Adjourning….

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When I think about the adjourning phase in terms of groups I have participated in, I believe high-performance groups that were able to work effectively together to produce high quality results are difficult to leave. However, I also think groups are difficult to adjourn based on personal connections that are established. I have taught for six years in my current district and recently accepted a position on the other side of the state to be closer to my family. While this district is very poverty-stricken, has had numerous administrative turnovers, and constantly struggles to improve test scores, this was a very difficult team and position to leave. The main reason was due to the human connections I’ve made over the past six years. Saying goodbye to numerous kiddos, families, and staff that have taken up such a stronghold in my heart was just heartbreaking, as these are relationships I have poured into. The closing ritual wasn’t anything fancy, as my new job offer occurred very close to the last day of school. However, my principal pulled everyone together to let people know that I would not be returning to the district and said some very nice things. This “closing ritual” continued in the following days as I received cards, gifts, and people stopping by my classroom to offer up their well wishes and goodbyes as I was packing up.

I think the adjourning phase of graduate school here at Walden will occur through blog and discussion responses. There is so much I’ve learned through my colleagues here and the sharing of their learning, personal experiences, and advice. I’m grateful for everyone who has helped contribute to my journey while at Walden!

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Communicating through conflict

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When I think about a recent conflict I’ve had with a colleague, I believe one effective strategy in dealing with this is responsiveness. This is one of the three R’s and refers to being sensitive and observant to cues. These include body language, emotional responses and triggers and catering a response accordingly. I think this strategy would prove effective based on its roots in empathy and compassion towards the other individual. The second strategy I would utilize in confronting this situation would be respect. This is another one of the three R’s. While this seems elementary, it is something we need to remind ourselves of in the midst of struggle and conflict. At times, respect forces us to abandon our pride or emotions within the situation to adequately meet the individual where they are.

In speaking with colleagues about this topic, they agreed that respect and responsiveness are crucial in dealing with communication issues. They also added that honesty and compassion go a long way in dealing with conflicts.

Communicator Evaluations

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Communication is happening all around us and something we should be aware of in our own daily lives. Especially as educators, the need for effective communication skills is pertinent in our profession. In completing the communication assessments, I wasn’t too surprised with the outcomes of each. On the Listening Styles Profile, I scored a 35, which indicated that I am a people-oriented person. I scored within this range when my husband and sister completed the assessment as well. I scored a 64 on the Verbal Aggressive Scale, which was a moderate rating. I scored within this range on my husband and sister’s assessments as well. My husband and sister’s scores on this assessment were both higher than my own. When evaluating this, I realized that these two individuals are by far, two of the closest relationships I have, therefore, know me the best and see the most raw, transparent sides of me. I am also around them more often than most, which is why their higher scores made sense to me. I scored a 40 on the communication anxiety inventory. My husband scored me within this mild range, while my sister scored within the low range. This was the most surprising to me, as I’ve never LOVED public speaking, but in talking to her about it, she sees my confidence and outgoing nature attributing to a natural ease of communication.

Cultural Diversity

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What stands out to me the most is that I communicate more casually, more informally with family members and friends, people who are close to me, whereas I tend to take on a more formal communication approach with people I do not know as well. When I think about communication involving people of varying race, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and varying abilities, I truly do not think I communicate any differently based on these factors. One of my best friends is black, I am white, and when I met him in college, I remember him asking me if I assumed certain stereotypes about him. For example, did I assume he was a good basketball player or did he have good rhythm? I remember really thinking about this question and still coming back to it years later. I really don’t think I do. I have other issues I need to work on and deal with, but I think largely, I am genuine with everyone I meet and communicate in a very similar fashion, no matter the differences. I try to be sensitive and not make assumptions.

This is a question I will continue to ponder and ask myself as I communicate with various other people. I think one communication strategy to focus on here is self-reflection. I believe this is essential to our own personal growth and understanding as individuals. Secondly, I believe listening is crucial to understanding those around us who are different and who may have completely different perceptions of things. Lastly, I believe developing motivation to be a key strategy we learned this week (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011). This pertains to cultivating a state of readiness and eagerness to learn about others (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011).

 

Reference

 

Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

 

Nonverbal communication

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I chose to watch an episode of “Friends.” When I watched an episode without the sound, the characters’ relationships seemed to ebb and flow. Based on body language and facial expressions, you could tell the characters went through several emotions including happiness, humor, sadness, empathy, and love. These emotions fluctuated throughout the episode. You can also tell the major characters have a close bond between the six of them because they are constantly within close proximity of one another and exhibit very comfortable mannerisms between each other. It seems as though four of the six characters have a romantic love connection.

In watching this same episode with sound, I realized that only two of the characters have a romantic love connection, not four. One of the couples have a baby together, but are not romantically involved. Aside from this assumption I made that was incorrect, I was able to understand and track a lot more of the episode without sound than I initially thought I would. Being attune to characters’ body language, facial expressions, changes, and movement made the show much easier to comprehend and track than I would have originally thought. This was an interesting and fun exercise that reminded me of how important nonverbal communication skills can be to communication.

Exemplary Communicator

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When reading over this week’s blog assignment, one person who instantly came to my mind as an exemplary communicator is my pastor. My husband and I have attended the same church for about six years and have done so in part to the message that is preached and practiced here, but also largely to how well it is communicated. Behaviors he demonstrates that attribute to his communication skills include honesty, empathy, love, and compassion. Honesty is crucial here because it is important to trust someone in a position like this. It is also important because it lends to his credibility and relatability. Empathy is important in making him a successful communicator in that he is able to relate with people he speaks with and to.

Earlier this year, one of my former students died of a rare brain disease called DIPG. My pastor spoke at this sweet boy’s funeral and even though many people who attended do not regularly attend church, they were comforted, felt loved, felt safe, and there were even times that they laughed. Many of these individuals attended my church in the following weeks based on this connection.

Love and compassion play a significant role in effective communication in that people have an innate desire for these things and ultimately need to feel cared about. I would absolutely want to model my own communication skills after my pastor’s. His ability to communicate honest, heart-felt, relevant messages week after week and to do so with such compassion and empathy are definite models to me.

When I Think of Research…

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My research simulation involves answering the question “what impact does play have on cultivating cognitive development in Kindergarteners, in school, in their community and in their natural environment?” I believe this is crucial to the field of early childhood in that play is quickly taking a backseat to academic rigor and standards in early childhood classrooms and environments. As early childhood stakeholders, we need to develop our voice in advocating for topics such as these, as they are crucial to early childhood development. My simulation has helped equip me with necessary tools in developing this voice and sense of advocacy.

I believe this research would benefit children, families, and early childhood educators. I think play is quickly—and sadly—becoming a dying art; one that many do not see the value behind. I think this research could really shed a light on the importance of this.

Perceptions regarding early childhood have changed for me in this course in that I realize how much time, preparation, consideration, and analyzing goes into conducting a single research study. I also realized how much more valuable this type of information can be and have discovered ways to access it amidst the overflow of electronic information. According to Trochim, Donnelly, and Arora (2016), “good research communication depends on doing everything well, including telling the story” (p. 329). I have become much more apt at deciphering the “story” research has to tell and much less intimidated by it. I have also gained more of a realization of the plethora of early childhood resources and research studies that are available. This will certainly guide my future research, practice, and teaching.

To my colleagues who have worked diligently to grasp a deeper understanding of research together and share their own experiences, I want to say “thank you.” It has been a pleasure to learn and grow alongside all of you!

 

Reference

 

Trochim, W. M., Donnelly, J. P., & Arora, K. (2016). Research methods: The essential knowledge base (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.