Pedagogo Podcast S4 Epilogue

Pedagogo S4 Epilogue: Returning to the Roots of Community

In the epilogue to Pedagogo Season 4, Dr. Divya Bheda takes some time to reflect on the season’s topics. She highlights themes from conversations with guests, explores the potential for growth and nourishment in the communities we are rooted in, and provides action items to help put these ideas into practice.

Meet Divya Bheda, Ph.D., ExamSoft Director of Education and Assessment

Dr. Divya Bheda (she/her) has over a decade of experience in leading program evaluations, assessments, and social justice training. She has experience championing curricular innovation and learning outcomes assessment that enables authentic engagement and deep learning. Her curricular-assessment-evaluation work has spanned general education, higher education administrative units, academic programs and certificates, and student support services. She has experience in both online and brick and mortar educational contexts, and her expertise spans building organizational responsiveness, catalyzing andragogical/pedagogical excellence, advocating for equity and social justice issues, and enhancing student success. She approaches data, strategic-planning, and decision-making using a formative, utilization-focused, equity-building lens. She is committed to advancing collaborative, transformative, and restorative learning in a safe space for professional accountability and growth for all higher education professionals.

Dr. Bheda holds a Ph.D. in Critical and Socio-Cultural Studies in Education from the University of Oregon, an M.S. Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon, an M.A. in Mass Communication / Media Studies from the University of Madras, and an undergraduate degree in Psychology, English Literature, and Communication from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

Transcript:

Announcer:

Pedagogo. The podcast for anyone and everyone in higher education.

In our epilogue to Season 4, host Dr. Divya Bheda reflects on her conversations with guests, shares some final thoughts on community, and provides some action items to help put ideas from this season into practice.

Announcer:

Pedagogo, brought to you by ExamSoft, the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When assessment matters, ExamSoft has you covered.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Hello, dear listeners. Thank you for tuning in to the epilogue of Season Four: Community and Connections for Equity and Success.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

As I was planning the interviews and the guests for this season, I remember being a little nervous about this topic. Why should we be talking about community when we are focused on education and assessment? But what kept coming up for me was, in every conversation, someway or another, there was a reference to community, or to people, or to support, or to help. There were conversations about mentorship, about networking, about referencing, and building on other people’s initiatives and innovation.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, one way or another, the idea of being connected, staying connected, building that community, having that network of people that you can count on, that humanity, was really important.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

You’ve heard from various guests about how they see being in community to be. Right? We have heard people talk about community as belonging, a sense of belonging, diverse identities that weave together, working together towards a shared vision, mission, working with groups of people with similar values, coming together with consensus over shared ideas and goals, feeling psychological safety, feeling trust, feeling accountable and inspired. We’ve heard all of this, about being in community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And, of course, in the last episode the imagery that came into mind was that of waves, or even a fabric, where the patterns are interwoven, and you step in and step out of community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

For me, what comes up, as an analogy, when I think about community, is actually like nature and land. I see us as a tree, let’s say. And I see the community as fertile ground.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And, so, we need to root ourselves deeply in that fertile ground to get nourished, to stand strong, to stand tall, so that we can grow, thrive, branch out even further (laughs), uh, offer shade to a wider group.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, as much as we stay rooted and stay strong, we are able to connect more, offer shade more, give more, because we are nourished. The nourishment that you get and the roots that help you stay strong and steady, no matter how strong the winds are, whether it’s a tornado or a hurricane, whatever hits you, you stay strong. And you’ll grow your branches and extend that shade, to provide strength to others, to provide shade to others. That’s the analogy, when I think of, of community, that it is that fertile ground and soil that you can kind of sink your roots into and be protected and be nourished and be safe.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

When I look back at the last few years and our path forward now, I see humanity to this whole process of education and assessment, as being central to everything that we do. Every success that I see happening in education or assessment or accreditation is a combined effort. Someone serves as a mentor. Someone serves as a resource. Someone is a friend. Someone is a collaborator. There’s just a connection, in one way or another, for us to be able to succeed individually or collectively. And it’s just some combination of working together to achieve something, truly. We don’t do anything alone, really.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And, so, that’s why community felt like it was truly important. Because it is people coalescing, advocating, enriching, inspiring, building, and doing all of that together. It is not a one-person show.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, having said all of this, you’ve heard from our wonderful guests. I know I have grown so much, through being in community and in conversation, connecting with our guests, uh, just unbelievable insights, nuggets of wisdom, just enriching, inspiring thoughts and ideas and conversations. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, I wanna leave you with three big ideas that stood out for me, as action items almost, for you to take into your own educational, personal, and professional contexts.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, the first one is, please actively create communities in your classroom. Find it for yourself, in your professional spaces, and help your students see the value of finding it for themselves, in the classroom and outside of it. Help them see the value of collaborative work. Help them see the value of building networks and communities that they can go back to and rely on when tough times come up. Student stress is at high levels right now. We have been reading about faculty stress, you know, general citizenship burnout.

 

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And so, now, more than ever, we need that nourishment from our communities, and we need to teach it as a skill that we value. It cannot be an afterthought. To teach it as a skill that we value, we also need to assess it. So, it is an underestimated skill, but a skill that is needed to be taught in classrooms today. With the type of communication that happens in social media, where people can check in and check out after saying something, where they don’t see the impact of their words or relationships can seem deep, but are not really deep.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

We need our students to understand that, having each other, or finding spaces to grow, to thrive, to be your full self, bring your full humanity in, is really, really important, where there is no facade, where you’re stripped of all the artifice, so to speak, and you’re able to just be yourself. So, I think that’s really important, and we need to teach it as a skill. It’s not automatic. It’s not ingrained. And I would argue that it is an essential skill. It’s relationship-building.

 

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Relationship-building is a critical skill, and folks need to learn how to do that intentionally and seek it intentionally. Leaders need to offer it intentionally in institutions. And if we are in virtual environments, active time needs to be allocated for relationship-building. It’s just really important.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, point number one. There is just so much research to show that, in the workplace, as well as in classrooms, that sense of belonging is so important. Feeling like you matter is so important. Feeling like you can be safe, you can make mistakes, you can grow, you can be inspired, all of that is so important. And working towards common goals, underwritten by common values, is so essential to anyone and everyone’s success.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, keeping in mind online modalities, online environments, and in-person environments, please create communities for yourself and, actively, proactively, help your students create communities of their own. And in your classroom, in whatever course you teach, figure out ways in which you can help students connect with each other, build communities with each other, work on problem-solving or work on assignments together.

 

Dr. Divya Bheda:

But help them. Just even articulating why you think that they need to get to know each other, connect with each other, so that they can serve as a resource later on in their life, is really important.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

The second request is please spend time teaching and learning about conflict resolution skills. We all, as educators, need to get in touch with our own psychosocial and emotional needs, behaviors, our reflexes. We need to be in touch with how we are feeling and how we are reacting, and how we deal with stress, how we deal with grief, how we deal with change. We need to be cognizant and metacognitive about all of our own internal processes.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And, simultaneously, we need to be vulnerable. We need to be courageous. And with that, we need to help everyone around us feel empowered and feel like they have agency and feel like we are all powerful.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

We need to recognize that community can uplift us or can hold us back, too. And, so, we need to spend time letting our guard down. And that requires the stripping of the masks, getting down on the floor (laughs), when we think of our party analogy. It’s like at the end of the party, right? When everyone’s losing their ties. Everyone’s relaxed, and everyone’s in community with each other, talking the real talk, so to speak.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And, so, that’s what we need to encourage and, for that, we do need to be able to talk across difference. We do need to be able to understand how to generate, or create, or facilitate consensus. We do need to understand what it takes to be vulnerable, that we don’t have to be the experts. We can shed our imposter syndromes, and we can be ourselves. That gives permission to others to be themselves, and then we can truly, authentically, connect with each other because we get to know each other on the real, human level.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So that’s my second action item, we need to spend some time learning how to be vulnerable and learning how to be courageous, learning how to engage in conflict resolution, how to communicate across difference, across conflict, how to be constructive, how to be appreciative, all of that. So, communication, basically, becomes a big part of building community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And the third, last thing that I wanna share is that you are not alone. I think this is so important that, in every challenge we face, every tough situation, when you most want to withdraw from, you know, the world or from your colleagues. When you feel all alone, that you are the one person working on something or seeing something that shouldn’t be happening that is happening, or a new way of doing things that no one else sees or no one else appreciates or values, to just know that you’re not alone.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

When you feel like you want to retreat and curl up, and you’re so frustrated with the way things are or how slow change is, or how fast change is, or how decisions are getting made, to just know that there are folks like you who are looking for the exact support and connection that you are, to feel validated the way you are feeling the need, to feel appreciated the way you are feeling the need.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

There is just so much in the educational world, so much learning that we all have to do, and we need to come together to make this world a better place. We need to come together (laughs) to find each other, to support each other, to nourish each other. And we need to be that for our students too, to help nurture them to be amazing professionals, amazing citizens of this world, good human beings, and to advance public good, to catalyze it. Right? And to imagine and create better ways of being.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And we usually can’t do that alone. It takes a whole village, and it takes all of us. And, so, as we struggle, as we toil, just knowing that we are not alone and that we can reach out, and there are folks exactly like us, toiling exactly like us, struggling exactly like us, who can probably give us some solutions, or help us problem-solve, or just be a listening ear, knowing that and keeping that in mind, so that we reach out to this community when in need, is so important.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

A lot of times, when we are most in need, we don’t reach out. And that’s not the best thing. So, when you’re struggling with a student problem, when you’re struggling with a challenging colleague or a leader, the fact that we don’t reach out or don’t problem-solve in a collective way, actually is a disservice to ourselves.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, keeping in mind all the amazing advice that our guests have shared with us, all the insights, all the ideas for ways in which we can build community, sustain it, advance it, with intention, with courage, with trust and active love. I think that’s the future.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Everything that we do, when we’re thinking about equity, about student success, when we’re thinking of coming together to say, “How do we look at our systems, how our education system is built, how our practices are built, our policies are written, how we do work together, to change things for the better?” We have to do all of that in community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So, I hope you go back to your own worlds and create that wonderful community for yourself and just succeed with flying colors.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Thank you again for listening to all the episodes in Season Four, and thank you for listening to this epilogue. I hope you have a wonderful summer, and stay tuned for the next season. Thank you, again, for tuning in and for spending your time listening to me. Take care, everyone. Be well. This is Divya Bheda signing out.

Announcer:

Pedagogo, brought to you by ExamSoft, the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When assessment matters, ExamSoft has you covered.

Announcer:

This podcast was produced by Divya Bheda and 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.

Announcer:

The views and opinions expressed by the hosts or guests of this show are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of ExamSoft or any of its officials, nor does any appearance on this program imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Additionally, reference to any specific product, service, or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ExamSoft.

Announcer:

This podcast is the property of ExamSoft Worldwide, LLC, and it’s protected under US and international copyright and trademark laws. No other use, including without limitation, reproduction, retransmission, or editing of this podcast may be made without the prior written permission of ExamSoft.

 

Published: July 5, 2022

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