Transforming Education—December 2017

Write in your heart that every day is the best day of the year.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Holidays!

As I shared in my last newsletter, the College of Education is very pleased to begin our Brick by Brick, or Mattone Su Mattone, campaign as we journey towards our new home in the beautiful building that currently houses the Christian Theological Seminary (CTS).

Our future is full of opportunities as we continue the work to transform education, but we would not be where we are today without the strong foundation of alumni, faculty, staff, and students who have helped us develop, brick by brick, into a nationally recognized College of Education.

As you reflect on this season of thankfulness, giving, and remembrance, we would ask that you consider honoring those who have paved the way.

  • Is there an educator that started you on your professional journey, even before you came to Butler, who you would like to recognize?
  • Is there a faculty or staff member that you would like to publicly thank for their investment in you and the profession?
  • Would you like to have your own name inscribed as a permanent part of your alma mater?
  • If you are a family member, is there a former or current student you know who would love to always be part of the COE?

The link below will take you to the site where bricks can be purchased and inscriptions can be noted. We are thrilled at the outpouring of interest in this project since the last newsletter, and we cannot wait for the names and stories that we will remember because of this project.

Purchase a Brick

Thank YOU for being a part of the Mattone Su Mattone that has allowed us to build who we are today and lay the foundation for an even stronger tomorrow. We look forward to the many good things ahead in 2018!

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Transforming Education—October 2017

Mattone Su Mattone (Italian)

Brick by Brick:
Learning from the past as we look to the future of the College of Education

The story of the preschool, XXV Aprile (April 25), in the Villa Cella is an important part of the history of early childhood education in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In Villa Cella after World War II, the village was left with a German tank, a few horses, and a truck abandoned due to the quick departure of the Nazis. In only a few weeks after Italy was liberated, the citizens of Villa Cella sold these items and began to gather the ruble left of the many buildings that had been shattered by bombs. They gathered bricks (mattone) and took them to the river, knocking off the mortar, and gathered sand to begin construction of a preschool for the children. Renzo Barazzoni, author of Mattone Su Mattone wrote: 

“The people of Villa Cella had seen the war up close and had experienced all of its horrors. They could easily have been infected by the repeated barbarities of the long fascist domination. Instead, immediately after the Liberation, not only were they relieved of the weight of a nightmare and lightened by returning hope, they were especially united by the memory of shared suffering and by a spirit of solidarity which had been tested through and through... Everyone wondered how to erase every trace of this dark past from our conscience and from our institutions; the answer was democracy, to be built from the ground up, along with the houses and the demolished cities, with the families, which were split up and mutilated.  The period after the war, therefore, was one of the sunniest moments in our history.

I had the good fortune of visiting April 25, and it was an inspiring symbol of rebirth and hope after one of the most horrific periods of history. I was in awe of the structure knowing that bricks had been placed so many decades ago as they built a future for their children and their country.  The democratic principles that permeate the practices in the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy are alive and well, and the history of fascism has no place in the present or future.

So in the spirit of the Reggio practice of offering questions as a means to provoke dialogue, I offer the following:

  • With the tragedies in our society (mass shootings, natural disasters, etc.), how are we practicing and teaching democratic principles so that our students know about history and understand their roles as citizens in a democratic society?
  • Have you read, or will you re-read, John Dewey’s profound and prophetic work Democracy and Education?
  • How do you respond to what often feels like a never-ending attack on the education system in our country? Can you think of it, like the citizens of Villa Cella, as being tested but creating a spirit of solidarity in realizing that as an educator, YOU are laying one brick at a time for the future of your students?

I am pleased to share with you that the College of Education will be undertaking our own Mattone Su Mattone as we move into a new home in summer 2018. We will move into the beautiful Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) building located on the west side of the Butler campus. As we work with Schmidt Associates in the redesign of several spaces, including the building of a new walkway and patio, we will be selling bricks that celebrate being an alum, honoring a family member, a teacher, a professor, or the memory of a loved one. As we create our own “brick by brick” story, we will be paving the way to a new future for the College of Education by understanding and honoring our past, but looking to a future that is filled with hope and opportunity; renewed with the understanding that education is the foundation to a strong and healthy society where all its members can thrive.

Photo credit: do317.com

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Transforming Education—April 2017

 

In time of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.
—Fred Rogers

This column is dedicated to children of all ages and the peacemakers in the world. Only a few weeks ago an act of terrorism occurred in Stockholm, Sweden. This followed on the heels of horrific incidents in Syria. The turmoil in the world demands that we embrace the words of Mr. Rogers as educators, parents, and as global citizens.

My dear friend and colleague, Angelica Granqvist, sent me a text on April 7 to let me know that she and her family were safe in their homeland of Sweden. Last May I had the honor of traveling to Sweden to learn from Angelica and her peers as fellow educators. In her school, Vallentuna Gymnasium, I met students from many countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. They had to master the Swedish language first and then English. I was touched to hear the phrase “newly arrived” used rather than “immigrant.” What I observed was a thriving community of high school students who embodied the wisdom of Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I had the opportunity to travel with Angelica to other cities as well as Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea. I found the Swedes to be kind and open and the pace of life to be peaceful.

Unfortunately their peace has now been disrupted by a senseless act. But it appears the Swedes are using their ears and hearts as they embrace the questions in this situation. Swedes have placed mounds of flowers and thousands joined hands in a public gathering. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven stated, “This shows that there is strength in Sweden that nobody can take away from us.” I read an interview of a 75-year-old Swedish woman who said maybe there is hope in this tragedy so that “fellow Swedes would become even more open and welcoming.” She is keeping her heart and mind open in the midst of the questions that surround a tragedy.

This May I will return to Sweden—this time with a large group of Butler University faculty. We must continue to realize the importance of the connections across the world, our role as peacemakers, and how education is the way to change the world. While we must take precautions, we cannot live our lives in fear. As adults we must continue to help our students ask the questions knowing that there are many answers, not just one. Sadly the days of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood show are in the past, but his wisdom lives on. Perhaps introducing the younger generation to him on Google would be worthy! As our students and children see the world events play out on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, they could frame it as Mister Rogers did: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” May we each work to help heal the world with our ears and hearts open always.

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Transforming Education—March 2017

If you’re always racing to the next moment,
what happens to the one you’re in?
                                                  —Anonymous

A collision of events and observations this month is summed up in this quote. It began with a conversation I had with a friend whose child is in the final stage of the college selection process. The angst of the parent was about what their child would major in and what the job market may be in four years. Having had two children who have completed college, and given my day job, my advice was to make sure their child selected the school that felt like the best fit, encourage them to enter as an exploratory student, and to give them time to find their passion. Only a week earlier I had a young man in my office, a senior majoring in business, telling me he wished he could start over in college because he had discovered a passion for teaching. He shared he had felt the pressure to select a major early and that his parents had emphasized it needed to be a career that would provide a sound financial future. What had been the hurry to make an early decision, racing through the moments of college life without fully embracing the current moment?

A few days later I received an article about the urgency of incorporating college and career readiness standards into the elementary curriculum. James L. Hymes, considered to be a founding father of early childhood education in America, wrote the seminal text Teaching Children Under Six. Over 50 years ago, Hymes challenged the concept of “getting children ready” in the early childhood years. He asked why it is that when a child is four years old the common education practices are to get the child ready to be five years old. Why is it we don’t celebrate all of the wonder of being four, offering experiences for children to learn, realizing they will become five years old on their own? Why is it in American culture we do not appreciate all that each age offers? Why can’t we celebrate, nurture, and encourage without a goal of hurrying to be the next age?

Two days after receiving the article, I began reading the fourth book written by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. In his recent novella, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, the following dialogue between the Grandpa (G) and grandson Noah (N) reminded me of how Hymes’ message resonates today.

He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults, who only want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.

N: Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big.

G: What did you write?

N: I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.

G: That’s a very good answer.

N: Isn’t it? I would rather be old than a grown-up. All grown-ups are angry; it’s just children and old people who laugh.

G: Did you write that?

N: Yes.

G: What did your teacher say?

N: She said I hadn’t understood the task.

G: And what did you say?

N: I said she hadn’t understood my answer.

The last collision in the series of events was one that shook me to my core and reminded me of the preciousness of each moment of each day. This month’s column is dedicated to the life and memory of Jackie Kleine Watts, COE Butler 2007 graduate. Jackie lost her life on March 4 as she tried to rescue a lost dog. Her love for animals was immense and her willingness to help others, even those she never met, were qualities to be admired and respected. I was fortunate to see Jackie a few months ago when we bumped into one another at a restaurant. I was delighted to see her and to catch up. She showed me pictures of her pets and we took a photo together. She shared how much she loved her work as an esthetician at an upscale hotel. She asked me if I was disappointed that she was not using her teaching degree. My reply was education happens in many places and in many ways and that the ultimate goal I have for every student is to find happiness. It gives me comfort knowing that she was genuinely happy—she had reached the goal of contentment and peacefulness. Jackie did not race from moment to moment but rather lived each moment fully. She reminded me that life is NOT about what the person will do but rather who they will become. In honor of Jackie, I ask you to pause, be thankful, and live fully every moment. Tomorrow will arrive all on its own.

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education
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Editor’s Note: In our ongoing quest to highlight best practices in teaching, we present Brandie Oliver. Oliver is an expert in bullying prevention.

Transforming Education—January 2017

“Leadership is not about being in charge.
Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

—Simon Sinek

A copy of Sinek’s quote regarding leadership appeared taped to my office door one morning and it was simply signed, “Thanks!” It was such a lovely surprise and prompted me to examine what I believe about my role in the College of Education. I believe that I have the best job in the world. Colleagues who are unbelievably talented and dedicated surround me—hence I have named them “The Dream Team.” They challenge the status quo, dare to dream big, and then take action to turn their dreams into reality. They do not speak of fear but rather of hope and possibilities. They speak more often with questions than with directives. And most importantly, they engage in deep collaborations within the college and University, our school-based and community partners, education and social agencies, and state and national policymakers.

I believe Simon Sinek is right—my role is not to be in charge but to nurture, support, guide, listen to, and believe in those in my charge. I frequently remind my “Dream Team” that part of my role is to offer them Gatorade as they run past me with their ideas and brilliance. I am the orchestra director of an amazing symphony!

Does Simon Sinek’s quote speak to you? In his wonderful book, Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, Sinek wrote, “Leadership is not a rank or position to be attained. Leadership is a service to be given…Leadership is an education. And the best leaders think of themselves as the students not the teachers.” What if we considered the role of every individual in a school or organization as a leader? For example, I think about a member of the custodial staff at the IPS/Butler Lab School who is a leader. She models kindness and respect for the children and when the children created their own board game she was the first person they invited to play. She takes “care of those in her charge” and is a valuable member of the school symphony. Who do you work with who may not have an official leadership title but is a true leader? Have you considered that YOU are a leader too?

An example of leadership from the College of Education “Dream Team” is EPIC: Educators Preparing Inspired Change which is an academy for superintendents created by Associate Dean Deb Lecklider; Cindy Smith, COE Administrative Assistant; J.T. Coopman, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS); and William Gulley, Executive Director of the Butler University Lacy School of Business Executive Education program. The academy officially launched on January 12 and is an example of Sinek’s belief that leaders see themselves as students—we are never done learning!

Another example of leadership is a video created by Dr. Kelli Esteves, Associate Professor in the COE and the recipient of the Richard W. Guyer Chair in Education. Dr. Esteves is the co-author of RTI in Middle School Classrooms: Proven Tools and Strategies and RTI Proven Tools and Strategies for Schools and Classrooms. I encourage you to listen to her message, as you will hear important leadership principles embedded in her words of wisdom regarding RTI.

I invite you to share your stories of leadership with us on Twitter and Facebook. I wish each of you a Happy New Year in 2017 as we travel the road of learning and leading together!

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education