ADLT 612: Hanging on for dear life

That is about what I can describe myself as feeling right about now.    There is a hope in the horizon, however, the last six weeks of my life have been utter insanity.    I have had increased demands at work, at home, and of course in school as well.   It is hard to pick and choose where to put your energies, and truthfully, I feel as though I  have focused more on work/family and less on school.    I apologize for being a terrible student at this point.   I feel like between work, family, and school – I was already hanging on by a thread, but I have now crossed over to new territory.


I’m also sorry because this post has absolutely nothing to do with group dynamics.

I’ve shared with a few, but at home one of my daughters is being evaluated due to hearing loss and  sensory processing vs a spectrum disorder.   We have taken her to developmental specialists, early intervention, pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, audiologists, speech pathology, occupational therapy, and an ENT.    It was something that was sort of in the back of my mind as possibly being there for a while.   I remember my husband telling me that if any of our children are on the spectrum, it would be my sweet little one that we are evaluating.   This was when she was maybe 9 months old.   I am battling with regret for pursuing my instincts sooner and also trying to come to terms with the fact that we may be looking at a totally new idea of what the new normal may be with our family.   A reflective piece was shared with me and I have read it often over these last few weeks and will share now because it so truly summarizes many of the emotions that have been attached to me at present.

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try and help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.    It is like this….


When you are going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.   The Coliseum.   The Michelangelo David.    The Gondolas in Venice.  You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting.


After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”


ADLT 612: Group Work

May all of our teams feel like this right now as we prepare for next week 🙂


ADLT 612: Third Reflection

This blog discusses the Paradox of Speaking, which surfaced encounters in my own personal life that touched upon each of the paradoxes. As the following quote will demonstrate, it was not until reading the chapter and bringing it into my own awareness did I process that many of these are quite apparent. “Circles. One cannot escape the feeling that an exploration of paradox is like walking in circles. It is hard to know where you have come from and where you are going. But the more one lives in a paradoxical perspective, the more one develops a tolerance for circles and for the places where two apparently contradictory paths join.” (Smith & Berg, p. 132) The Paradoxes of Speaking present four key elements to discuss: Authority, Dependency, Creativity, and Courage. Each of these are in themselves paradoxes within group life – which ebb and flow within the dynamic of a group.
The paradox of authority introduces the “dynamics of authorization”, that is that “…authority is something that is built or created…it creates the conditions in which individual contributions can have an influence on the work of the group and the group can be influential in the larger system to which it belongs.” (Smith & Berg, p. 134) The chapter goes on to discuss how that one develops power as they create an environment to which others may find empowerment. If the person were to hold onto the power and not empower those around them – it would become a vacuum. This is because rather than embracing power – one is finding themselves resisting it. This situation has unfolded in my professional life. At a former place of employment, the supervisor was very self-motivated and held onto power. Empowering her staff was not on her agenda and rather than work with her staff, she resisted them. It became a situation where every action was micromanaged. As a result, the staff lost their engagement, felt impinged, and underperformed. It wasn’t that the staff was incapable, but rather they felt chastised if they made an independent decision. It was an inefficient system because minute details had to be approved by the overarching powers. In stark contrast, my current supervisor takes the risk to empower her staff. It is in essence a risk, because by “…deauthorizing one by authorizing another, then one may be placing themselves in a position of having so little personal authority that, should the authorized person act inappropriately or consistently work against the group’s interests, one may feel unable to take the authority back.” (Smith & Berg, p. 135) Although no situation is entirely perfect, the pendulum swings more towards a self-sufficient, functional team who feels capable and extends themselves to their potential and beyond. There are situations where this needs to be adapted – for example – staff members who do not feel comfortable being decision makers, moments of crisis where a leader must emerge, and during times of extreme change. However, even in these moments, there are a core group that work with her in the context of making changes so that different perspectives can be brought to the forefront. Essentially, the core group aforementioned has resulted from previous empowerment and rising to the challenges.
The next paradox discussed in the chapter was that of Dependency. “…growth involves the development of a good measure of independence. However, in most ways, our strivings for independence are closely linked to the development of new dependencies.” (Smith & Berg, p. 139) Smith and Berg describe the process of breaking away from one’s “family of origin” and process of developing their own family. Although this feels to be very independent – the sense of establishing oneself, in doing so new connections are formed. If one marries or has a child, there is a new connection. These can be seen as dependent, counterdependent or independent. However, it is greater than that – a group is not functional unless there can be dependency of all of all members. It is a cyclical capacity – where each part makes up the whole. This is a cohesive expression – and I could relate to this in my own personal life as a mother and wife. We strive to make decisions based upon what is best for the entire group – however – it involves many parts. There are times when one must sacrifice in order to make things best for the group. In addition, there are times when one must perform. Most importantly though is a unified voice. Discipline comes to mind when I think about this – especially with my young children. Although we try to be diplomatic parents, there are times when we need to take authority. However, my husband and I may not always agree on the topic. We must however quickly come to a response that appears unified for the best for our children. If we don’t, they were be put in a position where they are told conflicting things. Although they are five and younger at the present, this may come to haunt us in the future if my daughters feel as though they can get the response they would like to hear from a different parent. My husband and I are dependent on each other to do this and are children are also dependent on us to guide them. At the same time, part of our role is help them build wings and teach them how to make good decisions. It all almost seems contradictory.
The third paradox presented is that of Creativity. In the opening of one door, an old one is closed – it is alluded to as creation for the new experience and destruction for the old. How one reacts to the creation and destruction is situational and may also vary depending on the person’s beliefs and values. One may view all creation as positive – in with the new out with the old. However, someone else may want to hold onto that history and not let it go. In a group – Creativity requires the open mindedness to change current ways or “patterns” in order to move to a higher ground. These patterns are described as “traditions, rules, conventions that give coherence and wholeness…..” without these there “…would be no form to set the stage for the transformation that is the heart of growth. The very shaping that restricts is the shaping that makes change possible.” (Smith & Berg, p. 145) It is important to acknowledge both aspects – the development and the destruction. It is also important to keep in mind the history when moving forward. A personal example of this is in my professional life. Our unit is undergoing a complete renovation and expansion. There is quite a bit of excitement with it – we will soon have many amenities that we have never had, a gorgeous Labor and Delivery space for our patients, and we have been very involved in the planning process. In our involvement, we were able hold onto history – what hasn’t worked and we would like to see changed – and what has worked and we want to stay the same. On another level, there is the physical destruction. Being that it is a Labor unit, many of us have had our children there. It is bittersweet because we all hold such fond memories of our old space. For example, our labor tub accidently had a few babies born in it. (well closer to maybe 50) Our tradition was to put the baby’s footprints on the wall, date of birth, and name. The wall was adorned with many memories. We had the construction team cut each one out and we framed it will be in our new unit. We also took pictures in various rooms of the staff just to hold onto the memories.

The last paradox discussed is that of Courage. One must find the ability to find an identity and belong within a group. The courage comes from engaging with the group yet also finding one’s voice. Courage itself is paradoxical in that only when one is floundering with all the uncertainties of not knowing what to do, feeling totally without courage, can one’s actions be courageous. It is much like faith. One cannot believe unless one has doubts” (Smith & Berg, p. 147-148)  There was a time when I was involved in an mistake that effected others.  Rather than remain silent, I disclosed the truth.    It helped create connections with others and also helped learning.    This disclosure in the end was positive, however, in the midst of it was a difficult, lonely time.
The paradoxes of Speaking discussed various elements – Authority, Dependency, Creativity, and Courage. We are all engrossed in them, they are a cyclical part of life. We cannot control this fact, however, we do have control of our responses to them. We can embrace them or work against them. Just like in group life, we can engage or avoid. In the end, effectiveness will occur when we are open about each aspect.


Smith, K. & Berg, D. Paradoxes of Group Life. New Lexington Press 1997(131-151).

ADLT 642 Sport Leadership

We have now  turned our focus from the Adult Literacy project to the Sport Leadership one.    First of all, I had absolutely no idea that there was even such a field.    Obviously there were coaches and event planners, but I had no idea that there were bachelor degrees let alone PhD programs.   It absolutely makes sense —  leadership in sport encompasses  many different fields – psychology, business, law, sociology, planning, and the ability to lead groups.    I have to be honest that I assumed that many folks had a degree but not necessarily tailored to Sport Leadership.


The Sport Leadership program is a Masters of Education in Sport Leadership.   It is 36 credits, with 18 core credits with the other credits being field experience, and electives. At present VCU offers an on campus and a distance learning program.   We were to assist the investigation for an international host site/

Joanne and I had our longest Google Hangout ever as we planned for this upcoming project.  Actually, we had technical difficulties and did have to resort to an old fashioned conference call.  It worked out.  We spent time exploring various International Sporting events, locations, the curriculum requirements, time zone changes, the must haves that Dr Dwyer discussed in class, and created a plan for our presentation.

What stuck me most about all of this – is that although this was an entirely different problem and subject – the process is still very similar.    Although we knew absolutely nothing about Sport Leadership, we were able to research  and create a proposal.    Instructional designers can likely have such a vast exposure to content and yet still are able to assist in creating meaningful learning experiences.   

In closing, a quote that I feel is applicable for Sports Leadership but also as educators.  “The metaphor (coaching) with sports is meant quite seriously… the coach stands back, observes the performance, and provides guidance. The coach applauds strengths, identifies weaknesses, points up principles, offers guiding and often inspiring imagery, and decides what kind of practice to emphasize.”  David Perkins

ADLT 642: Adult Literacy Project

I have really enjoyed the investigation process for this project. This one to me really felt interesting although it was entirely different than the other two. I actually had missed the presentation and so I had to piece things together – however with the help of my wonderful teammate, the class wiki, the powerpoint, and a good old google search, I really felt as though I came to understand the problem at hand.

In working on this, I also learned alot about servers and firewalls as well as requirements to set up a work flow management system. As a nurse, I am more of an end user than anything else and IT really isn’t something that I am very familiar. However, thanks to my wonderful husband, I got a crash course in servers, F drives, the various systems out there, and the challenges each one has. I can now tell you what VPN’ing in means as well.

I always love learning new things and so this project has been fun and interesting. I hope that everyone has had a lovely break and look forward to regrouping on Wednesday.

ADLT 612: Groups and Teams Reflection 2

In our groups and teams class we have been engaged in numerous activities learning about the group/team process.    I have finding much of this very enjoyable because it is not only coursework, but also has given me much to reflect upon.   Although these are theories – they feel like real life theories which I can actually relate to and put into context. Although this course is for a Master’s in Education, I feel as though so much of this course should be taught to all students.    It truly is giving me tools to navigate through my family, social, and professional life.

Reading the Paradoxes of Groups over the last month or so has really been a reflective event for me.   When we started on the Paradoxes of Identity and Belonging – instantly real life events came to my mind – my role as a mother and how my family, friends, life events, and society defined it.    The paradoxes of speaking/authority also brought about many thoughts of my work life.    I am fortunate enough to work under a manager who truly empowers her staff.   As a result, she has helped us develop into stronger employees.

However, it is in retrospect that I feel I can relate so much of this course to my own life.   I feel as though it is almost like a therapy or an “ah-ha” moment for me.   But it also seems that as much as things make sense – the more confusing and muddled they become.

This seems reflected in the Paradoxes on Speaking chapter concluded with the following thoughts:

“Circles.  One cannot escape the feeling that an exploration of paradox is like walking in circles.  It is hard to know where you have come from and where you are going.  But the more one lives with a paradoxical perspective, the more one develops a tolerance for circles and for the places where two apparently contradictory paths join.”   (Smith and Berg p. 151)

ADLT 642: On the Road

This week we were able to present our various ideas for Dr. Carter’s class.  It was great to hear all the wonderful ideas of our classmates.  It is amazing how our groups can come up with very different ideas despite having the same assignment.  


Lindsey and Rhett presented a very innovative way of a flipped classroom where the learners were using their own knowledge and working on LRNA’s.   They utilized the month before the class started in order to have pre-course work and then the students were immersed in-group and individual work throughout the semester.   Compared to the lecture like classrooms that the learners are most likely accustomed, I am sure that they will be exposed to a more engaged classroom.   Lindsey and Rhett’s presentation was detailed with the various learning theories and time frames which worked in order to fit large amount of material into a crammed summer session.   


Katherine, Wally, and Melissa’s group provided a multitude of learning activities for the students during the classroom.  Similar to Lindsey and Rhett, they utilized the time frame before class with information for the learners to prep.  They also came up with the idea of having the students elect a learning activity that they hadn’t done before such as sailing or knitting.  Their group’s ideas were very well presented and organized.  


As we are getting more familiar with the process of analysis and design, I wanted to share a blog that I came across recently.   It uses mind-mapping (which made me think of you right away Joanne)  to help with the process of instructional design.  These ideas seemed to just make sense to me and so I wanted to share it with everyone.   


I am looking forward to the next presentation in a couple weeks!    In addition, I am just wanted to say that this weekend I am blogging from my car as my husband drives.  It is my dad’s 60th birthday and so we are throwing a surprise birthday party for him Sunday.   He lives in Rhode Island.    So it’s been an interesting day entertaining three little girls on a 9-hour car ride.   I am bringing it up, because I am just amazed with technology and its capabilities.   Although I am not physically in Richmond, I was able to use my smart phone to search and read the blog.   I have my laptop to type in Word and can post this when we arrive and have internet access.  I’m just grateful for my long battery life!

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