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Week 7 (Makeup): Teaching Hope

December 4, 2011

Prompt: What have you learned about community engagement through the Teaching Hope planning process? What else do you need to learn about Teaching Hope to better your understanding and how will you do so? Reflecting on what has brought us to this point in the quarter, how have our prior experiences prepared us for this opportunity?

The Teaching Hope project was interesting because it helped me look at how a project develops. I was concerned because at the time, we didn’t really know what Teaching Hope did, what their goals were for the meeting, or how we would segue from the rest of the program, and even while we were writing questions for it and talking to Mark, I didn’t have all my questions answered, but it all went surprisingly well when the event happened. I learned that when implementing a project, sometimes the best way to learn how to do it right is to try something and see what happens. This is true in other fields as well – I read a little of “The Mythical Man-Month” in Software Engineering, and the author points out that the first version of any software system is basically a throw-away learning experience. However, while my meeting-holding skills have certainly improved, I’m not sure what else to take away from it. When we asked what Teaching Hope did, we got a different answer from each school group. What would Mark call an ideal Teaching Hope program for a given school, and why? Mark mentioned that he held the meeting just to keep the momentum going, so is he just making this up as he goes, or does he have a plan? I need to learn more about when planning is worthwhile and when my plans won’t survive contact with reality.

Our prior experiences were useful because we learned to ask questions. While I’ve had an overview of whatever we were getting into each week, a lot of times the interesting parts were things that weren’t covered on the online materials. For example, when we visited Elementz, I didn’t expect to get a discussion about 3CDC. When we visited Hughes, I got to hear about STEAM (STEM plus Art). So as with those experiences, I had to come up with questions on the fly. The questions we prepared going into the session were really useful whenever we ran out of discussion on a topic, but when we just needed a little nudge while staying on topic, I’d ask a question about what we learned.  So this was in some ways a chance to apply our skills on a community project, even if it was just a small segment of it.

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