The “Art of Participatory Leadership” Meets College Learning & Teaching

19 Mar

The techniques and practices of The Art of Participatory Leadership (formerly known as the Art of Hosting) are becoming more widely used in university settings, both in meetings and in the classroom.

First introduced to my own campus in 2011, I wrote  last year about some of the techniques that lend themselves particularly well to the classroom as well shared how some University instructors some of the practices: World Café, the ORID method of asking questions, and the practice of focused or compassionate listening.

In 2013, members for the University community published the the ebook Cultivating Change in the Academy: Practicing the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter, featuring reflections on how the practices of the Art of Participatory Leadership have had impact on people in both the personal and professional realms.  In today’s WOW post, I’ll focus on a three chapters that have specific implications or applications for teaching.

In the chapter, “Building the Case for the Art of Hosting at the University of Minnesota,” Sue Engelmann of the Office of E-Learning describes her introduction to the AoH as a participant in an Open Space Technology gathering, which then inspired her to become a trained AoH facilitator.  A key aspect of hosting is having a clear purpose and a planned method to “harvest” results.   Sue highlights the reflective questions of “What?” “So what” and “Now what?” as one way to summarize what has been done learned through an activity.   When answering “what?,” participants report objectively on what we observed or done.  When discussing “so what?,” participants discuss what was learned and when answering “now what?,” participants plan for future action.   How could you use these questions as part of an activity?  As a debrief after a group project?  As part of a case study?  As a synthesis activity at the end of a unit or semester?

In “Hosting the Classroom,” Kathy Quick, Assistant Professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, writes the Art of Hosting enriching her teaching practice.   She begins class with a circle process and concludes with an appreciative inquiry activity as a way to build community.  She considers her classroom a “practicum in engagement” and students learn facilitation skills as they actively plan, lead, and debrief activities.  The Art of Hosting has also led Kathy to reflect on her role in the classroom, focusing on her role as a host.  What does it mean to “host” a class rather than “teach” it?  What implications would this have for your practice?  How would your class change?

Cristina Lopez, Academic Technologist in the Office of Information Technology, writes about the “Visual Facilitation Gallery Walk” that she cohosted with other AoH practitioners.  At this event, attendees were invited to participate in a variety of activities, each lasting approximately 10 minutes.  These activities included creating visual agendas, mind mapping, drawing abstract concepts, discussing a video harvest.   Cris noted “Those who attended the event noted visual facilitation can be presented as an invitation to work together in different ways.”  How would an in-class discussion proceed differently if students were asked to doodle or draw their ideas as they expressed them?  What would a visual agenda or “flow” look like for a class or even your whole course?

Intrigued?  I hope so.  I encourage you to read these chapters (and the rest of the book!) for more details on these practices and how they can work to transform teaching and learning.

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