Tag Archive: Faculty

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.

Pic by Jason Frye


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

Destiny and the Power of Collaboration


When we think about destiny, it typically is in the context of an individual.  Words and phrases such as “fate,”  “meant to be,” or “the stars were aligned” are heard when referring to destiny.  There are different cultural contexts related to destiny with themes of an internal or external locus of control; some believe they control their destiny and others do not.


As a leader, I think about internal and external risk factors that must be managed to reach goals regardless of or in addition to one’s belief about locus of control.  I also contemplate the destiny of groups.  One approach to shifting or strengthening the winds of destiny is to improve how we collaborate.  This is a 21st century learning skill we identified in our recent community gathering.  We know our students are expected to have this skill if they wish to be successful in today’s job market.  What is the relationship between collaboration and destiny?


It is hard to think of any successful person who achieved significant goals without the help of others, both family and non-family.  The success of an individual is based on multiple collaborative efforts.  When thinking about our students, there are many people in their lives, at home and on campus, who help them push beyond self-perceived limits to achieve a destiny some never imagined to be possible.  The more we align our individual and group efforts across campus (collaborate) for the common goal of students’ success, the more powerful our impact will be on their lives.


While these are things I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks, I have mainly been focused on how members of academic departments work together with a mindful eye toward what is best for students.  I’ve attended several meetings where it was clear that strong individual beliefs were held in check so the group could move forward with plans that will improve students’ learning.  We recognize that while some believe their way is best, strong individual perspectives can keep a group stuck.  My predecessor used to say that it is about alignment, not agreement (i.e., not everyone in the group will be able to agree, but we can align ourselves to common goals).  This approach appreciates diverse perspectives, and at the same time, helps loosen the grip of rigid individual views.  Ultimately, this collaborative approach shifts and empowers a group’s destiny.


What is the destiny of your group?  How well are individuals aligned to meeting common goals?  What internal and external risks must be managed in order to achieve the goals?  What collaborative skills could the group learn that would help achieve a better group and student outcome?


The Dean of Library and Information Services shared a powerful document with me last week entitled, Seven Norms of Collaboration: A Supporting Toolkithttp://opi.mt.gov/pub/pdf/RtI/Implement/ExploreB/SevenNormsToolkit.pdf     I encourage you to examine this document and to use it as a discussion topic in a department meeting and in class with your students.  What would it look like for us to hold each other and our students accountable for the seven norms of collaboration?


Some of our students’ best learning will come from us modeling and being explicit with the collaborative approaches we use.  Mindful attention to the ways we collaborate changes the course of group destiny and, consequently, the individual destinies of our students.


Shared Values addressed in this blog include:

  1. collaboration;
  2. challenging students to create connections and follow passions; and
  3. drawing on diverse perspectives.
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