Micro-Affirmations Small Acts, Big Impact Presented by Candice Powell, Retention Specialist Office of Undergraduate Education for the Brown Bag Lunch Group October 10, 2014 Acknowledgement and Gratitude Think of a time when you felt welcome, valued, and supported during a transition, challenging task or new environment. What was the context of the situation? What made you feel affirmed? Micro-Affirmations Small acts … fostering inclusion, listening, comfort, and support for people who may feel unwelcome in an environment (Rowe, 2008). Micro-Inequities and Aggressions • Apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur whenever people are perceived to be different (Rowe, 2008). • Subtle verbal and nonverbal cues that an individual or group is unwelcome, invisible, or incapable of performing well (Franklin, 2004; Solórzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000; Sue, 2004). • Stem from bias in our every day life. Bias in our Everyday Life From Sharbari Dey’s Brown Bag Lunch Presentation, Recognizing Bias in Our Everyday Life, 9-12-14 Micro-Inequities and Aggressions Micro-affirmations communicate… • • • • I see you. I value you. I appreciate your differences. I am committed to understanding your needs. • I believe in your potential. • I want to support you. Power and Investment Inclusive Excellence Strategic micro-affirmations contribute to a campus culture of inclusive excellence by cultivating and recognizing the potential, strengths, and value of individuals and groups within a diverse community (…said Candice to herself last night). Micro-Affirmations contribute to cultivating a safe environment Micro-Affirmations in Everyday Life From your role or position within the University, what could you say and do to help students feel: • Seen • Heard • Valued • Included • Appreciated • Supported • Endorsed Things to Say “I’m glad you’re here.” “I believe in your potential to succeed.” “Here’s what I can do to support you./ How can I support you?” “Have you considered this opportunity? You would be a great candidate.” “Meeting with you/talking with you is important to me.” Things to Do • Make an intentional effort to consider who you are leaving out and why, and to reach out to the margins. • Get to know student’s personal stories and their goals. Create a safe and welcoming environment for students to express their needs and concerns. • Demonstrate real acts of acknowledgement, accommodation and advocacy. Micro-Affirmations and Challenge Micro-affirmations and Academic Feedback • Feedback is a critical component of helping students to strengthen critical thinking, problem-solving, articulating evidence-based concepts, and meeting expectations. • Strategic micro-affirmations can strengthen students’ reception of and response to feedback within academic environments. • It is possible to provide critical feedback, including disappointment or unmet expectations, while affirming the students potential to adjust strategies and perspectives toward meeting high expectations. Just curious… What is the value of these small acts differentiated from more overt demonstrations? How can micro-affirmations, individually or over time, be transformational? “Student success is the product of thousands of small gestures extended on a daily basis by caring, supportive educators, sprinkled throughout the institution who enact a talent development philosophy.” – George Kuh (2012) Intention and Practice • What can you do to increase your intention of providing micro-affirmations in your work with students? In other areas of your life? • What can you do to practice this intention ? One thing… One thing you will start doing/saying… One thing you will stop doing/saying… • Micro-affirmations are small acts that can have a big impact on an individual’s success. • Micro-affirmations have the power to counteract the negative impact of micro-aggressions or inequities. • Micro-affirmations involves more than simply being nice. They are used intentionally as part of a strengths-based approach to a talent development philosophy. • Micro-affirmations can, and should be, practiced intentionally. • Micro-affirmations can be especially powerful when given by a person with more social capital than the recipient. • Micro-affirmations can be especially powerful when delivering constructive criticism, difficult news, or when the situation is challenging. • Micro-affirmations can be transformational. What I hope you will do… • Recognize the impact and value of microaffirmations in your own life. • Affirm yourself. • Affirm others. References Kuh, G. D. (2012, October 31). What matters to student success. [PowerPoint slides]. Presentation at the National Symposium on Student Retention National Conference, New Orleans, LA. Rowe, M. 2008. Micro-affirmations and microinequities. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 1(1), 45–48.