Historical Reminiscents Podcast EP 46: Professional Development Vs. Professional Learning

Lego storm troopers teaching darth vader how to ride a bike

Conference season is quickly approaching for many Canadian academics and with all of this travel comes conversations about professional development. In this episode, I discuss the differences between professional development and professional learning.  I also tackle questions of ongoing career development, active learning, and the funding of professional growth opportunities.

I would love to hear your thoughts on professional development and professional learning. Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
David Porter Explains a Couple Things Video, Ontario Extend mOOC
-Linda Darling-Hammond, Maria E. Hyler, Madelyn Gardner, Danny Espinoza, “Effective Teacher Professional Development” (PDF)
-Ann Webster-Wright, “Reframing Professional Development Through Understanding Authentic Professional Learning

Rapid Reads:
-“Feeling Grief: On Emotions in the Archive of Enslavement“, Nathan Dize

Download or listen now.

Photo credit: Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 28: Spring Cleaning Your Work Life

Blue flowers on left. Right side reads: "Episode 28: Spring Cleaning Your Work Life."

It is finally warm here! And flowers are starting to grow! As Spring rolls around I’ve been getting the urge to start Spring cleaning.  What does Spring cleaning mean for folks working in academia and public history? How do you set yourself for success in the coming season?  In this episode I chat about shaking up schedules, planning for the Summer, and getting the most out of Spring.

I would love to hear about how your writing or professional routines change with the seasons, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
-“A Semester Needs A Plan

Download or listen now.  

Historical Reminiscents EP 25: Conference Season – Networking As An Introvert

Cords plugged into a sound board. Right side reads "Episode 25: Conference Season - Networking As An Introvert"

I’m currently at the National Council on Public History annual meeting (yay!) and with conference season ramping up I’ve been thinking a lot about networking.  In this episode I discuss networking as an introvert, conference survival tips, and small steps to building a strong network.  I also chat about virtual colleagues, asking for help, and reaching out to people you don’t know.

I would love to hear about your conference plans for this year and your favourite conference tips, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
-Katie Linder, “How to Meet Really Cool People
-Andrea Eidinger, “A Beginner’s Guide to CHA

Download or listen now.

Historical Reminiscents EP 17: Leadership, Admin, And The Things They Didn’t Teach You in Grad School

Woman holding a "Like a Boss" mug on the left image on right reading: Episode 17 Leadership, Admin, and the things they didn't teach you in grad school

New podcast episode! In this week’s episode I discuss building admin and leadership skills within public history.  I talk about education gaps, how to gain hands on experience, and the importance of mentorship.

How have you worked to build admin or management skills within public history? Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Developing History Leaders 
Archives Leadership Institute

Download or listen now.

NCPH Election Results

Dictionary definition of vote

Jumping up and down news! (Okay, I admit that I might be the only one who jumps up and down at this news). I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council on Public History (NCPH). Folks can find the complete election results in the March issue of the Public History News publication. Congrats to Kristen Baldwin Deathridge and Kimberly Springle who were also elected to the Board and congratulations to Gregory Smoak to who was elected as NCPH president.

I talk about NCPH a lot. It is a professional organization that I truly care about and the space that I consider my professional home. The folks who I’ve meet though NCPH are a constant source of inspiration.

Each year I come away from the annual meeting with a sense of renewed love for my profession, enthusiasm for emerging public history practices, and possibilities for projects within my own workplace. For example, the Canada-wide Canadian History Edit-A-thon organized by Jessica Knapp and I developed out of an idea we had at the 2017 annual meeting. Details on this year’s annual meeting, which is being held in Las Vegas from April 18-21, can be found on the NCPH website.

I look forward to serving on the NCPH Board and to giving back to an organization I love.

Talking About Failure in Academia

Red door against a painted wall that has paint peeling.

Taking about failure is hard. The ways in which we talk about and process failure can be deeply personal. We often see failure of a representation of ourselves and take it personally. Folks in academia talk about success, however we are less apt to discuss those times we’ve failed to hit the mark.

Failure is an experience. It has the potential to provide room for growth, professional lessons, and examples for others. Talking openly about failure also has the potential to contribute to conversations about systemic problems and allows us to acknowledge when systems are stacked against communities.

The Shadow CV

Since 2010, there has been a movement to create public ‘shadow CVs‘ which instead of documenting accomplishments document failures. These documents often include rejected papers, grants submitted but not received, job rejections, etc. The idea behind these cvs is to talk about failure and let emerging scholars know that the road to success if often filled with missteps, disappointments, and hidden failures.

This practice of publicly documenting failure has been criticized as a form of privilege that is only available to those who are in a position of success.  New scholars, adjunct faculty, and precariously employed folks often can’t afford to publicly advertise their failures.  Additionally the narrative often hidden behind these shadow cvs is that look – even with all of these failures I’m still successful. You just need to work harder. Sometimes working harder isn’t an option and it definitely isn’t going to improve flawed employment systems.

Speaking to Failure

Despite some of the problems with the shadow CV movement, I do think that it is important to talk about failure.  It’s important to talk about how receiving a “revise and resubmit” on a journal article is common and part of the publishing process. It is important to acknowledge the emotional labour that is tied up in every professional successes and professional failures.

Even the lines on our cvs that represent success – a grant or a publication – can have layers of failure behind them. That published article might have been rejected from your first choice of journal. That successful grant might be the only grant you received out of the three you submitted. Success and failure isn’t always as straight cut as it seems.  The “How I Fail” series by Veronika Cheplygina is a good example of numerous academics talking openly about the complicated nature of failure.

It is important to have these conversations in places that be inclusive of students and new professionals. They need to know that academic life is filled with failure. And that even though failure can be soul crushing, sometimes it isn’t as personal as it seems at first glance.

Rethinking Failure

Measuring academic success and academic failure has long been related to landing tenure track positions. A shift away from measuring tenure as success has started to happen with the emergence of a vocal alt-ac community and the acknowledgement of problems within the tenure system.  Personally I think we need to evaluate success and failure on individual levels.

Having work and life balance is a success. Being happy with where you live and getting satisfaction out of your job is success. And how you measure success is going to change based on your health, career stage, and personal life.  Some days just getting out of bed and putting pants on counts as a huge success.

We need to talk about how we evaluate failure, talk openly about the unique challenges of failure within academia, and work to build supportive communities that exist throughout all the ups and downs.

Photo credit: Ronald Cuyan on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 16: Building Moderation Skills

Stopwatch on left and black writing on right "Episode 16: Building Moderation Skills Historical Reminiscents Podcast"

New podcast episode! In this week’s episode I discuss effective moderation techniques and the role of a good moderator.  I try to answer the questions: How do you become a moderator? What does a moderator actually do? What skills do you need to bring to the table as a moderator?

Do you have good or horrible moderation experiences to share? Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Moderating a conference session YouTube video
-Linda K. Kerber, “Everything You Need to Know about Introducing Speakers and Running a Panel Discussion,” American Historical Association

Download or listen now.

Anishinaabe Inendamowin Research Symposium

Row of people sitting taking notes at a conference

Last week I participated in the Anishinaabe Inendamowin (thought) Research Symposium held at Algoma University. The theme of this year’s symposium was “Weaving Meaningful Anishinaabe Research Bundles” and there was an emphasis on enriching academic research through Indigenous ways of knowing. The symposium included community knowledge holders, post-secondary students from all levels, and established Indigenous academic scholars. The symposium also provided Indigenous students at AlgomaU an opportunity to see the range of work being done by Indigenous professionals and to interact with established scholars. 

One of the things that stuck me about this conference was the richness of conversation across disciplines and silos. Students and established academics engaged with each other throughout the symposium and there was an emphasis on speaking personal truths in relation to research. For me, the symposium highlighted how much established scholars can learn from listening to students and non-academics. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge held by communities that is marginalized by academia. There are also valid concerns about Indigenous knowledge being appropriated or co-opted by academic settings. A number of the speakers expressed how they normally refuse academic speaking invitations because they do not feel welcomed in those spaces or feel the invitations are a form of tokenism. Organized by Indigenous academics and community members this symposium was an example of an effort to break down academic silos and build bridges between communities of knowledge.

A number of the presentations I attended focused on re-positing academic knowledge in conversation with community or traditional knowledge. There was an emphasis on seeing Indigenous traditional knowledge as worthwhile and as valid as Western ways of knowing. In the case of Naomi Recollect’s “Birchbark, memories, and language: Exploring museum collections containing Anishinaabek material” workshop Recollect positioned community members as the experts. She challenged the idea of museum curators and archivists as the only source of expertise in relation to material culture. This presentation was a fantastic example of the type of conversations Canadian cultural heritage organizations need to be having. How can we build relationships which position Indigenous communities in positions of power and experience in relation to their own material culture? How can collections be opened up and shared with the communities they represent?

The symposium left me with a lot to think about. I’m stilling working through everything I heard about the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into classroom, administration, and cultural settings. I feel very fortunate to be at an institution that is openly engaging in these difficult and important conversations. These conversations are definitely ongoing but they need to start somewhere.

Photo credit: The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 13: Fostering Meaningful Student Work Experiences

Woman biting a coloured pencil on left. Right reads "Episode 13: Fostering Meaningful Student Work Experiences"

Since starting at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre in 2010 I have worked with a lot of students and new professionals. Over time I’ve developed really strong feels about the important of building meaningful placement, co-op, and work experiences for students. This episode dives into student mentorship and the importance of creating skill building opportunities within the archival and public history profession.

 Download or listen now.

Reading that changed my thinking in 2017

Book open on table with a white mug, red background with white lights.

For my last post of 2017 I’m going to highlight some of the books, blog posts, and articles I read this year that have had an impact on my thinking and professional practice.  These items are not necessarily new publications but just works I have read (or re-read) this year.

Silencing the Past by Michel-Rolph Trouillot
This is a book that completely changed my thinking about the silences in history.  I think it is a must read for any archivist or those who use archival records as part of their work.  It includes a deep and well framed dive into the nature of power in historical narratives. Trouillot argues that silences are created during every step of the historical process – from source creation, to preservation in archives, to the writing of historical narratives/the work of historians.  Personally, Trouillot’s framing has been helpful when I’ve been thinking critically about the colonial archives in Canada and the silences presented around Indigenous communities in those archives.

150 Acts of Reconciliation for the 150 Days of Canada’s 150 by Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky
In an year filled with Canada 150 celebrations and #Resist150 protests there is a need for Canadians to think critically about what it means to live on Indigenous land. The #150Acts list presented tangible actions settlers could take towards reconciliation. This is a must read for anyone interested in reconciliation work or building better relationships with Indigenous communities.  Read each act. Then actually do the work.

The Canadian Indian Residential School System Wikipedia Article
Since June 2016 Danielle Robichaud and so many other archivists, librarians, and activists have worked to improve this Wikipedia article.  At the start of this effort the article was rated as C-class. It had a number of content and source problems. As a result of a whole lot of work the article now well written, properly sources, and was a Featured Article on December 26, 2017. I think it’s fantastic that so many people worked together to improve this article and hold this up as an example of how editing Wikipedia can be a form of reconciliation and decolonization work.

Tending tenderness and disrupting the myth of academic rock stars by Zoe Todd
In this blog post Todd presents an approach of radical empathy to move away from the cult of the academic celebrity.  Her work emphasizes building meaningful and nurturing relationships while, rethinking “our relationships to the academy and to centre a strong ethic of collaboration and co-thinking within our efforts to disrupt the academy itself.”

“The Holiday Spirit Will Prevail: Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Erasure in Ontario’s ‘Cottage Country’” #Beyond150CA Twitter Conference Presentation, by Anne Jahunen
This was one of the many fantastic presentations that were part of the Beyond 150 Twitter Conference held in August 2017.  Jahunen’s presentation does an excellent job of illustrating the colonial roots of cottage country and the Parks system in Canada.  The presentation looks specifically at the Georgian Bay National Park but many of colonial systems pointed to can be applied to other parks as well.  I included this presentation in the readings for my public history students during the week were talking about Parks and it generated a lot of thoughtful discussion.

She’s Hot: Female Sessional Instructors, Gender Bias, and Student Evaluations by Andrea Eidinger
This post shattered the record for most reads on the Active History website.  It is a must read for anyone in academia.  Eidinger takes a critical look at the gender bias behind student evaluations and examines the structural problems with heavily weighting student evaluations in relation to tenure/promotion.

Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in Cambodia by Michelle Caswell.
I struggled to pick just one of Michelle Caswell’s works to include on this list.  But ultimately her book Archiving the Unspeakable won because of its breadth and perspective on the the nature of archives within colonial or oppressive regimes.  Caswell’s work examines the Khmer Rouge archives in Cambodia with an emphasis on the photographic archives and the associated silences found in these records.  This book address archival silences in photographs but also talks about the power of photographs in terms of community memory and identity.

Let the People Lead: Supporting Sustainability vs Dependency Models for Funding Community-Based Archives by Bergis Jules.
This post takes a look at community based archival models in the United States with an emphasis on the funding, staffing, and sustainability of community models. Jules argues that, “Grant makers can have an extremely important role to play in funding the sustainability and the growth of community-based archives, but they risk replicating exploitative models if the people who do the the work of community archives aren’t at the table from the beginning or tapped to lead some of these efforts.” The post also discusses the challenges of community based archives houses within post-secondary spaces.  As someone who works at a community archive within a university this really hit home for me.  There is a lot of food for thought in the piece which I’m still chewing on.  Recommended for anyone interested in community archives.

This is just a snapshot of some of the fantastic reads I’ve had the chance to consume over the past year.  What are you favourite reads from 2017?

Photo Credit: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash