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Extension > Youth Development Insight > May 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Leading the way with vision

Mark-Haugen.jpgLeadership isn't only about action; it is a perspective through which we see the world. Leadership shapes our thoughts, strategies, actions and commitments. In my last blog post, I compared the roles of manager and leader and questioned if you can be both for your program. I believe the answer is yes. Leadership and management are not opposites, but more like two eyes that provide binocular vision.

If you allow the two perspectives, management and leadership, to shape your vision you will be able to achieve a higher level of understanding of your program. Similar to how two eyes provide depth perception, a high-level leader and manager can address a topic with a significant depth of understanding. How do we assure that we see things "with both eyes open"?

According to Kouzes and Posner, 75 percent of people expect their leaders to be forward thinking, but executives spend only 3 percent of their time thinking about the future! How do we set aside the distractions of our daily work to be the leaders others expect us to be?
  • Lead through man-reflective-thinking.jpgconversations. Ask questions. Learn about people's values, ideas, concerns and dreams. Share your vision and allow it to be shaped by their reaction, concerns and ideas. Develop strong trusting relationships.
  • Be intentional with your words, actions, commitments and use of your time. Clearly identify what you want to do and a flexible strategy that will allow you to do it.
  • Provide hope. Inspire others by believing goals can happen. Instill the same hope in others through your words and actions. When a group shares and believes in a common hope, the quality of their work increases, and so does the personal joy and value in individual accomplishments.
  • Invite others Encourage others to get active in achieving goals and leading the program. The Blandin Foundation's latest Rural Pulse survey shows that 53% of people who are not currently in a leadership role for an organization would consider serving if asked! This is a great resource for leaders, but delegation can be hard to do. I struggle with "making the ask" and trusting others use their own leadership and work style to accomplish our shared goals. But I am learning to do it.

Do you struggle with any of these issues? Do you have other ideas to support leadership development? What works for you?

-- Mark Haugen, Extension educator, regional 4-H youth development programs

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reaching new youth audiences through partnerships

Joanna-Tzenis.jpgCommunity-based programs are great at connecting with local youth. Universities have deep pockets and organizational infrastructure. Partnerships between them can combine these strengths.

In a previous blog post, I discussed how all youth can and do benefit from youth programs, but they are disproportionately valuable to the welfare of low-income or marginalized youth. Ironically, there is a shortage of youth programs designed for this audience. How can a large organization connect with youth locally? Research suggests that the key to engaging new audiences in youth programs lies in partnerships. There is a need for universities to partner with smaller, autonomously funded youth programs because these programs are most effective at reaching youth in high-risk situations.

three-girls-singing.jpgAutonomously funded youth-serving organizations historically do an exceptional job at reaching low-income youth audiences because they are so tightly embedded in the communities they serve. But because of their small size. they are less likely to have adequate funds to support their program.

Smaller organizations, especially those in low-income areas, invest the majority of their time and resources in competing for funds from a small funding pie. With such a big chunk of their time and resources spent on fundraising, there is little or no time for staff development, program design, and education design. Instability of funding squanders smaller organizations' unique ability to contribute to the positive development of young people living in high-risk environments.

Land-grant universities on the other hand, are less apt to have the intimate relationship with communities. But they can offer partnering organizations stability in funding, as well as training resources, staff development, and program design. An ideal community-university partnership weds the assets of larger land-grant universities to the assets of smaller community organizations.

Our own Urban 4-H Youth Development office does a great job of partnering with small local groups, such as Emma's Place, a residential community just east of St. Paul in Maplewood. I'm sure there are many other examples.

What do you see as effective ways to strengthen relationships with new youth audiences? What further benefits do you see as a result of community-university partnerships? What are the challenges in forging these partnerships?

-- Joanna Tzenis, assistant Extension professor, Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR)

You are welcome to comment on this blog post. We encourage civil discourse, including spirited disagreement. We will delete comments that contain profanity, pornography or hate speech--any remarks that attack or demean people because of their sex, race, ethnic group, etc.--as well as spam.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's your teaching philosophy?

Nicole-Pokorney.jpgIdentifying your teaching philosophy -- your style, teaching goals, how you assess learning -- can have myriad benefits.

A class I'm taking this spring has introduced me to the concept of the teaching philosophy. In my 20 years as a non-formal educator, I have thought a lot about how and why I teach, but I have now fully experienced the power of documenting and sharing that philosophy.

Why should non-formal educators understand and develop their own teaching philosophy?

Barbara Bowers, a nursing professor at University of Wisconsin - Madison, in a Chronicle of Higher Education article says, ". . . the purpose of the teaching statement is to be self-reflective, to identify where you might need some help from others, or you might need to do a little more work on your own to improve, and to look at which of your strategies are effective and which ones aren't."
The purpose of a teaching philosophy is both summative and formative, according to the University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning. In their tutorial, Writing a Teaching Philosophy, they identify knowing your teaching philosophy as essential to develop for search committees and teaching portfolios, and just as important for self-reflection and improving your teaching.
Can you articulate the following when it comes to your teaching style? teaching-learning.jpg
  • What are your aspirations and goals as an educator? For your students?
  • What does your learning environment look like?
  • How do you assess learning?
  • What measures do you use to improve your teaching?
  • Why is teaching important to you?
To assist in the process, the Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) is an easy survey to help you understand your teaching perspective and begin drafting your philosophy. At the end of taking the inventory, you will receive an interpretation of your results. These results are outlined within five teaching perspectives:
  1. Transmission
  2. Apprenticeship
  3. Developmental
  4. Nurturing
  5. Social Reform
Each of these five brings something to the table for learners. I don't want to skew your responses on the inventory by defining each of the perspectives - you'll have to complete the survey and use your findings to explore and document your teaching philosophy!

Have you taken the teaching perspectives inventory -- or something similar? Do you find it valuable? How do you use this knowledge about yourself?

-- Nicole Pokorney, Extension educator, educational design and development

You are welcome to comment on this blog post. We encourage civil discourse, including spirited disagreement. We will delete comments that contain profanity, pornography or hate speech--any remarks that attack or demean people because of their sex, race, ethnic group, etc.--as well as spam.
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