Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lessons Learned: Checking In

Checking in with each other when we need it during meetings can have great value and positively impact our confidence moving forward. During meetings it is possible for us as participants or facilitators to be triggered or otherwise hindered. Oftentimes when I hit these roadblocks during a meeting, the first thing want to do is react negatively. One of the best strategies I have learned to avoid this kind of reaction is to check-in with my peers.
In RAPP, this usually involves me spending some time going over issue with our Program Coordinator, Rebecca Lehman, or my fellow facilitator, Jamieson Williams. It is amazing how venting for a few minutes with a colleague can really change your mindset and allow you to move forward constructively. Sometimes after venting, I am presented with advice or constructive criticism. Sometimes I am presented with nothing but an open ear. Regardless, I find these moments to be invaluable, both for my in-the-moment reactions and my confidence moving forward.

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lessons Learned: Challenging Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” ~Anne Lamott



Keep challenging ourselves around perfectionism - we can still be successful without having followed the plan %100. This idea is not always easy to remember in everyday life, but when we do we can save ourselves from a lot of unhelpful thinking. 

As a self-professed perfectionist, I tend to determine my self worth based on my ability to achieve often unrealistically high standards.  Since achieving extremely high standards provides the basis for my self worth, I tend to pay careful attention to any evidence that I can take to mean I am not achieving. This way of thinking completely neglects the fact that I might have done some good work, though it might not be my BEST work. Though a B+ is not the same as an A, it is still not an F.  

I'll share few helpful tips to discourage this type of thinking. First among them is known to the Japanese as "Wabi-Sabi." This notion promotes authenticity by acknowledging 3 truths: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Embrace your mistakes and turn them into growth. The second tip is to weigh the benefit of negative thinking vs. the positive. If you only focus on the negative, is it helpful? Does it make you a better student/employee/friend to focus solely on your shortcomings? Probably not, but please conduct your own analysis. Lastly, don't take yourself to seriously! People make mistakes and NOBODY is perfect!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lessons Learned: Energy is Contagious


Our energy affects the group - if we role model high energy, the group will follow. I am sure many of us as students have experienced that class/workshop that we just couldn't stay awake through. Maybe you had a professor with the voice of Ben Stein or the material covered in class was so boring that everyone around you seemed tired. Regardless of the reasoning, I have an insight for you!

Energy is contagious!

As a student, try livening up a class discussion with something controversial and see how people's reactions change. As a professor/facilitator/trainer, demonstrate positive body language and bring your voice up a notch or two. The changes can be almost instantaneous. I know in RAPP, when our group appears to be running out of gas, I am no stranger to dancing across the room, singing, or setting up a photo booth for silly poses. 

If you "go there" with your energy, your group's will likely follow!

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lessions Learned: Frustating Foods

Food has been my best friend for many and plenty of years as seen by my increasing waist size. I have the privilege of eating whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want due to the fact that I don't have any dietary constraints that require me to take special precautions when eating nor any other health problems (that I know of) that stop me from eating this way. I'm allowed to be extremely picky whenever for absolutely no reason, which brings me to my biggest point:

Ordering food is hard!

First hand experience has allowed me to see what happens when you order food for masses without taking into count dietary concerns or allergies. This evidenced by seeing someone have an allergic reaction to nuts in the room at the MLK event and PAC preparing 3/4 of the main items for Tim Wise with meat, although he's vegetarian.  And I can easily place blame and say, well why don't you just ask folks? It's easy to know what to prepare for! And that's the easy part... Asking. Following through takes massive amounts of planning, prepping and effort in execution.

Never will I be this excited to pick foods.


Honestly, of all the tasks I've completed in my two years of facilitation, ordering food has been the most frustrating and hardest to manage. Maybe I'm just whining or complaining about something simple. But no, I'm not. And I know why it's hard. Whoever said inclusion was easy? No one in social justice has, that's for sure. So as I head into future work of coordinating and organizing, I have to remember, to cover bases, and don't exclude people just because their needs are different than my own.

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lessons Learned: Group Participation

When planning an event with group participation, setting a participation goal can be motivating and provide a tool for evaluation after the event. This lessons learned touches on one of my least-favorite/favorite topics; participation!

Participation is my least favorite because when it is bad, it can be really bad. We've all been to workshops or meetings with poor turnouts. Low participation can force a group to re-cover material at a future meeting that was previously discussed at a poorly attended one. On the reverse, too many participants can make a group event feel over crowded, physically or emotionally removed, and rushed.

Participation is my favorite because when you reach that ideal amount it can really make your job as a facilitator easier. For instance, some activities have an ideal amount of participants and too many or too little requires more effort on the part of group leaders to account for the "excess" or lack thereof. Also, if a group is attempting something for the first time, a smaller group can be more manageable than a large one.

Participation can also be a motivating factor and a tool for evaluation. If you haven't reached the goal you set out for in recruitment, you know you must keep up or increase your efforts. If your event had poor participation rates, you can use that as feedback in determining what changes you need to make in future to your program or its marketing strategy.

For all of these reasons I feel setting a participation goal is a prudent decision.

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lessons Learned: The Disengagement

Facilitating RAPPORT has proved to be quite different than facilitating ARJ or a workshop on campus. Working with RAPPORT since 2012 has vastly expanded how I present materials, models and how I work with members in the group. One thing to remember is that most of the people who go to RAPPORT meetings have gone through one intensive already.

When I facilitate workshops however, many of the people we reach haven't gone through a social justice education program. And even if they have attended such programs, they may only be attending a workshop because their professor or learning community has set the workshop in place. Therefore, as someone leading or co-leading the workshop I have to realize not everyone is comfortable or eager to talk about whatever materials or issues we are presenting to them.


In any enviroment, there will be people talking and talking and talking. I was one of them in my RAPP year and maybe that's why I'm here! :)
Anywho, and in every group there will be a few people not talking much. It doesn't mean I'm confusing people or not making any sense, but just that some people aren't as engaged as other. I have to remember not to take things personally and embrace the disengagement!

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lessons Learned: Flu Shot!

Well, as a person who hardly gets sick, imagine my surprise to leave a retreat with a little cough. That little cough managed to grow into a fever that morphed into body aches and sore throat. What do you know, the flu! In that moment, it was good to remember, FLU SHOTS can prevent such things from happening. It took a good week or so to re-cooperate! But I came back stronger than ever!

Lessons Learned is a RAPP Blog initiative intended for folks who hold formal leadership positions in RAPP programs to share what they're learning through their process