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MSI Fellowship Week: Reflective Practice and Critical Reflection: Quiet Moments with an Extension Education Evaluator by LaJoy R. Spears

Hello! My name is LaJoy R. Spears, Program Development and Evaluation Specialist at New Mexico State University, Cooperative Extension Service.

As the country grappled with COVID-19, I was navigating a new position, university, city and state. The combination of stressors required adjusting eating habits, establishing new goals, and revising exercise plans. I also focused on reflective practice and meditation. During this time, I considered the following questions to guide my quiet moments:

Who am I? What do I bring to the organization?

  • How does my race, gender, educational background, and experiences influence my approach to the work?
  • Does my current focus on culturally responsive equitable evaluations create opportunities for personal and professional growth?
  • How do I honor the success of my ancestors, visionaries and leaders that represent inspiration and hope?

Who are we to each other?

  • Who are we? (age, race, ethnicity, education, etc.)
  • Who do we hire?
  • Are we utilizing talents and skills where appropriate?
  • Do we honor the body of work that represents past efforts?
  • How do we focus our attention, efforts, and programming?
  • Do we currently have a culture of evaluative thinking?
  • What influences are attributed to social and governing structures?

Who are we to others?

  • Who are we to the university, community, local, state, and federal governments?
  • Are we an organization focused on understanding ways of knowing?
  • Do we support alternative solutions to community concerns?
  • Do current initiatives assist in collectively revamping efforts toward increased diversity, equity, and inclusion as a profession and practice?

To sustain a healthy, joyful, productive lifestyle with a meaningful career, my plan of work consists of choosing nutrient dense foods (being intentional about the resources shared and trainings offered to faculty and staff), eating slowly (seeking to understand my colleagues before advising change and improvement), and every now and then trying a new dessert to stay motivated (professional development).

Rad Resources:

Reflective practice increases self-awareness while developing an understanding of others. The following resources have been helpful in my approach to reflective practice, critical reflection and critical thinking.

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: https://www.eval.org/Education-Programs/Minority-Serving-Institution-Fellowship/MSI-Fellows  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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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