TELL YOUR STORY
“Storytelling is how we love and grow and exist. We live inside our stories,” said Associate Professor Sandro Barros. He helped nurture an idea that would become a series of Storytelling Nights, inviting Spartans to listen to stories and share one of their own.
Barros connected with three students (all his advisees) in the college’s Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education doctoral program to coordinate the events: Darshana Devarajan, Reyila Hadeer and Kasun Gajasinghe.
Event themes were created around global understanding, said Gajasinghe.
“We wanted the topics to be broad, that could connect to any culture or person, but also to help participants think about specific lived experiences,” he said.
Each event included interactive opportunities, such as crafting impromptu seven-word stories that were read aloud.
“These events were received by all different sorts of communities and identity groups,” said Devarajan. “It was expansive in the space it provided.”
The coordinators hope college-wide storytelling continues in some way, perhaps through more events or a printed collection of short stories.
“Storytelling is a powerful way to share, explore and produce knowledge,” said Hadeer. “When we share our stories, we’re co-creating with our audience who is listening.”
A SYSTEM OF SUPPORT
Four events brought college scholars from across the world—including China, India, South Korea, Mexico and Nigeria—to discuss educational issues relevant to their home countries, how to navigate academic job searches and more.
Assistant Professor Jungmin Kwon and graduate student Laxmi Prasad Ojha developed the idea to build an inclusive support system for international doctoral students in the college. Both are international scholars themselves: Kwon is from South Korea and Ojha is from Nepal.
“There is little opportunity for these students to share their experiences, expertise and challenges,” said Kwon. “We wanted to showcase the wealth of linguistic, cultural and educational knowledge they hold and give an opportunity for others to learn from them.”
More opportunities may be on the horizon. Kwon and Ojha conducted a survey with graduate students college-wide to learn about what improved support they would like from the college and MSU.
REIMAGINE THE EXPERIENCE
Alumni from the Urban Educators Cohort Program are helping enact changes for undergraduate students.
“Does or did UECP impact our alumni and their work in education? How do we know this program is effective?” asked Mary Patillo-Dunn, UECP coordinator. She is co-leading the effort with Associate Professor and Director of Urban Initiatives Terry Flennaugh to change the program to be data-informed and with an eye to the future.
They hosted a focus group and launched a survey for UECP alumni who graduated from 2015-21 to learn about their program experiences, what they wished they had learned and suggestions for improvement. In addition, they are also annually polling current students on their experiences in the program.
Changes, so far, include more regular school visits and visits that happen earlier within the program.
Patillo-Dunn is cultivating relationships with districts across the state—Lansing, Saginaw, Flint, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Muskegon—to show the varied perspectives of urban education through field trips that will include classroom observations and a service component.
Alumni feedback could also yield even more shifts, like an alumni speaker series or one-on-one mentoring opportunities.
Read more: Flennaugh was named the interim associate dean diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Education in Nov. 2022.