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S3E8: Bringing the Big Ideas Back Home

In this episode, Dr. Divya Bheda recaps the highlights of this season’s seven episodes, touching on common themes. Dr. Bheda shares her own reflections, along with suggested next steps so that you can bring these big ideas into your work as an educator.

Announcer:

Pedagogo the show that brings education to your ears and meta mastery to your assessments. Today’s episode recaps the big ideas, trends, and topics covered throughout the season. Pedagogo brought to you by ExamSoft the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When integrity matters ExamSoft has you covered.

Divya Bheda:

Hello again, listeners. Welcome to the final episode of season three of Pedagogo, Big Ideas and Trends in Education. I hope you have enjoyed the season as much as I have. This was my very first time playing host on a podcast, and I had a lot of fun, just because the guests were so wonderful and because I got to learn so much. And I hope you have too.

Divya Bheda:

In this last episode, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my learning, thoughts, reflections, as I was talking to all our guests, each of our guests. So, what I want to do is share with you some thoughts that came up for me that I didn’t get an opportunity to share while I was interviewing our amazingly experienced guests, who came on this season. And then, also, weave possibly a thread that you may or may not have noticed, but weave a few threads connecting these episodes together and what came up for me as I listened to them, as I was interviewing all of these guests. So, I hope you enjoy this final episode.

Divya Bheda:

It is a wrap up episode. If you would like to share your feedback or thoughts with us about who you’d like to hear from, what interviews or topics you’d like to listen to in the next season, in season four, which should be coming to you in spring 2022, please do email us at podcast@examsoft.com. Again, that’s podcast@examsoft.com.

Divya Bheda:

I actually want to start with the interview that I did with Libby Smith, where she talked about self-care, and she talked about how we need to draw boundaries, how we are working within systems that almost make us want to feel numb or make us react in a way that doesn’t allow us to care for ourselves, to recognize our own needs, to acknowledge our needs. And I found that so, so, invaluable, as I started thinking about it. Because, I, I started realizing how much our day-to-day life with COVID has been all about who we serve or what we do, the good for others as opposed to taking care of ourselves. And how we often come last in our own list of priorities, just because we think, “Oh, if we take care of everyone else, then we will be fine. And then, we will get the chance to relax.”

Divya Bheda:

And so, I think, what my conversation with Libby brought up for me was the importance of drawing boundaries, the importance of removing toxicity from our lives in whatever shape or form they may occur. The importance of paying attention to our psychosomatic needs, and how, oftentimes, our body, like whether it’s weight gain, or weight loss, or hair loss, or anxiety, or fear, or whatever it is that that’s, that’s psychosomatic, like emotional feeling that we need to recognize and pay attention to.

Divya Bheda:

I remember Brene Brown talking about how we think there are only four, or five, or eight emotions or something, and she was able to, in her research, find like over 35 emotions. And I think it’s important that the language that we have around our needs, the language that we have around our physical wellbeing, how that impacts our professional wellbeing, how that impacts our body, our mind and soul, is so important for us to stay in touch with.

Divya Bheda:

And so, Libby’s whole approach to breathwork, mindfulness, I think just reminded me again how important it is for us, as educators, that if we want to live by example and show care and demonstrate care for our students, we also have to take care of ourselves. And we can do that kindly. And we have to draw those same boundaries with people in power, right? So, it’s not just our students who often have less power than us. But even when we are working with administrators or leaders in our institution, it becomes really important to say, “I need this space,” or, “I need this time,” or to recognize what we have to say no to and how to draw those boundaries. I think they become very important.

Divya Bheda:

So, I wanted to start with that conversation and share those thoughts with you, because, again, it’s so, so, timely right now with COVID but the idea that we’re all connected, that we all impact each other, and that we need to take care of selves just as much as we take care of someone else, I think is a reality we all need to be dealing with. And then, we need to question our professional wellbeing and what those boundaries are in that professional setup for us to thrive.

Divya Bheda:

And that’s, I think, the keyword that we shouldn’t be surviving. We should be thriving. And we need to do what it takes and create a community around us that will support us, you know, in, in helping us do what we need to do for ourselves, and recognize our humanity, and accept our fallacies, accept our, our boundaries, all of that. We need to pay attention to that. So, those were, those were some thoughts that came up for me with Libby Smith’s interview. I mean, she was just spectacular and amazing (laughs), and I hope you really enjoyed the episode and the conversation that we had.

Divya Bheda:

Now, what is interesting for me is, as I think about my conversation with Libby, I also think about my conversation with Catherine. I had talked with Dr. Catherine Wehlburg and how she talks about managing change effectively. And I feel like my conversation with Catherine and my conversation with Libby are almost like two sides to the same coin, where one side is talking about self-care, drawing boundaries. And then, this other side is talking about how to invite people in. Accept that there is going to be constant change, constantly be prepared for change.

Divya Bheda:

And I think that was, again, like eye opening, because when you think of change, I think unconsciously we all work towards change or we all work towards small improvements, whether it’s in our teaching, like we see a student snoozing in the classroom (laughs), and we say, “Okay, maybe what I just did in my lecture was, was not exciting enough I need to change something.” So, we, we constantly change the way we offer teaching and learning to our students, I believe, in small and big ways.

Divya Bheda:

But then, this value, I feel what Catherine raised, at least for me, when I heard her, was, was this, how do we create continuous improvement as a value within us? How do we treat it as a value? And if we wanted to treat it as a value, then it would mean a love for failure, right? So, if we wanted continuous improvement to happen, we need to be okay with failing. And so, how, how do we create a culture where we say we value continuous improvement, we value us striving for perfection and knowing that perfection can never be achieved? And while we do that, yes, we are going to fail. And the goal would be not to fail doing the same thing again and again, but fail experimenting, trying new things, so that we can all learn from each other’s mistakes. Right?

Divya Bheda:

And so, I think that was what was exciting for me in Catherine’s conversation, that, that we need to center the fact that change will come. You know, it can be caused by external forces. It can be caused by internal forces. It can be caused by personal changes, by financial reasons, whatever it is. But if we accept that, and if we use accreditation, assessment, all as ways in which we can consciously see them as opportunities and engage in change, in planned change, we can actually make a big difference. Because, we can draw boundaries, as Libby said, suggested (laughs), you know, and still move forward in a way that’s meaningful, that allows us to fall, that allows us to grow. And we don’t stagnate. And that way, we are creating value we are future oriented. Those were some, some things that came up for me as I was listening to Catherine.

Divya Bheda:

I think the other thing that also came up was this idea that we need to have a 30,000 foot worldview on things, but also not miss the trees for the forest. Right? So, this ability that we need to hone the skill of being able to look at the big picture, and then look at like the details as well and how that’s impacting people.

Divya Bheda:

And, and her point about loss. Right? We don’t, we don’t make time to acknowledge loss. We don’t make time to recognize our own traumas, Libby said, right? So, I think that, for me, was, was huge that, yes, when change happens, there are things that we are excited about, because we’ve been obviously working towards change. And so, yes, there should be successes we celebrate. But there are like missed, maybe unknown, unintended losses that we need to consciously pay attention to, discern, and grieve. I think that was beautiful from that conversation. That was just a beautiful point.

Divya Bheda:

And it has made so much of a difference even in just how I think because I’m an assessment professional so I’m constantly working towards continuous improvement of the self, of the organization of my work, of what I can offer. And I’m constantly encouraging faculty, staff, students to do that for themselves too, both in professional and I, I do this even in my personal life. And permission I almost feel like I receive from both Libby and Catherine in different ways to grieve loss, that change is good, but there are you know the, the feeling of comfort (laughs) that the feeling of comfort that you have with patterns of behavior or with patterns of how things have been working, and to grieve that, and to allow yourself to grieve, grieve that, was I think just wonderful. So, those were some of the thoughts that I wanted to share.

Divya Bheda:

Now, I don’t know if any of you all noticed, but throughout all the conversations this season, a common thread that came up for me was this idea of student participation, student voice, student partnership. Catherine raised it. Libby and I talked about it. And I don’t remember we, whether we talked about it before the interview or during the interview. But we talked about how education often seems very oppressive, because we end up imposing the same practices that we experienced, however good or bad they were. Uh, we end up imposing those on our students. And sometimes, those are not the best for our students. We’re not, we’re not taking our students’ context, uh, into consideration. So, the common thread was this element of students and how they need to be a part of our decision making. They need to be the center, in fact, of our decision making. And how oftentimes, that’s not the case.

Divya Bheda:

And that, for me, brings me to my conversation with Dr. Robin Harwick about democratic education. And in democratic education, Dr. Art Pearl and Tony Knight’s work, it centers students when we talk about next century skills or what people call soft skills or essential skills, actually, whether it’s communication, or whether it’s like democratic citizenship, or whether it’s critical thinking, like all of that, democratic education is so key to that. Because how can you engage in your teaching approach that is like where it’s a lecture… You know, the banking model, Paulo Freire’s banking model, where it’s like the student doesn’t know anything, let’s open up his, or her, or their brain and, you know, dump knowledge. And remove whatever knowledge they have, because obviously they don’t know anything (laughs).

Divya Bheda:

Um, and how do we partner with students? And this idea of partnership is so important, because, as Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan from Lumina Foundation mentioned, our future students or even our current students, the map of them, who they are, is changing significantly. We are having a lot of students who are in the middle of their careers, what we used to call, or what we call, nontraditional students are becoming traditional students. And so, it cannot be an equation between faculty and students of students don’t know anything, they have nothing to contribute. I have the curriculum. I have all the readings. I have everything. And so, I’m going to teach them and they have to listen. It has to be, what can I learn from you just as much as you learn from me? Right? That has to be the approach.

Divya Bheda:

And I think democratic education as a framework, as a philosophy, offers so much for students to be able to offer their perspective, to be engaged in their learning, to be autonomous, to be, um, held accountable. It becomes a true partnership, because students are co-creating their learning. I mean, the way Robin described it, and you know, I, I sometimes, um, make sure that I’m paying attention to people’s posts is when you hear, oh wow, okay, so the student is giving feedback on the syllabus. And the student’s input is being asked for.

Divya Bheda:

There was, (laughs) there was someone who asked on a particular list serve that I am. They were like, “What are some good movies, inspiring movies, around education?” And so, if you think about education assessment, all of that, and, and if you, as listeners, you know, think about, what were some wow moments, or wow movies, around education that come up for you that are inspiring, that are exciting? I, I think the common theme across those are like when students are inspired, when student excel, and when students are excited about their education. And so, how do we do that in a way that’s empowering for students? Not just where we want to be considered the magician who made the magic happen, but where we are almost like the, uh, the sweeper who are clearing the garden for our students to flourish. And again, thrive is the word that comes up, but for, for our students to thrive, for our students to fully participate.

Divya Bheda:

I really encourage you to explore democratic education as way in which you can make small changes in your classroom, or maybe big changes if you’re working together as a faculty, as a group in your program, where you can embed this, these next generation skills that your students are going to pick up just because of the way you model your education to your students. So, your students are learning in a way that is exciting for them. And then, hopefully, if they ever get to a position where they are teaching, they are inspiring others in whatever way it may be, as a peer, it may be as a colleague, as a leader, whatever, they use the same principles of, of empowerment, of participation, of, of descent, of conversation, critical thinking to figure out what is the right way forward. Right? And what is good for our society and what is good for the future. Right?

Divya Bheda:

I really hope you explore democratic education, because there are so many values there. If you Google it, I think Dr. Pearl has, also has a blog that he had put together before he passed away. And there’s just some nuggets in there that just are worth exploring. As Robin said, you know, if you can put together a book reading club or something, it’s, it’s totally worth it. Because, again, having student voice, like that’s the first step towards student empowerment. And then, I would say, that’s key to student success. Because, students then feel heard, feel seen, feel understood, feel like they own their education. And what more could one want as an educator, right? Someone who’s exciting about their learning, someone who wants to, um, do the best they can for the world, for the themselves, uh, for society.

Divya Bheda:

And then, speaking of Amber and building on this theme of student participation is my conversation with Dr James Orr and with Dr. Gianina Baker, in different ways, right? So, Gianina talked about how we need to involve students in rubric design. In rubric dissemination, students need to know what they’re being graded on, how they’re going to be graded, where they failed if they do not meet or fall into a specific category under their rubric, so that they understand the metrics that are being used, so that then they can excel. Right?

Divya Bheda:

She talked about that as a part of equity in assessment. She also talked about the idea of trauma informed assessment. And I would say, I would take that one step further, and trauma informed education. It’s ironic how many times people talk about, with COVID, more flexibility, more understanding, being flexible about deadlines, all of that. And I keep thinking, pre-COVID too, you know, there were racial issues, there are racial issues, students are dealing with microaggressions, stress, trauma, historical, generational trauma. And it’s not from our, a perspective of, of, pathologizing students, and then saying, “Oh, so the student has these issues.” No, it’s, it’s to question the system that’s set up that doesn’t recognize these traumas as part of everyday life for our students, that doesn’t recognize, you know, what Grace Carroll termed this mundane extreme environmental stress that students have constantly faced.

Divya Bheda:

And now, with COVID, we, as educators, recognize like, “Oh yes, like, you’re dealing with life. Life is happening. Yes, you have a life. You’re fully human. You’re not just the one facet you present in the classroom.” But how, before that, oftentimes, students would have pathologized. Or even now, maybe are pathologized. And so, their ability to be on time, possibly, given everything else that’s happening in their life, is the only thing that’s judged, as opposed to their effort, as opposed to their commitment, as opposed to their contribution, so, the idea that we have to take the whole student into account, understand their background, understand who they are, pay attention to what they bring to the table, so that we can take that into account becomes so important. And so, I really appreciated that focus that Gianina, Dr. Baker, in our conversation talked about.

Divya Bheda:

Thinking about rubrics, thinking about being transparent in how we are grading students, constantly checking whether we are biased in some way, I think that’s kind of the self-improvement that we need to engage in as educators for ourselves. Because, again, unconscious biases. And so, we need to, as Libby said, you know, it’s like building a muscle. And she was talking about it in a different context, but we need to build that muscle to constantly question our approach and how we are looking at our students, and how we are perceiving their intent, and how we are perceiving their actions, and what worldview we are bringing in to judge them. And how are we subconsciously as well as consciously facilitating their success and passing on values and ways of being to them, so that they can, again, thrive and succeed? Those were some things that came up when I was listening to Gianina.

Divya Bheda:

And then, with Dr. Orr, that was the same thing. He talked about how, again, students oftentimes who are cheating or engaging in academically dishonest practices are doing so because they don’t necessarily have the skills, the student success skills of time management, of speed reading, of prioritization, how to deal with procrastination, or just all these like basic student success skills. Or, they have so much going on in their life that this seems the best way or the best solution, or whatever.

Divya Bheda:

And so, how do we ensure that our students understand that we are their partners, that we are their cheerleaders and champions, that we want them to succeed? How do we build that relationship with our students so that they see us as human beings? (laughs) Then, that helps foster the culture of trust and of relationship.

Divya Bheda:

And that was another theme, right as I’m talking about this stuff that came up for me, the common theme across all of these episodes was that building of relationships. Building of relationships with colleagues, with leaders, with people who report to you or who work for you, but building relationships. And what does that take? That takes time. That takes intent. That takes action. It just can’t be a, “Oh yes, I want to build relationships,” and then you do nothing about it. (laughs) Um, there is a give and take of how we have been doing things and we need to reimagine how we do things, so that we center and we prioritize building relationships.

Divya Bheda:

So, whether it’s in that first class, the first meeting of the class where you review the syllabus and ask students for feedback on the syllabus, whether it is getting to know your students, kind of a survey question, or a conversation, however you do it, it’s about building relationships. And the more relationships, the, the, the better you build relationships, the more trust you can engender. And the more trust there is, the more solid the relationship is. And, with that, you can foster academic integrity. You will, obviously, begin caring in a different way, on a different level about your students, about your colleagues, about the people you work with or the people you work for, or the people who work for you. And that will change, um, what becomes important.

Divya Bheda:

The institution will stop becoming important, but the people will start becoming important. And then, we can rethink our processes, our procedures, our policies, all of that, we will prioritize our people rather than prioritizing, you know, efficiency. Right? Because, centering people, centering relationships, centering trust, will break down silos, will help us be more effective, will help us reimagine a way of doing things that will hopefully be decolonized, hopefully will be socially just, hopefully will be equitable, now will be more accessible, uh, inclusive, you know, help our students, everyone, feel like they belong, and help everyone, I guess, again, thrive. It just comes back to thrive. Right? That word, that’s what becomes possible when we do that.

Divya Bheda:

So, those are some thoughts I had about my conversation about equity and assessment, and about integrity and restorative practices. Because restorative practices is all about accountability. And the more relationships you can build, the better you’re able to hold people accountable while being kind. Because being accountable does not mean you have to be unkind or not compassionate. Being accountable can be with compassion. Drawing boundaries, saying no, can be done with compassion.

Divya Bheda:

And then, the last couple of conversations that I want to, wanted to highlight were those with Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan and Dr. Charla Long. And what was interesting about those conversations were I personally do genuinely see the value with my understanding with competency-based education. I see such tremendous potential and value for competency-based education. Right?

Divya Bheda:

Because it goes back to the point that made earlier about this banking model, that you have to open a person’s brain (laughs), you know, and say, “Oh, they don’t know anything. Let me stuff them with all this knowledge that I have.” And if you approach education with a competency-based lens, then you’re approaching it with an asset-based approach. You are saying, “Let’s recognize what you already know as students. Let’s have you test out, so that you don’t have to spend your valuable time, and energy, and effort, in doing meaningless assignments or readings, or whatever it is. Because, you already know this knowledge. You already have some competence or these skillsets. And let’s have you focus on the areas where you need to grow, so that you can grow in the ways that are financially relevant for you professionally, career-based relevant, for you.” Right? As well, from a learning perspective, what’s important.

Divya Bheda:

So, I think that point that Dr. Charla Long talked about was really key. And, and what worries me, as an assessment professional, is just that I have seen (laughs) so, so many examples of, of, uh, poor assessment. Of course, I haven’t seen competency-based education institutions’ assessments, so not, not to talk about them. But it just seems like, in higher ed, have seen so many poor assessments that are not relevant to the student’s journey, not necessarily relevant to what the outcomes are, and what are we trying our, trying to make sure that our students know and know how to do or demonstrate. Oftentimes, we’re not even taking alumni input, we’re not taking professional input, we’re not taking student input saying, “Students, what does your future look like? What are some skillsets you need?” Nothing. We think we know it all.

Divya Bheda:

And many times, we do know quite a bit, but it’s always helpful to have multiple perspective, as Charla said. So, to bring multiple stakeholders to the table and have everyone work together to figure out what is important, what competencies are needed.

Divya Bheda:

I’ve often seen such poorly designed assessments, that the, design of the assessment becomes so important in competency-based education, I would think. Because you want to make sure the assessment is robust, and that the rubric is robust, and that it can actually capture the learning. Specifically, what is that behavioral observable learning that we need the student to be able to do or demonstrate that tells us this student has this competency.

Divya Bheda:

A lot of times I see a lot of faculty struggle with that in general. I’m not talking about competency-based education. But in general in education, in higher ed at least, I see faculty struggling with that, being able to define, what does that look like in the real world, when a student knows how to write well, or present well? And then, laying out those specific parameters, and then making sure that the student knows those parameters, and not say, “Oh, if I share those parameters with the student, that means I’m spoonfeeding them,” which is not… It’s not true, because our job as educators is to help our students understand, like, what does that look like? What does it look like to make an excellent presentation? Or what does it look like to write an exceptionally good lit review?

Divya Bheda:

We need to present our students with both the theory, the practical lists, the checklists, and examples of what that looks like, so that they can do a good job. Right? And it shouldn’t be like something (laughs) which we hide and say, “Show me in your exam. And only if you show me in your exam that you know all of these that you can do well,” which is a, it’s a false hope, I think. We have to offer students the tools, the examples, so that they can start recognizing that, homing that, and then demonstrating that in our summative evaluations.

Divya Bheda:

If anyone is engaged, or is currently engaged, in competency-based education, or considering that, I think a reorientation of assessment, of sound assessment, you know, principles, rubric design, as, as Charla mentioned, those quality principles, all that becomes important. And, in fact, I was struck by her quality principles as well, because they were so comprehensive in thinking through the whole curriculum design and educational offering process. So, it wasn’t just about assessment. It was all about these elements of sound, non-siloed ways of being of an institution, where you bring different partners along.

Divya Bheda:

And again, throughout the season, that’s what has been highlighted. Right? How do you bring down silos? How do you bring multiple stakeholders to the table? How do you have policies and processes that invite different viewpoints? Again, that was a common theme throughout, throughout, the season. So that was exciting.

Divya Bheda:

And then, finally, with Amber, I think what was fun (laughs), you know, that conversation for me was all of these resources that she shared, and like all this information about the next generation of learners, and how we need to think about stacking our credentials. And when we think about the future and what, what we, what we need in terms of education for our future students, I think she raised some really, really, good points about, how do we assess prior learning? How do we do microcredentialing? How do we do badging? And how do we take our students’ needs into con- you know into account? And how do we get the right kind of support, the right kind of investment, into education for all of that to happen? And so, that was a very beautiful conversation.

Divya Bheda:

So, Amber talked about this comprehensive learner record too. And so, that kind of speaks, I feel, in some ways, to competency-based education as well, in the sense that, how do you recognize these skillsets, very explicitly that students bring, like when you look at someone, “Oh, you know, they’re an honor student.”? Like what does that mean? What does that mean in terms of the skillset that they bring?

Divya Bheda:

And so, doing that, like having a comprehensive learner record or as Charla mentioned. I don’t know whether it’s transferring transcripts of something, but it was a transcript. Where she talked about how you would have like specific skillsets listed as opposed to just a grade. Right? Like you have those specific learning outcomes, or behaviors, or skills that would be listed.

Divya Bheda:

And I think that becomes really important. Because then that takes away, I think, if you have, again, comprehensive, solid, robust assessment, it takes away the weight of which institution you graduated from as a student. Because if you are able to say the student has demonstrated that they’re able to speak well or they’re able to present well, and then you have a portfolio… So, Amber talked about portfolios as well, as like something that’s gaining traction. And so, if you have a portfolio, we’re able to tie directly those specific skillsets to artifacts or evidence. It reduces the load on employers, future employers, because they already have, they can go in and see that evidence, and see, okay, yep, the candidate that I’m considering has all of these skillsets. We don’t have to… We can go and look at the evidence, and say, “Wow. Okay, the student has done the work,” you know. And, “The student is the right fit for us.” Because, they have the skillsets. So, I think that’s exciting, really exciting too.

Divya Bheda:

And so, as I think about this season, I know that I had loads of fun interviewing these amazing friends, colleagues, of mine. I hope you learned as much as I did. There were three big ideas that came up for me that I saw running through all the interviews. Uh, and I wanted to just share that with you. Maybe it came up for you, maybe it didn’t. But it definitely did for me.

Divya Bheda:

The first one, uh, had to do with relationship building, right, the importance of relationship building. Now, whether was James’s interview about building a culture around academic integrity that supports, and facilitates, and nurtures academic honesty, or whether it was Catherine’s interview about change management, whether it was democratic education about student voice, equity in assessment, trauma-informed assessment and education, all of it, the common theme kept coming up for me that was relationship building, that we need to recognize that we are not one faceted, even Libby’s interview about care, about self-care as well as caring for others, had to do with relationship building, with recognizing the full humanity of each other, and seeing beyond that one facet that we often come in contact, like the student. Right?

Divya Bheda:

We only see, the student as a student and not as a learner, and not necessarily as a full human being who’s having all of these experiences inside and outside the classroom that is impacting how they are able to be involved in their own education. I think that, as we move forward for the rest of this year, we really need to pay attention to and, and, nurture that relationship building aspect. I think that’s going to make a huge difference in terms of how we approach education, how we approach our teaching and learning practice. It has the power to change how we do business day-to-day as educators. So that was one theme. And I think I’m going to be emphasizing that a lot, a lot more, even in my own life and work, and training and teaching. So that’s one.

Divya Bheda:

The second theme that came up for me had to do with centering student voices, and uplifting those voices, and making sure that you get multiple perspectives. Because like Gianina Baker shared, uh, if you get one data point, oftentimes, that’s skewed. And one data point that is relevant in one context, let’s say a climate survey in certain best practices that arise out of that, climate survey in one institution doesn’t necessarily apply as best practice to an HBCU or a community college, if you think of this climate survey, and the findings, and everything coming out of like one typical four-year institution. The needs of different students and different universities are different. And so, it becomes really, really, pertinent for us to center student voices, to uplift student voices, to authentically, involve students; it shouldn’t be a a token involvement.

Divya Bheda:

And so, that, like the idea that students have a key role to play, they can own their education, the whole power they have over their growth and educational journey, whether it’s, a competency-based education, or democratic education, or whether we think of prior learning, or whether we think of portfolios or comprehensive learner records, whenever we think about assessment or education, I think having students understand what is expected of them, having them critique what is expected of them, challenging them to think about them being metacognitive about their own learning, is a key skill that we need to constantly model, and impart, and offer space for it to happen in our classrooms and in our curricula. So, I think that was the second thing that came up for me as we did the series of interviews.

Divya Bheda:

And then, the last thing that came up for me was just the importance of collaboration, of having multiple perspectives. So, you build relationships. You build trust. You know, you center students. And then we have to collaborate with each other. The U.S. higher ed system is built in ways that are very siloed. Each unit is working on its goals and its priorities, its budget, making sure that each unit is able to demonstrate their own efficacy, as opposed to coming together and shaping the whole higher education journey from a student perspective and saying, “Okay, what is the student journey like?” And so, how do we build our support systems and our relationships across academic and co-curricular services. How do we build those relationships so that we can foster learning, enable, and advance, and catalyze student success?

Divya Bheda:

For example, when Charla talked about the idea that, you know, bring your registrar, bring your financial aid office, bring your scholarships, and bring you student support services, bring them all together. Have that conversation with everyone. I mean that is how collectively we work the words of continuous improvement, like change management oriented. We create that kind of a culture. And we can adopt change. We can… Because, we are in alignment about where we want to go, why we want to go. We’re bringing in diverse perspective. Student voices are privileged. So, we have all the stakeholders at the table. And we can then prioritize what is really important. And I think that’s essential to the success of our programs moving forward, to the success of education, higher ed moving forward. Because, again, we are not getting students who are, who don’t have anything to offer.

Divya Bheda:

All our students, whether it’s young students or whether it’s nontraditional students, or older students, or coming back into education, as Amber said, that’s going to be our future in terms of who our students are, if they aren’t already, everyone has experience, has knowledge to offer, has some strengths, and skillsets, and some perspective. Yes, we need to help them home their skills, their knowledge, um, build their competencies, because we may have things, expertise, that they don’t.

Divya Bheda:

And so, if we keep that front and center, and we’re very cognizant of that, then I think we can make a world of difference in coming together from various parts of the university and working together to break down all the silos, to make technology work for everyone, to be able to collect data that’s useful, to make data-informed decisions. We can do all of that with multiple perspectives, with well-informed decisions.

Divya Bheda:

So, those were the the three things. And I want to just throw in a fourth. And that fourth one was it, it, just has to do with, with this idea of self-care. Put your oxygen mask on before you offer an oxygen mask for someone else. And we, I’ve been seeing, uh, in a lot of list serves, and social media groups. Oftentimes, we’re dealing with politics and toxicity that is detrimental to the self, detrimental to our wellbeing. There are racial justice issues. There is, uh, just so much to deal with while we’re trying to do the good work of, uh, nurturing our students and, and, supporting their success.

Divya Bheda:

And I think it is very important that we model the behaviors that we want to see, kindly, compassionately. Help foster accountability, I would say. So, you know, so foster accountability, but do it in a way that is kind, compassionate, understanding, that doesn’t dismiss the whole human being for one action, as James talked about as well.

Divya Bheda:

So, those were some thoughts that, that came to mind, that were common threads across. With COVID, playing the role that it is, we have to figure out ways in which we are in tune with our needs, so that we can be there for others as well. And so, it becomes really important, as this journey into 2022 goes on and the school year progresses, and you know, there are ups and downs and upheavals that we recognize and pay attention to, to our needs and honor each other’s needs and we can only do that, we can only honor each other’s needs if we honor our own needs.

Divya Bheda:

So, I want to leave you with the idea or with the action, possibly, for you to undertake to, um, to pay attention to ourselves and take care of ourselves, genuinely take care of ourselves. The way I like to frame it is, what advice would you give your best friend or the person, or a person, that you love, or the person that you care about? And take that advice (laughs) and apply it to yourself. Right? And so, so that’s, that’s the idea that I want to leave you with.

Divya Bheda:

I, I wish you a wonderful, wonderful, school year. Wishing you all the success as you work towards the success of your students. Please reach out to us if there is anything that we can do in terms of supporting your knowledge, growth, or having additional conversations like this in, our next season, in season four, coming in 2022. Thank you all so much for listening to season three of Pedagogo. We’ll be back next year with exciting new topics and exciting new guests. Join me again. Thank you for tuning in, and go Pedagogo.

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Pedagogo brought to you by ExamSoft the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When integrity matters, ExamSoft has you covered. This podcast was produced by Divya Bheda in the ExamSoft team, audio engineering and editing by Adam Karsten and the A2K Productions crew. This podcast is intended as a public service for entertainment and educational purposes only, and is not a legal interpretation nor statement of ExamSoft policy products or services.

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