iNACOL Day 2: Self-Reflection

Today was amazing! From the start of the day hearing from keynote speaker Derek Wenmoth from New Zealand who somehow made me even more excited to study abroad next year in that amazing country all the way to end of the night where I participated in some fantastic networking events, I was just in awe of this wonderful community.

This was a jam-packed day of learning and networking from 7am – 9pm, but I’m not going to go in detail about everything I did and learned. Instead, I’m going to try and consolidate my thoughts down to one key take away. Today that key take away was actually a self-reflection of starting to better visualize the path I’m headed on.

I’ve been passionate about transformative education since high school, but as I get older and closer to graduate I’m starting to get asked a lot more questions about “what’s next? what do you really want to do? where do you want to go with this?” Well, my method to planning for the future tends to go like this: I say yes to lots of things and get involved in lots of projects. Then I like to stand back and look for patterns/trends in the choices I’ve made to help determine what I’ve enjoyed, where I’ve made a difference, and how I would like to proceed in my learning journey.

Today I stood back and considered the choices I’ve been making in terms of sessions I choose to attend at conferences (this one and others included). The trend I’ve noticed is that I have a deep interest in professional development (including the onboarding process in particular) and research in the science of learning and teaching. Amongst all sorts of choices, I keep finding myself drawn to these two areas, so as of right now I believe that’s the direction I’d like to continue with in the future.

I see myself in both a research and practitioner role, so with that in mind, I’d like to continue my studies by doing graduate school work related to the science of learning and teaching but I’d also like to be active in the field growing professional development programs.

Some people question my desire to go into graduate school, often because they think I want to go just because of old cultural norms around needing higher credentials, but that is not the case for me. I want to go to grad school because I like to learn and I am fascinated by certain classes taught and research being conducted at this level of schooling. I am also very accepting of the idea that we learn by doing though, and that is why I also think it would be beneficial to work some after undergrad (perhaps 2 years or so) before going back for a masters degree, this way I could have a more informed view about what is actually needed in the field in terms of research.

I’m not set in stone with this plan, and I tend to be a person that just says yes when opportunities come my way and that is often how my path is most influenced, but getting the chance to think more deeply about this path of mine through self-reflection inspired by my morning sessions and networking practice at tonight’s community events was very helpful today.

Some times takeaways aren’t a particular conversation or quote or new idea, sometimes takeaways are about how the conversations, quotes, and ideas worked together to influence your own self-discovery. That was today for me and I’m grateful for that opportunity to grow as an individual.

Brave Ballet Boys

I had to write a blog post about the #boysdancetoo movement storming social media this weekend. I’m a little late to this conversation and probably won’t provide any new insight on the topic, though perhaps there’s a chance I’ll bring attention to this issue to a new audience, and that chance was enough to get me writing.

Friday on Good Morning America co-host Lara Spencer laughed at Prince George for taking ballet classes which inspired dancers and other members of the arts community around the country to use this as an opportunity to voice the struggle of boys in dance.

It’s appalling to think in today’s society we still have people laughing at boys in dance or any arts programs. I don’t think Spencer even realized what she was implying by laughing at the idea of a boy in ballet class – she’s just been raised in a world that associates dancing with girls and thus the idea of anything else seemed funny to her and lots of others. It’s important to remember that not all bullies realize they’re bullying; sometimes the reason things hurt so bad is that the other person fundamentally doesn’t understand why they’re wrong.

I’ve been highly involved in the arts all my life and have guy friends and family members in the arts as well; so I am constantly hearing how hard it is for boys to participate in dance, theater, or even just a visual arts class at school, and it’s ridiculous. Ridiculous to think boys can’t do anything girls can do and visa a versa.

To participate in the arts takes discipline, persistence, vulnerability, craftsmanship, courage – what human would we not want to exhibit these traits? And yet boys around the world get bullied every day for showcasing their talents. I’ve witnessed first hand how demoralizing it can be for young boys to be told they are less of a man for following their passions, and it breaks my heart when more often than acceptable these boys drop the arts just to get away from the taunting.

Why does this bullying still persist? Because society continues to promote these ideas with every laugh and snide comment made towards boys in the arts.

In the past few days since this news report was aired, there has been a myriad of post on social media about inspiring male dancers and all the influential male figures who once took dance lessons as kids and how toxic this broadcast was to all young ploys starting a career in the arts. But what makes me most sad is that unless you already follow members of the arts community, you probably will never hear all the inspiring comments being made. So all those people around the country agreeing and laughing alongside of this broadcast will just continue to elongate this negative cycle of criticism, shaming, and bullying.

And it always comes back to the kids. Kids who listen and mimic what they hear. We need to spread positive rhetoric about boys in the arts, showcase their talents, and let the bullies know just how wrong they are. Boys in the arts are some of the bravest and strongest men I know.

This was especially evident when in response to the broadcast a few big-name dancers and choreographers gathered in NYC Monday morning to have a ballet class on the streets of Time Square in front of Good Morning America. There were hundreds on the streets – boys and girls alike – dancing down the pavement to show just how strong and connected of a community the dance world is. There were also comments made at this event about how this ballet class was not fueled by hatred; they were dancing to forgive and to take advantage of the opportunity to bring attention to the issue of boys in the arts being bullied.

I’m not a ballet dancer, so instead of dancing, I’m writing about this story because it truly is an issue that should present a challenge to our school systems. HMW encourage boys in the arts in our schools?

Internship Final Presentation

This summer I’ve been interning with Teach For Hungary while on my study abroad program focused on social entrepreneurship. The video above is my final presentation about my internship organization and what I worked on for the six weeks we were in Budapest.

I also did a quick reflection for myself by giving self-feedback on my overall presentation based on the “Like, Wish, Wonder” protocol:

Like:

– I only said “um” twice ; I got annoyed with myself as soon as I said it, but considering I didn’t rehearse this presentation much besides a self-run through the day of I was happy with only 2 “ums” because I believe it shows how I’m growing as a presenter to say it limitedly even without rehearsal

– My slide deck was so much better than expected and I even got compliments on it; this is a weakness of mine I’ve been trying to improve and I redid my entire presentation the morning of in an attempt to make the slides better so I was very happy it paid off.

Wish:

– I said “kind of” way too much; while I watched myself on saying “um” I need to improve on not just substituting other fillers even if less common ones

– I had pushed start on the timer; I can be long winded and I’m aware of this and working on being more concise. Pushing start on the timer would’ve helped me stay within the time limit.

Wonder

– How my presentation could have improved had I started working on it earlier and actually rehearsed. I’m not usually one to procrastinate, but while trying to take advantage of our last weekend trip and last week abroad, I found myself not as committed to this presentation as I normally am and I’m curious about the outcome because I think I actually made the correct decision even though I had expected to regret it.

– If in the future I restructure my presentation to spent more time on the takeaways in terms of the number of slides in order to emphasize the “why does this matter” over the “what did I do”

Cultures, Strengths, and Social Media

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While doing AP World homework tonight, I was thinking about cultures. Cultures exist everywhere.

Our school culture is very different from other schools for example. I find this interesting since we are searching for a new Head of Upper School because I think a specific trait we will need from this new person is the ability to jump into a team and bound with a new culture relatively easily. I mean we are searching for an outside person to come in with the ability to lead our school into becoming the best 21st century school (that’s our school’s goal by the way, but I’m not sure how many people actually realize that); this is a big task, and in order to lead a team, you have to know the team and bond well with them as well as understand the strengths of each individual.

To dive DEEPer (this may be the cheesiest joke at MVPS, but it still gets me every time) into that culture, there is then the culture of ID. With in this culture we all bring different skill sets to the table, the problem is that we haven’t all quite discovered what these skills are and what role we can play in the cohort.

I would very confidently say that I am a leader. Often times when Mr. Adams and Ms. Cureton try to step back to see what we can accomplish on our own, I tend to step up to lead conversations. Yesterday was a great example of this with the coVenture to the roof; I had started that conversation and primarily lead it and was then the one to start the document for our meeting plans and also add things to basecamp. When I know something needs to be done, I can only wait so long before not being stressed about nothing happening. (This kind of goes along with me having a hard time with being a fly on the wall.)

The challenge for me isn’t to be comfortable with taking leadership, but the challenge for me is how to encourage others to step up and lead. A big part of this is learning what everyone has to offer so that I can help say things like, “Hey, maybe X should lead the cohort in this conversation because he/she is really good at developing interview questions (for example), so he/she can help discuss ideas for our interviewing process.” There are some people that I have at least a comfortable idea of what some of their defining skills are, but those are mainly people who already have been stepping up to lead now and then. HMW find out what other skills people have?

Well, I was happy to learn today that the ID cohort will be having a strengths finder person come in to help the cohort establish and visualize what skill sets he have as a team! In 2 weeks she will be coming to just observe the group at work first, but we will also be taking a strength finder quiz before then which will help. Then she will talk with us individually to go over the results and what they mean, I suspect that we will all learn something new about ourselves which is always exciting! Then she will lay out a chart displaying the different strengths of everyone in the cohort side by side which will be really interesting and I’m just super excited that this is happening!!!!!!!!

I know one skill I need to work on is networking. I have avoided social media for a while because I’ve always known that it is a big time consumer and distractor, and with my crazy schedule I’ve never had a lot of time to get distracted on the tubes. I barely am able to keep up with blogging. However, I have finally been convinced that I need to get a twitter so that I can better associate and network with people outside of MVPS without just being told by someone from MVPS. So If you notice on the bottom of the side column I have a widget for twitter because I have made an account, but I have no idea how to use it effectively yet.

How might I learn to use social media; that is a question I never imagined asking, but it is my current problem to tackle.