High On Education?

This semester I spent the better part of a class sniffing students. Yeah, that’s weird,

but I was on a mission. The room smelled when I walked in, and the aroma grew

stronger after I closed the door. That meant the “O” was still with the “B.” (Please

binge watch Seinfeld if you’re lost.)


I walked up and down aisles pretending to make friendly chit chat, but I was really

just smelling people. I narrowed it down to the first two rows, but I couldn’t figure

out who the offender might be. I considered telling a joke so stupid, you’d have to be

high to laugh, but it’s kind of hard to seamlessly weave a knock-knock joke into a


Knock Knock. Who’s there? Mary. Mary who?

Then I started to wonder why a student would come to a 9:30 am class high. Am I

that bad, you can’t take me sober? Or maybe, I’m just not a buzz kill. Either way, I

think we can agree the taboo has been broken, and I blame it all on Colorado.


Here’s the issue. As a society, we’ve trained ourselves to drink alcohol after 5 p.m.

Happy hour was invented to keep us from sneaking a sip in the morning. If you can

just hold out until 5, you can get plastered – no questions asked.

One of the problems with legalized pot is that we haven’t established social norms for this drug.

Not only are students smoking before class, they think it’s okay – even outside of Colorado.

Maybe I should be teaching geography?


I’m not advocating for a marijuana happy hour, but you see where this is going. In all

the years I’ve been teaching, I’ve never had a student walk in with a lampshade on

their head, and I’ve never wondered what was in that water bottle.


So yeah, this pot thing is bugging me. I’d love to hear your opinion. (And how about the photo? Are you laughing yet?)


When Am I Ever Going To Use This?

I know you’ve asked yourself – “When am I ever going to use this stuff I’m learning?”

I hear you and I get it. Sometimes school can feel like a pile of notes, but without enough hands on activities to mimic the workplace.  I decided to give my students’ penmanship a rest and instead I put them to work developing a commercial for my book series. The final version is here – but don’t miss the blooper reel!

A big thanks to Chris Saave who directed, filmed and edited.



Blooper Reel Advertising Project




Is Skype Right for School?

Please Welcome Guest Blogger – Nancy Valencia

Is email the perfect tool for communicating with your professor? What if your course is online, but you feel the need to see the teacher in-person? I like to ask questions so that I understand assignments more in depth so I can better accomplish what I’m being asked. Sometimes email just doesn’t work.

That being said, I don’t think it is right for students to misuse email to make up excuses for a missed class or assignment. We live in a generation where we don’t get to know each other and develop a relationship of humans between student and professor. I think e-mail makes it easier to hide behind the computer and not have to go to campus or schedule meetings.

That’s why I’d like to suggest Skype as a communication tool for students and professors. It’s a dream come true for all the parents who work full time and can’t drive back and forth to campus. I, personally, would rather speak to a professor than to send e-mails back and forth. The truth is that I need to pay the bills and sometimes I have to put my job first. So, when I do need to speak to a teacher, it would be so much easier to do it in-person – through Skype.

I’d like to see a day, in the near future, where professors drop e-mails and use Skype instead. It would be like an online meeting which would be more humane than e-mails. Bottom line, our professors are not dumb, and they know we use email strategically. They know it’s easier for us to give them an excuse through email. Be upfront and simply say I procrastinated and never finished my work. Imagine all the excuses they have heard, over 100 times but with different tweaks here and there.

But if we really want to learn and accommodate our busy schedules, Skype might do the trick. Let’s say that we get snowed in for a week and can’t have class. Skype would be a perfect way to teach class instead of all this reading that drives us all mad. I suppose that is a whole other blog to write.


Please let me know your opinion!


Are You Too Old For E-Textbooks?

I feel sorry for Millennials – the world has branded them the first high-tech generation yet they already seem too old to master digital learning. If you’ve ever screamed at your computer screen because your online test abruptly closed before you finished, you know what I’m talking about.

As young as Millennials are, their elementary school teacher was still a person, not an avatar and their textbooks were hard covered and at least 20 years old. Remember when teachers passed out a textbook and you couldn’t wait to see who had it before you? And who didn’t love the ridiculous names scrawled inside the cover – James Bond, Homeroom 007. Give it up, people. There’s nothing like a 12 year-old with a sense of humor.

Fast forward to college where tests, readings, assignments and course announcements are all online. And your teacher? A mere thumbnail picture on your screen. We all thought Millennials would love it, yet it seems to be backfiring.

Last semester, we tested an online component to a traditional lecture course where teachers could track student progress through a series of online exercises and tests. It bombed. Students were frustrated, grades dropped and my student reviews took a beating. For the record, it wasn’t my idea.

So what’s up Millennials? You tell me – how do you like to learn?

Is Your Teacher Burnt Out?

If I gave you a five page speech on any topic, asked you to memorize it and then had you repeat the speech regularly for 5, 10 or maybe even 30 straight years, your head might explode into a fiery ball followed by a simmering sizzle. This phenomenon is called teacher burn out and it’s caused by repetition. Remember when you were a kid and you repeated the same word over and over until it sounded unrecognizable. You see where I’m going with this. Teachers are in the business of presenting similar material consistently each semester.

Can’t teachers just change-up the lectures and format? Yes and no. Teachers are required to teach the core material as outlined in the syllabus. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there. (I’d be hard-pressed to get through a semester without reviewing basic marketing concepts with my students.) Teachers can, however, add new and updated information to supplement the basics. But even then, your teacher might, after years, become robotic in their delivery.

Here’s my question. How can you, as a student, help prevent the inevitable teacher meltdown? It’s easy. If you want to snap your teacher back to the present, bring your own material to class. This can be in the form of questions, experiences, internships, and good old-fashioned curiosity.


See me in this picture? I’m with two students – Dan Clark and Khalid Michel-Simms. They’ve launched their own line of clothing under the brand Dare to Be Different (D2BD) and their hands-on experience added a new dimension to my Marketing 101 class last semester. My standard lectures soon turned into interesting conversations about their business. The whole class benefited from their shared entrepreneurial spirit. And I got a much needed slap in the face and a renewed sense of purpose. I love the topics I teach and these students’ genuine energy reminded me of that fact.

A big thanks to the Dare to Be Different business partners –Dan and Khalid. Please visit their site and check out their stuff. http://www.d2bdglobal.bigcartel.com


5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Business Professor

Here are 5 things students say that make me cringe.

1. I’m terrible at math.

2. I don’t understand why I have to come to class on time.

3. I never read, watch or listen to the news.

4. Why would I want to dress up for my presentation?

5. Office Space? It’s a movie? Never heard of it.

I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but if you plan on pursuing a career in business, it will be hard to avoid math, getting to work on time, the news, a professional dress code and at least one reference to a red stapler.





Blog Mash-Up – Returning Students and Cosmetics

I polled students for new blog topics and two topics bubbled to the surface. A blog about students returning to college as adults and make-up tips for college students. I will now attempt to combine these wildly different topics in my first ever Blog Mash-Up.

This semester I returned to school. I, voluntarily, enrolled at my own school for a math class. Yup, you heard right. I chose to take a course that most students avoid at all costs – Algebra. Twice a week, for two hours my classmates and I attempt to solve for ‘X’. For the record, students have been trying to solve for “X” for years. Some things don’t change. So if you’re an older, returning student, don’t panic. Academic changes move slower than a pre-global warming iceberg. There’s a very good chance that the way you remember it, is the way it still is which means you are more prepared than you think. Even when classes require an online component, the basic model – study and then take a test, still exists.

What does change are styles and that’s been my demise.

We are now eight weeks into the class and students are starting to wonder about the older lady who hasn’t missed a class. From the first day, I realized I didn’t fit in. I’m wearing ‘go to work’ clothes, I don’t have piercings or tattoos, my hair has no gel, coloring or obscure angles, no wires dangling from my ears and worst of all – no make-up.

There’s a student that sits two rows over from me. She’s got mad make-up skills. Even if I had time in the morning, there’s no way I could pull-off her look. I’m wondering how anyone has time to do more than shower because I still haven’t solved for “X.”

Here’s my recommendation when it comes to college cosmetics. The majority of your day is spent sitting at a desk staring at someone’s back. You rarely have a chance to see your classmates’ faces. Therefore, I suggest investing your extra time decoding the mystery of “X.” Save the make-up for the weekend!



How to Cheat on a Test

I was prepared to write a lengthy blog on this topic, but I’d rather toss the question out to my readers. If I let students use the bathroom during a test is it really nature calling or an excuse to cheat? I’m suspicious, but I’d like to hear from you.

Here’s the scenario.

Last week a student asked to use the bathroom during a midterm. I said no. He offered to submit to a body search. In his defense, he turned his pockets out and raised his arms. I told him it would be weird, and potentially a YouTube disaster – Teacher frisks student during a test. Instead, he took his seat and crossed his legs for the remainder of the exam.

Then another student, this one with a runny nose, asked for permission to get a tissue. I honored his request to a sea of complaints. How come you let him go? I pointed out that the sniffling student had produced sufficient evidence in the form of mucus. Some students attempted this method but came up dry.

What would you have done?





Fancy Folder, Higher Grade?

I think I may have gone overboard this time. Apparently, I insisted that assignments and papers be submitted in a professional manner. In my book, that means a staple or a paper clip.

For this student, it meant a diamond stud. Maybe I should assign another paper to get the pair!

Here’s my question – do you think a fancy folder or a snazzy clip makes a difference in your grade?

Do You Love School?

ARE YOU ONE OF US? Are you in the club? Do you love school as much as we do?


That’s me, bottom row, far right, brown knee socks, Pilgrim collar. I’m so happy I’m practically screaming “I Love School.” In fact, that ridiculous neck device may have been designed to capture the drool as my mouth hung open in paralyzed glee.


How about the boy standing behind me in the double-breasted suit jacket? He’s one of us too! And the boys next to him? – not too shabby on the happy-meter.


Uh oh. I’m worried about the girl to my left. It’s like she’s smirking at me with her Mona Lisa smile. And those mod, hippy beads she’s wearing? I can’t compete with her serene, self-control. I suspect she doubts my enthusiasm. She probably thinks my joyous expression was sugar-induced or possibly clinical. Worse, I think she’s badmouthed me to the rest of the row. Look at their faces – I’ve frightened them off.


It’s not easy being a lover of school, but I’m here to tell you that we have strength in numbers. So stand-up and be heard. Are you one of us?


We accept TBT pictures as evidence for potential membership.




Author of A Sketch In Crime Mystery series

Drawing Conclusions 2015

Drawing Blood Feb 2016