The Journey Begins

Our first prompt

These uncertain times are calling us into new ways of being. You are here, reading this, because you hear the call to be more human in your work. To be authentic. To be grounded in your values.

Take a deep breath. Open your heart. Be bold. Envision a new world. There are no rules, no boundaries, no limitations. Anything is possible.

In 300 words or less, tell us how you will be more human in your professional practice.

Post your response in the comments and we will be back in a week with our responses.

4 thoughts on “The Journey Begins

  1. My first impulse is to balk at the imagining being in a “new world” because it is hard for me to consider the benefit of coming up with humanizing myself or others if I can’t manage to think of things in the world in which I currently exist. In that sense, I think it is better to consider why the “real world” and all its flaws might cause me to dehumanize current realities to the point that I think an alternate reality is necessary. “Boundaries,” “rules,” and “limitations” are both great strengths and limitations that only serve one well if they are conscious and contextual. I can humanize myself and my pushing against boundaries, rules, and limitations because it is a definitive trait of humanity that we do that on an ongoing basis, and much of the time due to personal quirks, beliefs, and contexts. If I can understand that in myself, I can work to understand that in others who I typically would judge for pushing against things I value.

    Taking the previous paragraph into consideration, when I encounter people and groups who push against my perceptions, values, and sense of reality I will work to start by imagining what contexts those individuals might be operating out of, what environments might support their reasoning, and what strengths those perspectives might have – rather than blocking possible strengths in favor of using the lens of “what are the problems and flaws within that outlook.” I think having this more humanistic view helps me to understand perspectives that oppose my own, and values that I disagree with.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Education has been forefront on my mind amidst this pandemic. How can we learn from the opportunity this global pandemic provided? It illuminated gross inequities in education (and other sectors) that were hiding in traditional education. Suddenly not everyone had the same access to technology or internet. Suddenly some people were thrust back into difficult home environments. Suddenly many students lost jobs that they needed to pay for school, rent, and food.

    One thing I have particularly been thinking about is the need for a nationalized internet. How many families can pay the $40-$80+ monthly fee for internet? How many rural families have access to high-speed internet? The pandemic required education to move digital, but how are students supposed to do that if they can’t afford or don’t have access to internet?

    Another thing is thinking about our educational policies. Do you really need to be grading on attendance? Do you really need a due date for that assignment? Do you really need to require your students to be on webcam for the duration of the online exam so you can watch them like a hawk? Or can you envision your class in a way that prioritizes students’ needs and lives so that learning is on their time. Last I checked, attendance and turning things on time were not the learning objectives of our courses, and we can design assessments that don’t require abusive monitoring procedures that prioritize those with high-speed internet.

    Sure, sometimes you do need a due date mid-semester, but does every assignment need to be turned in at a specific time? Can you think of ways to reduce your course load to the bare bone essences of your courses? Can you think of ways to give students the flexibility to dive deep if they want and skim if they need? Can you think of alternative assessments that show students you trust and care about them?

    Obviously more questions than answers, but these are some of my questions as I begin thinking about summer and fall teaching.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So first off, I’m going to tweak the prompt. This is part of what makes me the human I am – I tend not to accept things as they are first presented, and I ask A LOT of questions. One thing that I am working on is not to separate myself from my professional self. My professional practice is my personal practice and vice versa. So, I am reframing the prompt as “tell us how you will bring your full self to work.”

    For me, this looks like:

    Leading with my values and being explicit about what they are
    Seeking work where these values can be present and can add something to the work
    Bringing intention to the work – why are we doing this? What do we hope will come from it (along with the stated objectives of any one piece of evaluation/strategy work)? How will people be transformed? How will systems be transformed? How is it moving us towards justice?
    Taking/Making more time for stories.
    Always making time for checking in and checking out. In the past, I have short-circuited check ins and check outs, especially with groups of people I know well, thinking that we don’t need to do that because we know each other so well, we can just “get to work”. Upon reflection, I realize the importance of checking in constantly. I think these COVID-19 times have especially highlighted the fact that people are not necessarily the same as they were yesterday, and we need to know that in order to do our best work together.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have been working on unlearning a lot of conditioning, something I have felt is both my calling and my responsibility as a company of one. My training as an evaluator is rooted in academia, and I personally didn’t find a lot of humanity in that. I now start with curiosity and learning to take a step back from the initial request/proposal to figure out multiple ways of viewing the same project. What questions can I ask to ensure we are thinking comprehensively and thinking like humans? What is the human interest? What stories am I telling myself about the work and what stories are others telling? How can I bring a relational element into the situation rather than exclusively focus on the operational?
    I think letting failure be part of the program and plan is helpful. Wins are always celebrated, but what about failure? I recently learned that Spotify has a failure wall; attempting to demonstrate that we often learn more from failures. How can I bring the failure wall concept into my eval practice?
    I participated in a webinar for facilitators where we practiced the helping heuristics which gave me another lens to view my humanity. When approaching different situations, what helping mode am I in? I have noticed that I often show up in a different way in my personal life than I do in my professional life. I am kinder in my professional life. How can I bring that to my personal life? When I am aware of the helping mode I am bringing, does it match the mode that the situation calls for?
    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on this.

    Liked by 3 people

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