Bloom’s Where You Are Planted

Spent a morning with student affairs colleagues developing new program and learning outcomes to define our work in connection to university and division strategic plans. Beginning at the bottom of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomies (below), we crafted outcomes statements to link programs and goals to unit learning domains.
Student Affairs assessment is not spontaneous. It must be intentional and carefully defined to provide meaning for your unit and for your students. If  not, it becomes just another “so what” to toss on the shelf.

Blooms Taxonomy

Learning outcomes are all about the verbs. Check out this great list of Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs.

 

Big Demands, High Expectations

lineinsandThat line in the sand… you know the one. That fine line between serving students and the need to separate work from personal time. The ability to decline that after-hours cell phone call or cut off the never ending stream of late night email requests that cannot wait until morning.
The expectations of millennial college students for synchronous customer service in an era of social media shaming takes a toll on student affairs professionals. Despite the satisfaction we derive from service to students, we cannot be on call 24 x 7 x 52. And yet students are only too willing to make a complaint, or worse yet, lambast our programs on Yik Yak. Where is the middle ground? Do we offer too little challenge with our abundance of support?
Don’t feel you must instantly respond to every student question and request. Sometimes it is good to encourage a student to THINK.

Bounce back

You don’t last as long as I have in student affairs or any profession without recovery skills, so this article on resilience captured my attention. It featured a new British study where 75% of respondents identified “managing difficult people or office politics at work” as the most substantial impact to overall career stress.
The original study sought to gather stories of successful women as inspiration for women striving to advance in leadership. It found 90% of men and women surveyed credited resilience as important to their success, but only 6% found help in building this skill in their workplace. This may be a reminder that relationship skills and organization politics are smart topics for that next professional development meeting.
One final thought. What if you are the “difficult person” being managed?

New mistakes

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As we head back to our work and careers in this first full week of the new year, let’s remember that it is the extra efforts, the little risks that move us forward. Be BOLD.
I hope that in the year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing the things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.  ~Neil Gaiman

 

Change trains.

A morning conversation with a colleague centered on change. Life changes, work changes; changes comprise our life. How we react to these fluctuations is what allows us to make it through the day.
What happens when change does not come fast enough? On more occasions than I would like to admit, I have found myself lamenting the good fortune of others. “That should have been MY job.” “I was due for that raise.”
This “Why not me?” attitude is a heavy, messy piece of luggage to carry around. If these things did not happen for me, they were not mine to own. It’s time to shrug them off and take the next train.
Nothing ever is. Everything is becoming. ~Heraclitus
If a train doesn’t stop at your station, then it’s not your train. ~Marianne Williamson

A year of accomplishments, scatterplots, new resolutions

Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.

FT_GDP_Scatterplot

At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!

Another year past, some same, some different

If it’s my daughter’s half-birthday, it must be another anniversary for the eighteen and life blog. It’s been a very busy year and I hope to share more about this in the next few weeks. In the meanwhile, here’s some of the cool stuff I have been reading.
Do You Possess the Right Temperament?
Why Myers-Briggs Matters
Development of the Ten Positions in the Journey Toward Self-Authorship
Please Do Not Leave a Message: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail
Bonus: I love these MBTI Type-Head Coffee Cups!

Making Meaning with Type in College Student Affairs

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If you enjoyed my post on the MBTI Type preference of student affairs practitioners, you may be interested in this expanded article recently published in the Bulletin of Psychological Type, a publication of the Association for Psychological Type, International.
Link to article: Making Meaning with Type in College Student Affairs

Creating Conditions for Good Company

Schwinn-Tango-Tandem-Unisex-Bicycle_20090621496

My opportunity to teach a graduate course in Student Development Theory has been incredibly rewarding. I have enjoyed exploring Erickson, Chickering, Baxter Magolda, and the other tenets of our work with an enthusiastic group of up and coming student affairs professionals. We will wrap up the semester with an intensive look at the journey of self-authorship. The student affairs role in this journey, of becoming good company in the transformation of our students, defines my own practice.
Peggy Meszaros shares this excerpt describing her Learning Partnerships Model:
It is important to have a good understanding of the model, and I offer a simple metaphor to help in visualizing it. To fully understand the Learning Partnerships Model [and the student affairs role in self-authorship], think about a journey you may be planning. You will need some form of transportation, a road map with signs along the way to guide your journey, and a final destination. Now visualize your mentoring transportation as a tandem bicycle. There is a rider on the front, the student, who decides the direction and is in charge of making decisions. The rider on the back is you, the teacher or student affairs professional, who stokes the bike, providing challenge and support for the student on the front. You provide the elements of challenge and support in your teaching and (you might picture them as the saddlebags for the journey). Keeping challenge and support in balance as the student heads in the direction of self-authorship is part of your role and a key element of the model. The guideposts are found as students move from absolute knowing, the first marker; through transitional or independent knowing, the second marker; to contextual knowing, the final destination.
How do you provide good company?

. . . . .

Meszaros, P. (2007). The journey of self-authorship: Why is it necessary? New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 109, p. 5-14. doi: 10.1002/tl.261

Defining our work in student affairs

Nevitt Sanford is one of my favorite student affairs theorists. Sanford’s (1967) theory on student development was based upon providing a balance of challenge and support. Too much support with too little challenge creates a cushy environment for the student, where development is unlikely to occur. However, the opposite of too little support with too much challenge also makes development an impossible and negative experience.

Sanford was a political and social psychologist and instrumental in defining how prejudices and racism are defined early in childhood. His The Authoritarian Personality is a classic work in understanding the issues behind the Holocaust. Sanford engaged in a decade long academic freedom lawsuit with the University of California when he refused to sign a loyalty oath during the McCarthy era.

If we could punish people with extremely unpopular opinions then we could silence people with less unpopular opinions.  ~Nevitt Sanford

It was Sanford’s work in student development theory that defines my philosophy for student affairs. Sanford pushed for colleges and universities to provide access and service to those for whom higher education may be out of reach. He challenged us to consider what education would look like if colleges enrolled students whom they could help the most, rather than compete for the students who boosted academic rankings and visibility.

What theorist or theory defines your work in student affairs?

Sanford, N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York, NY: Harper.

Sanford, N. (1967). Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press.