Ritual. adjective

\ˈri-chə-wəl, -chəl; ˈrich-wəl\

1: of or relating to rites or a ritual : ceremonial <a ritual dance>
2: according to religious law <ritual purity>
3: done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol <ritual handshakes> <ritual background checks>

Mac (the boy) and Oscar (the dog) have a simple but meaningful ritual. Every night while Mac takes his bath or shower, Oscar waits by the bathroom door. After Mac is in his pj’s, has brushed his teeth, and has gone potty one more time, Oscar flips over onto his back, and then this happens:

Ritual bedtime belly-rub.

We might not be able to sleep without it.


Top 11 List Of Things I’d Like People To Learn

It’s Week 11 here (the final week of Fall term) and I just completed reviewing 11 student essays (give or take a few), and it feels like the 11th hour, so I am in an “11” kind of mood. This is good because I have 11 things for this Top 10 List Of Things I’d Like People To Learn.

[Oh, and to be clear, “People” in the title of my list do not equal “my students.” I have a separate list for what I’d like my students to learn; appropriately, that list resides in my syllabus.]

I’ve been formulating this list while walking my dog every morning because that’s (the only time) when I have the space and solitude to think. Usually I spend this time thinking through projects at work, creating my grocery or to-do lists, or mentally remodeling my kitchen (and oh my! if you could only see what I see, you’d have pot rack and island envy!). But about 11 weeks ago (of course), before the hectic nature of Fall Term was upon me, I read a similar list, and so I decided to dedicate some of my dog-walking-meditation time to the topic.

My god -- I mean, my dog -- Oscar.

I start at the top with #11, though they are in no order of priority or importance. I’d like people to learn all of them, equally. I begin with one about walking my dog because it is an ongoing challenge that Oscar and I face during our morning workouts and it directly affects our ability to get our thinking done.

11.  Please learn how to walk your dog so your dog doesn’t decide to come meet my dog (in the dark!). A leash might help with that. (Owner of the bouncy, barky labradoodle, I’m requesting this of you specifically; Oscar doesn’t like labradoodle surprises that early in the morning. We get, as you well know, kind of cranky when your barky, bouncy doodle comes bounding up to us, from behind, at full speed.)

10.  Please learn the difference between affect and effect and between imply and infer. Also, a colleague recently brought to my attention the frequent confusion about the terms irony and sarcasm (prompting him to go so far as to write an eloquent treatise on appropriate usage of said terms), so for his benefit, let me add these to the list as well.

9.  Please learn that turn signals can save lives.  Or at least make you a more likable and considerate driver. (Chip – that one is just for you. You’re welcome.)

8.  Please learn the correct and effective use of “Reply All” in an email.

7.  Please learn to use your words instead of throwing a tantrum if you don’t like something. (This one is mostly for the toddlers out there, but it applies to a few adults I know too.)

6.   Please, please, please learn to use Google Calendar to schedule a meeting with me instead of sending a minimum of 12 emails back and forth over a 2 week-period. (It’s a productivity tool, folks.)

5.  Please learn that grading, learning assessment, and measuring learning are different; they can be aligned (and should be aligned if you’re going to do them all), but they are not necessarily the same thing. Please stop conflating them.

4.  Please learn that guacamole is made with avocado as an ingredient; however, avocado is not the only ingredient.

3.  Please learn how to correctly and effectively use “CC” (and “BCC” for that matter) in an email. (Yeah, these email things get to me. I mean, it’s old technology now and we still don’t know how to use it? Really?!?)

2.  Please learn to substitute good vegetable broth for beef or chicken broth in French Onion Soup. You can do so and not lose any substance, and in many cases you can substantially enhance the flavor not to mention the nutritional value by doing so.  (Just once I’d like a restaurant to make French Onion Soup with wild mushroom broth. It’s so good when I make it at home, and on the rare occasion that I eat out at a place that serves French Onion Soup, I’d just like it as an option.)

1.  Please learn that deadlines and meeting times are most often in place for a reason. It may not be your reason, but they are there for a reason. (This may need to be a lesson in courtesy, time-management, or awareness, depending on the offender. Come to think about it, it may need to be a lesson in how to use Google Calendar!)

That concludes my list. It may very well conclude my use of Top # lists in this here blog as well because I’m just not very adept at making them (as I’ve just demonstrated). And, I may need a follow-up post in which I provide tutorials for each of these; I mean, what fun is it to arrogantly declare what other people should learn without getting to teach?

Since someone, waaay back 11 weeks ago, prompted me to consider the question, I’d love to hear it from you, too: what are the things you’d really like people to learn? (Keep it clean, people. Keep it clean.)

Dear Blog

Dearest PrattleNog,

I am remiss.

I feel guilty. Sad. Torn!!!

I feel like I’ve been a neglectful blog mother to you.

And yet, these last couple of weeks I have been pretty darn busy. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I am teaching a LRN 15o Learning Assessment Workshop class. (And boy howdy – what amazing students I have!)
  • I am trying to hire two new important people to work in my department. (Interviews!)
  • I am still doing some work on the university’s strategic planning process.
  • I am preparing to teach a new class (Introduction to Social Media Communications) – it starts August 3rd. YIKES!
  • I am preparing to teach another new class (Peer Mentoring and Coaching for our Education program). It starts in Winter term … seems like January is a long way off, so I probably can take my time. Yeah right!
  • I am trying to design an online career services workshop that’s harder than I thought it would be to design – starts July 28th. Double Yikes! YIKES YIKES!
  • I am reading several good books.  And I have sitting on my nightstand and office desk several more that I want to read.
  • I am reading really good articles, including this one titled Beyond Social Networking that summarizes EXACTLY my thoughts about the possibilities of social media for teaching and learning. I wish I had written it, and I am so glad that someone else did because I probably would have never gotten around to it.
  • I am wrangling my toddler. (Sometimes that is more work than all of the above, combined!)
  • I am gearing myself and my family up for our new used dog, Oscar, to come join us in mid-August. I am just telling you this because I am excited about Oscar, and I like this picture of him:
Oscar, My Soon To Be New Used Dog

Oscar, My Soon To Be New Used Dog

What can I say? I’ve been busy. Happy, and busy. I promise, blog, that I will do better soon.