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Academic Impressions is hiring!

My company, Academic Impressions, is currently adding members to its Program Development Team! If you love higher ed and are interested in learning more about a job that combines research, program design/development and program management, please feel free to reply or reach out at

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The power of social learning: Can working with peers improve outcomes? (McREL Blog)

This was posted on McREL’s blog, but thought I would cross-link it here.

Deutchman’s Theory of Change through the lens of Star Wars

Last week, during Balanced Leadership training, we were asked to summarize a theorist’s idea of change, then to create a drawing to summarize what we had learned. I was assigned Alan Deutchman, author of Change or Die, among other publications.

I was especially intrigued by Deutchman’s three keys to change: Relate, Repeat, and Reframe. Not being a very good artist and only having a few minutes to create my drawing, I decided to use a reference I was fairly certain everyone would know – Luke Skywalker’s metamorphosis into a Jedi knight in the first trilogy of Star Wars.

In the first phase, Relate, learners first form a new relationship with a person, idea, or community that gives them hope. I thought of when young Luke first sees Obi-Wan Kenobi use the force…


…or when he needs convincing that he has the force. In the relate phase, we are still building our awareness of this new idea.


In the second phase, Repeat, learners build their skill set, practice, and master habits that they will need. I thought of Luke’s time on Dagobah as he is going through  Jedi exercises. Many times, at this phase, we are going through the motions of a new habit or skill, but it doesn’t feel second nature.


Finally, at the Reframe stage, learners have new ways of thinking. The world is seen in a manner that wouldn’t have made any sense before. This, of course, is well represented by Luke’s insistence that his father has not completely gone to the dark side.


This activity was fun to do and reminded me of the need for play while learning.

13 Chairs

ImageI hosted my first salon last evening and was thrilled with the good conversation, company, & ideas that came out of the event. Last night’s topic was “Inspiring Learning Environments,” though it certainly meandered into many other topics.

Some big take-aways from the discussion for me were:

  1. Once something gets too large, it loses the ability to be innovative. Case in point are the many conferences that have gotten so large and so corporate that the important conversations get lost.
  2. Scale can’t be forced. Scale happens spontaneously because it is the right idea at the right time.
  3. In spite of my original plans for these salons, a home environment seemed to be just right. It actually kept the concept of “salon” more true to form than, say, had I hosted it in a museum or park.
  4. What would happen if we took the concept of Apartment Therapy and applied it to learning environments in our schools? (Especially those schools in areas of high poverty?)

I so much want to thank the folks who came out and made the event what it was! I most definitely plan to host more salons in the future. (And hope that others will also consider hosting.)

Finally, I had a few requests for my Pimento Cheese recipe:

  • 1 block of Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 T shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 5-6 T mayonnaise
  • 5-10 green olives
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Blend together in a blender.

This is a blog post from my “other” blog – Mountains & Magnolias – but it seemed to also belong here.

Mountains & Magnolias


I’m off to Texas for work and I’m noticing, as I go through security or board the shuttle bus, that my interactions with strangers are a little different: more eye contact, more enthusiasm in my “hello,” closer attention to the needs of others.

Is this a result of having just returned from a wonderful vacation or is this some of those Parisian manners rubbing off on me? When addressing others in French – regardless of their role – it is considered polite to add “Madame” or “Monsieur” to the beginning or end of your sentence. Throughout our nine days there, we had countless interactions where we greeted people, thanked them, and said our good-byes, all accompanied with the equivalent of “Ma’am” or “Sir.” While I would sound rather silly literally adopting French speech patterns in English – “Good day, sir! Thank you very much for taking my luggage! United Airlines…

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The If/Then To-Do List

if thenYesterday, I started the morning as I often do by writing out a to-do list of tasks, phone calls to make, emails to send, etc. What I noticed about yesterday’s to-do list, however, was that many of my actions were dependent upon the outcomes of conversations with others. My to-do list looked less like a list…more like a string of If/Then statements or a flow chart.

This got me to thinking about the digital tools that I currently use for creating to-do lists. Many have syncing and check-box features that I like, but I can’t think of any that allow for multiple actions based on a decision preceding. Do any of you have tools or resources that you can recommend?

Please help us choose topics for future presentations