Category: EHHS Shared Values


Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors

image                  Pic by Christophe Launay

Storms and rough seas come in many forms and are part of life.  With deep purpose and a clear vision, storms can be weathered together and rough seas will not throw us off course; in fact, they may embolden our resolve and hone our skills because we are resilient.

In the School of Education, Health, and Human Services (EHHS) at SUNY Plattsburgh, we pride ourselves on our deep sense of purpose where students are prepared in dynamic learning environments to work in careers where they will serve the diverse needs of others. This is a grounding purpose that does not waiver.  The most important resources we have to achieve this purpose are the hearts and minds of the faculty who educate our students, hearts that give in a way that help students discover their potential and minds that model critical thinking and inspire development of knowledge and skills.

We achieve our mission, our purpose, in EHHS through excellence in teaching and professionalism, while embracing inclusion and cultural responsiveness. These core shared values are the foundation for HOW we achieve our collective purpose. Additionally, our moral courage promotes progress and builds community though essential shared values including honesty, collaboration, social justice, respect and empathy.  Exploring the full depth and achieving the actionable qualities of these shared values is a pursuit that honors our commitment to lifelong learning and growth.

We know the future is promising as we graduate ethical and culturally competent students who will thrive in their careers and model excellence.  Rough seas will not deter us from our mission or obscure our vision.  Our graduates’ ability to champion the education, health, and personal growth of our global citizens makes the light rising over the horizon of our future brighter.  With each graduating class, we enjoy the warmth that comes with seeing students’ successes and are inspired by all they are doing to make a positive difference in our world.

image
Pic by Jason Frye

References

Image (2009). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: http://www.gettyimages.com/photos/yacht-race excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=yacht%20race

Image (2017). Retrieved March 8, 2017 from: https://twitter.com/interior/status/850491714049626112

EHHS Mission, Shared Values, and Vision

mission-vision-values

Mission describes our purpose and our why;
Shared Values describe how we fulfill our mission and “provide guidelines for our choices and actions” as we fulfill our purpose; and
Vision inspires and “continues to provide guidance as goals are achieved.”
                                                                   (Blanchard & Stoner, 2011)

School of Education, Health, and Human Services (EHHS) at SUNY Plattsburgh

EHHS Mission

The School of Education, Health, and Human Services cultivates inclusive, dynamic learning environments that prepare students for professional careers to serve the diverse needs of others.

 

EHHS Shared Values

  1. Excellence in Teaching

Helping Students Achieve Goals

Lifelong Learning/Growth

  1. Professionalism

Honesty

Collaboration

Service

Appreciation

  1. Inclusion /Culturally Responsive

Respect and Empathy

Social Justice

Broad-minded

 

EHHS Vision

Our vision is to graduate ethical and culturally competent professionals who thrive in their careers and model excellence by championing the education, health and personal growth of our global citizens.

 

EHHS Shared Values Defined

The descriptors detail how the shared values are engaged with students and with colleagues in EHHS.

1. Excellence in Teaching

  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to students’ needs
  • Timely feedback
  • Clear expectations
  • Model passion and professionalism
  • Effective assessment tools

          Helping Students Achieve Goals

  • Reach out to struggling students
  • Challenge students to create connections, follow passions, and think critically
  • Empower students to realize goals
  • Provide real-life professional experiences

          Lifelong Learning/Growth

  • Provide students exposure to professional experts within the community
  • Participate in professional development (inclusive of student participation)
  • Create an environment in which active engagement and learning are valued, respected, and expected.
  • Inspire critical thinking that challenges the way things have always been done
  • Require applied assessment of student learning

 

2.  Professionalism

  • Demonstrate ethical decision making/behavior across all settings
  • Earn respect of students, colleagues, and area professionals
  • Positive attitude
  • Dependability
  • Be present
  • Appropriate boundaries
  • Make time to share and collaborate
  • Exhibit a strong work ethic

         Honesty

  • Follow through with our campus commitments: students, colleagues, college
  • Transparency
  • Openness about our limitations

          Collaboration

  • Draw on diverse perspectives
  • Divergent thinking
  • Creativity
  • Team-teaching

         Service

  • Service/applied learning
  • Model for students
  • Help and support for local agencies
  • Contact with the public – education and resources

         Appreciation

  • Announce achievements
  • Celebrate success
  • Make time to celebrate success in the School of EHHS

 

3.  Inclusion/Culturally Responsive

  • Culturally responsive teaching for our students
  • Self-reflection
  • Demonstrated awareness, knowledge, and skills
  • Caring attitude
  • Continued learning, challenging and changing of our attitudes
  • Courage to discuss sensitive issues and “sit with discomfort”

         Respect and Empathy

  • Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues
  • Embrace diversity of opinions and perspectives
  • Listen to each other
  • Seek to understand before being understood
  • Trust
  • Communicate with the person, not about the person, when there is conflict
  • Enter into differences of opinion and conflict with respect
  • Open-mindedness
  • Share our challenges as well as our successes

         Social Justice

  • Recognize social justice issues
  • Advocate to enhance social change
  • Enhance community responsibility/social responsibility

         Broad-minded

  • Embrace multicultural perspectives
  • Evolve
  • Be non-dogmatic
  • Take a creative perspective
  • Out-of-the-box problem solving

 

References

Image (August 23,2016). Retrieved on February 25, 2017 from: http://almaaspioneer.com/category/about-us/

Blanchard, K., & Stoner, J.L. (2011). Full steam ahead: Unleash the power of vision in your work and your life (2nd ed). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

The Foundation On Which We Stand

image

New students entering Giltz Auditorium for the matriculation ceremony as faculty and staff cheer and clap.  Photograph by Konrad Odhiambo

Our students are moved in (often a Herculean family feat, both financial and physical), new students are matriculated and the first week of classes completed successfully. Now, we focus our energies on being the best learning community possible for our students and for us at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Our student-centered approach to education is supported by our shared values. The foundational values established by faculty members in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services are not collecting dust on a shelf; rather, we continually revisit our shared values to guide our work together. Today, I share student-centered thoughts and questions after each of our shared values.

Respect and Empathy
What is the best way to respect the backgrounds our students bring to our learning environments? 37% of our freshmen and 42% or our transfer students are from low-income families. There may be a need to be more flexible with rising scholars who are working several jobs, some of whom are helping to support their families. Here is a short commentary from The Chronicle of Higher Education that will provide more insight for you. Pay particular attention to the second recommendation: http://www.chronicle.com/article/What-Colleges-Can-Do-Right-Now/237589

Excellence in Teaching
What will you do this semester to learn one or two new teaching techniques you can use in class to engage students at a deeper level? I have learned numerous techniques from professors in Teacher Education. Don’t underestimate the ways in which we are resources for each other.

Lifelong Learning and Growth
It is important to consider how we are preparing our students to be life-long learners. How do you reinforce this in your classes? What skills and dispositions are needed by our students to do this successfully?

Inclusion/Culturally Responsive
Almost 25% of our incoming students are from historically underrepresented groups. How are scholars and experts from these groups represented in your curriculum? Deeper connection and learning, in that order, will result from including diverse and inclusive perspectives in the curriculum.

Social Justice
There will be a number of forums and events on campus this academic year examining and supporting social justice. They often are held at the end of a long day, but I guarantee attending and listening to students’ voices will change how you see the world in which you were raised and will inform how you teach. I hope to see you there.

Helping Students Achieve Goals
When we hand out our syllabi, the goals are written for all to see. Take the time to do a “quick write” at the end of one of your classes to ask your students about their goals in your class and take a mindful approach to aligning your goals with their goals.

Professionalism
We are the models for professionalism for our students. We must never forget this fact, not even for one second.

Broad-Minded
I walked into the graduate class I am teaching this semester and said, “How do you want me to teach this class?” They stated they had never been asked this question before. After some discussion, they came up with a model they wanted to try. I said, “the information in this class is the medium throughout which I will teach critical thinking, problem solving, diagnostic thinking, knowledge and skills. The subject matter (voice disorders) is like clay to a potter and we can make many different types of vessels together.” We are all excited about the class.

Collaboration
What person or which offices could you collaborate with this semester that would strengthen your teaching excellence? Examples include the Institute for Ethics; The Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion; The Center for Teaching Excellence, and multiple offices in Student Affairs. Commit to a new level of excellence through collaboration.

Honesty
How can we best be accountable to each other in a way that promotes each person being his or her best self for our students? Don’t be a bystander.

Appreciation
Who will you acknowledge today to show your appreciation?

Please take a few minutes to review the EHHS Shared Values document. We are all responsible for creating a culture that supports learning and inspires us to do our best work together.

Bonus: Always remember that you are not just touching the lives of your students, but you are touching the lives of their current and future families. Use your privilege wisely.

The Potter’s Perspective

 

 

Pot 1

During my last semester of college at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, I took a studio course in pottery.  I fell in love working with clay.  The class was over too quickly and I graduated.  Several years later, after earning a Master’s degree at Wichita State University, I went back to Oklahoma to work as a Speech-Language Pathologist at a community clinic that was next to Phillips University.  I did this so I could study pottery with my previous professor, Dr. Paul Denny.  Over time, I became a night assistant in the studio and helped others learn how to throw and construct with clay.  As payment, I had access to all the clay I could use, glazes and multiple firing techniques.   My art was only limited by my imagination.  I sold items at art shows and many believed I would be a professional potter.

When teaching students to throw clay on a wheel, they must first learn to center the clay as the wheel spins; this is harder than it looks, particularly with larger amounts of clay.  Once centered, there is a process called “coning” where the potter raises and lowers the centered clay.  This process aligns the platelets in the clay.  The clay body is only about 50% clay; the rest is made up of other materials like flint, grog, sand, and feldspar.  These particles are large relative to the size of clay particles. Coning the clay by raising and lowering it three or four times aligns the particles in a spiral pattern.  When the potter creates a vessel, alignment of the particles allows for increased stability as the clay is raised and allows the potter to create a taller vessel that can be shaped well.

Throwing Clay 1

Coning the clay

I have often thought back to the days of throwing clay and the importance of aligning the particles within it before throwing a large vessel when contemplating shared values and their importance in an organization.  Just as alignment of the particles allows the potter to throw a more substantial vessel, alignment of shared values allows an organization to achieve bigger goals.  While creativity will define the legacy of a potter’s work, innovation will define the legacy of an organization.

The School of Education, Health, and Human services at SUNY Plattsburgh has had its shared values in place for five years.  Please take a few moments to read through the shared values again and find ways to honor them as we progress through the semester.  As we have matured with these values, one thing we have been able to do is develop many new academic programs.  Our vessel is larger than it used to be with the addition and revision of numerous undergraduate and graduate programs.  A mindful alignment of shared values and a pursuit of innovation will provide amazing opportunities for all of us and our students as we engage in our mission of helping students to be successful.  Let me know if you need any help with centering and coning.

Bonus:

Below is one of my favorite pieces.  It is an abstract representation of a mountain range.  The base was thrown on the wheel and represent layers of the earth.  The rough area above the layers represents uplifting forces that create mountains.  The clay above the rough area was hand-constructed with veins and holes that represent veins of minerals and caves.  The clay was rolled with burlap and strings to add texture.  You can see the mountain range on top of the vessel.  This piece was covered in iron oxide rather than glaze and fired at cone 8 (2,305 F) .  It is 26 inches high with a base that is 35 inches in circumference.  The first one of these I tried to make exploded in the kiln, but that is another story.

Mountain Pot

Our Shared Values

 

Shared Values

Fall 2010 was when the EHHS faculty developed categories for their first shared values document.  Spring 2011, faculty breathed life into the document by creating examples that represented how each category was demonstrated with colleagues and with students.  The Shared Values document was revised/updated by the faculty this semester at our Community Gathering.  It is an honor to serve as Dean for mindful professionals who aspire to create a work environment that honors our shared values.

 

Education, Health, and Human Services
Shared Values

Respect and Empathy

  • Seek to understand before being understood
  • Listening to each other
  • Communicate with the person, not about the person, when there is conflict
  • Enter into differences of opinion and conflict with respect
  • Demonstrate compassion to evoke potential in students and colleagues
  • Share our challenges as well as our successes
  • Trust
  • Open-mindedness,
  • Embrace diversity of opinions and perspectives


Excellence in Teaching

  • Clear expectations
  • Model passion and professionalism
  • Timely feedback
  • Effective assessment tools
  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to students’ needs


Lifelong Learning/Growth

  • Participate in professional development (inclusive of student participation)
  • Require applied assessment of student learning
  • Provide students exposure to professional experts within the community
  • Create an environment in which active engagement and learning are valued, respected, and expected.
  • Inspire critical thinking that challenges the way things have always been done

 

Inclusion/Culturally Responsive

  • Demonstrated awareness, knowledge, and skills
  • Culturally responsive teaching
  • Self-reflection
  • Caring attitude
  • Courage to discuss sensitive issues and “sit with discomfort”
  • Continued learning, challenging and changing of our attitudes

 

Social Justice

  • Recognize social justice issues
  • Advocate to enhance social change
  • Enhance community responsibility/social responsibility

 

Helping Students Achieve Goals

  • Reaching out to struggling students
  • Challenge students to create connections, follow passions, and think critically
  • Empower students to realize goals
  • Provide real-life professional experiences

 

Service

  • Contact with the public – education and resources
  • Service learning
  • Help and support for local agencies
  • Model for students

 

Professionalism

  • Demonstrate ethical decision making/behavior across all settings
  • Dependability
  • Positive attitude
  • Appropriate boundaries
  • Being present
  • Make time to share and collaborate
  • Exhibit a strong work ethic
  • Earn respect of students, colleagues, and area professionals

 

Broad-minded

  • Take a creative perspective
  • Out-of-the box problem solving
  • Be non-dogmatic
  • Embrace multicultural perspectives
  • Evolve

 

Collaboration

  • Creativity
  • Team-teaching
  • Divergent thinking
  • Drawing on diverse perspectives

 

Honesty

  • Transparency
  • Openness about our limitations
  • Following through with our campus commitments: students, colleagues, college

 

Appreciation

  • Announce achievements
  • Celebrate success
  • Make time to celebrate success in the School of EHHS

Meaningful Conversations

Convergence Blog

An American philosopher, Tom Morris, when asked what mattered in life, responded by saying, “I believe everything matters.”  This is especially true of communication, it all matters.  When you come into my office, you see the abstract painting shown above on my wall.  This painting represents a conversation. The green and blue lines symbolize two speakers with multiple perspectives.  You will notice that the brightest colors are in the middle of the painting where the speakers multiple perspectives intersect.  These four brightly colored areas symbolize discovery and a deepening of understanding.

Our shared values contain a statement that came from Stephen Covey who said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  He also said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  One of my early mentors in the field of Communication Disorders and Sciences was Dr. Kenneth Burk, who used to say that listening well is hard work.  When people are “in the zone” of good communication, they listen and then ask questions that clarify or reveal more depth about what is being said.  After someone says something, it may take a few seconds to develop a good question.  Herein lies another important skill modeled by Dr. Burk, the ability to be comfortable with a few seconds of silence as meaningful questions are formed.  He knew the power of silence and was comfortable with it when forming questions and when waiting for responses.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist and a leader, I understand the complexity of communication and the extra effort needed to do it well.  The speed, tone, consonantal stress, nonverbals, and the right words all matter.  Maya Angelou once said, “Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you.  We must be careful about the words we use.” Whether it is with students or colleagues, it is worth the extra effort to bring your best self to the conversation by paying attention to the subtleties that expand horizons, heal wounds, or warm hearts..

Some conversations are difficult and may require courage.  The difficult conversations invite us to be mindful about the previously mentioned communicative subtleties.  This mindfulness preserves the dignity of all who are communicating or conveys empathy with others in clinical/practicum sites.  I challenge my graduate students each week with clinical scenarios where they practice coming up with the right words to respond to patients or parents; this is time well spent.

Good communicative interactions create positive energy.  We feel a deeper engagement with students and our colleagues as this happens and experience a warping of time where minutes evaporate quickly.  Those instances where we say, “Where did the time go?” provide an energy all their own.  You feel this energy, for example, when teaching classes where students are highly engaged or when communicating with colleagues where the sharing of multiple perspectives creates deeper understanding or new ideas.

The name of my painting is Convergence, a coming together if you will.  Thoughtful conversations empower our community to come together for the betterment of everyone so we can fulfill our mission of preparing students for academic, professional and personal success.  As in the painting, this is where you will find the brightest spaces.

Maya Angelou quote (2012). Retrieved February 16, 2014 from: http://jewishpostopinion.com/?page_id=1608

Covey, S. (1989 ). The seven habits of highly effective people. New York: Free Press.

Thomas V. Morris http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_V._Morris

Dr. Burk2
Dr. Kenneth Burk

Faster Isn’t Always Better

Mindful Speed

It is that time in the semester where one week remains before finals.  There is a temptation to pack more information into the last week compared to previous weeks just to get material covered.  Students are feeling overwhelmed by finishing projects, papers, and by getting ready for finals; faculty feel the pressure too.  The element of motivation is critical for students and faculty amid the frenetic pace that can consume the academic culture this time of the year.  Will going faster result in students knowing more?  Intuitively, we know the answer even if we are motivated to provide as much information as possible to our students.  This is a good time to focus on our shared value of engaging students and on finding a renewed sense of motivation to complete the semester by giving our best effort.

As many of you know, Margaret Wheatley is one of my favorite leadership authors.  In a five-minute video where she discusses motivation, she says, “We need to develop new eyes through which to see our experience and we need to be much more engaged to learn from our experience and to develop those new eyes.”  She spoke about leadership teams that keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result by going faster; this doesn’t work well.  She said the missing element for increasing motivation is not speed, but people’s engagement.  Transferring this into the world of academia, we can understand that the depth of our motivation is found in the positive engagement we have with each other and our students.

Consider again the question in the first paragraph.  Based on our shared value of engaging students and on what Dr. Wheatley said, it may be best to “develop new eyes through which to see our experience.”  In essence, the amount of information conveyed is not as important as the depth to which we are able to engage the students with the information.

I wish you and your students well as we finish this semester.

Bonus: Reminder of what students say engages their learning.

Wheatley, M. (2013).  Co-creating possibilities.  Retrieved December 1, 2013, from http://www.letgoandlead.com/meg-wheatley/

Image (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2013 from: http://www.santabanta.com/sms/quotes/life/74/?page=6

Continuous Improvement in Academia

Improvement

There are many times each year when Giltz Auditorium is full of prospective students and their families with hopes and dreams for the future.  The prospective students are preparing to enter an environment of accelerated growth where personal comfort zones will be pushed and expanded to create a new self with additional knowledge, skills, and possibilities.  Our responsibility for creating the environment that makes this possible at the college requires daily mindfulness and a commitment to continuous improvement.  We must never lose sight of the moral and ethical responsibilities with which we are entrusted when families send their children to us.

In the business world, models of continuous improvement often include words like assessment, planning, implementation, budget management, etc.  These words are important to our thinking about continuous improvement for the college; however, there is a wider focus in the academic environment that takes a more holistic view of students and our learning community.  This wider focus is grounded in our shared values.  For example, continuous improvement in the areas of respect and empathy, while not easily measured, are seen and felt in daily actions of faculty and staff between each other and with students.  Our interactions and modeling provide an atmosphere of expectations and nurturing for achieving higher levels of these and other shared values.

Here are a few thoughts incorporating our shared values  and strategic priorities from our Campus Plan in a wider-focused view of continuous improvement:

  • Trust increases with open communication and an appreciation for others’ perspectives.  This works best by understanding that all voices will be heard, but no single voice will carry the day.  This also speaks to our shared value articulation that says we are committed to understanding before being understood.  The opposite of this can lead to fractured communication.  In our non-professional lives, we can chose to allow fractured communication to remain, but we cannot afford this in a professional community.  Healing and moving forward comes, in part, from focusing on issues and not personalities while seeking deeper understanding.
  • It is important to establish clear expectations with support for achieving individual and community goals.  Our professionalism, how we interact with each other to realize our goals, is just as important as achieving programmatic/divisional goals – one does not occur optimally without the other.  We value collaboration.
  • It is important to establish an atmosphere where risks are allowed, often involving belief systems in academia, and if failure occurs, judgment and blame should not the first reactions.  When something does not work as well as planned, we must be compassionate with ourselves and others.  Learning from mistakes is crucial in a model of continuous improvement and requires the ability to build wisdom through embracing lessons that may be challenging.  It is important to have an appreciation for the process of improvement rather than jumping to conclusions and retreating to what was comfortable.  We must always envision what is best for students and find a way to get there together, even if it gets uncomfortable.
  • Related to the previous point, continuous improvement does not always mean striving harder within current paradigms.  Ashkenas (2012) said, “Too many continuous improvement projects focus so much on gaining efficiencies that they don’t challenge the basic assumptions of what’s being done.”  Sometimes disruption of a current paradigm is needed to create opportunities for maximal student success.
  • Provost Liszka spoke at the Celebration of Scholarship last Friday and discussed the bidirectional relationship of teaching and scholarship.  Continuous improvement to achieve consistent teaching excellence, along with other activities that support this, is central to the College’s goal of student success.
  • Being disciplined and mindful about our own growth is imperative; we value life-long learning.  For example, it is important to expand comfort zones to meet current and future needs of our students.  This may be done by learning new technology that will benefit students’ learning or will improve communication with others in the community.  It may be work that is needed to improve inclusiveness through multicultural competencies.  Imaging the best self possible for students and the community and developing personal plans for achieving this is not easy work.  It is this moral and ethical journey that calls us to become our best selves.  Parents who entrust their children to us and the young adults who entrust themselves to us deserve no less.

There is a beautiful line in a book by Christina Feldman (2005) that says, “Wisdom and compassion are like the two wings of a bird: Both are necessary for the bird to soar, both are necessary for our hearts to open and heal.”

I wish you well on your journey of continuous improvement and look forward to the times we do this work together.

Image (2013). Retrieved November 16, 2013 from:

http://www.i4process.com/1303/how-do-you-do-continuous-improvement/

Ashkenas, R. (2012).  It’s Time to Rethink Continuous Improvement. Retrieved November 16, 2013, from http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/05/its-time-to-rethink-continuous/

Feldman, C. (2005). Compassion: Listening to the cries of the world. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.

Courage

At the EHHS Community Gathering, I asked you to imagine the best possible academic learning environment.  When I asked you to imagine this, there were at least two avenues of thought that could have been taken.  One is student focused with an emphasis on the learning environment in the classroom and the other is the learning environment we create in departments and programs through interactions with colleagues that students feel when they come for advisement or for office hours; students clearly are part of both environments.

There are larger environmental contexts that influence learning too.  Many “isms” and societal issues are attached to the larger contexts.  I was in awe of some comments from Maya Angelou who recently was interviewed by Anderson Cooper about equality and what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream means today.  At the end of the interview, Mr. Cooper referred to a Time Magazine article in which Maya Angelou wrote, “Can you imagine if we did not have this undergirded hate, racism, sexism, and ageism; if we were not crippled by these idiocies? Can you imagine what our country would be like?”  Anderson then asked, “How can you answer those questions? Can you imagine?”  Maya Angelou said, “Yes, I’m brought to weep when I think what my country can be and will be when we develop enough courage to act courageously and with courtesy and respect for each other.  Just imagine, we wouldn’t have to say we are the most powerful country in the world, we will be the most powerful country in the world.  Not because we have might, but because we have right.”

Maya Angelou spoke about respect, the highest ranked shared value in our community.  When asked to imagine, as when you were asked to imagine the best possible academic learning environment, the theme of respect comes to the forefront.  Respect, in a larger context or in the context of a learning environment is central to success.  Below, please find the comments from all groups about creating the best academic learning environment.  All comments relate to the classroom.  Comments marked by an asterisk also are crucial for respectful interactions between colleagues in departments/programs to make ourselves and our students feel safe in our environments.  If we have the courage to put all of the comments into action, imagine the power of our Division to transform the lives of our students and ourselves.

Group 1

  1. * Trust between students and faculty
  2. * Availability and responsiveness
  3. Tell them we are there to help them with clear expectations from us
  4. * Flexibility
  5. * Open communication

Group 2

  1. Model respect for your students; clear expectations
  2. Create classroom rules (e.g., how to interact)
  3. * Practice active listening
  4. * Develop mutual understating about nurturing
  5. Develop safe learning environment
  6. * Be open
  7. * Provide Support
  8. * Open communication

Group 3

  1. * Non-judgmental
  2. * Mutual trust – relationship
  3. * Not afraid to make mistakes – constructive feedback while avoiding the negative
  4. * Support for exploration and experimenting
  5. * Establish mutual respect and a climate of trust
  6. Clear expectations and parameters
    1. Gradual progression
    2. Support throughout the process

Group 4

  1. * Provide support
  2. * Be available
  3. * Be visible
  4. Seek out professional development to ensure you are current with research-based best practices
  5. * Practice professionalism
  6. * Collaboration
  7. Learning communities
  8. * Don’t be a silo or
  9. Don’t have a closed door classroom
  10. * Communicate
  11. * Relate
  12. * Celebrate

Group 5

  1. Get to know your students
  2. * Respect
  3. * Safe to take risks – nonjudgmental
  4. Multiple ways to engage students – read the students and adapt to them
  5. Classes should make sense by relating to their life
  6. Planned flexibility

Group 6

  1. Know the students and understand why they are here
  2. Be open to students’ thoughts and ideas
  3. * Build relationships
  4. * Create an environment where we and they are involved
  5. [Encourage students to] have an open mind to their peers
  6. * Model the behaviors we hope to see
  7. Class has to have something meaningful to students
  8. * Establish how to give and receive feedback
  9. * Value mistakes
  10. Focus on whole learning  – reach all aspects of our students
  11. Understand the “beginners mind” – we must respect where our students are in their development
  12. Let our students know we don’t know everything and we can learn from them
  13. Promote creativity – allow them to wander around their thoughts and ideas

Bonus:  “…. courage comes from when we turn not from each other but toward each other and we find we do not walk alone, that’s where courage comes from.”  President Barack Obama (Speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington)

We’re All In This Together

community-cropped

This time of year professors are grading, organizing the most pertinent information for the last class, and preparing to give final exams.  Support staff members are dedicated to helping the whole operation run smoothly. Students are completing projects, finishing assignments, and preparing for finals; some are preparing to graduate.  The well of motivation may seem almost dry for some, which results in additional trips to the well of discipline.  Even with appropriate discipline, the compressed collection of events and responsibilities can start to feel chaotic as we race toward the finish line for this academic year. 

Margaret Wheatley has written and spoken a lot about chaos.  She says that when there is chaos, people and organizations operate best when they have a good set of values and that the values are best when centered on community.   Margaret Wheatley (2011) said, “Whatever is the problem, community is the answer” (Check out the YouTube link in the reference).   This is critical at the end of the year when feelings of stress and chaos from multiple goals and responsibilities are felt at a deeper level.  If we let negative feelings rule rather than focusing on our shared values, then there is a risk of toxicity in the learning/work environment.

As professionals, we are all called upon to be leaders as we model for our students and honor the values that make us good community members.  With this in mind, I share some questions from Dan Rockwell (2013) who stated that exceptional leaders focus on the “how” and not the “what” when confronted with the potential for toxicity.  His suggested questions are:

How are we connecting?
How do we support each other?
How does the team feel?
How is respect expressed?

These are excellent questions that are aligned well with the shared values of our community.  A positive academic learning environment and work environment depend on how we answer these questions.  This is the time of year when we need to connect more deeply to support each other’s success.  Respect and empathy are our top shared values.  As a reminder, here is what we developed together:

Respect and Empathy

  • Seek to understand before being understood
  • Listening to each other
  • Share what is most important
  • Share our challenges as well as our successes
  • Trust
  • Open-mindedness, acceptance of perspectives
  • Embrace diversity of opinions

Focusing on the values of respect and empathy provide good insurance against toxic dumping in the workplace and academic learning environment.  One of the ways we can define success over the next two weeks is if we are able to honor this work together in our community.   

Bonus: “The hopes and dreams of youth are in our hands; their goals and aspirations are shaped through their encounters with us.  Positive memories of teachers are reserved for particular and special people: the teacher who touched your heart, the teacher who understood you or who cared about you as a person, the teacher whose passion for something…was infectious and energizing” (Ayers, p. 17). 

References

Ayers, W. (2010). To teach: the journey of a teacher (2nd ed). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Rockwell, D. (2013, May 3). Confronting toxicity: Toxic environments are the result of tolerating toxicity.  Retrieved from  http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/confronting-toxicity/

Wheatley, M. (2011, June 7). Authority on Leadership in Chaotic Times. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgabFLvMB5I 

Image (2012). Retrieved May 5, 2013 from: https://www.canwestpropane.com/images/default-album/community-cropped.jpg

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