Different Learning Styles, Different Teaching Methods

I have a good friend who I’ve always thought would make a fabulous teacher. She’s finally making the leap and will teach a course this semester at Niagara College.

Although anyone who knows her is confident she’ll be great, she admits to being a bit nervous. I really don’t think she needs to be as she really does know her stuff. Additionally, she’s very organized, works hard, and is the kind of person who cares deeply about others. The students will love her.

In the course of our conversation about her new venture I volunteered to help in… More Posted on 01-02-08

A Year Spent Learning About Life

As year end approaches, I’ve always been a big fan of looking ahead and making plans.

As business guru Tom Peters wrote in his book Thriving on Chaos, it’s important to ask two questions.

One, have I made a difference in the last two years and two, am I having fun yet? If the answer is no, you still have work to do.

This year I’m not sure I’m quite ready to look forward. Given what I’ve learned and how blessed I’ve been this past year, it seems more appropriate for me this time round to invest… More Posted on 12-26-07

Riding the Addictions Roller-Coaster

It used to be our family’s dirty little secret.

But, believing others could perhaps benefit from our learning, my family suggested we share.

As a result, almost exactly one year ago, my column included a letter I had written to a younger brother caught up in the terrible pain of addiction.

There wasn’t a family member who ever believed it possible that one of us would end up on the street. We’ve learned that addiction does not discriminate and that it is so very complicated.

While my brother’s addiction spiraled as the result of painkillers prescribed… More Posted on 12-19-07

Family Values

I won’t be home for Christmas.

Just putting that in writing makes me weepy.

The reality is that it will be a very quiet Christmas. My husband and I will celebrate, for the first time ever, without our children and our respective extended families. Instead we’ll spend Christmas Eve with good friends and Christmas Day on our own. 

Ultimately one of the silver linings within a potentially blue Christmas is that it’s made me think a lot about my own values and making sure I’m living them.

Family has always been my most important priority. As part… More Posted on 12-13-07

Child Poverty Stats a Call to National Action

It was, as Dr. Phil would put it, a defining moment.  It occurred for Ian Hill, a good friend of mine, as he drove by and saw kids splashing about in a puddle in the parking lot of a rundown motel. 

Despite cool weather, the kids were shoeless and dressed in ill-fitting, grungy clothes that had seen better days. For some unknown reason, he felt compelled to stop and talk. 

He learned that although the kids lived with their mother in one of the dismal motel rooms, they were alone because she was at work. They were without… More Posted on 12-07-07

Can Clutter Equate to Leadership?

If you were to judge the man by his office alone, chances are you might not be all that impressed.

Aside from the 70s decor, which in itself would make Martha Stewart shudder, it’s clear that paper rules in his office. There isn’t one inch of surface in his office that isn’t covered with stacks of paper. And, describing them as stacks, isn’t an exaggeration. When he ducks his head a bit, you can’t even tell if he’s in his office. Meetings in his office are pretty much impossible as the couch, chairs and coffee table are buried. A recent… More Posted on 11-28-07

The Challenge of Community Engagement

It is just so ironic.

I’m sitting in a conference session called “Conversations, Consultations, and Community Engagement”. The session description talked about the importance of ensuring citizen support, input and participation.  Always keen to learn especially on a subject near and dear to my heart, I was eagerly anticipating the session. Unfortunately, I am so bored that instead of listening to the speakers, I’m writing this column.

The room set-up should have been my first clue. A panel of four speakers sat at the head table, the first already standing at the podium firing up a powerpoint presentation.

Participants… More Posted on 11-18-07

Minds for the Future?

That balanced lifestyle I’ve been trying so hard to achieve? Definitely on the backburner this week!

Instead, I’ve been working flat out as part of a team developing a multi-million dollar proposal focused on province-wide strategies for ensuring active and more creative communities.

While it’s been fun, its complexity has been taxing.  I really miss the days when proposals were straightforward enough that if you kept your office door closed, it was actually possible to write one the day before it was due. 

Today that simply isn’t possible. As such, proposal writing just seems to symbolize how… More Posted on 11-11-07

Do Smaller Communities Have an Advantage?

The reality is that while there is much about growing older that leaves a lot to be desired, there are definitely some perks.

One of those perks is that as we mature, most of us do get to know ourselves better and what it is we’re passionate about.  At long last, some of those disjointed, dancing dots do get connected.

For me that translates into knowing I find joy in learning more about community leadership and how we can better nurture the development of our communities as strong, healthy, and vibrant places to live, work and play.

Recently my work… More Posted on 11-09-07

A Different Kind of Intelligence

I’ve just come back from an exceptional conference that provided some wonderful learning opportunities.

An hour and a half into one of the sessions, a participant entered somewhat noisily, stated that she was late, even though it was rather obvious, and proceeded to announce that she didn’t really even have a reason.

When we broke for lunch, this same woman went up to the presenter and asked her for the five minute version of what she missed as the result of having been late.

The presenter, a talented and seasoned former university professor and now consultant, took the… More Posted on 10-29-07

Nature Deficit Disorder

Recently doing some consulting work in Alberta, I stepped out of a meeting and strolled into an adjoining parking lot for a quick stretch. I looked up, gasped, and stopped dead in my tracks.

Directly ahead and looking almost surreal in the glistening afternoon sunlight, lay a stunning, majestic view of the Rocky Mountains that rivaled anything I’ve seen on a postcard.

Having been immersed in an intense morning of thinking and strategizing, I felt compelled to soak in the moment and gradually felt myself being overtaken by a feeling of calm.  In addition to the sense of… More Posted on 10-28-07

Community Leaders Have a Different Kind of Power

It’s good to be reminded that sometimes people really do get it.

I recently met one of them, a young woman who lives in a small northern community.  Working in the health sector in a community development capacity, she is aware and concerned about growing health concerns in her hometown. 

Despite much that is good in town, including a strong economy and even a surplus of jobs, a recent survey of residents showed higher than average levels of obesity, addictions and mental health issues. Even life expectancies are significantly less than the provincial average. And yet, instead of… More Posted on 10-21-07

Successful Cities Built on Own Unique Characteristics

Who would have thought a poet would be the one talking about fractals? And okay I admit it, when I first heard the word fractal I had a flashback math attack because it was such a left-brain kind of concept.

The occasion was the national Creative Cities conference and the speaker was Alice Major, Edmonton’s first poet laureate. An established poet appointed by City Council, her role during her recent term was to use her poetry to reflect the life of a city during official and informal activities.

My left brain angst eased somewhat as Major went on to… More Posted on 10-16-07

Reflections on Gratitude and Leadership

One of the best things about the long Thanksgiving weekend is that it actually gives you the time to slow down, think, reflect, and be grateful.

I’ve been blessed to have grown up with a mother who has made it a practice to give thanks. Beautiful in spirit, she is a walking heartbeat who has made it her life’s mission to care and nurture others. A youthful and vibrant seventy eight years of age, she still religiously counts her blessings each night as she falls asleep. I’m convinced that this “attitude of gratitude” is a key factor in keeping her… More Posted on 10-08-07

Marketing Triggers

Recently enroute to a business meeting, a rather peppy song played on the car radio prompting a colleague and I to sing along. 

As the song faded my colleague told me that while her young daughter used to love that song, she now cringes when she hears it and begs her to change the station.

Apparently her daughter recently spent time with an aunt and had accompanied her to a fitness class. While the class of women did their aerobic dancing to that same song, she sat at the back of the room and watched.

Turns out, it… More Posted on 10-02-07

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