Fall 2020 Themes (see below for full descriptions):
- Friday, September 18, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm EDT: Reflective Practice for Increasing Resilience in Times of Uncertainty and Distress
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 5:00-6:00pm EDT: Reflective Practice for Building Schools that Learn (this event is postponed and will be moved to a later date)
- Friday, November 13, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm EST: Reflective Practice for Challenging Our Discipline’s Conventions, Cliches, and Traditions
These dialogues are free and open to the public. Reflective Practice is relevant to any field — education, health care, organizational leadership, arts, and sciences, activism and many others. It refers to ways that we continually develop or change the practices that we use in their workplaces, schools, and lives. Through reflection, we examine our experiences and seek to understand how they can guide us to make those changes. In this series of participatory dialogues, we’ll explore together how we might then relate our individual practices to the bigger picture — the changing world around us. The sessions use a structured Dialogue Process format, a type of group discussion that emphasizes listening well, sharing thoughts-in-progress, and raising questions. The goal is that learning emerges directly from shared contributions of diverse participants, rather than through presentation or lecture, and that participants leave with new ideas around how their own practices can evolve.
Full Descriptions of Fall 2020 Themes:
Friday, September 18, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm EDT: Reflective Practice for Increasing Resilience in Times of Uncertainty and Distress
As the COVID-19 pandemic and other conditions have continued to amplify the vulnerabilities faced by those across our global community, personal and community security is destabilized, and inequities deepen among people along social, economic, and other lines. When such challenges become overwhelming, space for reflection can become compromised. Directing more attention to the immediate and urgent needs of distressing and uncertain times can mean directing less to the capacity-building activities that support resilience, such as, for example, sustaining physical and mental well-being, caregiving of others, healing processes and self-care, social and cultural engagement, life and workplace planning and organizing, and continuing other activities that serve our development, learning, and creative needs and allow us to fully meet personal and professional responsibilities. With that in mind, what are the opportunities for more intentional reflection and learning while in the middle of uncertainty? What do our past experiences in such conditions teach us about what to do now? How does our current experience prepare us for future ones? Further, how does resilience grow across a community in a way that addresses the breadth of vulnerabilities across its members? Finally, what are the implications for practice — what we actually do to serve the short-term urgent needs while establishing foundations for the longer-term resilience that will support us into the uncertain future?
In this short session of dialogue, we leave space to reflect on these questions, and while we may not reach definitive answers, we seek to explore the assumptions and possibilities implied by them and consider what that means for us as reflective practitioners as we engage further in our communities, workplaces, families, and lives.
- Among colleges’ many fall worries: students’ mental health (Boston Globe)
- What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others (New York Times)
- 6 Tips for Building Resilience in Children (MTA Benefits)
- Reimagining Education for Uncertain Times with David Perkins (The Learner’s Way)
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 5:00-6:00pm EDT: Reflective Practice for Building Schools that Learn
It was twenty years ago that Peter Senge and his colleagues described “schools that learn” in their first release of the book of that same name, a work grounded in Senge’s foundational work around the Fifth Discipline. The book extended this work to the environment of the school by offering the idea that a school, as an institution of learning, is not necessarily and automatically a _learning organization_. In order for this to be the case, a school needs everyone involved — teachers, students, administrators, and others in the community — in fostering both long-term educational performance and aspirations and capacities of the individuals across the system (Senge et al., 2012, p. 5-6).
Part of this idea involves the way that development of a school involves more than innovations of individual contributors in a single classroom. The school, as a system, needs to engage in collective actions and visions to learn together and look at its capacity as a whole. A question then is, how far have we come in pursuing this kind of vision? What are the qualities of our schools that open up their potential as learning organizations? Where does the school make space for acknowledging the common and individual aspirations that exist? How does the school produce and use knowledge about itself, in addition to serving students? And where do these possibilities still fall short?
In this dialogue, we start here and explore connections between our personal experiences in schools, what we see happening now, and what we want to continue to develop in achieving schools that learn.
Friday, November 13, 2020, 12:00-1:00pm EST: Reflective Practice for Challenging Our Discipline’s Conventions, Cliches, and Traditions
“Because that’s the way that we’ve always done it.” Even when we do not say this directly, this sentiment can be implied in the way that we carry out the work. Part of the goal of reflective practice is to give us the chance to recognize when, yes, it is time again to reconsider our approaches, perspectives, strategies, and goals. Such thinking can happen at the individual and organizational levels, but it can also happen at the level of entire disciplines or fields of work. Another value of reflective practice is the way that it complements the idea of “best practice” — it gives us a basis for thinking critically about the so-called “best practices”, and for figuring out what to do in those situations where best practices are not defined, where they have become stale or no longer fit the circumstances. Often, these best practices have been developed over time through thoughtful care and attention in addressing both the perpetual challenges and day-to-day needs of the field, and they might even start to be recognized as “honored” aspects of organizational culture. Even so, the changing world around us may lead to environments where existing practices continue be used mainly because that is what worked before. That can also happen because we continue to view the challenges and key problems in the field as if they are the same ones that have been around for years.
Reflective practice, then, can become a way to challenge the disciplinary conventions, cliches, and traditions in a world where we can’t simply continue along previous lines — where they simply don’t work anymore or even might cause harm. We ask then what are the personal and organizational qualities and dispositions that allow us to move from challenging the conventions, to acting out new and innovative practices. How can we identify and convey the limitations of conventional approaches? What are the opportunities to change practices and promote new perspectives when facing resistance, or lack of motivation, resources, support, or skills? What are mindful ways to bring “disruptive innovation” to our field, to break the rules, to bring out our inner rebels (and perhaps do so while retaining what is working well and continuing to support and respect other practitioners)?
In this dialogue, we will build upon our experiences with what we see as the conventions and cliches in our disciplines and the connections between how they came to be, how our existing narratives reinforce or challenge these conventions, and what the alternatives are.
- Let Your Workers Rebel (Francesca Gino)
- Why The Future of Work Is All About Challenging Convention (Forbes)
- The next decade of disruption in education? Unlocking networks (Christensen Institute)