Captone – Entry 1

To Fear or Not to Fear – That is the Question?

This is it, Capstone! While I’m eager to find out what action learning is all about, I’m just a little uneasy of what lies ahead. I have heard several different perspectives from previous students that took the class, all of which were interesting and varied in opinion. While I do feel a little uneasy now, and I believe this is because I don’t know who our client is just yet, I guess my feelings are just “the fear of the unknown”.  After a lengthy discussion about action learning and our VARK learning styles during our first class session, I feel that this group has a little more preparation than previous groups because we took the Consulting Skills course, which to me, may be like a mini version of the capstone.  I really enjoyed our consulting skills project and know that with the right tools and team members I will enjoy the capstone project as well. Here’s to what lies ahead in Action Learning!

Consulting Skills/Reflector Entry 5

Normally, I would save this posting for last, but I felt the need to blog about it now!  The last couple of weeks have been very productive and interesting.  Sarah and I have been provided a wealth of information from our client Mrs. Gibbs, Executive Director of the Freedom House and Hilliard House.  On Tuesday, November 10th, I attended my first professional annual board meeting of the Freedom House and was really impressed.  Everyone was so welcoming and friendly! The meeting was very laid back but serious. Information was reported out on the status of the agency as expected, but the most inspiring part was when they had two previous clients share their success story.  It was so touching…….This was a great experience and revelation for me.  We have also been invited to attend the annual board meeting of the Hilliard House, which is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17th.  I plan to attend this one as well.  It was highly recommended by Ms. Gibbs that we attend to get a feel of the differences in the interactions of both boards. Hmmm…….

On Friday, November 13th (Ooo Friday the 13th 🙂  )….. We met with Ms. Gibbs.  Our day began with a brief update meeting regarding our project, which was followed by a very enlightening tour of the Hilliard House.  This facility is a shelter that houses homeless women and their children up to age 18.  The facility is very well organized and suitable for the clients it serves.  Later we would travel over to the Freedom House, which is a homeless shelter that houses single men and women only.  Based on the locality of this facility, I was expecting to see a large old house that had been renovated to serve these individuals.  I was a bit surprised to find that the Freedom House was previously an old warehouse that had been renovated.  The Freedom House houses 26 males and 12 females all adults.  This facility is well managed and appropriate for the clients it serves.  While Mrs. Gibbs is Executive Director of both facilities, it is her hope to have both facilities merge.  This is where Sarah and I come in.  While we have been working diligently to assist her with this project, we are learning that it is bit more complex than we initially thought.  However, with the help of Ms. Gibbs (our client), our consulting skills readings (Block, Schein, et. al), facilitations by colleagues and overall want to help, we believe that this will be a successful project and lasting experience.

Stay tuned…….

Consulting Skills-Reflector/Entry 4

On the path to consulting……..As we journey into depth with our chosen clients we are discovering that it is important to fold back one layer of that onion at a time.  Thus far, we have learned that consulting can be very complex.  Techniques are not enough, there are many different roles that a consultant must consider in dealing with a client.  Mainly, knowing the difference in the roles of an internal vs. external consultant.  Starting with the contracting phase, it is important to develop a written contract, which should display your clients wants, as well as your wants.  In addition, we have learned to recognize and deal with certain types of resistance in clients, as well as deal with some agonies involved in the contracting phase.  Although, I missed the class discussion on diagnosis to discovery and data gathering, after reading the text, I now understand the importance of the steps in getting the data and the few ways that data is collected.

As we move forward with our projects, we must keep in mind that in order for the consulting process to be flawless, it must be a 50/50 relationship, and that it is the client who owns the problem.  We are there to help them so that if the problem occurs again in the future they will be equipped to handle it themselves. Following all of the required steps to flawless consulting as outlined by Block and Schein is sure to make the consulting process successful!

 

Consulting Skills Reflector/Entry 3

As I sat through my initial contact meeting with my client, Blocks recommended questions came to mind: What do you want to discuss?, Who is the client for this project?, Who else will be at the meeting?  What are their roles?, How much time will we have?, Do you know that you want to begin some project, or are we going to discuss whether we do anything at all? To my surprise, the client was willing and able to give on the surface answers to these questions.  As the meeting progressed, I made a point to pay close attention to the client’s body language, as well as my own.  I found myself interested in what she was saying and became more engaged in the conversation.  This project really grabbed my full attention.

After reading Block’s chapters on Contracting which gave a thorough overview of the contracting process, the meeting, and the agonies of contracting, I feel more informed and confident on how I will proceed in conducting my actual contract meeting with my client.  Knowing that the contract will set the tone of the project is important and establishes a written agreement that is discussed between both the consultant and the client.  Thus, obtaining a written contract is significant, in that, it not only put words in writing, it is also a way to be explicit and provide clear communication of all expectations.  In closing the meeting, I will be mindful that it is important to ask for feedback and sum-up everything that we have agreed upon.

With that said, I look forward to completing what will be my first real “contract” with a client.  Thanks Tim and Jonathan for a great facilitation!  The checklist that you provided will be very helpful.

Consulting Skills-Reflector/Entry 2

Over the last couple of weeks we have been unfolding the beginning layers of the “onion”. In defining process consultation (the helping relationship) we have discussed the many steps involved. Namely, that of being authentic, active inquiry and listening to the many different roles that consultants may take (expert, pair-of-hands, collaborative) during the phases in the business of consulting. The project we completed in class on Who is the Client was a good exercise in helping me classify some of the interactions that I encounter on a day-to-day basis with faculty, staff and students. Understanding and being able to identify the differences between the contact, primary, intermediate, unwitting, and ultimate client(s) will be useful as I engage in process consultation.

 In addition to being able to identify the client, equally important, is the need to know where the responsibility of solving an issue or problem lies. After completing the exercise on Assessing the Balance of Responsibility, I have a better understanding of who should be responsible for what in the project. Block makes it clear by stating that in order to take full advantage of using client involvement and increase your chances of success, the relationship must be 50/50 (consultant/client). This was interesting to learn because I always assumed that the consultant was the one who provided the expertise, and actually solved the problem. It was relieving to find out that in order for the project to be successful that the relationship must be a sharing relationship.

 While all of the chapters thus far have been very helpful in giving me a clearer picture of what consulting really involves, I always get a better understanding in learning a new concept or skill when I am  able to practice what has been preached. I feel confident that our assigned consulting project will provide me the opportunity to do just that.

Thus, as we move into the contracting phase of consulting, I look forward to Tim and Jonathan’s facilitation on Navigating the Contracting Meeting. I’m sure we will all gain useful insight and tips on the proper sequence in creating a good contract.

Consulting Skills-Reflector/Mirror-Entry 1

It’s the beginning of a new semester and with that, a  new course………Although many of my colleagues already know one another, there are quite a few new faces. We began by introducing ourseleves and explained our connection to the Adult Learning Program. As always, it is  interesting to hear  everyones     introduction. The diversity is so awesome!

Dr. Carter began the session by asking the question, ” What is consulting?”  Several anwers where given and combined the answer to the question began to unfold…..Consulting in our minds was defined as someone with expertise who offers to help others. After reading the first couple of chapters in Block and Schein, it was informing to learn that our definition was not too far off target. In addition, it was intereslting to learn that each one of us, in some form or another play the role of consultant. As explained by Block and Shein,  consulting takes on many forms and roles and can be very complex.  Block, Chapter 1: A Consultant by Any other Name provides a great introduction to consulting. The statement: Every time you give advice to someone who is faced with a choice, or when you can change or improve a situation but have no direct control over the implementation, you are consulting is very clear. This statement in itself is helpful to me in understanding the overall reason why anyone would seek to use the services of a consultant. In addition, it helps me to understand that I too could be considered a consultant in some form with my current job as advising specialist.

As the semester unfolds, I look forward to learning about the many layers of the consulting process (keeping that “onion” in mind).  I’m excited with the topic of consulting and hope that I am able to gain the skills necessary to one day become a consultant………………

ESL…….

The semester is over and I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Dr. Cho for making the course so very interesting! I thoroughly enjoyed our final project of tutoring an ESL student. Not only did I help the student achieve her goal, but I learned a lot about her culture in the process….In the beginning I had no idea of how challenging it is to teach ESL, however, with the foundation and information that I have obtained in this course, and with the tutoring experience, I feel that I’m equipped to teach ESL to learners in need. Again, thanks Dr. Cho for the wonderful learning experience and all of the engaging activities.

And the beat goes on….TESL

 

          It is the middle of the semester and I must say that I am truly impressed in the way in which Dr. Cho is presenting the course. In an effort to help us gain the most important aspects in teaching ESL, she has designated tasks and activities such as posting your responses to questions after assigned readings and responding to others, book reviews, teaching essays, lesson plan and teaching demonstrations, preparing a tutoring portfolio, group work, whole-class activities, videos, and of course lectures. At this time we have completed a book review and our reading assignments and postings are on-going. The other assignments are what I have to look forward too, and I believe I will enjoy them as well. The reading assignments and post along with the book review has given me a basic understanding of the theory and practice of teaching ESL. Thurs far, we have covered topics on

Describing the English Language

Background issues in language learning

Popular methodology

Describing learners

Describing learning contexts

Mistakes and feedback

Managing for success

Grouping students

Educational technology and other learning resources

Teaching language construction

Teaching language skills

and Planning lessons…………..Whew!

 

            All of the chapters are very informative and provide good information and examples in teaching ESL learners. The text, written by Jeremy Harmer was a great choice!

 

Throughout the semester we have engaged in many group activities all of which contributed to my understanding of the topic. Although they were all useful, my most engaging moment was in our assigned reading of the book titled “Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriquez” an autobiography. This autobiography is a deeply enlightening, touching and very well written story about a young Mexican, turned “scholarship boy” journey through life in America. It tells of his life story surrounding language, that is, his struggle to learn and understand the English language, and in so doing, forgetting his own native language, Spanish. He discussed how the use of the English language would affect his home-life in a negative way. He also tells of his life lessons in writing poetry; the new Roman Catholic liturgy; learning to read; writing; political terminology, his profession and his ultimate sacrifice. The book left you yearning for more and feeling somewhat empathetic of   Richard’s life.

 

Lastly, since it is the middle of the semester everyone knows what that usually means…..yes, mid-term exams, papers, projects, presentations. Well, Dr. Cho decided on the mid-term. Of course, this was very disappointing to me, as well as many of the other students. The graduate students voiced concern because normally exams aren’t given in a methods class. Instead, students write papers, complete projects, presentations etc… so it was indeed a change. However, I do believe we kept our heads above water!! We will find out after spring break.

 

There is so much more to look forward to in this class – so for now, buckle your seat belts and hold on till the end of the ride.

 

 

TEDU 552: Teaching English as a Second Language

Well, once again it’s the beginning of a new semester! Spring semester, yet it hardly feels like it. Seems like the holiday break breezed by so quickly. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the company of family and close friends and had lots of fun!  Now it’s back to business…………………..

 

This semester I’m enrolled in TEDU 552: Teaching English as a Second Language. Recently, I have gained a strong interest in this area, so I’m very hopeful that this course will enhance my interest. This will be my first real exposure to the topic, so I’m really excited about learning what teaching ESL entails. It is my expectation that by the end of the semester, I will have developed a firm understanding of the 1) foundation and theories surrounding ESL, 2) be able to analyze diverse learners needs, motivation, and understand their impact on the language process, and 3) learn effective teaching strategies and techniques.

Final Reflection – ADLT 602: Program Planning, Management and Evaluation

 

     Wow, how time flies……At the beginning of this course; I can recall feeling very intimidated.  I guess I would contribute this to the fact that I had no real concept on the topic of Program Planning, Evaluation, and Management.  .  I remember doing a lot of self-talking and asked myself, “Now what am I really going to learn from this course?” and “How will it assist me in my current job?”.  Well, now that it’s over, I have the answers to my questions, as well as, the initial question asked by Dr. Carter on What I expect to learn from Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation.  I no longer carry the fear of the unknown. I have grasped a full understanding of the topic, and feel confident enough in sharing my program plan with the Dean of Student Affairs.  Like some of the others learners whose plans will actually be implemented, I’m hopeful that mines will come to life one day, as well. 

    

   While there is so much that I can say about the course, I will only state the highlights for me.  Overall, the class was very informative, engaging, and I learned more than I ever anticipated.  What I enjoyed most, was the format of the course.  Instead of Dr. Carter lecturing to us the entire semester, she allowed each student the opportunity to facilitate a session based on the topics surrounding the content of the course.  These facilitations where very helpful for me in making that much needed connection from textbook to practice.  In addition, this great teaching strategy actively engaged the learners in the learning process.  Especially needed at 7:00 pm at night!  J

 

 As the semester moved on, and we began discussing the Evaluation segment of the course, I felt more at ease.  Prior to working in the SOE, I held a position with the Center for Educational Development and Faculty Resources, which managed teacher evaluations.  I understood, at least from that perspecitive the meaning of evaluations and why they are used.  I could pull knowledge from my previous experience and relate it to this segment of the course.  The activity that I facilitated was titled, Learning Debrief from Building Evaluation Capacity: Developing Evaluation Questions.  The activity went over very well with the learners, and increased my knowledge in the construction of evaluation questions, considerably.

 

   Our assignment on conducting an interview with a program planner for adult learners in the following areas: non-native English speakers, literacy needs, disabilities, incarcerated, or any other group with special needs was also very informative and interesting.  It is always a good experience when you can speak with an individual that is actually doing what you are learning.  Again, this is how you make that connection, from theory to practice.

 

   Lastly, although the main assignment was very challenging in some areas, the idea of allowing students the opportunity to create a program plan from their own interests, added excitement, and motivation to the assignment.  The poster presentations were great!  Everyone did a good job in preparing and presenting their program plan to the class.  There were lots of creativity displayed and we all gained a lot of insight from the knowledge and background from one another.

    

   I would like give a big thank you to Dr. Carter, for selecting the wonderful textbook, by Dr. Rosemary Caffarella, titled:  Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide for educators, trainers, and staff developers.  For without this resource, I would have been like a fish out of water!  Finally, I would like to say thank you to my wonderful classmates for sharing in this program planning journey!

 

 Have a wonderful and safe holiday season – and get well!