Marsico Institute for Early Learning post-doctoral research fellow Candace Joswick’s work was recently featured on the March 2018 issue cover of Mathematics Teacher, from the Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Joswick and her co-author, Dr. Anna A. Davis from Ohio Dominican University, offer insights and activities to use geometric constructs in art to teach math.

On Monday, February 19, 2018 the University of Denver (DU) Black Alumni Affinity Group (BAA), in conjunction with the Leadership Insights program, celebrated Black History month at Cableland, the official residence of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, with a reception and conversation with Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumni Nick Dawkins (ELPS MA ’16). Dawkins is a principal with Denver Public Schools (DPS) at Manual High school, a historically black school in the Whittier neighborhood in Denver. His public conversation with Dr. Frank Tuitt, professor of Higher Education at Morgridge and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Inclusive Excellence, was preceded by remarks from Denver Councilman Albus Brooks (MBA 16’), attending on behalf of Mayor Hancock.

This annual event is meant to engage DU’s communities of color by giving them an opportunity to ask questions and provide them with information regarding how the University is addressing issues of inclusive excellence through DU’s leadership and DU Impact 2025. Dawkins was the night’s featured conversationalist.

According to Dawkins, his education at Morgridge prepared him for his current role. He firmly believes in creating a culture of happy kids in his school. Many of his students face familial or personal deportation, homelessness, trauma, and other challenges in their daily lives. He worked hard to create a culture of access where his students know they can come to him with any trouble they are facing.

Recently, Dawkins himself was facing an exceptional challenge. In the fall during a high school football game, reports of racism and a rebel flag catapulted Dawkins and Manual High into the spotlight. As the he-said-she said grew, Dawkins discovered an ally in Morgridge and in DPS. Both the district and MCE stood by Dawkins as an exceptional leader who has the best interest of his students at heart.

Dawkins is a change agent. It is something he takes very seriously and he relentlessly challenges the status-quo in order to build better a future for his students.

“If I’m not in trouble,” he says, “I’m not doing my job.”

Educational leadership and policy studies PhD student Natalie Lewis has been selected by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) as part of the 2017-2019 Jackson Scholars Program. The Jackson Scholars Program develops future faculty of color for the field of educational leadership and policy.

Lewis is the current Assistant Principal at McAuliffe Manual Middle School, part of the Denver Public School (DPS) system. A graduate of DPS Manual High School, Lewis is began her career as a substitute teacher in Philadelphia. Her experience led her to pursue an advanced degree in education in order to be a leader to underserved populations.

“I am excited, honored, and extremely privileged to receive this award,” Lewis said. “This sets me on a path to my ultimate goal to blend educational theory and practice.”

Lewis plans to utilize this program to create more equitable opportunities where educators can integrate research into their schools and classrooms.

The UCEA Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network began in November 2003 after a vote of the members of the UCEA Plenum. The two-year program provides formal networking, mentoring, and professional development for graduate students of color intending to become professors of educational leadership.

UCEA facilitates the development of a robust pipeline of faculty and graduate students of color in the field of educational leadership. As a result, Barbara Jackson Scholars and Alumni enhance the field of educational leadership and UCEA with their scholarship and expertise.

February 23rd, 2018—The inner-life of the teacher is a lot like an iceberg, which is to argue that the bulk of an iceberg rests below the water line, unseen, but essential to the life of the berg.  The ice bobbing above the water line, the outer domain of teaching, is the most recognizable, the most easily described, and most likely to capture the attention of an observer.  Parker Palmer in “Courage to Teach” synthesizes teaching into four questions: what is being taught (content); how is it being taught (pedagogy); why is it being taught (philosophy); and who is the self that teaches (calling).  Palmer argues that the first two (what and how) are frequently considered within the realm of education.  The second two (why and who) are rarely examined in detail, especially the last question; who is the self that teaches.

An iceberg exists both above and below the water line.  So too does teaching in its entirety consist of both the technical outer tasks as well as the inner more ineffable and intangible elements of teaching.  By technical I mean consisting of concrete instructional moves and curriculum design that can be described as “best-practices”.  The teaching literature is rampant with articles and books collecting, sorting, and categorizing the most effective instructional moves.  These are valuable resources for how to teach.  I think of best practices as technical, rational, and residing in the “head” of the teacher.  By inner and ineffable, I mean consisting of the intangible, vocational, and requiring discernment rather than quick action; hence they are best described as “deep-practices”.  Because of their less tangible nature and close affiliation with the call to teach I tend to think of the why and who as more closely associated with the “heart” of the teacher. The head and the heart, best and deep practices, are best conceptualized and treated as a unified whole. Best-practices become dispassionate instructional moves without the deep-practices that provide a sense of buoyancy, passion and energy to the practices of teaching; deep-practices can easily become explosively-chaotic instinctual moves without the guiding structure of best-practices.

Most teacher evaluation or coaching frameworks target the what and how in the iceberg metaphor, those components above the water line that are more easily seen, described, and measured. The lower two elements of why and who receive, it seems, less attention in part because they are less tangible, making them harder to measure with data-driven metrics and thus more difficult to fold into coaching conversations. The teaching as iceberg metaphor is helpful in another way.  A wise captain gives an iceberg a wide berth not so much for what is seen but for the mass of the berg hidden deep under the water that can easily slice open the hull of the ship.  The deeper elements of the berg deserve as much if not more attention than the gleaming pinnacles rising above the waves.  When teachers lose track of the deeper callings behind their teaching they can easily slide into practices that are devoid of heart and spirit.  Their best instructional intentions and practices can become shipwrecked on the deeper social-emotional shoals of teaching.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, even more than usual, about the question; who is the self that teaches?  How should we go about describing the heart of the teaching self?  Are there ways to more accurately describe the teaching heart for coaching and professional development purposes?  My recent reflections on these questions are informed by my course work in the field of Theology which describes the soul, in a spiritual sense, as three elements: base impulses, emotions, and spirit. Soul, in a more secular sense the heart, is one way of describing the inner-life of teachers out of which deep-practices emerge to inform the day to day best-practices of teaching. As such, the concepts of base impulses, emotions, and spirit seem to provide a road map for describing the teacher’s heart with greater accuracy and care.

The base impulses of the teacher-heart consist of rather blunt and undifferentiated instructional instincts.  They are, at their best, the driving energy behind deep-practices.  Marge Piercy in her poem “To Be of Use” speaks to the more positive aspects of the base impulses in teaching when she writes: “I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.” The image of a patient and persistent ox or water buffalo is an apt image for the base impulses of teacher-heart which silently and with great fidelity pulls the educator deeper into the mystery of teaching.

Emotions, on the other hand, are less patient and often explosive in their appearance and instructional impact.  They can emerge spontaneously as joy, anger, frustration, excitement, or laughter; raw markers pointing toward what the teacher-heart cares deeply about.  Emotions are useful short-term tools guiding the educator toward a point of integration between extremes such as joy/frustration, excitement/disappointment, or clarity/confusion.  In the poem “The Angels and Furies” May Sarton uses the metaphor of dancing to describe the role of emotions in professional behavior: “Have you not wounded yourself and battered those you love by sudden motions of evil.  Have you not surprised yourself sometimes by sudden motions or intimations of goodness.  The angels, the furies are never far away while we dance, we dance, trying to keep a balance to be perfectly human.” The ballerina, the image of calm perfection and explosive energy in Sarton’s poem speaks to the emotional elements at the heart of good teaching.

Spirit rounds out the teacher-heart trinity of teaching and is the root of authenticity, fidelity, and presence.  Students are drawn to teachers who are spirit-filled and are one with the classroom, the content, and their students.  Teachers with refined understandings of their spirit are called to the profession; they are joyfully in relationship to something greater than self.  John O’Donohue in his poem “For a Mother” speaks of the ways that a teacher’s spirit brings life to the classroom in forms of learning possibility, that like a child, explore out into the far corners of the classroom: “Like some primeval moon, your soul brightens the tides of essence that flow to your child.”

What does it mean to be full and whole as a teacher? It means recognizing the aspects of teaching, the teacher-heart, that rest below the waterline; the demarcation between the seen and unseen.  It means attending to the teacher’s heart as base impulses, emotions, and spirit.

Dr. Patricia M. McDonough, an internationally recognized college access scholar and professor at UCLA, delivered two days of lectures and engagement opportunities during the annual HED Speakers Series, Jan. 29 and 30. McDonough is the author of the book Choosing Colleges: How Social Class and Schools Structure Opportunity. Originally published in 1997, the book continues to be an influential text.

McDonough’s public presentation, “20 Years of College Choice: Where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go,” can be viewed in its entirety here.

Her luncheon interview, delivered to students and alumni, is available here.

To Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama, bringing cultural background to work is second nature. Her new book, co-authored with her long-time collaborator Dr. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, “Funds of Knowledge in Higher Education,” explores and makes a case for honoring students’ cultural experiences and resources as strengths.

Kiyama explains, “This is something of a K-12 construct. We know that within individual cultures, knowledge is shared and passed on and in a K-12 environment it is part of the instruction.”

For example, if you live within a Latinx community and your neighbor knows how to work on cars and your mom knows how to cook, you trade cultural and practical knowledge to build a knowledge base. Children from these communities arrive to school with knowledge of their culture and it becomes a vital part of their education. But what about applying the same construct to higher education research and teaching?

Refining and building on the concept in a sophisticated and multidisciplinary way, Kiyama’s book uses a funds of knowledge approach and connects it to other key conceptual frameworks in education to examine issues related to the access and transition to college, college persistence and success, and pedagogies in higher education.

Research on funds of knowledge has become a standard reference to signal a sociocultural orientation in education that seeks to build strategically on the experiences, resources, and knowledge of families and children, especially those from low-income communities of color. Challenging existing deficit thinking in the field, the book applies this concept to and maps future work on funds of knowledge in higher education.

Kiyama’s research is organized in three interconnected areas: the role of parents and families; equity and power in educational research; and underserved groups as collective networks of change. As an Associate Professor of Higher Education, she is in a unique position to put her research into practice in her classroom.

“I see the classroom environment as an opportunity to converge research, teaching, and service and draw on frameworks like funds of knowledge used in my research, to construct inclusive pedagogical spaces,” she said. “As such, the goals of learning process are created alongside students, with home, cultural, and experiential knowledge steering the direction of our scholarship.”

Kiyama’s book is published by Routledge Press and available in print and digital editions.

The University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) announces Phillip Strain, PhD, will become the third James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Urban Education in the Teaching and Learning Sciences (TLS) Department. Strain is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading researchers on autism and preschool inclusion. He is recognized for creating the LEAP model of inclusive services for young children with autism in 1981.

Strain, will be partnering with the two existing Kennedy Chairs, Doug Clements, PhD, and Julie Sarama, PhD, to

steer the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success at MCE.

“This is a game-changer for Morgridge College of Education,” says Dean Karen Riley. “Phil is the perfect complement to the nationally-recognized work that Doug and Julie are already doing in early childhood education. I expect a lot of energy to be generated from this high-level collaboration.”

As Endowed Chair, Strain will be responsible for conducting and guiding research and disseminating knowledge to improve the lives of children and families locally and nationally. He will also provide leadership to the MCE faculty, students, and community in curriculum development and research initiatives with an emphasis on finding solutions to 21st century challenges in teaching and learning in urban environments.

Select achievements of Strain’s include:

  • Authoring over 180 peer reviewed journal articles
  • Contributing to 47 book chapters
  • Writing 9 books
  • Receiving $85 million in sponsored grants

Strain’s most recent grants total over $4.7 million and will provide full research funding for the next four years.

Strain has served as a professor in Early Childhood Special Education, and the director of the Positive Early Learning Center (PELE) at the University of Colorado Denver. He and his PELE research team will join the  Morgridge College on July 1, 2018.

MCE’s  Counseling Psychology (CP) department has been identified as one of the top 20 PhD programs in the nation by Best Counseling Degrees. The ranking was created by compiling programs offering a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA), along with the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) pass rate gathered from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

“We have always attracted people who strive to live lives of purpose, and to pursue careers of distinction,” says Jesse Owen, CP Department Chair. “I think this recognition speaks to the quality of these students, the customization of the program, as well as the diversity of our faculty research.”

Diverse faculty research is a hallmark of the CP department that affords students unique and enriching collaborative opportunities. Current faculty research areas include:

  • Multicultural counseling
  • HIV counseling
  • Psychotherapy research
  • Romantic relationships
  • Health psychology and health disparities
  • Group dynamics
  • Supervision and training
  • Vocational psychology and career development
  • Cancer survivorship

“I think one of our program’s greatest strengths is the collaborative atmosphere. We have been told from the beginning that each individual student will create their own path towards their career goals, and no two paths look exactly the same,” says CP PhD student Ellen Joseph. “Therefore, we as students are here to support each other and build relationships that we can maintain throughout our careers.”

Best Counseling Degrees is the No. 1 online resource for exploring and choosing from the nation’s best counseling degree programs that will develop the knowledge and skills needed to further a career in this helping profession. The site’s mission is to share expert information about the top counseling degrees to help people achieve their professional goals.


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