Archive for the 'Faculty spotlight' Category

The New Normal

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Street art in Miraflores, Lima.

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Melissa Gibson

Temblor: A new word in my repertoire to describe my experiences in Peru. Temblor: tremor, or what you feel during an earthquake. In the wee hours of Saturday-into-Sunday, Peru’s Amazon jungle was struck by an 8.0 earthquake, and here in Lima we woke up to a minute of door-rattling, bed-shaking temblores. To me, it was terrifying. My Peruvian friends have told me too many times about how Lima is overdue for a major earthquake and how damaging it will be to the poorer parts of the city, so when the temblores started, my heart raced to keep pace with the shaking—even though, by earthquake standards, the shaking was pretty mellow. When it stopped and Google’s disaster alerts told me everything I needed to know to be reassured, I still couldn’t sleep. Every rattle of a door, every creak in the mattress jolted my heart back to racing.

The next night, as I turned off the lights for bed, I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, and I had to talk myself down: There was nothing to be nervous about. Go to sleep. Deep breaths to calm my racing heart. It’s not earthquake season. The epicenter was hundreds of miles away. Probability is in our favor. Eventually, I gave in to an uneventful night of rest.

So imagine my surprise when, Monday night, I am sitting in my bed finishing up my preparation for the next day’s seminar and: temblor. No more than ten seconds, but the shaking was now unmistakable. A 4.6 on the outskirts of Lima, barely perceptible to Limeños because, as my friend Marisol says, they happen all the time with the change of season. (In fact, I am reminded of my first time in Lima when the toilet started shaking, and I only realized it was an earthquake the next day when people were talking about it at school.) Yes, more precarious neighborhoods evacuated their houses Saturday night just to be safe, but on my street? The neighbors partied through the whole thing, cumbia band and all. And on Monday night, I gave myself a little pat on the back that my heart stayed at a normal pace and I was able to fall asleep, earthquake anxiety at bay.

This is what it is to spend time in a foreign country not as a tourist. So many things are anxiety-producing when you first encounter them: The traffic. The piles of ceviche. The fresh fruits and salads. The toilet paper situation. The jumble of Lima’s streets. The conversations in Spanish. The walks through crowded market streets with a group of 30. The visit to a pharmacy. The mysteriously uncooperative ATM. The temblores. But then a day passes, a week passes, and without realizing it, you’ve slipped from anxious unknowing to a new rhythm of daily life. New words, new ideas, new experiences.

This first collection of blog posts from our 2019 Marquette University study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas,” lets readers in on what this process of learning a new normal feels like. You’ll hear about the students’ host families, their first impressions of Lima, their muddled conversations in Spanish. You’ll also hear them trying to make sense of it all—because, after all, this is a study abroad experience. And that’s where I come in. Our month is designed so that students acquire the philosophical and pedagogical tools to make sense of what they’re experiencing and then to transfer those understandings back to their home contexts. I don’t just want them to know the word temblor, and I don’t just want them to roll with the experience Limeño style; I also what them to be able to articulate why that experience matters.

In this first week, our conversations in seminar have focused on naming the power dynamics and structures of inequality that we encountered, and trying to locate ourselves in those systems through Ignatian-inspired reflection. While I have assigned the readings and designed the experiences, the students have to bring all the pieces together for themselves, for their own sense-making. This can be challenging for me as the teacher. There’s so much I want them to know! But I remind myself that the purpose of our month abroad is not to make them experts in philosophy or sociology of education but to help them learn how to think critically about unequal social contexts of schools. Our purpose is, yes, to experience a new normal, but in doing so, I hope we will begin to see our own normal through new eyes.

The Jesuits here talk a lot about acompañamiento, the process of accompanying or being with someone as they experience and wrestle with life. Accompaniment is an act of solidarity, of partnership, of being in life together. When done well, from a spirit of humanizing and constructivist pedagogies, accompaniment is also what we do when we teach. In this month, I am accompanying my students on their journey into a new normal, and I am accompanying them as they then navigate back to our home contexts of schooling.

These blogs are an invitation to you, dear readers, to accompany us on our journey, as well. We invite you to read in solidarity with our experiences, however imperfect or partial our sense-making may be after only one week into the trip. Let us know through comments what you’re thinking as you read, what questions you have for us or want us to answer, or what perspectives you might bring to our experiences. Accompany us as we consider justice, education and Peru.

 

A Few Words from Dr. Ellen Eckman

This May, Dr. Ellen Eckman is retiring from the College of Education where she celebrated over 20 years of service, including serving as chair of the Educational Policy and Leadership department. At a joint retirement party with Dr. Bob Lowe on Tuesday, March 14, Dr. Eckman shared the following sentiments and memories of her time at Marquette University.

ellen-eckman-2019As I thought about what to say this afternoon, it became clear to me that my research on women in leadership actually provides a framework that describes my experiences. I have lived the very research that I do.

My career followed the trajectory that many women in education experience and in fact women still face today in many fields.  I began as a teacher, stopped out and went part-time when my children were young, then returned to teaching and began thinking about and preparing for an administrative position as a principal. I should add here that I had wanted to go to Law school, but my father — a lawyer — discouraged me because as he explained, he had never seen female lawyers only female legal secretaries. This was before Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Such discouragement is something many women experience as they explore career opportunities. And though the situation seems better today for women – women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in many fields. We still talk about whether or not women are “likeable” enough to be president and, in our state, governor.

After 15 years of teaching, I became an assistant principal and then as is the customary career trajectory, began seeking a principal position. Lots of applications to school districts in metro Milwaukee and even in New England, lots of final interviews but it was always the other candidate who was hired: the man. It was never clear to me what experiences or credentials these men had that were significantly different than mine. I began to see that it was because I was a woman – I was the one that was different.

Researchers have noted that what helps women in moving into leadership positions is a “tap on the shoulder” or encouragement to try a new role. I did receive encouragement at just the right time and it helped me come to Marquette. I was working as an Assistant Principal, working on my PhD at UW-Milwaukee and in my fourth or fifth year of applying for principal positions. I actually thought if I had the PhD credential I could get a job as principal – a little naïve, I know. In my search for positions I was reading the classified ads in the Milwaukee Journal – that’s how we did job searches 20 years ago!   There was an ad for a visiting assistant professor in Educational Administration at Marquette. I thought what an interesting opportunity – I could teach, apply my experience and research on administration, and finish my dissertation – I could move into higher education. But I didn’t know if my credentials would be acceptable, and I didn’t really want to face another rejection.

Then I remembered someone I could call for advice – this is, of course, the important concept of networking that women are beginning to use successfully. The person I knew had taught with me at Shorewood High School, we knew each other through our families and children ran into each other in Shorewood. I knew she had finished her PhD and was now at Marquette. So, I called Joan Whipp. And she encouraged me – she told me that I should apply, that I should send her my CV, and that they would be interested in me. Without her supportive answer and encouragement, I don’t know if I would have applied. I have a special memory of Joan.

Researchers of women in leadership positions have reported on the need for strong reliable mentors that women can trust to provide clear advice and support.  I have had that! As a new assistant professor, I had role models like Christine Weisman and Nancy Snow, whose gender and diversity committees I served on. I served on committees with Cheryl Maranto and could call her with questions and concerns. When I became department chair, I had the expert advice and mentorship of my good friend Bob Lowe. I also have women leaders like Anne Pasero, Professor and Chair of World Languages and Literatures, and Barbara Silver-Thorn, Emeritus Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Anne has helped me problem-solve and has provided expert advice and information on how to handle things as a chair and also shared many lunch conversations. Barb Silver-Thorn, who couldn’t be here today, taught me how to organize and write and direct a grant and along the way gave me advice, perspectives, and guidance on leadership issues. I thank them for the significant role they have played in my career at Marquette.

As a department, we also owe a special thank-you to an outside mentor who had deep experience in serving as a chair, though he was often stymied in offering advice by the differences between private and public universities. That is my husband Fred – who willingly shared his wisdom and perspective on all things concerning being a department chair. He often joked that he could become an outside consultant for department chairs – which is not a bad idea, Leigh, if you need a consultant.

Researchers on women leaders offer various definitions of women’s leadership styles or what has been called a feminist leadership style. They most often describe women as collaborators who bring groups together as teams to share leadership or women as servant leaders, who quietly work to support those around them.

As chair of the department for the last 10 years, I have sought to lead as both – a collaborative and a servant leader – one who works to bring faculty and staff together in decision-making, all the while serving them, getting them recognition, balancing their course assignments, preparing their dossiers for promotion and tenure, respecting their needs, and bringing together an exciting eclectic group of individuals that has kept our department moving forward for the most part with great success and, of course, laughter and joy.

I couldn’t end this talk without a special recognition to someone who has taught me about hard work, loyalty, kindness, calmness in a storm — and even some environmental stuff – Melissa Econom. She quietly keeps me on task – all those due dates for scheduling and bulletins and graduate forms and hiring and dossiers and meetings and, of course, getting names and lists and photos and music for this wonderful event. I have relied on her immensely, as I know many others do. I couldn’t have done my work without Melissa. Thank you for your leadership. Your career parallels that of many women leaders, and you too have places you can go and the skills to take you there.

Finally, my career is not over. I have too much energy to just go quietly into the night! My next stage is to return to teaching courses that I love and to taking courses that I never got to take earlier – like law courses. So be prepared to see me on campus going to classes – either to teach or learn. And know that I will be more than willing to provide mentorship and networking and a good laugh over lunch or coffee to you.

We’ve done a lot together. Thanks so much for being with me.

Be Present to Receive the Gift

By Karisse Callender

downloadA lot happens during the holiday season. There’s a lot of food, celebrations, family visits, travels, and time with loved ones. No matter the situation or our experiences, there is a gift we can all give to ourselves – the gift of mindful living so we can be present, in the moment, to fully experience life.

 

Here are some mindful tips and suggestions for the holiday season to help you remain present:

  • Practice gratitude: I use the word practice because being grateful takes intentional effort and it is a habit that needs to be cultivated. During this season, take a moment to think about at least three things you can be grateful for. It can be as simple as “I’m grateful for having a meal today,” “I’m grateful for a safe place to sleep,” “I express gratitude today for waking up.” A gratitude list can help to remind us of the simple things in life that make the biggest difference. On the days when it seems hard to find something/someone to be grateful for, think about what you would express gratitude for if you were having a good day.
  • Set intentions: Think about what you want this holiday season to represent for you. Is this a time for you to bond with distant family? Create new rituals with loved ones or for yourself? Is this a time to be contemplative and introspective? Whatever your intention, write it down and work towards it.
  • Journal: This is a great way to keep track of your thoughts and feelings over the holiday. It’s also a way to sit with what you are experiencing, in the moment. What did you learn about yourself? How did your intention(s) manifest? What were you able to do for others? How have you grown in the year? What lessons from the holiday can you take into the new year? How have you shown yourself loving-kindness over the holiday?
  • Radical acceptance: It would be ideal if things happen the way we want, all the time. However, that’s not the reality of our lives. When we feel confused and have no control over how things happen, you can remind yourself that “it is what it is, it is as it should be.” In other words, you are recognizing what is happening, as it’s happening, and acknowledging that it is out of your control.

Mindfulness is less about sitting still and more about being present in our lives – each moment, each experience, each day. When we take the time to be attuned to what is happening within and around us, we learn more about ourselves and our needs, and what we are capable of giving to others. As we think about what we can give to others, another mindful practice this holiday season is to remember and reach out to those who may also be in distress. Some may experience grief, a sense of loss, poverty, homelessness, and discord in relationships. As we think of the ways we are blessed and the simple privileges we have, let us also think about how we can be the difference for others.

May you all be happy, healthy, and at peace during this season and the new year. Be well.

Becoming a Social Studies Teacher

This post originally appeared on Dr. Gibson’s Medium page.

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“painting of man” by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

By Melissa Gibson

The other night, I had an anxiety dream. In it, I was conducting research at an international school on its approach to civic education (you know, part of what I do in real life). My host was a teacher I know well, with whom I’ve worked in Peru. But before I could get started, he said I needed to meet with the principal. I entered her office, where another social studies teacher was waiting; across from us, the principal sat at her large desk, her head slung down while she napped. Worst nightmare of a job interview EVER.

Eventually, the principal jolted awake and leered at both of us. Our college transcripts were in front of her. She inspected each, and then looked at us with disgust: “Why would I hire YOU, either of you, to teach social studies when you do not even have good survey history courses on your university transcript? How can you even pretend to be social studies teachers?!” The other woman, who was clearly interviewing for a teaching job at the school, began to explain how her high school offered a plethora of college-level survey courses, and so when she got to college, she was able to move into advanced history seminars. She showed off her flashy knowledge of dates and names, and then went down a wormhole about some 1800s Navy admiral she was obsessed with. She ended with a summary of her students’ AP scores for the past twenty years. The principal nodded, clearly assuaged.

Then she turned to me. “What about you, little miss interdisciplinary?”
I gulped. I began my usual explanation of what it means to have studied Women’s Studies as an undergraduate, the various social science lenses on the same questions. I showed her on my transcript the “surveys” of sociology, history, literature, political science, but how they were all focused on questions of gender. And as I explained what I had studied, I grew more animated in my explanations of how I study these topics. The principal seemed unimpressed.

Gathering steam, I tried to give a narrative of how I came to this place in my intellectual career: I talked about not seeing myself in the curriculum (or in my classmates) and seeking academic spaces that honored the questions I was asking as legitimate intellectual inquiry. I talked about questioning dominant narratives, and moving back and forth between the various disciplinary cannons and critical theorists and scholars. I talked about my discovery late in life of how thrilling history can be when it is more than a collection of dates and names. I may have shown her the syllabus to my methods courses. I definitely showed her the documentaries and podcasts and blogs that my students have written in my social studies classes.

Eventually, she relented, agreeing that while my training was non-traditional, I clearly knew how to ask questions and get students to do some work (there may have been a tirade about lazy millenials and the ills of technology). She looked about to nod off for a nap again (and I really wanted to ask a snide question about what work she did if she spent so much time napping), so I mustered the courage to ask permission to conduct my research, which she granted. The next thing I knew, the dream had morphed into a murder mystery complete with chupacabras, and instead of conducting research on civic education, I was helping high school students escape some murderous blob-ghost thing, which liked to strike during football games. Also, there were rickshaw rides and a lack of child care for my own children so…definitely an anxiety dream.

School is finally back in full swing here in Milwaukee, and we are hunkering down at Marquette to dig into the meat of our courses. And on the eve of these intellectual journeys, I guess my sub-conscious needed to pause to reflect on what it means to be a scholar of social studies education, especially when one isn’t a traditional social scientist or historian. I talked my own imposter syndrome down in the dream, as evidenced by the principal’s relent, but I woke up aware of that always present feeling of self-doubt. Which, believe it or not, is important for me to hold onto. Not because it’s a valid self-critique but because it reminds me of how my pre-service teachers may feel in my methods courses and in their placements—not quite the real deal. And that self-doubt can be paralyzing. Part of my job as their methods instructor is to help them see the multiple ways that we can become scholars of teaching, and that our most powerful intellectual tools are the questions we ask.

This publication, which we will add to throughout the school year, is a record of their journeys learning to ask good questions. Along the way, they will uncover resources, stories, places, and instruction that just may help you become a better social studies teacher, too—whether this is your first year teaching, or your fortieth.

This is social studies. Not a collection of dates and names, but a way of inquiring about the world. We hope you’ll join us on our journey.

Welcome, Dr. Lee Za Ong

leeza-ong-2018Dr. Lee Za Ong has joined the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology this fall and will be working extensively with our new Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Degree. We had a chance to speak with Dr. Ong to get to know her better!

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I was born and grew up in Malaysia. I went to Japan for my undergraduate and came to the US for my graduate degrees. I have lived in the US longer than I lived in Malaysia and have been in Milwaukee for 10 years. Before coming to Milwaukee, my family has lived in New York and California and driven across the country twice due to several job relocations.

What is your favorite educational experience?

When students actively engage in class discussion and add on to my ideas.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

I am doing a research project with Dr. Enaya Othman and other colleagues here at  Marquette University. This project focuses on investigating the stigma of disabilities among Muslim women in Milwaukee. I would also like to expand my research project regarding individuals’ attitude toward disability among other ethnicity in Wisconsin or in the nation.

What drew you to Marquette and the College of Education?

The faculty members in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department are diverse, selfless, and engaging with the community. They are collective and are very skilled in lifting up people’s spirits. They are also a group of caring professors who are responsive to students’ needs.

What do you enjoy doing when you are outside of the classroom? 

I have been a board member of IndependenceFirst since 2014, and it has been an honor to be able to promote inclusion and the independent living of individual with disabilities. I have two children in high school and enjoy watching their musicals, band and swim events.  I admire young people’s talents and how they give everything into doing what they love. I hope that the world will be a better place with these passionate students. I also like to build relationship with people who are from different backgrounds. Their life experience and wisdom enhance my personal and professional development. An example could be the stories I listen to on The Moth podcast. The true stories that were told by people in the live show make me cry, laugh and feel in awe during my commute.

Any advice for readers who are interested in learning more?

The quality of the high school’s performing arts and music program are just as good as professional ones. You only spend a fraction of the cost, but you get to enjoy a world class performance by those of ages 14 and up. The children are the hidden treasure of the city. When building relationships with people who are different from you, even the simplest topic (such as food) can help seal a gap. As for The Moth, make sure you have a tissue box nearby. The stories presented in this inspiring podcast can move even the toughest to tears.

Who is your inspiration for your work or your passion?

Individual with disabilities, refugees and immigrants in the community are those who are my inspiration for my work. They have tirelessly demonstrated grit, resilience, endurance, and tolerance so they can build a bright future for next generations.

Starting the Semester with Intention and Positivity

This post originally appeared on Dr. Lisa Edward’s blog Hopeful Mama on July 9, 2018.


colorful-autumn-leaves-871286965014L8g8By Lisa Edwards

Yes, the Fall semester is upon us. Summer is over and despite all my best intentions to come up with a summer plan to be super productive, I don’t feel like I got enough work done. Now I need to quickly finalize my syllabus, attend college and department back-to-school meetings, and start responding to the emails about reference letters that have already begun to fill my inbox.

It would be easy at a time like this to become sour and start to dread the semester, especially because we know it can be intense. In some ways, semesters are like marathons, where you give more for 15 weeks than you probably ever would during a normal “run.”

If the semester is like a 15-week marathon, it seems like we should be psyching ourselves up with positive thoughts, rather than pessimism and negativity. No-one starts a marathon thinking “this is going to be so awful,” right? They probably think it will be hard, they’re up for the challenge, and they’re going to do their best.

​As I look ahead to my marathon of the Fall semester, I’m going to do all I can to start the race with a positive attitude. I’m not expecting that every day will be positive, or that I’ll be able to maintain my positivity through all of the challenges, but I want to at least have that as my starting point.

 

Below are some strategies for starting the semester off on the right foot:

Intentionality – Rather than watching the semester fly by like a kite being dragged by the wind, I’m going to be a little more intentional about my planning. First, I’m going to try and stop my work early (in other words, not when I’m already 10 minutes late for the daycare pickup), and “take stock” for a second. What priority tasks have to be accomplished the next day, and in what order should I tackle them when I arrive to the office? I’m also going to schedule a coffee or lunch meeting with a colleague every few weeks because I know that type of break will help me stay energized. And if I don’t put something on the calendar in advance, it will be November before I remember to even think about doing it!

Focus on Positive Colleagues and Conversation – I love venting as much as the next person, but I realize that after a while it can bring me down. Not to mention that I can also start to spread my own negativity and bring others down. My goal for this semester is to complain a little less, and to try and get extra time with those colleagues who lift me up (see Intentionality above).  I’m also going to adopt one of Dr. Christine Carter’s 19 ways to reduce workplace stressStop talking about how busy and stressed I am. Dr. Carter reminds us that the more we talk about being busy (even if it’s just in our head), the more we’re actually training our brains to believe we should be freaking out.

Mix Things Up – There are positive things I sometimes want to try but hold back from doing because they sound like they will be too complicated, take up too much time, or adjust the family routine in some challenging way. Ironically, it may be just those things that I need in my month or semester to stay positive. Exercising early one morning while my husband gets the kids ready, scheduling a monthly get-together for drinks with a friend, using that gift card I got three years ago for a massage, or trying a new craft or cooking class. Why not treat one of these like an experiment in my life, and see how it works? Will it be disruptive or time-consuming? Maybe. Will it help with my self-care? Maybe. I’m guessing I’ll really enjoy it and it will give me that burst of positivity I might need, but I won’t know until I try…

What will be your strategies for starting Fall with positivity? 

 

This article originally appeared on hopefulmama.com on 8/28/16.

The Practice of Mindfulness and Self-Care

This post originally appeared on Dr. Karisse Callender’s blog Islander Journey on July 9, 2018.


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Karisse Callender

We hear the words mindfulness and self-care often – at least it seems so. But what does it really mean for you? Let’s take a moment to answer a few questions:

 

 

 

  • How do you practice being mindful in your daily living?
  • What do you do to take care of yourself?
  • How do you cope with stressful situations?
  • What are the signs that you are becoming either overwhelmed or experiencing burnout?
  • When you get up on mornings, what motivates you to begin your day?
  • What do you think about just before bed?

Living a mindful life is so much more than sitting down to meditate or going to a yoga class. It’s about active awareness of what’s happening at the moment, and being able to fully experience what is happening. For example, if someone is talking to you and you are on your phone or laptop at the same time but say you are listening – you’re not being mindful. In this case, being mindful would mean that you put your phone down or turn away from the computer to give that person your undivided attention. While listening to the person, you are aware of what they are saying, how they are feeling, and how you respond to what you hear.

Self-care somewhat speaks for itself – it’s about taking care of your needs in several areas. Here are some examples:

  • physical body: eg., getting your yearly check-up, exercise, nutrition, sleep, medication as prescribed.
  • emotional and mental: eg., taking medication as prescribed, meditation
  • financial: eg., managing debt, keeping a budget, having some savings.
  • spiritual: eg., prayer, meditation, support groups, place of worship.
  • environment/social: eg., safe housing/community, job, community groups, clean environment, social connections/friends.

There are several ways to practice self-care (some are even free!) and the most important thing is to do what works for you. We all have different needs, therefore, our self-care activities may vary. Here are some examples:

  • getting enough sleep
  • journaling
  • going to the beach/lake
  • hanging out with friends/loved ones
  • get yourself a treat
  • have someone you can trust to share when you feel stressed or overwhelmed
  • get some exercise (outdoor walking, gym membership, etc.)
  • listen to your favorite music and you can even make fun playlists!
  • social support
2018-03-11 10.59.43

One of the ways I practice self-care and mindfulness at the same time is when I read. I like being fully absorbed in the book and diving into the words. I like the imagery that my brain creates as I read the stories! Another way I practice mindfulness is when I drink tea. I sip slowly and try to savor the taste of the tea. I try to drink the tea in silence and sometimes I read or watch tv while doing it (oops! ha!).

Mindfulness and self-care are connected as they both represent a way of life. I refer to both as a practice because they require intention, consistency, determination, and the belief that you deserve all good things.

How can you practice mindfulness? What are some things you can do for your self-care?

“Be you, love you. All ways, always.” 
― Alexandra Elle


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