CommitteesLeadership Development Committee

Thoughts over the Horizon: Post-Landscapes Reflections

Two months ago, the Leadership Development Committee hosted RyersonSA’s professional development conference. Titled Landscapes, this full-day conference was an opportunity to explore our shared peaks and valleys, our personal and departmental journeys, and our hopes for mapping out our future together within #RyersonSA.

Tasked with planning the conference, the Leadership Development Committee’s organizing was purposeful and intentional in nature. Intentional planning of sessions, lunch sourced locally by FoodShare, and a variation in the programming offered meant that this conference was more than just creating a speaker-audience culture. Our professional development and continued personal involvement throughout the day took precedence.

Prior to the conference, we (planners, attendees, and speakers) were briefed on Diana Brecher’s keynote by completing the VIA Character Strengths survey. This primed us to start thinking more about how our best qualities can be used on campus. The day continued with the screening of Passages, “a film that explores how students are working towards ‘success’ in University.” 5 Ideas in 50 Minutes offered our departments a chance to showcase current programming on campus, followed by three impactful breakout sessions. Landscapes closed with facilitated discussions: a new feature of the PD conference which allowed everyone, as both participants and speakers, the opportunity to discuss varying topics at a more in-depth, personal level.

With any conference, we run the risk of feeling incredibly inspired after a day of big ideas only to fall back into our daily work routines, leaving those ideas and our conference name tags tucked away in a corner drawer. We wanted this conference to build on staff’s knowledge about themselves and how they envisioned themselves developing professionally in connection with the #RyersonSA core competencies, to further grow within the SA competencies and put this newfound knowledge into practice. Landscapes had the possibility to take what we learned at a conference and continue to apply it long after the day was over.

With these intentions, the Landscapes Learning Tool was developed to intentionally reflect and map out learning before, during, and after the conference. Everyone received a hard copy of the Landscapes Learning Tool prior to the conference. Serving as more than just a conference agenda, this interactive resource encouraged us to consider the pre- and post-learning reflection questions and to intentionally build on the knowledge gained at the conference by taking advantage of future opportunities facilitated by the LDC, Wellness, and Assessment committees’ offerings.

Pre-reflection questions primed us to contemplate competency areas to focus on, how these areas align with our personal and professional goals, and what growth in these areas would look like. While considering growth, the Learning Tool also asked questions throughout each session: what are we gaining from this session? What do we want to know more about? And as we participated throughout the interactive facilitated discussions, what questions do we pose to facilitators? Finally, the post-reflection questions marked the opportunity for us as student affairs staff to avoid falling back into the slumps of daily routines and continue to feel the excitement of new ideas discussed.

How can I put this knowledge into practice?

What questions do I still have and what do I want to explore further?

It has been two months since these questions were first posed. As more time passes, these questions become even more relevant:

  • How do we take knowledge gained from the conference and thoughtfully put it into practice?
  • How do we consider Sarah Thompson’s talk about mid-life and mid-career within our own development with #RyersonSA?
  • What do we want to explore further from Jen Gonzales and Tesni Ellis’ discussion about the American political landscape and our opportunities for solidarity?
  • What do we do with the information learned about burnout, the revamped Wellness Committee, or the impact of masculinity on society?

And one question to rule them all: what do we do now? How do we take this knowledge and intentionally and purposefully put it into practice?

For starters, revisit the Landscapes Learning Tool. Find it in that one drawer, next to your Landscapes name tag. Read your questions. Read your answers. Read the notes that you jotted down. Read about the connections that you made or the big idea you had. The Learning Tool asked you to think about what you gained from the sessions. It also asked what you would like to know more about. How can you answer your own questions that you posed? Who can you connect with at Ryerson to help you gain that information? (Hint: the Learning Tool also allowed space for new connections, resources, and follow-ups from the conference.)

If you’ve answered the initial questions you posed during and after Landscapes, what can you do now with the information you gained? One option would be to continue the conversation. The facilitated discussion sessions were an opportunity for us to speak in-depth with one another about relevant concerns in our roles and on-campus. (Last week, the facilitators of these discussions offered follow-up sessions in an effort to continue the dialogue about these topics.)

Now what? You’ve found the Landscapes Learning Tool. You’ve revisited your questions. You’ve attended the follow-up facilitated discussions. What do you actually do with what you learned? It’s time to start thinking big. Start thinking into the not-so-near future. Start mapping out your own landscape. What do your professional peaks look like? How can you overcome the sometimes valleys of your role? How does your personal landscape interact with the larger landscape of student affairs? The route you take within #RyersonSA is up to you; Landscapes is the map to help you get there.

Share your experience attending Landscapes with us!