CISC- The NAVIGATE Summer Institute mid-day keynote Listening as Innovation Michael Rohd
First • Who are we in this room? • (online, please play along…) • Self define as: educators, administrators, activists, ….?
Who? • How many are from Chicago? (or metro area…?) If not, where from? • How long have you been here? • How long have you been working at the place you represent today?
Where from? • What scale organization? (budget, employees…) • How old is your organization?
Where from • Does your organization have as its core mission (not just in relation to work in schools) an intent to: • Communicate information? • Get a message out? • Serve as a resource through space and/or programs? • Advocate for system change? • Host dialogue around difficult content? • Build discipline specific skills(such as arts skills)? • Mentor youth? • Anyone not included?
Ok- what have I not included? • Staying non-specific- think intent in broad strokes that could include organizations in addition to your own…:
Where from • Has your organization gone through what you would describe as a significant transformation in the last several years?
Where from • Is your organization engaged in a moment of significant transformation right now?
Where I’m from… • Stand if it’s true for you-
Where I’m from… • Stand if it’s true for you- • Example: • where I’m from, volunteers do work that we hope will one day be done by paid staff.
Where I’m from… • Stand if it’s true for you- • where I’m from, our visits to schools are at the center of our organization’s programmatic activity.
Where I’m from… • Stand if it’s true for you- • where I’m from, our partners in the community always have a completely clear sense of what we do and why.
Where I’m from- • Your turn…
Turn to a partner- • You have two minutes- what does success look like, for you individually, on a day like today, when you take time away from work to be here? What needs to happen today for it to have been worth your energy and time? Both share some thoughts, a minute each…
same partner • 2 minutes-what are the challenges you and/or your organization face in your work when you partner with schools? A minute each…
Call it out • Put those two last prompts together- things you need to feel today was worth your time, and to feel better equipped for challenges in your work in schools…What do you need for success?
Turn to your table • You have, as a table, 5 minutes- could you please go around and share, really concisely, what you would describe as your organization’s intent when it comes to your work in schools?
Now with your table • Thinking about some of the challenges people were calling out, and needs for success just a few minutes ago, lets put some questions in the room- questions about partnerships between you, community organizations, and the schools you partner with…questions like-
Questions like- • How do we achieve our goals within the time constraints of a class session? • What happens if a classroom teacher is unprepared for and resistant to our visit? • How do we bring integrity to a partnership with a school system currently making decisions in a way we may feel isn’t transparent and/or ethical?
So, each table, you have 2 minutes • To add 2 questions to the pile of questions we could explore together to help you better do your work…agree on two, and we will make a list…
So before we move to the next logical step- talking about partnerships • I want to stop and examine what just happened in here, which is, I was asked to give a presentation to you, and so far, the way I have done that is by engaging you through different tactics- lets name some- what have we been doing?
Tactics in a presentation context • Simultaneous response and witnessing • Seeking commonalities & distinctions • Scale of group work- large to small • task- so there’s a game like element in terms of focus and completion and expression/sharing out • Use of time as an ally- playful urgency equals forward motion more than stress…its all about tone • Pedagogy of inquiry
Pedagogy of inquiry, or… • Ask for questions, not answers… • And then, let the questions help guide where your session goes…answers, observations, statements, can be a dead end to conversations- sometimes they are of course necessary…but work with questions helps create dialogue, and helps a group help you keep leaping forward…
Before we talk partnership in community, lets think about- • The idea of- Invitation. • Did you invite yourself in? • Did you seek an invitation actively? • Did you get invited through a funding opportunity? • Did someone reach out to you? • What are the differences between meaningful invitations and cursory ones? • Talk with your partner from before about the idea of the invitation, and how it may affect what happens when a partnership begins…2 minutes
We build relationships with- • Gatekeepers- Those who give us access. • Allies- Those who we do the work with in the rooms where we do the work. • Collaborators- Those who help us build and gather the tools and resources we need to do the work.
Relationships (that which comes before partnership) • How do we develop them, with who, and why? • 2 more minutes with your table partner from before…
Civic Practice • How I talk about artists engaging in community when community needs are the leading impulse…
Civic Practice • activity where an artist employs the assets of his/her craft in response to the needs of non-arts partners as determined through ongoing relationship-based dialogue. • The impulse of what to make comes out of the relationship, not an artist driven proposal.
How I talk about community partner needs- they tend to land in these areas • Advocacy • Story gathering and/or sharing • Dialogue • Capacity-building • Civic application • Cross-sector innovation
How I talk artist assets- they tend to exist in cross sector translation as- • Collaboration: turning constituents with varied self interests into coalitions of stakeholders. • Design: problem-solving through highly imaginative and collaborative action. • Expression: synthesizing complex data and articulating it in ways that can be comprehended and interrogated.
Some examples of Civic Practice Projects • BUILT 2.0 • Catholic Charities • Penelope Project
BUILT 2.0Needs: Dialogue & Civic ApplicationArtist Assets: problem-solving, bringing people together, building collective vision
Catholic Charities USANeeds: Advocacy, story sharingArtist Assets: synthesis of complex material, community building
The Penelope ProjectNeeds: cross sector innovation, story sharingArtist Assets: meaning making, dramaturgy of process and place
Civic practice is my way, in the arts- • Of trying to bring listening to the table as a necessary practice in the ongoing evolution of engagement work in the arts fields…instead of our arts institutions just offering ancillary programming that supports mainstage work, or using engagement to build new audiences, or teaching the skills of its own discipline, I am investing in cultural institutions being resources in their communities- sites for the deployment of artists and their assets in community, based on relationship-building, and on listening…
I translate CP over to the work you are doing by asking- what are the needs, and what are the assets?
What are your assets Call them out-
What are your needs? • Call them out-
In your experience, what are the needs of the schools with whom you partner? • Call them out
systems • I know logistics can be a challenge…time, space, numbers…I want to suggest that when interacting with systems (like a school system, CPS, or an individual school, which operates as its own system within a larger system) a challenge is that we need thoughtful, creative strategies for communicating and planning that make the system work for our goals…
Perhaps the largest challenge- • Systems in education world are most often hierarchical and monological • And yet-
Learning does not happen best through monologue • It happens best through dialogue
It happens best • When we listen. • Which also acts as an invitation- for others to listen to and with us.
How do we listen so that we are in response and in relation to…? So you are not just the deliverer of a pre-formed experience…you may have skills, or a message, or information to move into the room…but, if the experience you create/shape/lead/offer is a sealed self-contained event, you can’t take advantage of the greatest thing you have going for you- the possibility of real exchange and growth on all sides…
Are there ways that listening • Could be a part of your work at surprising or new points in your practice/programs/process? …the kind of listening that allows what you hear to impact what you do?
…the kind of listening that discovers the source of innovation not in what you decide, imagine and plan on your own, but rather in partnership with those you work with and for?
Civic Practice Lab at Lookingglass Theatre • I am a three year Doris Duke artist in residence at Glass, where I am building a model Civic Practice Lab, exploring the same ideas about partnership that we are exploring here today…I am building 5-7 partnerships between Glass artists and community partners, including some City Agencies, as a model of how this work can live in arts institutions…
As a model …to explore what listening has to offer the practice of building healthier, more functional communities…from our schools to our spaces of public decision-making.
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.sojourntheatre.org • www.thecpcp.org