No Self Is An Island: How to Amaze

A self does not amount to much,
but no self is an island;
each exists in a fabric of relations
that is now more complex and
mobile than ever before.

–Jean-Francois Lyotard

I have spent the past four days at a professional development training at the community college where I teach with between 50-60 dedicated, talented, and creative individuals that I have the pleasure to call colleagues.

BUT…the weather has been glorious, perfect, and I’ve been sitting in air-conditioned buildings with the occasional glimpse outside; when this is over, I get to have some time wth my family in the mountains that soothe my soul.

Overall, what is important, what I am taking away, what I will bring to my students should make the sacrifice worthwhile. I didn’t get paid, but I am getting $1000 to apply to continued professional development which will allow me to attend conferences and other learning opportunities. And that will be awesome.

Lyotard, cited above, sums teaching up for me–what I learned this week, what I need to remember as a teacher, as a member of a collegiate community: I am not an island nor are my students.

The closing keynote talk came from Doc Sawyer, a Dean at nearby CSU Channel Islands.  He says there are 7 ways to amaze our students but like all good advice, it transfers and it reinforces what Lyotard says and what this 30 hours of professional development has taught.


1. be collaborators
share the information

2. be a model
reflective thinking and practice
affection, love and tenderness
be a lover of technology

3. be a leader–act it, be it, do it

4. be visionaries, be creative

5. be learners

6. be outstanding communicators

7. be adapters

How are you amazing? How can you be more amazing? Please share!

Fabric thangka pictured above by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, one of the only westerners trained in the rare Buddhist art of silk applique thangkas; His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures. Learn more about Leslie’s work in the documentary film, Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas.

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