Session 1  Collective Care: Reimagining Self-Care at Work

This session cuts across three of this year’s theme: personal growth, group dynamics, and inclusive leadership. While it’s important to have a personal self-care plan and to take responsibility for one’s own well-being, our colleagues & supervisors are often the first to recognize warning signs of stress or burn out. After all, we spend most of our time each week with coworkers who also understand the unique stressors involved in our workplace and can validate the experience.

One way to ensure that everyone feels supported at work is to create a collective self-care plan for the whole team or workplace. This session will examine the ways that individual stress turns into collective stress which, in turn, diminishes team performance, employee morale and engagement, and organizational reputation (all while raising operational & healthcare costs).

We will also discuss resilience-building practices that can be incorporated into any organization or team. Attendees will walk away with new insights on how to incorporate principles of collective care into their workplace as well as practical tools to create a team-care plan within their organization to build resiliency and well-being.

Session 2  Remaining a Reflective Practitioner in Hectic Times: Strategies for Academics

As we take a breath after the last two years, many of us have lost the space for reflective thought. Our need to triage the priorities of students, emergency remote learning, and our personal needs, health, and safety, have left us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

For decades, scholars who study reflective practice assert that maintaining consistent and ongoing habits of mindful thinking can provide a sense of control over our work (Schön, 1984). When we can connect what we are doing with a broader, more holistic sense of purpose, we are better positioned to feel positive, to be more effective in our work, and to advance a culture of thoughtful leadership. As the authors of The Critically Reflective Practitioner share, “A key underlying principle of reflective practice is that the busier we are, the more reflective we need to be” (Thompson & Thompson, 2018, p.4). When our time is limited, it’s more important than ever to build in space to think about our goals, our priorities, our strategies, and our supports, to best carry out our roles intentionally.

In this session, we will begin by briefly exploring the rationale and benefits of reflective practice for higher education professionals. Participants will then engage in reflecting on a sample set of questions which can be used for monthly practice, including questions related to progress on goals, areas for gratitude, finding grace over guilt, sources of anxiety and excitement, and lessons to carry forward. We will then discuss and share ideas and strategies to build reflective space into our busy lives, such as weekly planning sessions, reset days, and personal retreats. Participants will be asked to share their own ideas, strategies, and concerns, with ideas captured on a shared google doc. Schön, D. A. (1984). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (Vol. 5126). Basic books. Thompson, S., & Thompson, N. (2018). The critically reflective practitioner. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Session 3  Leadership is everyone’s business!

Leadership is experienced everywhere and is an observable pattern of practices and behaviors that can be learned. Competencies include the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform our roles successfully as leaders. They help us build a blueprint for how we go about our work and interact with one another.

Using a self-assessment to determine Leadership Type Preference, participants can build self-awareness around their leadership styles, and learn dynamic strategies to grow communication skills with differing perspectives. Building on this, a paradigm shift will help learners view their role differently and build interpersonal relationships.

Complimenting Roadrunner CADRE values and building on inclusive strategies, this workshop empowers community leaders to be dynamic in using their knowledge, skills, and abilities to support the Roadrunner culture. By the end of the workshop participants will be able to describe and demonstrate competencies that have a stronger impact on team-building and interpersonal engagement.

Session 4  Bringing Restorative Justice to the Classroom, Presented by the Restorative Justice Coalition

Restorative Justice is a philosophy that can be applied in many different contexts. These contexts broadly range from relationship-building and preventing harm, to responsive processes that address harms that have occurred from conflict or wrongdoing. The Restorative Justice Coalition at MSU Denver is a group of nearly 20 students, faculty and staff exploring the ways in which restorative justice can be implemented here at MSU Denver.

This workshop presented by the Coalition will specifically focus on implementing restorative principles and practices to the classroom. Restorative Justice practices have origins within many indigenous cultures from around the world, in which values of community, relationships, and accountability to each other is centered. Restorative justice challenges mainstream Western culture’s notions of justice and accountability and emphasizes the people involved in the situation, their needs, and what needs to happen to make things right. The benefits of restorative justice include stronger relationships with students (which makes it easier to address issues, like academic integrity), a model for having difficult conversations in your classroom, and a different approach to cultivating classroom intentions.

This workshop will introduce restorative concepts and practical ideas of how to bring this philosophy into the classroom. Participants will leave this workshop with:

  • An overview of restorative justice principles and practices.
  • An understanding of how restorative justice differs from traditional justice in its approach to accountability.
  • And three practical ways to implement restorative practices in your classroom or team environment.

The Bringing Restorative Justice to the Classroom Workshop is designed to be an introduction to restorative justice and how it can be used in everyday interactions. This workshop will be great for faculty who are looking for a relational-focused approach to their teaching, who struggle with managing difficult discussions and one-on-one conversations with students, and who want to shift from punitive teaching practices to more restorative ones. However, this workshop will also be applicable to staff and student employees who are finding ways to manage relationships within their various settings (departmental meetings, student-focused programming, student organizations, fraternity and sorority life, scholarship cohorts) in which conflict is bound to occur.

The agenda for the workshop will include three main parts:

  • Introductions – Community-Building Circle: We will welcome participants to the workshop with a meta-community building circle so that participants can experience restorative justice in practice. We will explain the purpose of circle practices and ask questions that allow folks to get to know one another and to start learning a new way of thinking about accountability. We will also practice norm setting.
  • Restorative Justice Principles & Concepts: We will further lay the foundation by sharing the history and indigenous roots of restorative justice. We will make clear the connection between conflict and intersectionality, and how restorative justice aligns with racial justice. In addition, fundamental restorative justice concepts will be shared, including inclusive decision-making, active accountability, repairing harm and trust through relationships (David Karp, 2019).
  • Restorative Justice in Practice: We will guide participants through three examples of how to use restorative justice in the classroom: a) community-building circles, b) norm setting, and c) one-on-one restorative conversations to address conflict. We will present resources on how to implement these different practices.

The workshop will be a blend of content and dialogue on these topics. The facilitators will also share brief information about the Restorative Justice Coalition and other ways to get involved. This workshop translates directly to this year’s Professional Development Conference theme of Empowering a Community of Leaders. First, this workshop is presented by the Restorative Justice Coalition members, which includes students, faculty and staff. This group is a community of leaders itself here at MSU Denver. Additionally, the workshop will touch on all four elements of a community of leaders listed: personal growth, group dynamics, inclusive leadership, and campus engagement.

To start, restorative justice is ultimately about transformation through conflict, on a personal level and a systemic level. From a personal level, the goal of a restorative process is to leave better off than when an individual enters a process. This is tied to a collective value in which helping individuals through conflict also helps the community (group dynamics). It is also important to note that conflict does not happen in a vacuum. While individual circumstances and decision-making is discussed in restorative justice, it is equally as important to place any given incident within the systemic dynamics that also interact with the situation (education, housing, financial aid, grading, etc.)

Restorative justice also reconsiders how power interacts and should be addressed as it relates to a conflict situation. It is explicit in naming and addressing imbalances of power that can affect what happened and any repair to make things right. In this sense, restorative justice is also a helpful mindset to try on for anyone’s leadership style and approach. It is also a method of facilitation to decision-making and consensus building.

Lastly, restorative justice at its core is about community. The Restorative Justice Coalition is emblematic of how it can be used for campus engagement and our members are actively planning ways to widen our impact through education and other engagement opportunities. Restorative justice practices are transferrable to many different types of programming (dialogue, healing circles, social justice initiatives) and contexts (inter-departmental conflicts, decision-making structures, creating community norms for shared spaces). We are excited to bring just a small aspect of how to implement restorative justice on campus by focusing on the classroom and hope to get our campus community engaged in broader conversations in the future.

Session 5  Understanding Gender and Orientation: The Gender Menu

I will be delving into my original Gender Menu resource to provide language and a visual resource to leaders interested in articulating complexities of gender or simply accommodating and creating a healthy space for trans community members. Through the Gender Menu, I emphasize the difference between orientation, gender expression, physiology, gender assigned at birth, and gender itself. I will go through this resource before opening up to discussion and what leaders can do in their communities. Empowering them to make small, positive changes with this complexity and understanding in mind.

Session 6  Thinking Differently: A discourse on neurodiversity in higher education

First, Participants will examine the Big 5 Personality Traits and how they can be used to mislabel neurodivergent students as being unsuccessful students or leaders. Second, through definitions and activities, participants will gain a better understanding of how neurodivergent students perceive the world around them and how overwhelming, frightening, and unwelcoming the “normal” world often is. Finally, participants will learn how to build neurodiversity into existing practices to empower all students to be a leader in their community.

Session 7  More than just a statement: Bringing DEI into focus on the Staff Senate

In 2020, the Staff Senate developed a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement in direct response to the Safer Spaces Resolution put forth by students, faculty, and staff of the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy (GITA) and the Africana and Chicana/o Studies Departments. The Staff Senate statement acknowledges the challenges that exist for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in our campus community. It outlines the commitment Staff Senate is making to work to make MSU Denver an anti-racist institution. In the statement, the Staff Senate outlines several action items to explore in our work together to help reach these goals, committing to:

  1. Critically examine our systems and structures, including, but not limited to, governing documents, procedures, and roles and recruitment, for evidence of systemic oppression and, racism and seek to establish a governing body that embodies our commitment to DEI principles.
  2. Explore, propose, and develop solutions to promote participation in shared governance, and engagement in university-wide events and activities.
  3. Engage staff and student employees in DEI work through workshops, trainings, critical discussions, and literature that outline these important concepts and provide options to advocate.
  4. Provide a platform to amplify the voices of our BIPOC staff and student employees and ensure that Staff Senate has a voice within MSU Denver when discussing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  5. Establish Staff Senate meeting norms and practices that foster an environment in which university staff can engage in critical discussions and perspective-taking dialogue.

Now the real work begins. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee has been working with Dr. Julie Clockston, a faculty member in the MSU Denver Social Work Department, to begin the process of moving from statement to action. This is direct alignment with the new MSU Denver strategic plan, as well. We have spent the last year working to explore what’s possible and how to move forward.

In this session, we intend to share the foundation of our work, our process to-date, and engage the session participants in a conversation about their own experiences moving DEI efforts forward within their own department and work. We will focus these discussions on action item #1 above: Critically examine our systems and structures, including, but not limited to, governing documents, procedures, and roles and recruitment, for evidence of systemic oppression and, racism and seek to establish a governing body that embodies our commitment to DEI principles and explore additional ideas as the session time allows.

Session 8  Work With Purpose

Objective: Guide participants with discovering (or rediscovering) the purpose behind their daily work lives, making life more coherent and meaningful.

Narrative: If you’ve spent any time following LinkedIn or other news social media, you’ve no doubt seen articles about the “Great Resignation” and the “Great Reshuffling” occurring across sectors. Higher Ed is not exempt from this mass migration in the work force. Improving employee engagement at MSU Denver requires intentionality.

This workshop is grounded in MSU Denver’s mission and contributes to Pillar V of the 2030 strategic plan. Most of us did not end up in Higher Education by accident, but it can be easy to forget why and how we got here. We get down bogged down in the everyday slog of meetings, emails, and … How did I get here? Why am I still here? A better understanding of purpose and motivation in life can be the beginning of seeing how life purpose maps onto your work.

In this interactive workshop we will start by taking a fresh look at MSU Denver’s “Why”– including a brief consideration of historical and philosophical underpinnings. From there, we will begin to look at participants’ own Why and how it maps onto the work they do every day. Granted, we cannot get very far in this process in a one-hour workshop, but my hope is to build a perspective from which to view our work and our motivation. If the general concept intrigues folks, expect a future workshop on Living Intentionally from our Leadership & Development team. Keywords: personal growth, strategic plan 2030, mission, and purpose.


Session 9  Student Affairs Support in the Academic Classroom: Faculty Interventions for Improved Outcomes

At MSU Denver, faculty and administrators are making intentional efforts to maximize student engagement with on-campus resources. This work leverages the faculty-student relationship to bridge the gap between student need and available student affairs supports. By maximizing cross-campus collaboration, those involved with this research project are empowering students to successfully complete each semester and progress appropriately toward graduation.

MSU Denver does not currently have a first-year experience program, nor are other programs that integrate academic and social-emotional support (such as TRIO, some scholarships, some GITA services, etc.) widely available to all MSU Denver students. Since not all students have access to these specialized programs, the most effective way to bring these programs to scale is through the classroom where 100% of students are touched.

This project aims to bridge the gap between student wellness and student academic achievement by proposing a hybrid model that formally integrates measures of student success into academic courses. The project team hypothesizes that by implementing a model that intentionally incorporates elements of support that are traditionally found in the Student Affairs setting into the Academic Affairs setting via faculty participation, student success (including retention, engagement, social-emotional well-being, and academic performance) will increase.

This session (a follow-up to a session on the same topic at last year’s MSU Denver Professional Development Conference) will detail developments in a research project that examines the impact that formal integration of student support measures into course design has had on retention at the university. The study, jointly undertaken by a faculty member and a student affairs administrator, is in its fourth semester and the investigators have promising data to share with the university community. Presenters (one faculty, one administrator, and one MSU Denver student assistant) will share their IRB-approved project on the integration of “Student Success Assignments” into courses as a credit-bearing element. An update will be given on 2021-2022 project developments such as the expansion of faculty participation and the establishment of a university-sponsored funding stream. Quantitative data on the positive impact this work is having on student retention will be shared, as will qualitative data reflecting student perceptions of the project.

Finally, presenters will engage in dialog with session participants around possible ways to enhance the research project and the student success measures integrated within, including further focus on diversity, greater participation across disciplines, and ideas for broader inclusion of student success measures as part of course design at MSU Denver.