, I was able to check the activity rates of my students and the amount of time students were engaging with the THRIVES material. At the end of the pilot, 80% of students had logged into and viewed something in THRIVES. I also used the Gradebook to determine the last date students had access THRIVES and the number of quizzes they attempted. Early in the semester, student activity rates were high but quiz completion was almost non-existant. I added an icon to all the quizzes and emailed directions with the icon to the students. I had included interactive self-check learning objects using H5P and I believe that some students thought those activites were the quizzes for the modules. After this email, quiz completion increased. At the end of the semester, 22% of active students had completed quizzes.

Using the course reports, I was also able to track the day and time that students were access the modules. My Thursday for THRIVES announcements were driving activity as Thurdsay and Friday became the most common days for THRIVES activity. These announcements highlighted part of THRIVES and also used messaging that promoted our expectations of students. These expectations included go to class, get involved, take responsibility, learn independently and embrace diversity. My thought was that even if all students saw of THRIVES were the announcements, they would receive reenforcement our college values.

For the Fall 2019 semester, I also moved all the THRIVES videos to a YouTube channel that I monitor and that allows for tracking of views. This is another way I can track how student are using the different elements of the course. I also set up individual page tracking within the modules and other course content areas for college polices and guides so check their usage.

While the lack of student to instructor and student to student interaction is not idea, it is the best I can do at this time. I am running nine sections of THRIVES with over 6,000 enrolled students for the Fall semester. I would not be able to cope without a lot more support. I may be techically running my very own MOOC.


Fink, L. D. (2005). IDEA Paper #42: Intergrated Course Design. Manhattan, KS: The IDEA Centre. Retrieved from

For more on using Fink’s Intergrated Course Design, see Integrated Course Design to Improve Student Learning from Northern Illinois University.

Featured image: St. Clair College, 2019

Irene learns about teaching: Part 1a

Two old men chatting while standing against a wall.

Who’s your model?

Think back to a teacher you admire and consider their motivational, interpersonal and intellectual skills. I know what I am supposed to say – good teachers motivate their learners, have highly rated interpersonal skills and are content experts. This question is leading to a recognition that teaching is more than just an expert who imparts facts and walks out of the room. However, my favorite teachers were a pair of kinda grumpy old men.

My favorite teachers were not what you would call “highly motivational” in a cheerleader or coach kind of way. They had high expectations of their students and were enthusiastic about their subjects. You could tell that they thought what they had to teach was important and were able to articulate why I, as a student, would want to know this. And at the same time, there was an expectation that I would either choose to motivate myself to do the work to learn it, or I wouldn’t. If I did, they would be there to help me when I stumbled; if I didn’t, well good luck with that.

My favorite teachers were not what you would call “highly personable” and perhaps even a bit unapproachable. They were not kind, grandfatherly figures ready with a sympathetic ear. They were more no nonsense, tell me what you need and please, no tears dudes who would respond to a rational explanation but were not going to feel sorry for you or let you waste their time.

My favorite teachers were content experts and the courses they taught were tough ones. They were certainly intelligent and had a dry sense of humor that many of my fellow students did not get. But I do see a difference from the “sage on the stage” model in that they also cared about their ability to teach; to make their content understandable with out watering it down; to be fair, clear and reasonable in their application of grades and class rules; and to provide authentic opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

It is worth reviewing what motivational, interpersonal and intellectual skills you bring to your teaching beyond your content expertise because simply being an expert or even someone who learned at a high content level does not make you an effective teacher. I am glad I had my grumpy old man teachers and while I don’t have to be one, I can still learn from their example.

Featured image: Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Learning about teaching – THRIVES

Successful students go to class. Find out more about THRIVES on Bb or email

I will be taking a course over the next three months about Learning Theories and assessing your own teaching. Although I have taught in the classroom in the past, my work in the past 12 years in student services has been in the area of creating/sustaining the Tutoring System we have at the college and retention projects. Yes, I meant to capitalize Tutoring and System. One of our goals has been to make Tutoring Services a credible and responsive system of academic supports for students. One of the roles, I have as a Retention Coordinator is to train and supervise tutors in their practice of tutoring. So there is teaching there. I work with groups and individual students primarily in the area of English, Writing and Communications, check check, more teaching. And finally, I do in-class workshops mostly on the Writing Process, Citation Skills and Study Strategies. I like to think that involves teaching as well. But for, at least the first part, of this course, I want to focus on a Retention Project – THRIVES.

THRIVES is a set of modules developed in Blackboard, our LMS, for 1st semester students at St. Clair College. I am the lead faculty for this project. While I can’t give you access to the modules as they exist in our LMS, you can follow along by reading the OER textbook online and viewing the videos created for THRIVES on Youtube.

All 1st semester students at the college are enrolled in THRIVES. This means, I currently have over 6,000 students. Thankfully, they have not all emailed me at the same time. There are a number of questions that I want to ponder – how do we improve participation, how do we judge effectiveness, and how do we improve the learning environment.

One of the challenges is that the “course” is not mandatory, it does not appear on students’ class schedules and we haven’t figured out a good way to introduce THRIVES to students. Another issue is that, presently, there is no student to student communication options and the instructor/student communication is primarily through announcements and email.

I don’t know if the course I am taking on Learning Theories will help answer my question, but I believe using THRIVES as my focus may spark some new ideas. I hope to document some of my thoughts here over the next few weeks. You are welcome to follow along.

A Guide for Successful Students, Stewart & Maisonville (2019) is hosted on eCampus Ontario’s Open Library.

Interviewing My Domain

Cup of coffee with note: Enjoy the little things.

Alternate title: What I did at Summer Domain Camp. A new activity for Domain Camp for 2019 was to interview your domain. Here is my response:

  • What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

My domain is and it comes from the idea that I have difficulty doing anything before I have my first coffee. Instead of procrastination, I suffer from procaffination. I am also pro-coffee! I like coffee. I basically drink coffee and water. So procaffination is a good fit for my domain.

  • What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

I have some past experience with basic HTML and many years ago, I had a faculty page at St. Clair College. This was basically before CSS became a thing so that was quite some time ago. More recently, the thought of having a domain of my own was not on my radar.

  • What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?

When I got started with Ontario Extend in May of 2018, I started a free WordPress blog. At that time, I was not sure I had anything to say but I was willing to give it a whirl if only to participate more fully in the Extend activities. When I start with the Domain of my Own in July 2018, I thought I would like to have some more control and ability to play, basically, my domain would be my sandbox to try out new things. I wanted a place to work out some of my own thoughts about teaching and learning but also to explore accessibility issues.

  • What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!

You can find all my subdomains by visiting

At the moment, I have my personal blog under Largecoffeewfourcreams, a collection of blog posts from our Tutor Team for the Fall 2018 9x9x25 Challenge, a gallery of faux inspirational posters I created from quotes from posts for the 9x9x25 Challenge and a SPLOT about cats.

  • What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

Ontario Extend Domain Camp activities was my main guide for getting set up with support from @Cogdog and the Reclaim Hosting Community. I don’t know that I needed more help than that. I struggle with finding my own voice and I think that is something I have to figure out on my own.

  • What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

World domination?? Okay, probably not. But I want to find a focus and a rhythm so that there is regular activity. For the 2019 Domain Camp, I am taking the opportunity to review the past activities and trying my hand at the new one. I have explored the first four weeks and have done some clean up of my domain and refreshed my knowledge of how I set up the domain and subdomains last year. I have found this to be a valuable activity which is motivating me to continue.

  • What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own?

The value for me has been around having a space that I control where I can express myself, where I can work out ideas about teaching and learning out loud. We talk about reflective practice with our students but how much do we do ourselves. This is a space for that.

  • What will it take them to get going with their own domain?

You got to get over the fear – fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged, fear of looking “fill in the blank” in front of peers, fear of being found out as being lacking, fear of this all being too technical for you. Grab on to the idea that you have something unique to offer, your perspective is valueable and the technical stuff is a challenge you can take on and there will be folks who will help, all you have to do is ask.

SAD and my yearly descent in to madness

woman looking down reflected in a windo

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It begins, for me, in September and I crash hard by November.  “Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year” (CAMH, 2018, para. 1). When I was pursuing post-secondary education, I had SAD but had not been diagnosed. That came after. My family doctor recognized this after reviewing my medical file and noticed that I had come to see him the first week of November for seven years in a row with the same complaint of feeling desperate and out of control.

I am starting ten days of vacation. I take the first week of November off every year as part of my SAD coping plan. Let me tell you what happens to me.

I call it a descent into madness purposefully. I have a physiological reaction to the lack of sunlight and the chemical processes that happen impact my physical and emotional state. SAD tells me lies. SAD tells me that I am worthless, useless and hopeless. SAD makes me want to sleep between 3 pm and 9 pm and won’t let me sleep at night. SAD gives me panic attacks that start once or twice a day and builds so that by the first week of November, I wake with a panic attack that sits in the core of my being and continues all day. SAD causes tears to run down my face for no logical reason, tears that I have no control over. SAD causes me to withdraw from family and friends. SAD makes me feel heartbroken and devastated. SAD tells me that I am a horrible person and a terrible mother. SAD tells me that nothing I do is good.

SAD tells me lies. So I use a set of coping skills to battle SAD. I use logic – intellectually, I know that I awesome and I have a good life. I don’t feel that way, but I can remind myself that this will end. This is probably the best thing about SAD, I know it will end. I know that at some point, usually in January, I will begin to have “happy to be me” thoughts again. But in the meantime, any compliment or any good thing that I do will be rejected.

I tell everyone that I have SAD and remind them that SAD season is coming. I tell my students, tutors, colleagues, and my boss. I tell my family and friends. I illicit their support and understanding. I do logic checks of my reactions, especially emotional ones to gauge if SAD is impacting me. I check with family and colleagues in case I need to reframe my overreactions. My friends forgive me when I disappear for a few weeks. My children strap on their SAD warrior gear and talk to me and hug me when I need it most. I have a SAD support group I can turn to with other SAD warriors who understand.

I use light therapy and supplements. I use antidepressants when I need to. I use my week off to be kind to myself, to embrace my SAD and work on resetting my internal clock. On my week off, I eat what I want to, I sleep when I want to, I cry when I want to, I feel all the things I feel fully. SAD is part of me and because of SAD I am more compassionate because I know what it feels like to be desperate, devastated, and heartbroken. I know what it feels like to need help and to get it and also to be judged for it. Trust me, it is better to get help when you need it.

For our students who have a mental health challenge, compassion and understanding is the best reaction you can give. These students are stronger than you can imagine and they deserve our help to learn and to succeed in their academic pursuits. As educators, let’s start with educating ourselves on mental illness and advocating for an end to stigma so that students can come freely to talk about what reasonable accommodations they need.

I’ve known for over 20 years that I have SAD. I have gotten good at coping with it and for asking for the help I need. But, here I am fighting with the SAD trying to decide whether to hit publish on this post. SAD is saying  I will be judged and fellow educators will reject me. I wonder who will win?

CAMH. (2018). Seasonal affective disorder. Retrieved from

Photo by Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash


SAD lies to me.
I know it will end.
SAD is a part of me.
I wonder who will win.
A poem by Irene Stewart

It’s Official! Empowered Educator!

Extend Badges

I am pumped! I am now officially a Ontario Extend Empowered Educator! Seriously, if you are an educator in the Ontario Postsecondary field, do yourself a big favour and check out Ontario Extend. I cannot say enough good things about my experiences in this professional development project from eCampusOntario.

I won’t say that is was easy because there were moments that I really struggled but it was worth it. I see changes in my thinking and practice daily. Sometimes, I pause because some of these changes have become automatic like adding Alt text to photos and finding Creative Commons licensed materials to share. Others are more subtle like becoming comfortable about being working in the open and considering how I can be a partner to those around me.

And I am not done yet! I plan to be an Extender for life and to continue to build on this experience. Not to mention, I think there are more activities to do in the Domain Camp and of course, every day there is a Daily Extend to tackle!


Using Tech to Solve Tutors’ Confusion

Man sitting at desk working on a laptop

The Ontario Extend Technologist Module has been a thought-provoking adventure into considering what would be most helpful for my tutors. Let me walk you through my path.

First up, I defined digital literacy back in May, 2018:

So what does all this musing mean for me as a teacher in a digital world? This is the space I must occupy and I need to be both an explorer and a guide. I need to seek out, learn and understand new ways of expressing information and ideas in this digital medium while practicing creation, appreciation, and discernment.

Standing where I am now, the key for the Technologist Module has been “new ways of expressing information” in terms of the training of tutors which has been my focus for this exercise.

After a review of Design Thinking, next up was empathizing with my tutors by gaining feedback. This is the step that held me up from some time as I explored ways to gather this feedback. I spoke with my tutors over the spring semester and gathered some information about the training through a simple survey.

The training that tutors experience is in four parts:

  • Orientation – general overview of tutoring system, tutor responsibilities and forms.
  • Payroll & Health and Safety – hands on training in a custom PeopleSoft module and review of policies along with direction on completing mandatory H&S modules.
  • Tutoring Techniques – philosophy of tutoring at our college, techniques and practices of good tutoring, and review of roles within the tutoring team. This is followed by an opportunity for new tutors to shadow experienced tutors.
  • Ongoing meetings and leadership events.

The survey indicated that tutors, in general, were satisfied with the face-to-face training including the time spend on each section, but there were lingering questions or confusion that regularly occurred after the training was over. While there were some questions about policies and procedures that covered rare circumstances, most of the confusion was over payroll. This was confirmed by the number of issues that pop up during bi-weekly payroll and errors tutors made.

During the Spring Leadership Event, I conducted further investigate into tutors experiences and charted this in a Empathy Map.  This showed that Payroll was a definite pain point for tutors and this aspect became the narrow focus for the rest of my work with the Technologist Module.

The next step in the module was to add to the Learner Challenge Padlet and explore others’ contributions. I did gain some ideas about what could be possible as an alternate way to presenting payroll training beyond the face-to-face hands on model that we are currently using.

Then, I moved on to Ideate. Using The SECTIONS Model by Anthony William Bates, I worked through the questions and downloaded the document to Google Docs. It was working through this activity that I realized that the problem is the Ease of Use of our PeopleSoft Module. The technology we use for payroll is NOT user-friendly, easy to learn or intuitive. Given the linkages to other data about students and tutors that is needed for analysis and reporting, I can’t change that. Helping students deal with this unwieldly software is the problem I need to tackle.

I created a prototype on paper for my ideas and through that process, I found that some of my ideas, while cool, were not the right approach. For example, I have rejected the idea of creating gifs for the payroll appointment entry process as the process is just too complex for this method. I tested out prototyping with another process I was working earlier in the summer for work I was doing on a BlackBoard course for new students. These two activities led me back to BlackBoard and I ultimately decided that providing guides and information through a BlackBoard course was the way to go.

The Solution

Screenshot of Payroll Module

The Tutor Training BlackBoard course contains content areas that relate to the different parts of our training with a discussion board and weekly updates. A special feature is the links to Flipgrid, which we used very successfully in the Spring for Tutor Introductions.

The Payroll training section is still under development but will have Guides with step by step instructions and screenshots of the payroll program to help tutors understand how to enter the different types of tutoring that they do. It will include video walk throughs and Pro-Tips as reminders. At the moment, the Walk-in Tutoring Guide is available.

By having this available 24/7, tutors can learn to first try to solve a problem with their payroll with the guides while knowing that they can contact staff with questions or additional training as needed. The discussion area can be used for tutors to help each other with questions as well. I believe this will help tutors in the future to deal with other software that is similarly unfriendly.

Of interest to me and to our staff is tutors’ response. I uploaded the first sections on Friday, Sept 7th and released it at noon. By 5 pm, 80% of tutors had logged in. By Monday, 95% had logged in. I updated and added two articles this morning and 50% of tutors had logged in an hour later.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will continue to upload and refine the training documents and plan to continue with the weekly updates and announcements for new and timely information. I will also gather tutors’ feedback to ensure the course is meeting their needs.

Given the early reactions of tutors logging in and the kind comments tutors have made over the last few days in person, I am calling this one a success!

Feature image: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Dear 17-year-old Irene

Silohouette of a person in a misty field

It’s August 9, 1982, and you, my younger self, are feeling pretty good! You are registered at C.K.S.S. for your grade 12 year. No more Christian High School! You have hated the majority of the last three years. That whole “you can’t take Economics, you have to take Home Economics” fiasco was the last straw. You have your schedule and you are truly excited about going to school. A fresh start with people who don’t suck.

Brace yourself. Seriously, sit down.

Mom and Dad have been praying. God doesn’t want you to go to a public school.

You, my younger self, have to be the first one in your family to graduate from the Christian Highschool. Yup, when your brothers and sisters when to the school, it didn’t go all the way to Grade 12. Now, it does.

Put that down, you like that thing. Breaking it will not make you feel better.  Pfft, you call that swearing? Honey, you are in for a treat! By 53, you will have an amazing repertoire of swear words at your disposal!

Now, I am going to tell you something you already know. Mom and Dad believe they are doing the right thing because they love you and  want the best for you. They are wrong, of course, but their hearts are in the right place.  Later, you will learn to smile and nod. Smiling and nodding and then still doing your own thing will be important in the future.

I am not going to tell you too much more. You are going to be angry for a long time. You are going to do a lot of stupid things. You are going to do a lot of smart things. You will regret none of them. They will make you who you are at 53 and you are amazing. I promise, you will laugh more than you will cry.

Just keep doing what you are doing now: learn everything. Read anything. You want to know something, go learn about it. Don’t let someone else decide what you are allowed to know.

Now, stop scowling. You are not going to change their minds. Just get out some paper and a pencil and use that “dangerous” mind of yours to get a jump-start on figuring out how you are going to skip out of 49% of your classes for the next school year.  You won’t get a detention.

This is not the best time of your life. It’s coming, trust me!

Love,  53-year-old Irene

This letter is in response to #oext259 Daily Extend.

Featured image: Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

Inspired: Art & Science of teaching

Montage credits listed in post

Is teaching an art or a science? This is the question of today’s Daily Extend. The challenge is to find an artist and a scientist that represents some part of your own personal practice. In this reflection, I give you Sarah Bernhardt, sculptor, and Katherine Johnson, mathematician.

Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt was a famous French actor. While pursuing a very public acting career, she also pursued sculpting. She studied both the craft and other disciplines such as anatomy (Moura, 2017).

She was attacked by the press and important sculptors of the time [such] as Rodin. It was said that she was pursuing an inappropriate activity. (Moura, 2017)

After the storm 1876
Photo from National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Connection to Teaching Practice

Certainly, in the college arena, professors come to the field of teaching by first studying and working in a particular career and then learning to teach. The challenge is to become equal skilled in your subject discipline and in teaching. The amount of time and effort that is expended in the pursuit of excellence in teaching is a personal decision.

On a personal note, I was intrigued by the fact that Bernhardt was criticized for sculpting as this was considered an “inappropriate activity.” I wonder why? Was it because she was female?

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was a computer for NASA. In the early 1950s, women were hired for the computing pool in the Guidance and Navigation Department of NASA to complete calculations (Loff, 2016). Johnson was the only woman moved from the pool to work directly with engineers. She verified calculations made by electronic computers for space flights in the 1960s (Loff, 2016).

Women were not allowed to attend meetings with the male engineers and scientists. Johnson wanted to go to these meetings to learn more about the projects, so she went. (Wild, 2016)

Connection to Teaching Practice

In Johnson, we find another example of the pursuit of learning on the job, and of understanding new problems and finding the solutions. This is also true for professors who must meet the challenges of a new cohort and changes in both their discipline and the field of teaching.

On a personal note, I smiled at the simple phrasing in Wild’s NASA article, “so she went.” Another example of a female who was not supposed to be doing something but did it anyways.

I don’t think of myself as an activist for woman’s rights. I have lived experiences of being female and faculty. I have been questioned about my credentials. I have been challenged about my right to develop materials and to lead workshops. I once had a male faculty member, when confronting me about working on a particular project, announce that he “didn’t think I knew anything” in front of 30 plus students. Timing and awareness of his audience was not his forte that day. In the stunned silence of his departure, a student turned to me and asked, “what does he think you are, a potted plant?”

Teaching, for me is both an art and a science that requires ongoing study, part pursued as a passion in spirit of Bernhardt and part pursued as a personal necessity in the spirit of Johnson. And later, I hope someone says “they didn’t think she should, but she wanted to, so she did.”


Loff, S. (2016, February 25). Mathematician Katherine Johnson at work. Retrieved from

Moura, N. (2017). Sarah Bernhardt – The sculptor. Retrieved from

National Museum of Women in the Arts. (n.d.). Sarah Bernhardt. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, August 4). Sarah Bernhardt.  Retrieved from

Wild, F. (2016, December 30). Who is Katherine Johnson?  Retrieved from

Montage created with Photojoiner using Public Domain Images. Montage Photo Credits:

  • The death of Ophelia: Sotheby’s
  • Sarah Bernhardt: Napoleon Sarony
  • Mercury Space Flight Network: NASA
  • Kathrine Johnson: NASA