"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella
Dr. Sherman had taken Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach in 2005, and began applying Dialogue Education™ to her work in Bolivia as a missionary. There she trained psychologists, teachers and parents in impoverished and rural areas.
Upon her return to the US, when she was about to begin teaching graduate students who would ultimately become counseling psychologists, Becky knew she wanted to increase her facility with the practices of Dialogue Education and her depth of understanding of the principles. She also understood that power dynamics are operative in the classroom just as they are in a therapy session.
After an interview with Global Learning Partners coach, Darlene Goetzman, she decided that periodic phone conferences and email correspondence with feedback on her design and materials would provide the quality of individual attention and learning she needed now.
Becky and Darlene’s initial work focused upon using surveys and phone calls to find out more about the students who would be coming to class. Becky has found the exercise of surveying and speaking to students prior to the first class invaluable. It has helped her to refine her design and use examples that are relevant and immediate for her students. It saves time and helps her and her students feel more comfortable right from the start.
Initially, Becky faced some resistance to interactive learning-centered practices. Her university students had become accustomed to learning through lectures, not engagement, so it felt new, strange, and unsettling to many of them. After just one class, the students’ perspectives had been transformed and they were thrilled to be able to immediately and practically apply the knowledge they learned in class. Most recently, Becky had the experience of negotiating a syllabus with a group of seasoned graduate students. The students stated their deep appreciation for having been listened to, allowing their wisdom regarding what they needed to learn to be combined with Becky’s expertise in the subject area, creating space for a new and empowered design to be crafted together. It was an active and open dialogue that at an earlier time might have been feared instead of celebrated.
“Darlene’s coaching throughout my first year as a faculty member was critical to my success; I may have survived that year, but with Darlene by my side, I thrived. Darlene has provided me with critical expertise, insightful clarity, and deep wisdom, but most importantly, unending support. When I’m lost and confused with a class design, I can call Darlene and she helps me clarify where I am and what next steps need to be taken to greatly improve my class. I always end a consult with Darlene feeling more confident and with a smile on my face.”