Stories Stay. Lessons Leave.

Last week, I blogged about some research I came across in The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching (Gooblar, 2019). A colleague and I are using the book as part of a summer learning community for untenured faculty that we’re facilitating and the group met for the first time last week. Prior to our first meeting, my colleague and I met to plan the first session. And that’s what this post is really about. But let me take a sidestep for a moment or two.

Not to get too meta and blog about blogging, but if you’ve been a regular reader, you know I don’t often refer to my colleagues by their names. Instead, I’ll identify them simply as a “colleague.” It was an editorial decision I made early in this blog’s life (almost twelve years ago now!) and I’ve stuck with it. It’s not that I don’t value my colleagues’ work or respect their knowledge base. I just didn’t want to leave a digital trail of my colleagues’ words and actions without their approval. I worried that people would be hesitant to talk openly with me if they knew I would be putting their names out here for others to see.

But I’m also realizing that this practice doesn’t honor the influence and impact that my colleagues have on my growth. I’m still working through this and honestly don’t know what practice I’ll implement moving forward. But I wanted to discuss this openly before digging further into this week’s post.

So, my colleague and I…

….scratch that…

So, my colleague, Dr. Leslie Gates, and I met to plan the first session for our learning community. Leslie is an artist and art teacher educator and contributed to this blog a few months ago. For the last year or so, Leslie and I have been leading a faculty mentoring program at our institution and have been working to create a mentoring culture across campus. This summer learning community is one of our efforts to support our new faculty and offer some mentoring support.

When Leslie and I met to plan the first session with the group, we discussed establishing ground rules for the discussions the group would have. Since the participants were all relatively new faculty members on campus, we felt that establishing some norms of practices and guidelines might help to create a safe space for open and reflective conversations. As a starting point, I offered the Las Vegas-themed “What is said here, stays here” as a potential ground rule for discussions. When I outlined my motivation behind this ground rule, Leslie explained that she “had better words for that.” And she did.

In 2017, Leslie attended a presentation by Keonna Hendrick and Melissa Crum at the National Art Education Association Convention. Titled Self-Reflection for Culturally Inclusive Learning Spaces, the presentation offered the following as an inclusive ground rule:

“Stories stay. Lessons leave.”

In addition to the elegant alliteration, this ground rule better captures what we want to establish in open classroom discussions. We want to challenge our students (and colleagues) to be brave and discuss difficult topics, but we don’t want those conversations spilling outside of the group and being retold. But if the discussion is effective, it will lead to some individual learning that extends far beyond the confines of the group. At least, that’s the hope.

We offered the ground rule (and some others) to the group when we met last week and had a great conversation around student engagement and student ownership. The group will meet regularly over the next few weeks to discuss other chapters of the book and other topics, but my hope is that we’ll foster an environment where they feel supported and challenged.

And safe for stories to be shared and for lessons to be learned.

Reference:
Hendrick, K. & Crum, M. (2017, March). Self-Reflection for Culturally Inclusive Learning Spaces. National Art Education Association Convention, New York, NY.

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