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reflections and musings from the School of Education at Mills College

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“Virtual” Community | Rachel Lefkowitz

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Rachel Lefkowitz is the Coordinator of Educational Leadership MA Program and the Special Assistant to the Dean of School of Education

How often have you heard someone deplore Twitter as the downfall of writing? It happened to me –again—just the other day, when a former teacher carefully explained that because of Twitter, no one stays on topic in a sustained way. I feel that this is a lot to put on Twitter. People used to blame Sesame Street for shortening children’s attention spans by creating too short intervals of drama. Maybe we move, think, and write more quickly now than we used to, but I’m not sure that Twitter and Sesame Street are wholly to blame. For example, there was a time in the olden days when we wrote in short little bursts, a time that was also known for elegant formal writing. How different, I wonder, is Twitter from a telegram?

Consider this example, from the 1960s:





If you remove the address and signature, it’s tweetable. As is this gem:

May 5th 1945

International Moscow via Mackay Radio

To: Mr Joseph Bard

Brooklyn NY

We congratulate you with setting up the banner of victory upon Berlin by the Red Army = Signed Family Phillip Berdichevsky

The first telegram, of congratulations, and the second one, reflecting world events, could easily be on Twitter today, though we would write them a little differently. (If you are interested in recasting your tweets as telegrams, here are best practices.) Both forms limit how you construct your message. One big big difference between them is that telegrams were for special occasions, whereas Twitter is an every day if not every hour sort of thing. Another difference is that a telegram goes to one person, who then has to spread the news. When you tweet, you share your thoughts or news with everyone you know.

Some people don’t like that because it seems self-promoting and -aggrandizing. But social media can be about more than the individual –the way the School of Education’s Twitter feedFacebook page, and blog are. You send us your individual news, accomplishments, or thoughts; we combine them with other people’s news and what we get is a picture of who we are as a community. Scroll through our feeds or check them regularly, and you will begin to see what values we hold and represent, and what goals we treasure.

I love this for two reasons. First, it puts concrete examples to fairly abstract concepts. I frequently stand on a soapbox in SOE meetings and declare that it’s fine to say that we are all about Leadership, Equity, and Collaboration, but the power of the words comes when we show how we practice these values. How do we see and define leadership? How do we collaborate and embody equity? Just as any musical group has its own sound, so we have a distinct take on these qualities. And we can share our interpretation not just by describing it, but showing it in action. Social media is the mirror that reflects that action.

I also love social media because it makes another hub of community for our school. One hub is, of course, the classroom, where you meet and learn with your colleagues. Another hub is the wide world, where you may work with other alums. But social media is broader. It is a place where current or prospective students can learn what our graduates do with their degrees. It is a place where graduates can see what their professors are working on now. It is a place where we can share a video our organization made or news of an upcoming event. From social media, we get a wonderful sense of the variety and depth of our work, both here at Mills, and in the world.

Twitter hasn’t kept me from being able to write, for example, a 700 word blog. Twitter has made it much easier for me to tap into the community I work with. It is a real and compelling reflection of who we are, and why we are unique.


Written by collegialconnections

September 25, 2013 at 11:56 am

The Intersection of Business and Education Meets at the Huddle | Parijat Tanna

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MBA/MA in Educational Leadership student, Parijat Tanna

MBA/MA in Educational Leadership student, Parijat Tanna

In the fall of 2012, a group of students in the MBA/MA in Educational Leadership Program (a joint program of the School of Education and the Lokey Graduate School of Business) came together and realized an opportunity for an ongoing space to discuss the intersection of the worlds of business and education. Thus the Huddle was born, providing joint degree students with resources and opportunities to learn and participate in this emerging field.

The Huddle met and formed three Tiger Teams to take on the specific tasks necessary to expand the scope of the Huddle. The Career Tiger Team presented a mind map of the education industry, highlighting the vastness of the industry while recognizing the sectors in which the joint students were interested in working. The Huddle Tiger Team invited in a professor from the Graduate School of Business and a professor from the School of Education to debate the topic of opportunity costs in education. They also heard from Professor Tom Li, who shared his experience of sitting on a school board to which he brought his knowledge as a CPA in order to address school- related issues. Students’ opinions and thoughts regarding the both the Huddle and the MBA/MA joint program are also welcomed and valued.

The Huddle has recently added the Business and Education Action Team (BEAT). BEAT will be an outward facing component of the Huddle, with students volunteering with schools and educational organizations, and providing business consulting and supplemental workshops to students.

The Huddle is a great resource for the MBA/MA joint students at Mills. It offers a motivating site for students to synthesize their classroom learning with real life situations. The group also allows students to explore career paths which align with the joint degree.

For me, the Huddle is a meeting place for my peers and me to reflect and examine the new connections being forged within the areas of education and business, as well as the challenges that may arise from that relationship. To be a part of something that is creating a significant impact is empowering, and it is amazing to be able to bring that to Mills. I hope that we can carry this conversation into action, especially through BEAT. I look forward to the continuing progress and ripples of success we will make, not only at Mills, but also within the Oakland community.

Written by collegialconnections

March 7, 2013 at 10:51 am


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Kathy Schultz, Dean
Mills College School of Education

Today we launch our Mills College School of Education blog, Collegial Connections. We’re excited to have a place to discuss critical educational ideas that we all struggle with as we negotiate the many challenges and opportunities in the education field today.  As faculty and staff at the School of Education, we spend most of our time focused on teaching, mentoring, and research. At the same time, we understand the importance of taking a public stand on educational issues, especially as they relate to our focus on the preparation and on-going support of teachers, leaders, and early childhood professionals who work in urban settings.  Our perspectives are shaped by our individual and collective experience and expertise, as well as a shared and deep commitment to access and equity,

Our plan is to use this blog to share our informed viewpoints and experiences about critical educational issues that we, and we suspect you, encounter every day.  We invite you to speak back from your own experiences and informed opinions so that we can generate a local and far-reaching dialogue.  We believe that it is vital that we contribute to the large public dialogue that is currently filled with controversy and the voices of individuals who may have little experience and knowledge of the field of education and, in particular, the experiences of public school teachers.

We plan to address a wide range of issues and invite you to add to this list:

– What are our responses to local events in Oakland and the surrounding communities?

– How do we address the violence children and teachers encounter in their schools; where do we see hope and possibility?

– Where do we stand on issues around documented and undocumented children and youth in our classrooms and communities?

– How can our knowledge about issues such as school readiness shape current policy in the Oakland Unified School District and the surrounding areas?

– How is the current focus on testing shaping teaching, leadership, and policy decisions? What are the challenges and opportunities for using value added metrics to make decisions about teacher hiring and retention?

– Who are the children and youth in our schools? How do we address their needs and support the teachers and leaders doing this work?

– What do we need to know to take leadership roles in policy decisions addressing the birth to five age group?

– What are the educational issues that matter the most to you?  What do you feel most strongly about?

We live in a world filled with violence and hate, but also hope and possibility. We want to use this blog to bring together our experiences and ideas, to generate conversations and action, and to continue our learning from one another. We invite your responses and contributions.

Written by collegialconnections

February 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm

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