December 1st, 2017—“How do you see yourself changing the world?”  My friend Mark and I were enjoying a pint and conversation one evening.  Spending time with Mark is a blessing as he often brings me new insights and perspectives on the world.  He shares stories about managing retirement accounts and I tell him stories of teaching.  We both love riding bikes so we have that in common.  Mark was telling me that five years ago he started asking his clients, “How do you see yourself changing the world?”  This question has obvious practical application as he manages his client’s investments toward an end goal.  But the wisdom of his question goes even deeper.  As his clients untangle their answer to his question Mark learns something about their inner-drivers and motivations.  With this understanding he can both honor his fiduciary obligation to provide responsible investment recommendations and he invites his client to see their investment choices within a larger context.  “How do you see yourself changing the world?

As Mark told his story my teacher heart felt the kind of lifting that tells me that I need to pay attention to the strange alchemy of relationship, storytelling, personal-integrity, and mystery that was unfolding.  I wondered how I would answer the question as a professor and teacher educator; “Paul, how do you see yourself changing the teaching world?”  By disposition and academic training I tend to initially lean into the bigness of the question. I contemplate macro-themes of change like: equity, social-justice, transcendence, and the fullness of what it means to be human.  These are worthy ways to change the world and they should rest deep within the instructional motivations of a teacher.  But there is so much more to the question Mark asks: “How do you see yourself changing the world?”

As his story unfolded Mark described a painting hanging on his office wall.  His dad was the artist.  The image is a pond in the late evening light, someplace in the northeast.  The surface is mirror smooth except for a trout rising and the concentric ripples echoing out toward the distant shoreline. I know this kind of place. I’ve spent many days in and around northeast ponds.  They are magical like so many places in nature.  To catch their wisdom I need to sit quietly and let the ineffable speak.  With his dad’s painting in my mind’s eye and his question rattling around in my psyche, my teacher-heart lurched even deeper into a place of meaning and understanding.  Sure the bigness of teaching matters; we teach in context (race, class, gender, politics, and history).  To discount these elements does grave injustice to student learning and the gifts of teaching.  The pond exists only in relationship to the shoreline, the trees reflected on its surface, the loon calling from a hidden cove, and the ethereal nature of the sky.  Yet in the midst of the bigness a single solitary trout rises as it is called to do by the deep wisdom of its species—a wisdom universal to all trout—a wisdom passed down generation to generation by trout in response to the particularities of this particular pond.

Two elements of this metaphor resonate with my teacher heart.  One, to initiate change I must rise from the deep and safe places of my teaching—the world of water that I know well—and break the surface of the pond.  I must be willing to venture into a less secure and somewhat alien environment; every trout realizes at a minimum, through reflex, that the world beyond the surface of the pond is deadly.  And every trout understands through eons of evolution that food and survival exist just on and slightly above the surface of the divided worlds.  I think this is an insightful description of when I’m at my best as a teacher.  I’m willing to leave the comfort of my tried and true curriculum and instructional strategies and rise toward the surface disturbances that call me toward risk, uncertainty, danger, and the potential for sustaining rewards; toward learning.

The second element of the rising trout that speaks to my understanding of change in teaching are the ripples working their way toward the shoreline.  The little waves disturb the quiet surface of the pond as they migrate outward from the original impulse of the trout to rise; to risk the unknown.  As much as context in teaching matters what may ultimately be of greater importance are the micro-waves of disturbance created by my smaller and more intimate teaching acts. The little things matter: saying hello to students as they enter the classroom, listening to the ways my students struggle with content, breathing deeply before I engage a student in conversation, and trusting my instructional instincts. “How do you see yourself changing the world?”  I see myself changing the world of teaching, or more pointedly the lives of my students, through little acts of instructional integrity.  The ripples that spread out across the surface of my teaching with intentional energy that ultimately changes the shoreline, the macro-conditions of teaching.  Sure this is a long and slow process, outcomes I will likely never see, and I must always work to change the context, but these micro-actions are well within my ability to rise and engage.  “How do you see yourself changing the world?

The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Teacher Education Program (TEP) has received accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Such accreditation is quality assurance that the program meets standards set by organizations representing the academic community, professionals, and other stakeholders. To maintain accreditation the institution or program must undergo a similar review on a regular basis every 7 to 10 years.

“At the Morgridge College of Education we strive for excellence in everything that we do, which is why we chose to pursue CAEP accreditation. National accreditation denotes a commitment to best practices and continual quality improvement that we at Morgridge feel is important for our teacher candidates as well as the students and families that they will serve as well. The programs that have CAEP accreditation are national leaders in the field and we are very excited to be a part of this prestigious group,” Dr. Karen Riley, Dean of the Morgridge College of Education said.

In the wake of dubious providers of educational offerings – or “degree mills” – educator accreditation is a seal of approval that assures programs prepare new teachers to know their subjects, their students, and have the clinical training that allows them to enter the classroom ready to teach effectively. The Morgridge College of Education is the most accredited college at the University of Denver. The CAEP accreditation is reflective of MCE’s commitment to achieving the highest educational standards available.

“These institutions meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said CAEP President Dr. Christopher A. Koch. “Seeking CAEP Accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”

Preparing for CAEP accreditation is a three-year process that involves rigorous internal and external assessment and reporting, which culminates with an on-campus site review. MCE’s CAEP accreditation process was led by Jessica Lerner, EdS, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of Teacher Education, and Maria Salazar, PhD, Associate Professor Teacher and Learning Sciences and Teacher Education Program.

CAEP accreditation has a direct impact on the entire educational ecosystem:

  • P-12 Learners – outcomes based evidence ensures all learners are at the center of determining effectiveness of educators
  • Teacher Educators – because the process is infused with research and development, the knowledge base of effective practice will grow
  • State Education Agencies – provides a strong partner for quality assurance, helps connect the national consensus on preparation to state-level policy and provide support for a state’s own authorization/accountability system
  • Education Professionals – rigorous standards elevate the profession

TEP offers an intensive, integrated, one-year professional preparation experience. Apprentice teachers receive field placement for the entire academic year, with a gradual release of teaching responsibility over the year.

As part of its commitment to placing qualified teachers in underserved schools, the Morgridge College of Education has partnered with the Denver Public School (DPS) district to create Urban Teacher Fellowships (UTF). These competitive fellowships provide additional financial support for those students dedicated to working in one of the high-needs urban schools within DPS.

The MCE Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department hosted a Transformation Leadership Roundtable which featured Dr. Carolyn Shields, former Dean of Education at Wayne State University and expert on inclusive excellence and equitable learning. Shields discussed her most recent book Transformative Leadership in Education: Equitable and Socially Just Change in an Uncertain and Complex World.

Dr. Kristina Hesbol, ELPS assistant professor, served as the moderator for the event. Roundtable participants included:

  • Sarah Bridich, ELPS PhD graduation & adjunct
  • Doris Candelarie, PhD, ELPS clinical assistant professor
  • Mohsen Alzahrani, ELPS PhD student

After the roundtable discussion, Shields fielded questions from the audience, followed by a book signing.

On November 6, 2017 Judy Marquez Kiyama, Associate Professor of Higher Education, was featured on EdLab’s vlog, The Voice, as a supplement to her co-authored article, “Fighting for respeto: Latinas’ stories of violence and resistance shaping educational opportunities” published in Teachers College Record. Kiyama and her co-researchers looked at experiences of Latina youth in New York state when embedded within a larger social context influenced by gender, ethnic/racial identity, socioeconomic status, language, and sociospatial, and political characteristics that can negatively impact their daily lived experiences. Their research was guided by two questions: How are Latina students’ schooling experiences influenced by acts of violence? How do Latina students respond to these acts of violence?

As part of KUSA Channel 9 Denver’s Recovery Week special on addictions, news anchor TaRhonda Thomas interviewed Counseling Psychology (CP) Addictions Specialization director, Mike Faragher. Faragher is a Level II National Gambling Counselor, as a Board Approved Clinical Consultant by the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board, and as Level III Senior Addiction Counselor by Colorado Office of Behavioral Health. Dr. Andi Pusavat, Counseling Service Clinic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor addressed addiction causes in a live interview during the broadcast. Faragher and Pusavat were joined by Amy Hudson, CP PhD student, Wesley Pruitt, ’15 CP MA grad, and Tammy Pope, MS, NCGC1 from Choice Counseling & Recovery. All five manned the live phone lines answering questions on a wide range of addiction issues and connecting callers with local resources and support groups, including MCE’s Counseling and Educational Services Clinic.

You can find more photos from the interview in our Flickr album.

The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and Denver Public School (DPS) System celebrated 15 years of one of the most successful private college–public school partnerships in the nation with a reunion held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, November 14th. The DU Ritchie Program for School Leaders, was originally created to address the need for highly competent and socially responsible school leaders; namely principals and superintendents.

In its 15-year history the innovative partnership has been credited with producing the majority of Denver’s public school leaders, including:

  • 82 principals
  • 107 assistant principals
  • 4 instructional superintendents

In the current 2017-18 academic year 38 principals and 71 assistant principals in DPS are graduates of the DU Ritchie program. Many of whom have the longest tenure in DPS, have successfully led turnaround efforts, and were the first to achieve innovation status in their school leadership.

In addition to recognizing such milestones, the commemorative event reunited program graduates, professors and mentors from across its 15-year history. Individuals instrumental with founding and sustaining the leadership program were presented with a custom piece of artwork created by West Leadership Academy 11thgrader Julian Urbina-Herrera, and his assistant principal Cris Sandoval, a 2005 Ritchie Program graduate.

Among those individuals recognized for their leadership and support:

Program founders:

  • Ginger Maloney, former dean, MCE at DU
  • Jerry Wartgow, former DPS Superintendent
  • Tony Lewis, Exec Director Donnell-Kay Foundation

Program Namesake:

  • Dan Ritchie, former DU Chancellor

Co-creators of the program:

  • Maureen Sanders, former director of leadership development, DPS
  • Dick Werpy, former DU professor
  • Susan Korach, dept. chair, MCE at DU

More information about the DU Ritchie Program for School Leaders is available here.

More photos from the event can be found on our Flickr album.

The 9th annual Students of Color Diversity Celebration was held November 7th in Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Katherine Ruffatto Hall. The event showcased the College’s commitment to producing a new generation of change agents passionate about working together to create an inclusive and diverse community for all students.

After opening remarks by Dean Karen Riley, Dr. Lolita Tabron, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, facilitated the panel discussion.

The panelists described their experiences as first-generation and underrepresented students, as well as the unique challenges that their individual culture has on their educational career. Several panelists stressed the value of the cohort model used at MCE and described how faculty members embrace all students into the academic community. During the Q&A session, panelists discussed scholarship opportunities for students and the funding of graduate degrees, work life balance, and the need for commitment to your degree.

The Students of Color event was created by Dr. Frank Tuitt, MCE Higher Education faculty and current Sr. Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion.

This year’s student panelist included:

See photos from the event here or view the entire panel discussion here.

November 17th, 2017—For a story to be told about teaching there must be a person on the other end listening.  In my last post I wrote about the art of storytelling as articulated by J.D. Vance in “Hillbilly Elegy.” In this post I want to explore the art of listening as described by the southern novelist David Joy in his essay, “Digging in the Trash.” When asked at a book signing what he thought would help the people he knows in Appalachia, Joy responded:

Just listen. The truth is we live in a world where we don’t listen to people anymore. So often we’re just waiting for the next opening to respond. What we need to realize is that sometimes people don’t need advice. Sometimes people just need to be heard. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is just to keep our mouth shut and let them empty themselves into our hands. When they’re finished, we don’t need to do anything with what they’ve given us. We just need to show them that we’re holding it for them till they can catch their breath.

Joy’s suggestion to “just listen” seems like sound advice to me.  What a gift to give a teacher, listening to stories with no purpose other than to hear what is being shared.  No agenda.  No outcome. No advice giving.  No need to pre-think how to fix the situation.  Just listen in a way that creates a space where the teacher can empty out emotions, understandings, questions, wonderment, or frustrations.  The listener embracing the honor of holding those stories with integrity and humility for however long it takes the teacher to “catch their breath”, pick up their craft knowledge, and reengage the complexities of teaching.  Here are some questions to ask a teacher that might invite a round of storytelling and deep listening.

  • What aspect of your day left you breathless and full of wonder?
  • Fill in the blank with a metaphor; teaching is like a _________.  And why?
  • Tell the story of a student who changed your approach to teaching.
  • If you could thank an influential teacher, what would you tell that person about why you became a teacher?

Joy’s advice seems easy to practice when at least two people are present; the teacher and the listener. But does his guidance hold true if the only person present is the teacher?  The form of listening Joy describes is even more important when practiced as self-listening; when the teacher listens with intention to self-stories. When the organ of listening is no longer the ears but instead is the heart, the source of deep wisdom.  Like partner listening, self-listening is best practiced without an agenda, outcome, or advice giving. What matters is a willingness to trust the inner-voice communicating about the call to teach; a desire that is characteristically soft-spoken, gentle, truthful, and persistent.  The gift of self-listening is an invitation to empty out into your own hands; to hold the deep truths about your teacher-self until you catch your breath and are ready again to take on the role of teacher.  This is no easy task as most teachers are skilled at practicing a form of humility that borders on denial; a resistance to praise and the naming of talents and ability.  Here are some questions to ask that might elicit a response from your inner teacher who in my experience is more than willing to engage in conversation. Your job; just listen.

  • When you are struggling with the question of whether or not to keep teaching, why do you come back?
  • In what ways does teaching encourage you to be more fully yourself?
  • What aspects of teaching fill you with an overflowing sense of wonder and awe?

Laura Finkelstein (PhD ’14), has been keeping very busy since graduating from Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver (DU). She spent the first year of her post-graduate professional career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She then accepted a position as a staff psychologist at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) Counseling Center until she was promoted to Outreach Coordinator. In her roles at UTD, she provided individual counseling for students dealing with a broad range of concerns, from adjustment issues to the emergence of more severe mental health symptoms. She ran several groups, including an Expressive Arts Therapy Group, a Men’s Issues Group, and a Self-Compassion group. She also oversaw outreach training, coordination, and provision for UTD students and staff.

More recently, Laura moved back to Washington, DC to be closer to family and has since opened her own private practice where she sees adults with a range of concerns and symptoms.  She focuses on trauma, relationship issues, men’s issues, and expressive art therapy, and she just recently accepted a position as the Director of the Counseling Center at Marymount University.

Laura remembers her time at DU and Morgridge fondly, particularly the relationships she built with faculty and instructors.

“They embodied the type of compassionate, curious psychologists I wanted to be, and in many ways continue to be important examples to me,” Finkelstein said. She also appreciated the broad scope of experiences and counseling skills that were a part of both the MA and PhD programs, which prepared her well for an assortment of challenges she has faced professionally.

Finkelstein was initially drawn to the field of counseling based on her fascination with people’s stories; their childhood, relationships to self and others, and construction of narratives. Before entering the field as a student and eventually a professional, Laura wrote for a fashion magazine but found that she was more interested in how individuals functioned psychologically in the industry than she was the fashion itself.

“I applied to the MA program to see if these interests would fit for me as a career,” she said. “Absolutely loving it from day one, I knew I wanted to continue through a PhD program and make a professional life out of psychology.”

“DU first came on my radar because I had a lot of friends from the East Coast, where I grew up, who had recently moved to Denver and loved the lifestyle. Through my research of the program and my interview, I was excited by the breadth of learning and experiences offered by the counseling program. The people in the program, my cohort and professors, kept me going and feeling inspired professionally.”

In the future, Finkelstein is open to different roles as a psychologist, including further work in counseling centers, either in a teaching or administrative capacity. In whichever direction her career in the field of counseling moves, she feels very prepared for a wide array of positions, which is one of things she appreciates most about having her degrees in Counseling Psychology.

“The path of a counseling psychology student, especially a Ph.D. candidate, was not always smooth,” she said. “There were many challenges and I definitely had moments where I questioned if I could do it. I have so much admiration and respect for students in these programs. To them I want to say, this can be such a rewarding and meaningful path, and it does get easier!”

The Higher Education Department and the MCE Alumni Office hosted a panel discussion that explored the impact of the U.S. Department of Education’s recent announcement on Title IX enforcement. The panel, moderated by Dr. Michelle Tyson, Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education, discussed the challenges associated with implementing the Title IX directive.

Panelists Included:
Dr. Becky Broghammer, Conflict Mediator and Title IX Investigator, University of Northern Colorado
Dr. Elena Sandoval-Lucero, Vice President, Boulder County Campus, Front Range Community College
David Anderson, Title IX Investigator, University of Denver

Photos from the event may be viewed on our Flickr album.

On Tuesday, November 7, Morgridge College of Education alumna Dr. Carrie Olson (PhD, ’16) was elected to represent district 3 on the school board for Denver Public Schools. Olson beat out incumbent Mike Johnson 52% to 48%. Olson graduated from Morgridge in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


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