EDUC 7620, Learning Community of Practice
Course Instructors: Phyllis Balcerzak, Theresa Coble, Thomasina Hassler, Carl Hoagland, Timothy Makubuya, Keith Miller
Course Meeting Times: Tuesdays, 9-10:15 AM Central or Wednesdays 5-6:15 PM Central via Collaborate
Optional Collaborate Discussion Sessions for Integrated Research Block (EDUC 7220, 7210, 7230, 7225):
Tuesdays, 10:30-noon Central or Wednesdays 6:30-8:00 PM Central via Collaborate
Collaborate Room Link: Heritage Leadership Ed.D. Collaborate Room
Participant Dial In: (571) 392-7703, PIN 554854330101
UMSL MyGateway: https://mygateway.umsl.edu
Zotero Sign-in: http://zotero.org
Thoughts about Topics, Readings, Classes…Week by Week
September 21, 2016 at 6:04 am #807
Hey gang, I’m creating a forum that’s for our collective musings on everything related to our class topics, readings, videos, and class sessions. This is a place for those who were not in class to post their thoughts and comments. Sometimes “after the fact” reflections raise questions, highlight nuances or add insight to what, in real-time, happened in a blink or two. In particular, I invite J.C. Romero–our most far flung and time zone challenged program participant–to engage with us from his position in Thailand. If you have to miss a class session, please let us know in advance and then follow suit, sharing your thoughts in this forum too. This is also a forum for all of us to continue our efforts to digest content, internalize what we’re learning, and grow through our study together. (An aside: How does one access our class recordings? They are available via our Blackboard course homepage. Log into the course via MyGateway, go to the Collaborate page, select the Recordings tab, and find the recording for the class session by date and time.)
September 21, 2016 at 7:29 am #812
Thank you so much, Theresa, for developing a space for me to be actively engaged with the group. I am hoping that this thread will allow me to become an active participant in conversations despite the fact that I will not be able to participate in video conferencing with our cohort this semester. Heritage leaders, please, please, please, if you are able to, provide feedback by clicking “reply to post” (under my initial posts) to my thoughts and ideas. I want to continuously converse with you all in order to be engaged in the texts and videos each week. I sincerely appreciate those who’ve already reached out to me about being “thought-partners.” You all are already practicing what Palmer preaches in Healing the Heart of Democracy and what Csikszentmihalyi talks about in Norms of Collaboration. I am very grateful for you all! In just a minute. I will post three different threads in response to my thoughts on the texts by Csikszentmihalyi, Scott, and Garmston & Wellman. If you all are able to, I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have posted. Lastly, though I was the first accepted into the program, I was the last to start it (a few weeks late). My move and transition from New Orleans to Bangkok proved to be a tough one, so please bear with me as I catch up and share my thoughts on readings and videos for previous weeks. Thank you!
P.S. – Since I am unable to talk with you all via the weekly video conferences, my posts will be slightly longer than most other people’s. Please work with me. 🙂
September 21, 2016 at 7:30 am #814
My thoughts on “Flow of Creativity”
Embarking on this learning community is new for all of us. We are a new cohort of students preparing to take on one of the greatest adventures in our lives (I am sure), and this also involves a cohort of program developers and educators who have created this new adventure. In short, we are all on this rollercoaster together, for the first time, and it is most definitely going to be one of learning, growth, reflecting, and creativity. When I embark on a new adventure, I tend two feel two things. First, there is a force of excitement that takes over me because I have always been one that enjoys doing new things and who loves being challenged mentally and physically. Then sets in the feeling of nervousness or angst. Many times, after realizing what I have gotten myself into, I begin to feel like the walls are caving in on me and as though I may be in over my head. These feelings become a part of me when I embark on simple things, like taking a trip somewhere, or when tackling something more grand (i.e. pursuing a doctoral degree). Despite all of the emotions that might come about when taking on a new task or adventure, I realize that it is important for me, in order to get the most out of what I am doing, to be fully immersed in said adventure. Full, purposeful immersion occurs when I am able to really put my mind, energy, and spirit into the processes involved in what it is that I am doing.
The text by Csikszentmihalyi speaks volumes when it comes to the “flow” that must and will be put into the way that we work collaboratively in this learning community in order to achieve our doctoral goals. As we are embarking on this exciting journey, it is important for us to realize that as we progress in the program, there will be many instances for new discovery. After all, scholars along with professors are designing a revolutionary program together that will unearth and further develop the idea of heritage leadership. As we move along, we must remain open-minded to these discoveries and to the collaboration that is going to happen, as well as to the challenges that we are sure to face when embarking on something so new. One part of the text that stuck with me mentions that “unless enough people are motivated by the enjoyment that comes from confronting challenges, by discovering new ways of being and doing, there is no evolution of culture, no progress in though or feeling” (Csikszentmihalyi, 110). I think that in order for us to progress and evolve as collaborative doctoral scholars, we are going to have to be okay with and motivated by the new challenges that are to come.
Each part of the text mentions something critical that relates to our success as a group. For example, the elements involved in the flow experience will play an essential role in ensuring that we are ultimately successful in this endeavor. Having clear goals, working together to provide feedback through meaningful collaboration and communication, using our skills to tackle our challenges, becoming aware and getting rid of distractions, being confident in our work and being okay with not necessarily always being right, and working together to increase our knowledge and skills as heritage leaders are all things that we should always keep in mind as we are along for this ride together. As we embark on this learning community, we must continuously be aware (awake, like Buddhist principles would suggest) and willing to collaborate, reflect, and continuously work toward strengthening the working culture that we have created. After all, the beautiful thing about this program is the emphasis on collaboration and not feeling alone in the process of pursuing this degree. If we keep all of the things that Csikszentmihalyi mentions in “The Flow of Creativity” in mind, this adventure, despite any challenges, will be an enjoyable, rewarding, and (I would argue) a revolutionary one. Lastly, each of the elements that Csikszentmihalyi mentions also go back to the importance of being a reflective practitioner of education.
September 21, 2016 at 7:35 am #818
My thoughts on “Norms of Collaboration”
Recently I participated in an educational leadership fellowship through a national non-profit organization called Leading Educators. I learned so many valuable things from this fellowship, and a lot of the successes of the program really came from the tremendous amount of collaboration that occurred at every meeting (in person and online) and the intentional norms that were created as a group. To be honest, a lot of the discussions around collaborative norms were based around readings from The Adaptive School by Garmston and Wellman. As a result, I adopted a lot of the practices and norms from this book and put it into my everyday leadership. Starting our Heritage Leadership program by emphasizing on the importance of collaboration and the implementation of norms is super powerful and will definitely set us up for success.
Throughout college, it was very hard for me to work in groups. I was always one who preferred working alone rather than working collaboratively with others. A lot of that came from feeling insecure about my way of processing and thinking about information, and I always found it difficult to express my thoughts with others. As I grew and progressed in the professional realm, I found it easier and easier to work in groups. This was mostly because I had the opportunity of working in schools (and with people) who really were passionate about developing collaborative norms in order to meet the meets of everyone involved. The text we read on “Developing Collaborative Norms” covers a ton of techniques that one should consider when working in groups. As I previously mentioned, a lot of these things I practice in my everyday work because I was essentially trained to do so the more and more I worked in leadership positions. I find it extremely important to take into consideration the things that Garmston and Wellman present in order for a group to fully work collaboratively to be successful. To be honest, it took me many years to become fully competent at these things.
It is important to understand that the most important thing about working in a group is understanding that you’re working in a group. As silly as this might sound, many often forget that the opinions and input of others matter when it comes to working in a collaborative group. As a result of this, the Four Group-Member Capabilities presented in the text come in very handy as they help us reflect on how it is that we are working with others. Of the four capabilities, I have found that “setting aside unproductive patterns of listening, responding, and inquiring” is the most important to me. I am a very excited person, and I can get especially talkative when I become passionate about a topic (i.e. social justice, education, etc.). As a result of this, I have to always keep in mind that I must be intentional in the way that I listen, respond, and inquire when collaborating with others. How many of us have been involved in a conversation and are pretending to be listening when in actuality we are thinking about all of the 1,000 things we have to do when we get home? How many of us often say, “Oh yeah, that happens to me, too!” when discussing important life issues? In order to be intentional about the work that we do, we have to be intentional in the way that we speak, listen and respond to those whom we are working collaboratively with.
In my daily life as an instructional coach, I use the seven norms of collaboration when meeting with teachers. I have found that these help teachers understand that I am purposefully listening to them, and that I am genuinely working with them in order for them to be successful educators. My success in working with teachers has a lot to do with the way that I speak to them, the way in which I probe and paraphrase, and by always assuming the best. As Garmston and Wellman mention in the text, “When the norms of collaborative work become an established part of group life and group work, cohesion, energy, and commitment to shared work and to group increase dramatically” (p. 4). In adopting these norms, throughout the years I have seen that this is, in fact, the case. Lastly, I wholeheartedly believe that it is important for any group to come up with their own set of norms. Some norms that I promise to follow when working with our Heritage Leadership group will include: listening with intention, being present (especially “mentally” – this can be hard when we are so wrapped up in so many other things), actively engaging in class discussions (even if it’s through writing since I am in Bangkok), assuming the best.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by J.C. Romero.
September 21, 2016 at 7:37 am #820
My thoughts on Scott’s “Blogging”
Blogging has always been something fun for me. I have always been one who has enjoyed writing about the things I think about, read, or do since online blogging became a “thing.” I had never, however, really thought about the specific art and science that goes into blogging – and into doing it well and successfully. When I have written blogs, I have done it because I find pleasure in sharing what I notice to be interesting and insightful. As blogging becomes a major part of our Heritage Leadership program, I believe that it is absolutely essential for us to become aware of how to do this purposefully through taking the necessary steps that will help to not only capture an audience, but to also display our thoughts (and work) in a robust manner. In How to Write Great Blog Posts that Engage Readers, Scott provides us with a number of tools and techniques that can take blog writing and posting to a whole new level. Further, his text provides a framework that will help us stay organized and think about blogging in an entirely new light.
First, as an amateur blogger, I had not actually considered that there would be “categories,” so to speak, of blogs. In other words, I had not thought about the many different types of blogs that could be written in order to attract a variety of audiences. I have always considered blogging as a reflective tool for me, personally, and most of my writing has focused around my personal travels, experiences as an educator in New Orleans, and other pieces of that nature. In his book, Scott (2013) discusses the two main types of blog posts: massive values posts (MVPs) and filler posts (FPs). I would probably admit that most of my blogs, if defined by Scott’s terminology, would probably be categorized under filler posts. According to Scott, filler posts tend to be shorter articles that often have information that can be gathered quickly and that, if applicable, can be applied immediately as well. Most of my reflective blogging tends to be short and to the point, often times sharing information with my readers about experiences (with hopes that they can gain some sort of knowledge from my own personal experiences). On the other hand, Scott also talks about MVPs which are much lengthier and can take a good chunk of time to create. These posts are often more thought out but, if done well, can help to build a large following. I have probably written some MVPs, though I think that as a doctoral student I would like to focus on writing more of these in order to really think critically about what I write (and to continuously have the support of others interested in my writing).
After reading Scott’s text, I think that it is extremely important to think thoroughly about the way in which a blog post is constructed. As a social justice and education activist, I find the techniques that Scott shares extremely important in order to really capture an audience and to make blogging a very meaningful and purposeful task. When speaking with other like-minded individuals, I find myself always talking about the importance of being a reflective practitioner in the field of education. (I even think I mentioned it when discussing the reading on The Flow of Creativity). Blogging, if done well, can definitely help us to become strong, aware reflective practitioners and Heritage Leaders. The 19 article ideas that Scott shares with us can all come in handy as we take this journey in our program and as we reflect on the work that we are doing. Some common themes that I noticed when reviewing the text include:
- Always find a way to engage If your readers are engaged in what it is that you are talking about in your posts, then they won’t necessarily continue being a part of what it is that you are trying to do or get across. Like students in a classroom, when unengaged, people tune out what it is that you are saying or arguing.
- Organize the way that you write. There are many different types of blog posts that can be written. Find the type that will best suit what it is that you are trying to argue or convey to an audience. (I personally do not think that each of the 19 techniques will work for me when writing about education or social justice issues, but it is important to organize your thoughts and find one technique that will help you capture the attention of an audience while also getting your point across in a purposeful way.)
- Do not be afraid to try a new technique. To be quite honest, I have never really used many of the article ideas that Scott mentions in his text, but many of them will come in handy when reflecting, researching, or trying to even survey an audience. (I had not ever considered using blogging as a way to survey an audience when conducting research. Hello dissertation ideas!)
Next, Scott mentions the importance of tracking the blogging that one does. In order to successfully blog, one should consider creating and maintaining a publishing schedule. This schedule will help to keep things organized while also allowing the writer to pre-think (much like brainstorming in the writing process) what the writing will look like and how it should be structured (by using the formats that he mentions). I have never created a publishing schedule before since blogging was more of a “go with the flow” kind of activity for me, but I have realized that in order for my writing to have a greater impact on those reading it, I need to track when, how, and what I am writing and follow through with the tracking process. Further, this will help to develop future articles and writing topic, thus creating a much more fluid process along the way.
Throughout the text, Scott focuses heavily on structure and engagement of audiences. He also shares the key elements included in meaningfully engaging blog posts. Much like when we are teaching our students to write good essays, there is a structure to writing a good blog post that will capture the attention of the audience. These include a strong headline, hook, avoiding lengthy paragraphs, incorporating images, focusing on solutions, avoiding clutter and allow for easy scanning of an article, including powerful quotes and keywords, attaching supporting articles, etc. He also includes a number of strategies that are intended to help us improve the quality of our articles. Overall, I think that all of the tools that Scott has provided us with in his text will allow us to be strong researchers (and Heritage Leadership “messengers,” in a way) in order to share what it is that we are learning, thinking, and researching as we ride through our program and collaborate with one another.
September 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm #824
Not two minutes after finishing class today, I saw this article in our local newspaper. Must be a sign that it’s worth sharing:
September 22, 2016 at 8:08 am #827
This was enlightening (and sad). Thank you for sharing!
September 22, 2016 at 5:22 am #825
HI JC!! and it is great to meet you. I read your first narrative summary, “Flow of Creativity” and it is refreshing to hear the greater points of the purpose of the mission. Your thoughts are very organized! We all look forward to interacting with you!
September 22, 2016 at 8:07 am #826
Hi Richard, thanks so much. I look forward to working with you!
October 1, 2016 at 3:19 am #858
In EDUC-7625/7635, for the last two weeks, we discussed deculturalization and how this affected the schooling and learning processes for many minority groups in America. We learned how Anglo-Americans wanted minority groups to become “civilized,” thus creating inequitable systems for them. Further, we discussed the important role that language played in this deculturalization (and cultural genocide) process. Have any of you ever watched the “One Word” videos? I came across this one (click HERE to view) entitled Language: Native Americans. There are tons of these videos, and I would highly recommend watching them if you’ve got the time. Some are super sad, some make you very angry, but all of them have continued to inspire me to fight the good fight. As heritage leaders, I know we can do it! Let me know your thoughts. -Jay
October 15, 2016 at 5:35 am #943
**Thoughtful discussion is appreciated for this post!**
Sorry that I have been kind of quiet lately, folks. Tons going on here in Thailand, and I have also been catching up on reading. Access to the internet has been limited lately (beyond my control), so I hope things begin to look up and that I can post more frequently.
I have been thinking a lot about two particular texts: Anderson and Palmer. While we discussed these readings already, I cannot help but continuously think about what these authors talk about in regards to power, influence, and oppressed communities. Before I go further, I will preface this by saying that studying race and privilege is something that I am VERY passionate about. This can also cause a lot of tension between individuals discussing this, especially with the amount of racial tension that we are experiencing in present-day America. So, the points that I will discuss in this thread are solely my opinions.
Recently, we have all seen the work that the Black Lives Matters Movement leaders are doing across the country in a quest for racial equality in America. Anderson (2016), especially, vividly discusses that the fight for racial equality is far from over, though we have made tremendous progress over many decades. Through social media, however, I am continuously seeing people (typically white people, to be honest) responding to BLM articles by saying things along the lines of “Well, ALL lives matter!” I want to know how others feel about this?
When I see people’s responses like the one I mentioned above, I cannot help but think of the years of bondage that African Americans had to go through due to (chattel) slavery in America. In White Rage, Anderson mentions the importance of acknowledging the years of systematic hate and discrimination that our Black brothers and sisters underwent for decades (even centuries). There were always intentional laws that were underhandedly (and sometimes not-so-much) meant to keep Black people from succeeding in America. This was especially evident, in later years, in the workforce, education, and judicial systems. So, I am enraged when I see people discuss that the Black Lives Matter Movement is continuing to racially “divide” our country. While, yes, all lives do matter, Black Lives have forever been seen as unimportant. We have the fights in Selma, lynchings across the Deep South, and the killing of Emmett Till, for instance, to support exactly my point. We also have the deeply rooted racism in policies created to lead States to also support that. I have also noticed people on social media express their concern that BLM is anti-white or separatist. I would like to know what others in this cohort feel or think about this? I know that everyone has at least seen or heard a remark like this before, so I want to know how others have dealt with this. I feel as Heritage Leaders and social justice seekers and scholars, it is our duty to call out those who are misinformed or misguided.
P.S. – Click HERE to read an article that discusses why it hurts when people say that “all lives matter.”
- This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by J.C. Romero.
October 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm #947
Hi, JC – I’m sure things in Thailand are unsettled with the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Hope all is well for you.
I’m generally at a loss for people’s anger and dismissal of BLM. I have family members who have recently stated they are tired of hearing people talk about how racist America is, and that America has done more than any other country to welcome diverse people. I feel privileged to have read Anderson and Alexander. It gives me more powerful language and reasoning capabilities. However, the fear of the other, and centuries’ held beliefs that black people are inferior, holds us back as a country. I’m beginning to think that only future generations will be able to overcome the divide, and then only because the demographic shifts in our country make it inevitable that more and more white people will come to know and respect black and brown people. But then again, there have been recent hashtags to #repealthe19th – meaning, repeal women’s right to vote. Maybe we will never all gain equality in all people’s eyes.
October 18, 2016 at 5:15 am #956
I’m not sure if you all have seen this interview or not. I think DeRay Mckesson does such a nice job responding to the distraction technique of “all lives matter” rhetoric.
Words do matter and the phrasing of the movement (Black Lives Matter) is provocative to those who don’t take the time to understand the very important mission – often people hear the phrase, neglect to dig in, and immediately respond with “all lives matter” or “police lives matter” and, of course they do, but meanwhile (back at the point), the BLM mission is powerful and important and the distractions (all lives, police lives) are beside the point.
It’s an important question that you pose and your solution of guiding the misguided is on point. We can take some lead from Mr. Mckesson on a calm and reasoned response in helping people to understand the importance of the movement. It is something to celebrate. I am pleased that my son gets to be at Mizzou right now as the young people stand up and demand to be heard. It’s inspiring to see a new generation continue to work for the equality of all.
November 20, 2016 at 11:23 am #1117
Hi JC. Hope things are going well in Thailand. I applaud the efforts that you are taking to actively keep engaged with the class especially via the HeritageLeader.net – I can only image the challenges.
I appreciated you thoughts in the post about Black Lives Matter. I too agree that we are facing challenges when bridging conversations with family and friends when they say “All lives matter”, and what this truly means. Recently you are probably aware that Dave Chappelle was on Saturday Night Live the Saturday after the elections. His monologue was – well let’s just say HE KILLED IT, amazing, thoughtful, provoking, and I could go on.
I wanted to share with you a link, Dave Chappelle SNL Monologue November 12, 2016. He provides some insights from his life perspective on Black Lives Matter. I have this recorded and have watched it about five times now to try and dissect everything he covers so eloquently in such a small amount of time. I think his point is spot on to your reflections and shared another side of the conversation. It provided me with a tool to use when trying to have conversations. It also taught me an analogy that I can use when I am trying to express context of Black Lives Matter to folks who do not quite understand why the movement #blacklivesmatter is so crucial.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Amanda Rowland.
October 26, 2016 at 7:50 pm #990
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