Finding positivity in the mire of chaos is no small feat. For many, it is easier to succumb to fear and sadness than crawl to the surface to reach the light. I have spent my fair share of time in fetal on the floor when crisis overwhelms. I have cried until no tears were left and pleaded with God for mercy. But always, after acknowledging the hurt, I rise up.

We have been home for more than 160 days. Our stories are all the same.
We have all lost our ability to move freely, travel broadly, congregate with abandon.
We…


The verdict is in. Your child’s fall classes will be online. For parents of continuing students, this news might be disappointing but at least it is not your first rodeo. For those moms and dads of the newbies — you may be struggling with the unknowns or feeling ill-equipped to properly support your newly minted college student. Here are some guidelines to help you feel more oriented.

Differences between in-person and online course delivery

In April I wrote a piece comparing the in-person experience versus online learning. I open with a quote from essayist Bertrand Russell — “More important than the curriculum is the question of the…


Milestones between ages 1–3, back surgery, and 10 tips to get your kiddo ready for grade school

Photo by Bess Hamiti from Pexels

Introduction

My daughter Sawyer was born with VACTERL Association (vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheoesophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities) — a rare congenital birth defect that occurs in 1 in 10,000–40,000 newborns. She was fortunate to be born with just two congenital defects — a lower imperforate anus and vertebral abnormalities (aka “two points on the VATER”) vs. many children who are born with many more complications. Sawyer is now 20 years old and thriving in her third year of college. She went through many years of struggle with chronic constipation, a sphincter that had atrophied, a year…


Success as an online student = commitment, accountability, and reading instructions

Success as an online student = commitment, accountability, and reading instructions

This is the third installment in a short “from the other side of the webcam” series journaling my experience as an online student at Oregon State University’s Learning XD Design Design Certificate program. For context, check out my first post from June 3, 2020 and second post from June 16, 2020.

I just completed my first of five courses in the online Oregon State University’s Learning Experience Design (LXD) Certificate program: UI/UX in Experience Design with instructor Caesar Wirichaga, Head of Design at Kickstand. …


From professional to professor — my journey to the classroom

For those who want to teach

The year was 2006. I just gave birth to my second child and was on a brief hiatus from full-time employment. Me as an at-home mom with no other prospects was not exactly a great fit, so after a short, self-imposed maternity leave, I was on the hunt for part-time gigs. I already had an ongoing contract with a local small business doing some graphic design and video work — but I wanted something more challenging. I read somewhere that if you have a master’s degree, you are eligible to work at certain colleges as an adjunct instructor. Given my…


9 tips for parents nurturing a VACTERL infant through their first year

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Series introduction

VACTERL Association (vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities) is a rare congenital birth defect that occurs in 1 in 10,000–40,000 newborns. My daughter is special — she is one of those babies.

My name is Rebecca. I am a mom to a beautiful daughter named Sawyer who was born with an imperforate anus and vertebrae abnormalities. She was diagnosed with VATER/VACTERL Association with “two points on the VATER.” She had four surgeries by age two. Sawyer is now 20 years old and thriving. I wrote an essay called “Surviving and Thriving with VATER/VACTERL…


One mother’s journey. One young woman’s story of perseverance.

A baby girl is born with congenital defects


Connecting with Students from a Distance: 10 Ways to Stay Engaged Inside and Outside the Learning Environment

“Our ability to connect with others is innate, wired into our nervous systems, and we need connection as much as we need physical nourishment.” — Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection

In the first two weeks of March 2020, faculty across the U.S. were notified in waves that they needed to move their in-person classes online due to COVID19 stay-at-home mandates. All of these individuals were in the final weeks of winter quarter, past the mid-term of the spring semester, or poised to take a desperately needed pause with the upcoming spring break. …


Professor as online student: 3 big take-aways

Facebook emoji for Rebecca L. Cooney

This is the second installment in a short “from the other side of the webcam” series journaling my experience as an online student at Oregon State University’s Learning XD Design Design Certificate program. For context, check out my first post from June 3, 2020.

I’m in week 3 of my six-week class in user experience design and I am feeling empathy for our students. What a different mode and energy are required for the online student. It is projected we are to spend 4–6 hours per week on our readings, engagement, and assignments. I can’t say for sure if that…


A story about reclaiming voice 10 years after PTSD and divorce

Prologue

I was curled up in fetal wracked in panic on Ginny’s floor. She crouched down, hand on my shoulder. When you are ready to stand, we can begin.

Her office was a sanctuary of warmth, quiet, and cushions. The carpet felt soft on my face. My body was so heavy. An invisible weighted blanket hung off my neck like a cape. I pushed myself up, defying limp arms, and crawled up to her leather couch.

I sat upright, feet on the floor, posture hunched and defeated. I was out of tears by then. I looked up at Ginny —…

Rebecca L. Cooney

Educator with passion for lifelong learning and mentoring others to be the best version of themselves. 26 years exp. in integrated comm., UX, & digital mktg.

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