Archive for the 'Lessons I've learned' Category

Dwyane Wade LIVE TO DREAM Summer Reading Program: Reflections from Christine Reinders

Christine Reinders holds a Master of Arts in Literacy and Director of Instruction license from the College of Education. During the academic year, she is the Literacy Specialist at Lake Shore Middle School in the Mequon-Thiensville School District. Since 2016, she has worked with Dr. Kathleen Clark as the Director of Curriculum and Professional Development for the Dwyane Wade LIVE TO DREAM Summer Reading Program in the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center. Although the Center is not running this summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, we asked Christine to share some insights as the LIVE TO DREAM reading program hits its fifth anniversary.

DSC_2406Marquette Educator: What do you see as the benefit to the community (students, children, leadership team)?

Christine Reinders: The Dwyane Wade “Live to Dream” Summer Reading Program is a tremendous gift. The program gives young children, who often feel challenged in the area of literacy, the opportunity to grow in their reading and writing achievement, but also feel success. For many children, our program is the first time they’ve felt success in their academic journey. Once students feel success, they grow more self-confident and more willing to take on new academic challenges. While our program grows students’ reading and writing achievement, which is crucial for success in the 21-century, it also plants the seed of life-long learning.

What is your favorite part of the program?

I love being a part of the ​Dwyane Wade “Live to Dream” Summer Reading Program for many reasons and I cannot identify just one aspect as my favorite. Working alongside my mentor and Director of the Hartman Center, Dr. Kathleen Clark has been very rewarding. Dr. Clark possesses a wealth of knowledge and I continue to grow from her year after year. Additionally, educators participating in the summer reading program are eager to grow in their professional practice, and I love that I am able to share my knowledge and experiences with them. The children are always amazing. Many of the students participating in the Dwyane Wade “Live to Dream” Summer Reading Program feel challenged in the area of literacy. I love and cherish the days when our students begin to feel success as a reader and writer. Suddenly there are more smiles and bouts of laughter, and soon their self-confidence begins to shine through. It’s the most rewarding aspect of the entire summer and I am so fortunate to be a part of it.

What opportunities do you see for the future of the program?

Honestly, the future of the program is contingent on funding. With continued funding, we can continue to strengthen the literacy achievement of children living in the City of Milwaukee. In the future, I would love to use students’ growing strengths in reading and writing to foster learning and growth in other content areas. I dream of developing a social studies and socio-emotional hybrid curriculum that would give students the opportunity to learn about strong leaders and provide them with ways in which they can use their literacy prowess to become a successful leader. I want students to feel that they are valuable members of society that have the power and knowledge to make the world a better place.

Using Mindfulness for Emotion Regulation

imagesBy Dr. Karisse Callender

Every day we find ways to cope with challenges and life circumstances, and one part of that is paying attention to how we feel and finding healthy ways to practice emotion regulation. We may feel dysregulated (not able to control emotions appropriately) when we can’t adjust and express our emotions in safe, healthy ways. There are a few things that contribute to emotion dysregulation:

  • not knowing how to cope with intense emotions
  • an unsupportive environment
  • underdeveloped coping skills

It may also be hard to regulate our emotions if we feel flooded (several waves of emotions at the same time, or consistently over some time), and when we believe myths about emotions. Some of these myths include:

  • “emotions are bad”
  • “showing emotion means I’m weak”
  • “I have to be in emotion dysregulation to get what I want”
  • “my emotions are who I am – it completely defines me”

Here are some mindful tips for regulating your emotions. Some of these may take some practice, and that’s okay! Remember the important thing about mindfulness is being in the present moment, focusing on one thing at a time, and having full awareness of what is happening around you.

  • Name what you feel: pause to identify what you are feeling. Is it anger? Fear? Sadness? Resentment? When you can name it, you can work through it.
  • Deep breathing: there’s a lot of power and healing in our breathing. Deep inhales and long, slow exhales help to regulate our bodies and emotions.
  • Journaling: when you are feeling overwhelmed, get a piece of paper and write down what you’re thinking. It can be therapeutic to get your thoughts out on paper instead of storing them in your mind.
  • Prayer: when you feel your emotions becoming more intense, you can close your eyes (or keep eyes open) and say a calming prayer in your mind. This prayer doesn’t have to be a long one and can be a few words.
  • Self-soothing: grounding is a great way to self-soothe. An easy one is to pay attention to what is around you and in your mind, name the things you see. You can also change the temperature – you can grab an ice cube or open the freezer and feel the cool air on your face.
  • Movement: you can take a quick walk, go for a run, or jump in place.

Stay well

Dr. Karisse Callender is an Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department within the College of Education. Her research focuses on how mindfulness based interventions may improve wellbeing and quality of life. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Retreat

This post was originally published on June 6, 2020, on the personal blog of Dr. Melissa Gibson, Assistant Professor in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department within the College of Education. 

We were on the shores of Lake Superior when we learned about George Floyd’s murder, just as we were when we learned about Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s murders. We were in Eagle Harbor, our home-away-from-home, where generations of my partner’s family have lived and worked and played. We were getting bonus months up north in this very white community thanks to COVID-19 and our stable white-collar jobs that had us working remotely. We had fled north when school closings and shelter-in-place orders were popping up back in March in order to be available for my mother-in-law, who lives alone, but we also knew that, for a while still, we were safer up north, where we joke that social distancing is the way of daily life. And so we were also on the shores of Lake Superior when we began to learn about the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on Black and Brown communities in Milwaukee. As we mourned and raged and talked in that grand kitchen with in-heat flooring while looking out over another lakefront sunset, I was reminded that we were also here when Sylville Smith was shot in 2016 and Sherman Park rose up. And I started jogging my memory to remember, what other explosions of injustice were witnessed from afar, up here in Eagle Harbor?

​In all of these moments, my instinct (often at odds with my partner’s instinct and the wishes of my own mother, who is so grateful that her baby and her baby’s babies are safe) is to go home. It feels wrong to be here in idyllic, very white Eagle Harbor when my city is in crisis. It feels necessary to be home in solidarity, to stand in protest or at risk with my neighbors, to be in my multiracial and economically diverse chosen community if only to declare to my neighbors and the universe: I am with you. I am with you. I am with you. But every time, I stay. With my family, in this place that doesn’t fit me quite right but is still my home, where I am welcomed and loved.

​I was reminded of this dissonance today as we headed out to a protest in the North Shore suburbs of Milwaukee. We had spent the morning at a smallish children’s march a few blocks from our house. A peaceful walk through a residential neighborhood ended at the MLK Peace Park, where Black community members spoke to the children, led us in call-and-response chants, and asked for nine minutes of kneeling silence to honor George Floyd. While white allies and other people of color were present, the crowd was predominantly Black. Harambee is, after all, a Black neighborhood in one of America’s most segregated cities.

​From Harambee, we went to Shorewood (our neighborhood, Riverwest, sits between the two and is a hodge-podge mix of all sorts of everything), where a young person had organized a seven-mile march through several North Shore suburbs. The young man is a friend’s university student, and we were eager to march with friends and support the racial awakening of white folks. In fact, I’d earlier explained to my children that there were different kinds of anti-racist work for us as a white family to do: yes, there is the work of being an ally and co-conspirator, leveraging resources in support of Black communities, but there is also the work of being a catalyst for change in the white community, of rooting out racism among ourselves because ultimately it’s up to us as white folks to release our grip from white supremacy. Of the 30 or 40 different actions in Milwaukee this weekend, I chose these two for my family because, yes they were kid-friendly, but they also offered an important lesson to my family about the multiple ways of being an anti-racist.

​So this afternoon, we went directly from the “What About Us?” children’s march to the “North Shore Justice for George Floyd Peaceful Protest.” The crowd at the starting point for the march was big. For blocks, there was a stream of mostly white folks headed to the lake with posters and Black Lives Matter t-shirts and face masks. There were a smattering of Black families, multiracial friend groups, and other people of color, but it was mostly a sea of well-heeled whiteness. My stomach lurched. On the one hand, YES! White people created this system; white people must dismantle it. We NEED white folks to show up for racial justice (and yes, there’s a #FBgroup for that). But on the other hand, what I really felt was indignation. If Black lives really mattered to this sea of white folks, why had they self-selected life in a town that is 87% white? Why did Black students in their schools report systemic racism and alienation? Why had I heard reports of police physically preventing Milwaukee protestors from crossing into the town earlier in the week? Why had they gleefully opened their town back up when the Supreme Court struck down the governor’s stay-at-home order, knowing that this disease is disproportionately harming Black and Brown folks in Milwaukee? I couldn’t help but look around judgmentally and think, “To whom in this crowd do Black lives actually matter? And for whom in this crowd is this just another event in the White Woke Olympics?”

​Full of judgment and self-righteous indignation, I happily volunteered to be the parent to take my whiny, tired, sore-footed youngest child home. These were not my people; this was not my march.

​Except: They are my people. And this is my march.

​It’s no accident that I have been in Eagle Harbor for so many moments of racial injustice and trauma. It’s no accident that I am able to sit in the long, late rays of the northern sun, bothered by not much more than ticks and mosquitoes and a s’mores marshmallow that caught fire too quickly, and rage, argue, mourn, and debate at a distance. It’s no accident that, despite my urge to go home and be with my ‘real’ community, I don’t go home.

​It’s no accident because this is how whiteness works. It’s a cocoon that we can’t quite escape from. No, that’s not right: it’s like a poisonous bubble that we are safe from as long as we are inside of it. No, that’s not right either. It’s more like this recurring dream I’ve had since childhood where I’m chewing gum—crappy, cheap, very sticky gum. In my dream, I forget that I’ve been chewing it for a while (or that I have braces, or dental work, or a presentation coming up), and when I try to spit it out, the chewing gum just spreads into finer and stringier filaments that cling to my teeth-gums-orthodontia-palette-throat, and when I start pulling at those filaments with my fingers, those strings of no-longer-satisfying gum stick to my skin and just keep spreading around my mouth with every pick, floss, and pull. In my dream, I never get the gum out. I am mortified by the mess in my mouth that everyone can see, and I am anxious and heartbroken at the irrevocable damage to my teeth and my smile. I’ve never quite figured what the underlying anxiety is in this dream that I’ve been having for as long as I can remember, but damn if it isn’t the right metaphor for whiteness when you’re trying to do antiracist work.

In our little nuclear family, we have intentionally crafted a life that we believe aligns with our values, where justice and antiracism are central. We chose the city over the suburbs; we chose our neighborhood because of its economic and racial diversity; we chose our children’s school because of its intentional integration and Montessori approach; we chose our jobs because they allowed us to teach in ways that aligned with our values.

These choices: this is me trying to pull that gum out of my teeth.

But then there is also that little idyllic town up north, where we can retreat when needed. Where the next harbor over still has restrictive covenants. Where intergenerational wealth—yes, often built through back-breaking work in the mines and other blue-collar jobs that used to allow for financial stability—allows (mostly white) families to maintain homes and connections and community. Where old friends good-naturedly joke about “insiders” and “outsiders.” Where the county has more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in Michigan. Where zoning keeps things just as they are. Where we joke that we won’t ever have to run away to Canada because this place is otherworldly all on its own.

​This: this is the gum that I can’t ever really get out of my teeth.

​Let me be clear: I love Eagle Harbor. It’s magical, really, as anyone who’s traveled north with us will attest. And I am so grateful to have a second home where, in times of both duress and joy, we can retreat. If YOU had an Eagle Harbor, you’d love it, too. But let me also be clear: this is how whiteness works for those of us who are white. It’s a magical protective shield behind which we can retreat when necessary.

​So white folks, we need to be honest with ourselves: when and where are we retreating?

This was the source of my initial discomfort with this afternoon’s march: it appeared to me at first like a performance of solidarity in a community that is in and of itself a retreat into whiteness. My knee jerk reaction was thus one of judgment and moral superiority, but it shouldn’t be. Louder for the folks in the back: It shouldn’t be. I am not morally superior. Because I have my retreats, too. Part of the work of becoming antiracist is seeing when we retreat into whiteness, seeing when we capitalize on the systems of oppression that benefit us, and then the hardest part: training ourselves not to retreat. But like that gum in my dream, our whiteness is sticky. So after our performances of solidarity, after our right-now reckonings, all of which are A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FIRST STEP, we have to look into our own dark corners and acknowledge: as long as there is whiteness to retreat into, we will keep retreating.

Let me be clear: When people say that all white folks are all a little bit racist, when people say that all white folks experience privilege, this is one of the things we mean. We have the option of retreating, physically or metaphorically, when the world is scary or uncomfortable or difficult. And so when we say that we have to unlearn racism or that antiracism is a journey we never leave, this is what we mean: When the protests are over, and we’re back home and able to look into our dark corners and reveal what’s there with no one else watching, white folks, let’s ask ourselves, how have we been retreating?

​Doing this often requires that we sit with shame, discomfort, vulnerability—all of the things that whiteness protects us from. There’s a reason Robin DiAngelo’s work on “white fragility” has been so popular. Sitting with these emotions and experiences requires humility. It requires that we stop talking and start listening. It requires that we decenter ourselves and our comfort. This is the antithesis of the “racial arrogance” that whiteness teaches us. Whiteness has not socialized us for humility. It has not socialized us for pain. It has not socialized us to listen.

White folks, I know this seems hard. I know it can be painful and uncomfortable and risky. I know that we all have a chorus of “yeah buts” going on in our head to justify our retreats and to protect us from hurt, and I know how easy it is to march and shout and rage and then go back to regular life.

​But then I want you to remember that George Floyd had a knee in his neck for nine minutes and Breonna Taylor was shot in her bed eight times and they will NEVER get to go back to regular life.

#BlackLivesMatter: A Statement of Solidarity and Call to Action from the Department of Education Policy & Leadership at Marquette University

“It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.” 

—James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers”

As scholars, we are acutely aware of the long history of structural racism and oppression in the US. Whiteness and white supremacy have been working for over 400 years to subjugate, criminalize, dehumanize, silence, and kill people of color, particularly Black people. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade are some of its most recent victims, but they are not alone: according to the National Academy of Science, Black men are 2.5 times more likely and Black women are 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than white men and women.

As members of the Milwaukee community, we are acutely aware of how racialized disparities and violence play out in the day-to-day life of our city, including our schools. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America and one of worst cities in America to be Black, as measured by educational outcomes, health outcomes, life expectancy, incarceration rates and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of these inequalities, with infection and mortality rates far higher in our Black and Latinx communities. Yet Milwaukee also has a robust community of Black resistance, joy, and organizing, a community that has long been working against racism in our city.

As educators, we are most acutely aware of how schooling perpetuates this racialized violence. We perpetuate this violence in curricular silences, in white-dominant narratives, and in one-dimensional representations of people of color. We perpetuate this violence through zero-tolerance discipline, the disproportionate suspension of Black and Brown students starting in pre-school, and the school-to-prison pipeline. We perpetuate this violence when we leave narratives about ‘achievement gaps’ unquestioned without attending to education debts, when we over-identify Black students for special education, and when we refuse to engage students of color in intellectually meaningful learning experiences. We perpetuate this violence when we say nothing about systemic racism because ‘teachers shouldn’t be political’ or because ‘it’s inappropriate for children.’ We perpetuate this violence when we insist that all students assimilate to an impossible target of whiteness and when we refuse to let Black and Brown children be joyful, playful, thoughtful, complicated, and fully human.

We cannot be silent in the face of this deeply ingrained racism. As educators at a Catholic, Jesuit institution, it is our responsibility to actively teach anti-racism daily. Catholic social teaching tells us we must act in solidarity with the most vulnerable, and that we must affirm the dignity and divinity of every human, but especially those who are marginalized. This will not dismantle white supremacy on its own, but it is the heart of our work as Marquette educators. Therefore, EDPL commits to:

  • Examining our teaching practices, in the same way we are calling on other educators to examine their practice, using the thirteen guiding principles of Black Lives Matter.
  • Supporting students, educators, and staff of color. We are a predominantly white institution, preparing educators for a predominantly white profession. We must do better to recruit, support, and retain colleagues of color. We must leverage resources in support of our colleagues of color, speak out against a culture of racism on campus, and decenter whiteness in our curriculum.
  • Building racial literacy with our students, who have likely experienced their own miseducation. Our courses must integrate racial literacy, cite scholars of color, and challenge dominant narratives.
  • Cultivating anti-racist relationships, communities, and pedagogies. In K12 teacher education, specifically, we must dismantle ideas of ‘management’ and behavioral control that inflict violence on youth of color. We must pass the mic to abolitionist teachers who show us what freedom is.
  • Working for anti-racism in education more broadly. We call for abolishing disciplinary and special education practices that perpetuate systems of racialized violence, building anti-racist partnerships with practitioners, and using our university-based privileges to advocate for racial justice.
  • Working for intersectional anti-racism in our society more broadly. Education does not exist in a vacuum. We must work in partnership with community organizations, anti-racist leaders, and policy makers to root out white supremacy and racism in our communities beyond the school building.
  • Celebrating joy, love, healing, and resilience with our Black and Brown students. We acknowledge that antiracist work too often focuses only on naming inequalities, injustices, and traumas. If that’s the entirety of our work, then our work is also dehumanizing. Instead, our classrooms must prioritize the beauty, resistance, resilience, and joy of communities of color.

These are our commitments. They will guide our work in the next academic year and beyond as we create tools of accountability and action steps for our department. We also invite you—particularly our students—to share feedback on the steps we need to take toward intersectional, anti-racist education.

However, we also call on you, our community of alumni, students, and practitioners, to take action. We especially urge this of our white community members. The teaching force in Wisconsin, like elsewhere in the US, is overwhelmingly made up of white women, many of whom consider themselves kind, well-meaning, and not racist. But this has never been enough to dismantle white supremacy, and this ‘not racist niceness’ masks our complicity in these systems. Without active and ongoing work to become anti-racist, we can too easily retreat into our otherwise invisible whiteness when convenient. Amy Cooper’s verbal assault on Christian Cooper in Central Park is a reminder to those of us who identify as white women that we are often the perpetrators of systemic, racialized violence.

Unlearning racism is also intersectional work. For those of us who are non-Black people of color, the work to be anti-racist will look different than it does for our white colleagues. While we may live and experience the systematic violence of white supremacy, we must still commit to the on-going work of combatting anti-Blackness in our own families, communities, and educational spaces.

In this spirit of collective action, we offer the following lists of anti-racist resources. On their own, they are not enough to dismantle the ideological, internal, interpersonal, and institutional ways of white supremacy. We know this, but still: we offer them as a starting point and as a commitment to action. Words are important but not enough. We must act every day to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

In solidarity,

The Faculty & Staff of the Department of Education Policy & Leadership
Marquette University College of Education

 

Anti-Racist Resources for Education

Anti-Racist Action Networks & Communities
National

Local

Resources for Self-Care & Racial Healing

Countering Anti-Blackness

Celebrating Blackness

Classroom Self-Assessment (from the Early Childhood Education Assembly)

Resources for Talking & Teaching About Race & Racism

*Note that many, though not all, of these resources are written for white adults and children

Background Resources on Race Talk

Teaching Materials

Teaching Communities

Books

We recommend buying your books from a Black-owned bookstore

  • Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (free PDF through Juneteenth)
  • Tiffany Jewell, This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, & Do the Work
  • Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds, Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You
  • Ibram X. Kendi, Anti-Racist Baby
  • Jennifer Harvey, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America
  • Mica Pollock, Everyday Anti-racism: Getting Real About Race in School
  • Cheryl Matias, Surviving Becky(s): Pedagogies for Deconstructing Whiteness & Gender
  • Bettina Love, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching & the Pursuit of Freedom

Resources for Building Racial Literacy

Web-Based Resources

Books

We recommend buying your books from a Black-owned bookstore

  • Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
  • Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
  • Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States
  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Anti-Racist
  • Charles Mills, The Racial Contract
  • Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want To Talk About Race
  • Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
  • Ta-Naheisi Coates, Between the World & Me
  • Craig Wilder, Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, & the Troubled History of America’s University’s
  • Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color
  • Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
  • Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

Other thoughtful and heartfelt statements on racial injustice have been provided by Marquette University President, Dr. Michael Lovell, and Vice-President for Inclusive Excellence, Dr. William Welburn. Both messages focus on the University’s responsibility to transcend words and exert impactful action. Marquette students have also taken a stance on this vital issue through their student government association.  In addition, as an institution, our community came together recently both in person and remotely in a Mass for Healing and Reconciliation. It should be noted that statements are emerging from other academic units at the University like the Diederich College of Communication. In the collective, these declarations signal an earnest intentionality on the part of our University, in the Catholic, Jesuit spirit of magis, to do significantly more to eradicate racial inequality.

Dr. Bill Henk, Dean
College of Education

YOU Are Our Best Hope

UnknownDear College of Education Students—

The past few days I’ve literally read dozens of heartfelt narratives sadly highlighting the most recent tragic realities of racism in our country and passionately calling for its rightful ending.

Without exception, I greatly appreciated and admired each one. These texts had been rendered in such reflective, eloquent, and powerful terms that sharing my own perspectives on this enduring and inexcusable injustice, while equally earnest, would add little or nothing to the conversation.

That left me wishing I could otherwise contribute to the cause.  And ironically, I found that pathway in a takeaway that haunted me after each reading, which is why I’m writing to you. Specifically, I kept coming back to the same nagging question, “Yeah, but how do we REALLY end racism in America?

More specifically, I wondered how we might rise above the thoughtful rhetoric and eradicate this social plague, one that is deeply rooted in almost all of human history and thus far impervious to every effort to squelch it.

One pathway is clear if we consider that outrageous episodes of bigotry, violence, and even murder continue to occur despite countless attempts to vilify racism through our words.  Namely, let’s quit talking and take definitive action.  In turn, that conclusion, admittedly obvious, begs the much tougher question of who then most needs to step up.

The cliché answer is everyone.  To the extent that such an ambitious prospect could somehow ever be realized, there’s no debating it.

But the more pragmatic response is this one – those who have the conviction, capacity, and reach to exert a truly systemic impact on society, altering the future through the young lives they touch. In other words, it’s teachers.  And that means YOU are humanity’s best hope.

In the College of Education we expect our graduates to embody the tenets of social justice, we expect them to be Men and Women for others, we expect them to be faith-filled, and we expect that all of their endeavors will be driven by magis, always doing the “more.”  So stop and ask yourself, “What more can I do both as a professional and child of God, for and with others, to erase inequality?”

One profound retort to that question is to make the ending of racism an absolutely integral aspiration of your call to teach.  If you do, then in the best Marquette University tradition, you really can “Be The Difference.”

Sincerely,

bill-henk-signature
Dr. Bill Henk, Dean

 

Reflections from a Double Alumnus

49502238502_d208a05167_oBy Brock Borga, Ed ’12 and Grad ’19

My name is Brock Borga. Receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology and my Master’s Degree in Educational Policy and Leadership (with license in both principalship and director of curriculum), Marquette University has been a huge part of my life. I have been part off the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the past eight years at St. Anthony School of Milwaukee. The first seven years of my journey at St. Anthony had me teaching 3rd grade, and I have moved positions this school year to the Dean of Instruction.

In my new role, I observe teachers every other week and have coaching sessions with the teacher after the observation. In these coaching sessions, we reflect on what teaching practices went well and what could have gone better. It is from those reflections that we create an action plan together and I come back to observe the action plan in action. I started off teaching in the Muskego-Norway School District, and while my time there was great, I didn’t feel connected with the students, staff, or community around me. I knew that there was somewhere for me to feel accomplished with my teaching. I remembered my time as an undergraduate at Marquette University and the schools I was able to work with through my courses, and knew that schools throughout Milwaukee were my calling. Because Marquette has instilled faith throughout its courses in my undergraduate courses, I began looking at schools through the Archdiocese. It is there I found St. Anthony School of Milwaukee. My time there has been wonderful. The students are eager to learn, the parents repeatedly state how blessed they are to be a part of the school, and the faculty is eager to continue their professional growth for the community we teach.

Before I was in this administrative position, I was been given additional opportunities to grow at my school that would not have been possible otherwise. I was able to have two student teachers from Marquette University be with me in the classroom (one from August 2017-January 2018 and the other from January 2019 – March 2019). It was an amazing experience not only giving back to Marquette, but practicing many of the leadership skills I was learning about in my graduate courses. I apply many of the practices that were discussed in my graduate courses in my new position, ranging from leadership styles to having effective conversations with teachers.

Marquette has helped me achieve these additional opportunities, outside of helping me achieve my administration license / master’s degree. I am both blessed and honored to say I have been a part of Marquette University for my entire undergraduate career and my graduate career. It is all thanks to the Catholic Schools Personnel Scholarship that I am able to continue my professional growth and achieve the goals I have set.

 

Using Mindfulness to Cope During the Pandemic

KBy Karisse A Callender, Ph.D.

There’s no doubt that we are living in a very anxiety-provoking time. You might be feeling a lot of fear, anxiety, and worry about what is happening now and what the future looks like. Guess what – it makes sense that you might be feeling that way! We are not living under “normal” circumstances and the uncertainty about how things will unfold is enough to cause some confusion or frustration about the way we move through life. While we may be feeling anxious or worried, we can also find ways to take care of our mental and physical health. In other words, we can take a dialectical approach to life – we can integrate opposites (eg., anxiety and calm) to help us get “unstuck” from overwhelming emotions or states of being. We can use mindfulness as one way to cope with distress or anxiety during this time. In simple terms, to be mindful is to be fully present in the moment and being aware of what is going on within and around us.

One of my favorite mindful practices is the RAIN of self-compassion: recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture with self-compassion. The acronym RAIN was originally developed about 20 years ago by Michelle McDonald and is taught by Tara Brach. This meditation can be done alone or done with any other mindful or contemplative practice. You can flow through the steps as many times as you need.

Recognize what is happening: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What is affecting you? It’s easy to slip into self-judgment and to find a reason “why” you think or feel a certain way. As tempting as that might be, resist it as you recognize what is happening.

Eg., “Right now I think this pandemic will never end because of everything I see and read in the news!”

Allow the experience to be there, just as it is: Let whatever you are thinking or feeling happen without trying to change or “fix” it, and without suppressing or avoiding it. In other words, sit with what you are thinking and feeling.

Eg., “It makes sense that I feel worried right now”

Investigate with interest and care: Be curious about what you are thinking or feeling. You can ask yourself “how am I experiencing this in my body?” “what does this thought/feeling need from me?”

Eg., “I can feel this worry as a tension headache and pain in my stomach…what does my body need from me right now? maybe I need to get off social media and take a short walk around my neighborhood to help me relax.”

Nurture with self-compassion: Self-compassion is an important part of this process. As you recognize and investigate what is happening. Self-compassion refers to being warm and understanding to yourself when you are experiencing difficult times. Give yourself intentional kindness to help you feel comforted.

Eg., “I can feel worried and still feel love and kindness toward myself. In this moment, I am safe, I can find the beauty around me while I’m on my walk.”

You can practice RAIN alone or with a friend or loved one. Do what you need, in the way you need it.

Be well and stay well.

Dr. Karisse Callender is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education’s Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department with a research focus on how individuals use mindfulness. Most recently, Dr. Callender has launched two studies related to how COVID-19 is impacting quality of life and also how we are practicing mindfulness during this time.

Ambiguous Loss During a Pandemic

Helpinghands.svgBy Jennifer Rodewald

Grief and loss are complicated matters that directly affect individuals and family systems. These can become more complicated when considering the impact of ambiguous loss, which can come in many different forms. There is the ambiguous loss that involves a physical presence with a psychological absence. This would include people who struggle with addiction, mental health struggles or trauma. The other type of ambiguous loss involves a physical absence with a psychological presence, which could include things such as an elderly parent moving into an assisted living facility, a child leaving the home, losing a job, or having to move. The most relevant current event that reflects ambiguous loss featuring physical absence with psychological presence is social isolation due to COVID-19.

Mental illness struggles are an example ambiguous loss with physical presence and psychological absence. On an individual level, severe mental illness can make it difficult to function on a daily basis (i.e., maintaining good physical and sleep hygiene). This can also extend to the rest of the family system in many ways, such as a family member transitioning into the role of the individual’s caretaker or having more people outside of the immediate family enter the family system by hiring professional help in the home. When discussing mental health struggles that do not overly impact an individual’s day-to-day functioning, there are still other considerations. For example, if an individual is depressed and has a hard time feeling motivated to do either daily tasks or hobbies, others in their family system will feel that impact. On top of that, if the individual cannot communicate their feelings, there can be conflict and higher tensions among the family system. Essentially, there is a lack in psychological functioning that is mixed with being in the physical presence of others, which is a form of ambiguous loss.

We are all dealing with our own individualized ambiguous losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected billions of people’s everyday lives. While my spouse is still going to work, I am no longer going to my internship site. I am lucky enough to be able to do telehealth with the clients that wish to do so, but that number has been dwindling down. I have somewhat abruptly terminated one particular therapeutic relationship because the client just couldn’t talk while in his home, due to others being there who could hear our sessions. There is also the fact that we no longer are going on campus for classes. This has been a difficult transition for everyone, and I wanted the chance to reflect on how it is affecting my family.

I thought a good way to conceptualize how this has affected my family would be to follow Worden’s Task-Oriented Model of Loss. I completed the first task of accepting the reality of the losses just last week. Things have been difficult, and I think it was made more so by fixating on the people, places, and interactions I am missing due to the pandemic. This made it impossible for me to focus on homework assignments and my compulsions significantly increased. Because of my lack of focus and increase in compulsions, my patience was also limited, and it was easier for me to become frustrated with my daughter over things I would not normally be frustrated by. It also meant I was not communicating with my spouse at the level I normally would—I was afraid I would come off as overreacting (surprise, I was sometimes—also underreacting—sometimes at the same time!) and would let things I was worried about or grieving over bottle up until my grief and anxiety would just explode from my eyes (in the form of tears).

I am currently working through the process and adjustment tasks in the model. I have started to be able to address how I’m feeling about the inability to physically be in the same room as friends, peers, and professors. I have also begun to be able to articulate what it is like to work with clients more on the phone as well as to have their therapy terminate earlier than what was planned. I also sometimes think about what it is going to be like when this period of social isolation ends (and when it will actually be, but I realize thinking about that is something that can send my compulsions up, so I try to keep that to a minimum). It will be a different world on some practical, day-to-day levels, as well as on a larger scale for businesses, schools, and families.

As I mentioned earlier, doing telehealth is a different experience with clients. There is one client who simply was unable to do this mode of therapy, so we terminated the first time I called him from home. We had discussed the possibility of therapy ending prior to this call, and it was still a disappointment for me to have to end a month before planned. Luckily for my client, I was able to transfer him to another counselor at my site who is still physically going there for sessions. I am mainly only doing phone sessions with two other clients for the next few weeks. Working with clients has also served as a solid distraction from my own ambiguous losses, even though one of them discusses how social isolation is affecting her (which is understandable). Despite the similar topic, it is so helpful to be able to focus on someone else during this time. I suppose that is another piece being the idea of the “wounded healer.”

Ambiguous loss is something that can affect anyone on individual, family, and systemic levels, with the current pandemic as an example of physical absence with psychological presence. After this pandemic has passed and we get out to the other side, there will still likely be losses to work through. This is why it’s important to connect where we can, stay mindful and grounded if we are able, and to reach out to others and let them know we are not alone in this.

2020 Outstanding Secondary Pre-Service Teacher: Elli Pointner

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Please join us in congratulating this year’s Outstanding Secondary Pre-Service Teacher, Elli Pointner.

Professional Picture

Throughout my four years at Marquette, I’ve had countless professors and mentors who taught me so much and who provide opportunities and skills for me to learn through experience in the classroom and outside of class, through field placements. So, thank you…I’m forever grateful for your accompaniment, your wisdom, your passion, our community. Thank you for helping me grow into the educator I am to day, and thank you for being my home at Marquette.

2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Master’s Student: Alice Lindo

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Our Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Masters student, Alice Lindo, shares her reflections on what this award means below.

file[4404]I am honored to have received this award. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. Marquette is such a special community, and it’s great to be in an environment that overlaps with my own personal values. May we never forget where we come from, and always strive to incorporate service, social justice in all parts of our lives, and display excellence by living authentically. Leading by example. Thank you to the faculty in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department who inspire me daily by doing just that. I hope to do the same.


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