AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

I am Rebecca Stewart, Chief Practice Officer at The Improve Group, an evaluation consulting firm in St. Paul, Minnesota.

You may have heard the saying “What gets measured, gets done.” In Minnesota, nearly every program, initiative, or collaborative effort has an evaluation component. With the practical application of so many different evaluations, we wondered: What are the conditions that make an environment fertile for evaluation – and evaluators?

Lessons Learned: Here are several factors that I think make Minnesota a great place to be an evaluator:

  • A vibrant nonprofit and philanthropic economy – With 60 nonprofits per 10,000 residents, Minnesota nonprofits use many ways to make our world a better place. A generous philanthropic and business community, with numerous foundation heads and Fortune 500 CEOs, takes on challenges in early learning, the education opportunity gap, workforce disparities, transportation and others. These leaders rely on evaluation to understand the impact of their investments, see how programs could be improved, and identify what works and what doesn’t.
  • A rich talent pool – Minnesota has numerous higher education institutions. People come from all over the world to learn to do evaluation. Many stay and make their lives here. “I was lucky to get a job at the University of Minnesota Extension after the University made a commitment to embed a lead internal evaluator in each of Extension’s four major areas of programming,” says Scott Chazdon, Evaluation and Research Specialist at University of Minnesota Extension. Chazdon says this is a far-sighted commitment that very few land-grant universities have made. “Do I think this is because there is a strong culture of evaluation in Minnesota? Yes!”
  • Civically-engaged residents – Minnesota regularly leads the nation in civic engagement, such as high voting and volunteerism rates. “One reason Minnesota is a hotbed for evaluation is that Minnesotans are interested in getting together to try to solve problems,” says Craig Helmstetter, Managing Partner for American Public Media Research Lab and Analyst Group. “Eventually we want to know whether these ‘solutions’ are working.”
  • An evaluative mindset (Hint: I saved the most important one for last!) – Many of our clients first turn to us for evaluation services because, quite frankly, they are required to. As an evaluator who is passionate about improving our world, nothing gives me more joy than when a client realizes the value of evaluation. They see a crucial piece of understanding how well their program is working, how to adjust and improve, and potentially how to replicate and spread good work to others!

Rad Resources: Based on these factors, is your state a hotbed for evaluation? Check out these links to see.

The American Evaluation Association is highlighting the work of The Improve Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from staff of The Improve Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

My name is Leah Goldstein Moses, and I am incredibly lucky to lead the talented team at The Improve Group as our founder and CEO. Seventeen years ago, the Lakers beat the Pacers in the NBA finals, technology stocks took a beating, an extremely close election led to examination of paper ballots in Florida, and The Improve Group started in the living room of my second-floor duplex unit.

In the years since, The Improve Group has grown from an independent consultancy to a network of evaluators to an in-depth practice working all over the world — and we keep evolving. What has stayed constant? An emphasis on evaluation use. An attention to rigor and engagement. And an intentional use of values to guide our work and interactions.

In the last few years, several factors affecting our work have driven us to take a fresh look at our practice and focus on how we collaborate with our clients and communities.

Lesson Learned: Using a community-responsive approach. We have learned a lot from people doing culturally-responsive, indigenous, and empowerment evaluations. Community-responsive approaches are used when there are multiple factors (e.g., income, gender, education, ethnicity, age) that have an impact on how an initiative is perceived, implemented, and performs. In a community-responsive approach, members of the community help to design, implement, and use evaluation.

Rad resources: Dr. Nicole Bowman has been a wonderful mentor to me in understanding how culture, power, and interjurisdictional governance influence work. Her recent AEA365 blog had many fabulous resources. And CREA’s research, training, and resources have been helping evaluators work from a culturally-specific perspective for nearly two decades.

Lesson Learned: We are using evaluation capacity building across a very broad spectrum – from specific professional development for practicing evaluators, to working with program staff who use and contribute to evaluation, to helping community members exercise power in an evaluation. We’ve come to think about capacity building as consisting of tools, practices, and knowledge.

Rad resources: We are impressed by the cohort model being used by the Scattergood Foundation in its Building Evaluation Capacity Initiative.

Hot Tip: To work effectively in diverse communities, the evaluation field needs to represent these communities. We prioritize hiring candidates from populations that are underrepresented in evaluation; in particular, people of color, people with disabilities, and people who are GLBT. We have transformed our evaluation internship program to specifically target these groups.

Rad resource: One of our first steps was to partner with AEA’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) to prepare for and recruit intern candidates. They helped us think about what we needed to do to welcome and support interns, and we’ve used those lessons in subsequent years.

The American Evaluation Association is highlighting the work of The Improve Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from staff of The Improve Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Hi I am Zachary Grays, Operations Coordinator for AEA.

You’ll hear it from just about anyone who is a member that the AEA Topical Interest Groups are the heart and soul AEA. Each TIG is defined around a special topic or interest and creates a forum whereby the knowledge, experience, and skills of each member can become a resource that the entire community can leverage. TIGs serve many roles for AEA, especially for the annual conference (we hope to see you in DC for Evaluation 2017!).  Our TIG members review proposals, curate the vast learnings submitted, and expertly connecting them to the conference theme. More than anything, TIGs are valuable in the way that they bring together AEA’s diverse membership to make a large association feel like home.

Joining a TIG is an exclusive benefit to AEA membership and is your ticket to a community of experts who share similar backgrounds and work settings. Through our TIGs you have access to a network of professionals for collaboration on ideas and practices and a well of invaluable knowledge on topic areas that may be of interest to you. Your participation is based on your availability, and there is no specific obligation associated with your TIG membership. Being active in a TIG allows you to increase your depth of knowledge in a specific area as well as have leadership opportunities. Some TIGs are very active, with vibrant online discussion lists, resource websites, and special networking events, while others tend to focus their efforts around the AEA annual conference.

Hot Tip: Join a TIG and Get the Most of Your AEA Membership!

As an AEA member, you are allowed to join up to five of the 56 Topical Interest Groups. Joining a TIG is easy and can be managed here. Simply log in and join the TIGs that best suit your interests. To join a TIG, click ‘Join‘ next to the TIG name. Your request will be queued for approval to ensure you have not exceeded your limit of five. You will be notified when your request is approved.

To remove yourself from a TIG, click ‘Member‘ next to the TIG name below, and then click the ‘Leave Community‘ button on the following page.

Rad Resource: Getting to Know A TIG! Not sure if particular TIG is the right fit for you? While 56 TIGs sound like a lot, there a few great ways to get your feet wet before hitting the ‘Join’ button. Check out a TIGs website to learn about their mission, purpose, and upcoming activities. Many TIGs use their sites to archive their newsletters, engage in rich discussion, and keep members in the know as we lead into Evaluation 2017.

Hot Tip: Attend a TIG Business Meeting at Evaluation 2017!

If you’re joining us at Evaluation 2017 in Washington, D.C. this November, add a TIG Business Meeting to your agenda! Each TIG will hold a business meeting, open to all attendees, on Thursday, November 9. During this time, attendees have the opportunity to learn more about the TIGs in an informal environment, participate in TIG business (i.e. providing input on new TIG leadership, volunteer opportunities, and ideas for the upcoming program year), and network face-to-face with fellow members of the TIG. It is an excellent community and discovery experience for AEA members, new and seasoned.

Lastly, should you ever have questions regarding TIGs, we’re here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact me at AEA Headquarters for guidance around TIGs. I also encourage you to take the opportunity to reach out to a TIG leader individually for additional insight on their TIG and how to get involved.

· ·

My name is Wanda Casillas, and I am an evaluator with Deloitte Consulting, LLC. I am a member of LA RED, the MIE TIG, and an alum of AEA’s GEDI Program. I have been privileged to be under the care of AEA’s community since I was born into the evaluation world. I have been mentored, nurtured and cared for by prominent, brilliant professionals who have helped me learn to navigate scholarship and the professional world, particularly as a woman of color.

In that spirit, I place great value on the role of mentorship for evaluators, regardless of their tenure or experience, who are learning to navigate culturally-situated programs- let’s say mindfully and deliberately culturally-situated, since all programs are culturally-situated to some extent. For evaluators of color, I want to draw attention to the idea that “excellence” for us is characterized not only by typical professional standards, but also by the addition of 1) advocacy and the promotion of social justice in our communities and by 2) actively seeking to work in our communities.

With this blog, I hope to encourage potential mentors to think about what these added demands mean for the training and development of evaluators of color. I often find myself questioning if this is a double-standard, and how I want to deal with it in my mentoring relationships.

Hot Tips:

Be patient.   We are asking evaluators of color to have two heads: the mainstream professional head that understands excellence and scholarship in evaluation and the head that focuses on community advocacy and challenges injustices. This isn’t an expectation to which everyone is held. Professionals new to this expectation will waver, question, and find his/her own way on his/her own time. Respect the fluidity and dynamism of growth through complex development that may sometimes appear as resistance or “giving up”.

Withhold judgement. Are we feeding into a double-standard that in its own way is a prejudice? I am reminded of president Obama. The country waited in anticipation and fear of all the social justice policies unduly expected of him merely because he was African American. Somehow, his ethnic identity was supposed to give him super powers to trump (a little pun intended) all social ills. Well, not every evaluator of color will wear both heads, and we shouldn’t expect them to. Strong, well-trained professionals and scholars of color are an asset to our profession even if they choose not work in advocacy and social justice.  It is still our duty to mentor and hone their skills and respect their professional choices. Well-trained people will do “good work”, and that will have far-reaching benefits for many.

Rad Resources: Lewis, K.R. (2014). Five mentor mistakes to avoid. Fortune Magazine.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

My name is Art Hernandez, Visiting Professor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

I was an AEA MSI Fellow early on and have served as the Director for several cohorts – most recently this past year. I serve and have served as evaluator and teacher of evaluation and am very interested in the processes of cultural responsiveness in practice especially in regard to measurement and assessment. As one of the early AEA members from a Latino background, I have been positioned to offer my perspective to others on all aspects of Evaluation and professional practice.

Lesson Learned:

In my case, the relationships I have established and from which I have derived or offered insight, etc., resulted from “natural relationships” formed by my association with those Latinas/os who originally sought me out.  It is also clear to me that whatever benefit may have resulted to others, I certainly benefited.

It was these naturally occurring relationships which provided the means to advance the cause of representation and leadership for Latinas/os.  Clearly, because these relationships were organic, there was time to develop a foundation of trust- that any implied commitment of support could be trusted, that the motivation to be of support, to advance and advocate was genuine and time to develop a means of communication which reflected shared values predicated on a mutual desire to continue the relationship (friendship) for the long term.

Hot Tips: 

  • Interested and invested individuals and groups can make a difference in defining and shaping the “success” of our peers.
  • For underrepresented individuals, it is important to seek out interested, invested others even if they provide no more than social support and evidence that full participation is possible.
  • For those already within the “system” it is important to remember that even if you take no deliberate action, your presence and attitude toward newcomers conveys a great deal about the nature of the organization and the likelihood of success.
  • Numbers matter. Increasing the representativeness of constituent groups so that their “voice” can exercise influence should be a priority.
  • Diversity is of value to organizations which can benefit from a greater reach, improved retention and performance, increased innovation, social relevance and improved morale and sense of safety for those from underrepresented groups.
  • Informal mentoring is as valuable as formal mentoring.
  • Social and professional networks are important contributors to individual and organizational success.
  • Mentors, especially those from the majority who serve protégés from minority cultural backgrounds, should be sensitive to comments and attitudes of others and seek to advocate and advantage their protégés in the face of suspected prejudice or bias.
  • Mentors should be prepared to learn as well as to teach.
  • Mentors should expect, encourage and support protégés to achieve success – even that surpassing their own.
  • Finally, every field of endeavor benefits from efforts to embrace and exercise cultural responsive practice. The success of these efforts will be determined in no small way by the inclusion of experts who have firsthand, natural experience and knowledge of other cultural identities.

Rad Resource:

Norman, R.L. (2011). Five Best Practices for Cross-Cultural Mentoring in Organizations

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

¡Hola!/Hello! My name is Norma Martínez-Rubin and I am a bilingual health educator and program evaluator. I’ve had the privilege of being considered a liaison by program administrators interested in engaging their Latino/a, Spanish-speaking constituencies for program development and/or improvement. By designing linguistically appropriate surveys and focus groups on collaborative projects, my evaluation colleagues and I have come to better understand health related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of monolingual, low-income Spanish speakers. At least one of us has served to narrow the language gap between program designers and their target populations. But it’s been all of us who’ve recognized the value of incorporating once “hard-to-reach” Spanish-speaking communities by intentionally including a bilingual and bicultural evaluator on an evaluation team.

When we learn a professional discipline’s vocabulary we gain entry into it. With conscious effort, years of practice and ongoing skills development enable us to accurately recognize our profession’s lingo, application, and contextual significance. Similarly, to be useful, native and foreign language skills require ongoing exposure and study of the origin of words, shifts in word meaning, and the nuances of regional dialects. An appreciation of diction and speakers’ intonations — the matters of speech and expression that characterize individuals and, by extension, the cultural subgroups with whom they affiliate — broadens our communications.

Evaluators often must negotiate the development of data-collection instruments so they concurrently make sense to the program team and the communities of interest.  In those instances, bilingual/bicultural evaluators aim to accurately identify appropriate and misused wording in evaluation protocols, consequent surveys, and discussion guides. Doing so prevents costly mistakes of data interpretation and misuse.

Lessons Learned:

  • “Como te ven te tratan.” This Spanish expression is about judging someone by their appearance as a clue to their intellectual and socioeconomic status rather than with a true understanding from personally engaging them beyond superficial interaction. Learn it, but act beyond its meaning. Recall, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
  • Latino/a evaluators’ technical and communication skills are built from formal and informal experiences. Evaluation techniques, language skills, and adherence to cultural practices vary. They may not all be equally personally developed, nor might we choose to use them. By respecting each other’s professional contributions, we create opportunities for genuine and fruitful collegial relationships among peers.
  • Bilingual/bicultural skills are means to expand evaluators’ views into the lives of others, served by publicly funded programs for example, which might otherwise be untapped resources for program or service design, development, and improvement. Expand your professional network to include colleagues who are eager to share those skills along with personal and professional insights.
  • Bilingual/bicultural evaluators do more than translate language. They couple their technical and linguistic skills for culturally responsive evaluation that enriches program design and development. We’re keen on acknowledging that culture is composed of more than demographic variables. 

Rad Resources:

  • The American Evaluation Association’s Latino/a Responsive Evaluation Discourse Topical Interest Group is an evaluation resource. ¡Te esperamos!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

Hello! I’m Silvia Mazzula, Counseling Psychologist, Associate Professor at John Jay College and the founding director of the Latina Researchers Network (LRN) –  a research-based and multidisciplinary network with over 3,000 members nationwide.

Over the past five years, I have led LRN’s design, incubation and evaluation efforts. The purpose of LRN is to increase the number of historically underrepresented populations, particularly Latinas, in advanced research careers and in the professoriate. For the recent IUPLR Siglo XXI conference, my colleague Josephine Serrata and I presented LRN’s conceptual framework and key lessons that have emerged, that both support and expand existing efforts relevant to workforce diversity and retention and recruitment of under-represented minority (URM) populations.

Lessons Learned:

  • Discrimination, institutional racism, and being the “only one” create both personal and professional challenges that impact upward mobility, overall career satisfaction and sense of belonging.
  • Culturally responsive and relevant networks are critical to reducing isolation and alienation – both of which are documented to impact mental health and well-being.
  • “Sharing” personal narratives and attending to the social, cultural and political realties of URM populations are critical for URMs in predominantly White intuitions.
  • Conceptualized as a professional affinity group – that is, groups of individuals who have a shared interest and purpose, LRN targets three overall areas:
    • Social capital, as a collective and intentional sharing of resources, knowledge and tools to support others, is necessary to URM’s success. LRN transmits social capital in the way of of knowledge transfer through its programming (e.g., conferences), opportunities for established and renowned members to connect, collaborate and share information (e.g., soft skills such as navigating institutional cultures) with junior members, and opportunities (e.g., regional social hours) for peer-to-peer transfer of social capital, across disciplines.
    • Community as a way of uplifting, supporting and validating professional interests and personhood, improves URM’s experiences. LRN provides various opportunities for building community, and also leverages senior members, who serve as LRN’s madrinas(godmothers), to bridge the gap in access to those who “have made it” – which provides relatable faces and expands images of success.
    • Access bridges the gap in barriers to upward mobility. LRN includes deliberate attention to improving access to role models, tangible resources and information (e.g., funding, scholarships, etc.). LRN also leverages social media to promote its members’ accomplishments and work (e.g., conference presentations, scholarly papers, awards), and to also increase access and exposure to advanced research and evaluation careers.

The need to develop and retain a diverse labor force of researchers, evaluators and scholars who can inform culturally relevant services, practice and evaluation is widely noted.  LRN’s focus on improving social capital, community and access offers a promising approach to increase and support the pipeline, to advance knowledge across disciplines relevant to service needs of the Latino community, and to position scholars, researchers and evaluators to take on key leadership or decision-making roles, particularly Latinas who are grossly underrepresented across leadership landscape.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

I am Leah C. Neubauer with the Program in Public Health at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.  I serve as Past-President of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) and the co-chair of AEA’s Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC). This posts revisits LatCrit Theory as a framework for advancing Latino-focused evaluation dialogues and scholarship.   Hot Tips and Rad Resources are shared below.

Hot Tip:

What is LatCrit?   LatCrit is a theory which considers issues of concern to Latinas/os such as immigration, language rights, bi-lingual schools, internal colonialism, sanctuary for Latin American refugees, multi-identity, and census categories for “Hispanics”.

Is LatCrit like Critical Race Theory? LatCrit has been described as a natural outgrowth of critical race theory (CRT), but not as mutually exclusive.  Yosso, Villalpando, Delgado-Bernal & Solorzano (2001) describe LatCrit scholarship as a framework that addresses racism and its accompanying oppressions, drawing on CRT, but highlighting an intersectional experience of oppression and resistance and demanding conversations about race and racism beyond the Black/White binary.

Interested in furthering a LatCrit dialogue?   Plan to join the Fourth International Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) meeting September 27-29, 2017, in Chicago. Meet members of LA RED and the CREA community who are focused on these robust discussions.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

¡Saludos! I am Lisa Aponte-Soto co-chair of the Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (LA RED) TIG, AEA GEDI alumni, and National Program Deputy Director of RWJF New Connections at Equal Measure. This week LA RED highlights ways to advance the presence and leadership of Latinx evaluators and researchers in AEA to foster culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) theory and practice with a Latinx lens.

Latinx currently comprise 16% of the U.S. population and are projected to comprise one-third of Americans by 2050 (U.S. Census, 2010). Meeting the needs of a booming Latinx community calls for investing recruiting, training, and retaining a diverse workforce. Despite efforts to build a pipeline, Latinx continue to be underrepresented across the field of evaluation accounting for approximately 5% of AEA members.

What does it take to “become” a Latinx leader? Outside of the nature versus nurture paradigm, leadership takes courage. It also takes a high level of commitment and responsibility to represent an entire community when we take stock of the heterogeneity across the Latinx community. Culture plays a significant role in the leadership development of Latinx professionals. A value for collectivism and staying connected with community help establish strong partnerships, networks, and connections that enhance work productivity, program outcomes, and sociopolitical acumen. Bilingualism and biculturalism further enrich these contributions.

Gaps along the continuum of the Latinx leadership pipeline create a void in cultural understandings and empathy for Latinx issues; and, further perpetuate discord in the workplace and in communities served. It is necessary to continue to challenge hegemonic paradigms and explore critical race theory and LatCrit paradigms rooted in democratic principles of social justice and advocacy.

Another challenge for Latinx to move into positions of leadership lies in overcoming issues of discrimination, racism, isolation, and tokenism. Navigating a landscape different than your own can be intimidating, particularly if you lack visible leaders who look like you. Being grounded in your cultural identify, mentoring relationships, and a strong social network can mitigate these challenges.

Hot Tips for Emerging Leaders

  • Find a Mentor – Latinx senior leadership in AEA can serve as padrinos and madrinas (i.e., godparents) role models, mentors, coaches, and sponsors who are integral to the professional development of novice Latinx evaluators. Anyone can serve as a mentor as long as they are willing to invest in supporting emerging Latinx evaluators.
  • Join a Network – When Latinx enter leadership pathways accidentally, building social capital offers a valuable support system for career success. There are additional support networks and training opportunities available through the Latina Researchers Network.
  • Volunteer – Volunteering to chair a TIG, serving on an AEA committee, or running for board leadership can help expand your evaluator network while developing your leadership skills.
  • Seek Additional Training – AEA offers opportunities for emerging evaluators of color to acquire formal/experiential training including the Graduate Education Diversity Internship program and the Minority Serving Institution Fellowship.

LA RED is a space for evaluators working collaboratively with/for Latina/o communities regardless of their personal racial-ethnic background. To join the discourse, please email us at lared.tig@gmail.com.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

Happy Saturday all!  Liz Zadnik here, aea365 Outreach Coordinator and sometime Saturday contributor.  Summer has arrived on the East Coast of the United States.  For me, summer has always encouraged me to check in with myself and take some time to reorganize and recalibrate.  Like time slows down a little and I have few more minutes each day.  

Lately I’ve been spending some time paying close attention to the words folks use when sharing ideas.  As a former English major, I appreciate words.  In fact, you could say I love them.  They carry power and potential – to connect or disconnect, affirm or harm.  There are so many colloquialisms with roots in oppression and inequity.  We’re not used to thinking about words in this way because that’s how norms work.  But when we take the time to be a little more mindful, we can challenge those norms and create spaces for meaningful collaboration.

Hot Tip: Exercise creativity and thoughtfulness when crafting titles, tweets, and tables. (I needed to alliterate there). Do we have to use “walk” when “travel,” “move,” or “journey” work well too?  I was perusing some workshop titles recently and saw a surprising amount of limiting language: “…walking together,” “One step at a time…,” and “Listening Session.”  I understand the intent of these choices, but that doesn’t minimize the hurtful consequences.   

Lesson Learned: Hold yourself to a higher standard, but also be patient when you slip up.  Recently I’ve noticed myself using “guys” to refer to groups of people.  I try to use “folks” or “friends” when I’m training or writing – something I learned along the way to learning to be an ally.  I slip up and then try again! 

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

· ·

Older posts >>

Archives

To top