One month ago today I was in tropical Victoria (tropical compared to Ontario mid-winter), where I found myself among friends. The Educational Developers’ Caucus is the annual meeting I have come to look forward to most of all the conferencing and PD events I might have the privilege of participating in each year. Few other events leave me reflecting, one month later, on what it all means for my professional practice. What have I come to take away?
Educational Development is a Maze
In a session by Barbara Berry (Simon Fraser University) and Laura Kinderman (Queen’s University), we used images (like the one above) to reflect on our practice as Educational Developers. The maze has stuck with me, since that session, as the metaphor that fits most comfortably these days. The maze at first appears to have one designate path. Avoid the barriers (the holes and walls) and you’ll make it to the end successfully. But what about the space off the path, where there are no barriers but new opportunity? And what about those holes? Where do they lead?I keep turning this metaphor over and over.
There is no single path in Educational Development. We are varied and nuanced in our practices. We invite new opportunities but are sometimes prevented from exploring them, whether by our own or Institutional barriers. I find it is Educational Developers who are the most likely to stare back into a metaphorical black hole and wonder what is down there. How might we harness our curiosity to take those leaps of faith that lead to innovative, leading edge places of our work?
Positive Psychology for Survival
After attending Natasha Kenny’s (University of Calgary) session on Flourishing and Positive Psychology, I was inspired to develop my own personal care plan following her sage advice. In her session she drew upon Seligman’s PERMA model:
- Positive Emotions
And from that, I’ve been reflecting on the many ways in which I can shape for myself tangible ways of bringing each element of PERMA into my life – personally and professionally. I spend more time with my beloved Bullet Journal now, taking the time to identify some PERMA goals for myself and sticking with them each day. For example, I’m finding little ways, each day, to practice creativity. Whether it’s painting paper Easter eggs with my 3 year old or tinkering with a new educational technology.
Of all the things I took to heart from EDC, it is the relationships that I value most. So much of EDC 2018 was focused on Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being – how we reconcile and bring reconciliation into our practice as Educational Developers meaningfully and sustainably. I learned new and powerful ways of introducing myself, of being with other people and sharing space. Of supporting one another, not just through the happy, exciting possibilities of reconciliation work but the messy, ugly, gut-knotting phases of it, too.
Thank you to those who made EDC 2018 so impactful for me – both in Victoria and beyond. One month out, I continue to feel revived thanks to the positivity and support granted to me through community and relationships, such that I might continue to navigate my own way through a messy maze of Educational Development, stare down into the holes and see them not as traps but as whole new spaces.