The Resolution Game

It’s 2011. This is going to be an very interesting year for me as I will graduate with my M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and find a full time job. Given the circumstances, I think my resolutions could simply include making sure I graduate and find a job. But I like to challenge myself a little bit. 🙂

  1. Read more – Over break I finished up a book I’d been reading for a couple of months, breezed through another in a day, and then read two of the books that I got for Christmas. There was something about it that was refreshing. I really enjoyed curling up on a couch with the book and losing myself in another world while surrounded by silence. That relaxation is something I want to continue through the year. (you can see all of these in the GoodReads widget on the right of the blog)
  2. Yoga and more water – These are my obligatory health related resolutions. I’d like to do yoga because it keeps you limber but also strengthens. There is also an amount of calm and concentration associated with it that I’d like to keep going. As for the more water, it’s really about replacing the soda that I drink with water and trying to cut soda out as much as possible.
  3. Find time to be inspired by new people and things – Over the break I discovered some new people that I’m inspired by. Jean Michel Basquiat is one of them. I want to make sure that I’m allowing myself to draw inspiration from a wide variety of people. Whether it be my supervisor, my peers, my students, or scholars and artists, I want to diversify my inspiration to incorporate music, literature, art, as well as scholarship in my work.
  4. Take more photographs, write more music, write a story – This is where the diversity of my inspiration will really come into play. I love taking photographs and I want to create the time and the frame of mind to do it more. I’ve written a few songs and many more fragments. I’d like to continue to use music as a medium for self expression. As I was reading some of the books during winter break, I was inspired by what I was reading as well as the Hudson river (I was on a train right next to the river). These inspiration led me to write a few fragments of stories. They are really just character sketches, but I want to do more with it and create something complete.
  5. Professional Identity – In addition to all of the goals above, I’d like to continue to define my own professional identity. My areas of passion drive my work and I want to define what it is about those passions that drives me to be the professional that I am.
  6. Expand my work as an advocate. A professor that I had last semester truly inspired me to become an advocate and activist for the things that I believe in. I want to make sure that I focus on these beliefs and incorporate them into my work.

I have a varied list of goals/resolutions that I want to keep this year. Not all of them apply directly to my professional development, but they are part of my identity which defines me as a professional. So reading a novel or writing a song may not directly apply to my work as a Residence Director, but they all influence who I am as a person which influences my work as an RD. It’s all connected.

Now that I’ve written them, I just have to follow through with them all!

My Expectations

I consider myself an ally and advocate. But is that enough? What am I doing to work toward a community that is shaped to equitably meet everyone’s needs? I participate as much as possible in the educational process to make people aware of the overarching injustice within society. I often leave presentations or discussions that I facilitate feeling a little disheartened. I expect to somehow witness the same fireworks and passion that I feel when learning about social justice. That just doesn’t happen.

I need to recognize and adopt reasonable expectations. The probability that someone’s entire perspective is going to change in an hour long presentation is very slim. I need to make sure that I understand that any presentation I give or discussion I lead opens up eyes a little bit. These presentations are getting feet in peoples’ doors. They open minds a little for future considerations. They are the small change that can snowball into huge change in the future.

I need to understand that. The world can’t change in one day, no matter how much I will it to. We all know that life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t strive for it to be that way.

Presentation Ground Rules

I did a program session at a conference on October 30, 2010 and before I started the session, I realized that I needed to set some ground rules for the presentation. This is not something that I’ve always done and I think it really helped out with my presentation because the participants understood immediately that we were there to learn. I created these in the context of a presentation that discussed social justice, but I think they are applicable to any presentation.

The first ground rule was that the session is intended to be educational. We were all there to make learn something new together, and I emphasized that meant me as well. There is always a possibility that someone in the audience has some insight into whatever topic that I’m presenting that I haven’t heard yet.

The next was to think about the concepts rather than analyzing and attacking every detail within them. The “that’s not what we’re talking about” syndrome can seriously derail a conversation and do far more damage than good.

Being respectful is important. I focused on the attendees being respectful to each other. There is no need for name calling or swearing in an educational environment. If we got to that point, there probably would not be much learning going on any more.

Keeping the sensitive conversation in the room is also important as an attempt to help people feel comfortable sharing information that they may not otherwise share.

The last ground rule that I laid out was the idea of the “parking lot.” The parking lot is a technique that one of my professors uses to highlight an educational moment without interrupting the person who is sharing. The item that is put in the parking lot is written on the board and revisited later so that my professor can highlight the educational moment. It’s been enlightening throughout the course of the semester to see what we can learn in addition to what is already on the syllabus through the parking lot concept.

Some other ground rules that I plan to work in for later presentation is that people should respond to the person who spoke before them and validate what they said for better development of trust within the group. I also want to focus on the concept of the group being a community to further enhance the respect and trust aspects of my ground rules.

What ground rules do you use in your presentations? Is there anything that you’d add to mine?

Social Justice Leadership

I presented a programming session at SAACURH 2010, the resources that I used are outlined here as is a PDF copy of the presentation.

My presentation basically talked about working toward understanding social change and social justice and applying those concepts to residence hall leadership. Janet Helms and Keith Edwards both imply that one can use their privileges and power to act against the systems that provide privileges that everyone deserves and confers dominance that no one deserves.

Presentation

Sources

#sachat – Stay Connected!

Working in student affairs is a great experience for professional development because there is so much of it. There a dozens of professional associations for the different functional areas that intentionally think of ways to engage their membership in discussions of current events and developments within the field.

Mostly, Student Affairs Educators think of conferences as the major way to gain professional development and I think conferences are fantastic! I always connect with the field in a way that energizes me and teaches me something new about how I can further my work. I also think that it’s hard to stay connected to the material that you learn because you come back to catch-up work at the office. It’s also expensive to travel to conferences. So, #sachat is an easy way to stay connected to the field and the knowledge that is being developed in an exciting way.

#sachat is held every Thursday at both 1 PM eastern time and 7 PM eastern time. There are also a few splinter groups for doctoral students (#sadoc) and masters students (#sagrad).

These conversations are always awesome because of the knowledge, both scholarly and practical, that people bring to the conversation. It’s also a great way to network across the field to understand how different institutions function. While I’m not the most active person in these chats, I’m definitely a lurker, I always get something out of them because of the knowledge that the conversation revolves around.

#sachat is a great alternative to staying connected to the field and learning in-between conferences and as an free alternative to conferences. So I suggest them to anyone who is looking for little something extra in their own development. And you can learn more at thesabloggers.org

P.S. They also celebrated their 1st anniversary a few weeks ago.

Adventures in Pro Dev

One of my new(ish) passion projects is a blog that is specifically for Residence Life professionals/para-professionals. I want to create a place where people who are currently in positions write articles (blog posts) about some of their best practices and passions while creating a community that talks about their own work. The planning of this project has been going well and I had modified a WordPress theme to the point where is was almost entirely mine when I realized that I didn’t have support for the new menu feature in WordPress 3.0. This new feature ended up being critical to a new way that I was going to organize the site and I couldn’t figure out how to integrate it as well as the TwentyTen theme that comes standard in WordPress 3.0…

So, now I’m modifying TwentyTen to my liking so that I can have the native WordPress menus. All the original work has been scraped and I’m trying to salvage the color scheme because I quite liked it.

In other Professional Development news, I’m planning on making a couple of presentation proposals for conferences about online (read: FREE) professional development opportunities. I hope to send in the proposals to the North Carolina Housing Officers conference and the South Eastern Association of Housing Officers conference.