Connect and reflect for the greater good

by Cristy Guleserian – December 18, 2019

Ideas sketched out on glass with dry erase markers

December traditionally has been an opportunity for our Principled Innovation team to look back on the work we have accomplished over the past twelve months and see how far we have progressed towards, or away, from our goals set the previous year. Typically there is a sense of wonder and disbelief as we gaze in the rearview mirror to see the road behind us. Did we really do all of that? 

As we are checking things off our to-do lists, it is easy to get stuck in the day to day activities and forget to step back and see the larger picture. How is the work I am doing impacting the work happening across the college, as well as society as a whole? What is the purpose of all of this? Our Principled Innovation Steering Committee met on December 11th, 2019 to celebrate the work of the past year, and to begin looking forward as to how we can more intentionally connect the work happening throughout the college using the practices of Principled Innovation.

A presenter speaks to the retreat participants

We started the day revisiting our vision statement, “Educators and the community will think creatively and work collaboratively for the current and future good of humanity.” It’s a big and lofty vision, but somehow makes the work we are currently doing to prepare informed learners and ethical and moral decision makers who can navigate uncertainty and solve complex problems an important contribution to the future of learning. 

We looked at how the work we are doing connects or impacts the various learning environments where our graduates will operate and thrive. It was fun to see the sensemaking happening throughout the morning activities and discussions. Participants were truly illustrating Principled Innovation through the context of their own work and began to make connections to how their work can either contribute to or impact the work of others. 

Retreat participants draw lines with dry erase markers

A change initiative as large as the one taking place at MLFTC does not happen without taking some risks and experiencing a few failures along the way. This can produce strong and uncomfortable emotions as we engage in our work. How do we navigate the vulnerability and the uncertainty that bubbles up as we step into “beautiful risks”? Ron Beghetto, Pinnacle West Presidential Chair and Professor, shared some strategies to help us take the fear out of making mistakes and embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes, all we need is permission to lean into our failures as a pathway to Principled Innovation. Having the opportunity to self-reflect and the tools to support the practice helps us to evolve in purpose and understanding.

By the end of the morning, I was once again reminded of the genuine purpose of the collaborative work we are doing and the impact it is having on each of us as individuals, as well as the possibilities we are creating for the future of education. At the root of Principled Innovation is a humanistic focus on authentic relationships, and that is what we are developing with this wonderful group of engaged educators and researchers. Making the space to connect and reflect will continue to improve our work for the greater good.