Full Disclosure

As the year comes to a close, I find myself in a contemplative mood. But unlike other years, I’ve practiced in advance: The new RMA education blog, a group effort spearheaded by our fearless Eleanor Whitney and wholeheartedly supported by our great boss Marcos Stafne, is encouraging an ongoing reflective practice. For museum educators, it’s easy to think about all of the time we don’t have to reflect on our work. When do we share our successes and failures, our various perspectives, the trials and tribulations, and discoveries and newfound wisdom that we all experience and gain all the time? Just the thought of it puts me in a state of awe at all the work that museum educators do all over the country—heck, it’s also that time of year when we all make grand proclamations—all over the world! Yes, there are annual conferences and published journals, but what about the day-to-day? It’s the little things that build the big visions, yet the little things often get lost in the shuffle.

In June of this year, I completed a graduate program at Bank Street College here in New York. The Leadership in Museum Education program is designed for professionals actively working in the field, yet seeking some wisdom and compassion within the safe space of an educational institution (translation: we’ve got a few years under our belts, but we are still emerging…). The Bank Street program really changed me. I am not afraid to say that while I learned a whole lot early in my career primarily through trial-and-error, I didn’t come into my own as a manager and leader until I completed the Leadership program at Bank Street. Museum work can resemble a lonely, unmapped road sometimes, and one of the greatest gifts Bank Street gave me was a readymade community where self- and group-reflection was not only encouraged, but expected as part of the class requirements.

Lois Silverman, a most-excellent-and-inspiring museum educator and individual, taught one of my last sessions at Bank Street: Self, Society, and Service: Crafting Work that Matters. We spent the session aligning our personal passions with the work of our museums, and the big idea I took away was the importance of a reflective practice. And a reflective practice is much easier said than done (I am absolutely full of clichés this time of year!). Once you complete a fabulous graduate program like the one at Bank Street, it becomes much more difficult to find the time and space to be reflective about the work you do.

I am lucky, because I work at an art museum that regularly addresses compassion and wisdom and looking inside oneself for answers—it’s all in the artwork. But as a final post for the year, I am especially appreciative of the important time and space this blog provides to keep us all thinking and reflecting together.

Thanks, Eleanor and Marcos.


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