A Positive Approach to Education!
As an all-around student-athlete in high school, Dr. Jennifer L. Bloom graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Physical Education Teaching (K-12 certified). However, while student teaching she decided to switch paths. Fortunately, her neighbors invited her to work as a graduate advisor in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Transition Program at the University of Illinois while pursuing her master's degree in Athletic Administration. "It was my first exposure to the field of academic advising and I was immediately hooked for life," says Bloom.
This realization was the flash-point that changed Bloom's focus to positioning students to excel through earnest inquiry and support. Bloom went on to attain her Ed.D in Higher Education Administration at Illinois. After working as an administrator for twelve years at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign, she switched gears again in 2007 to take a clinical faculty position at USC's College of Education where she also became the director of the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) Master's degree program. One year later, she established the Office of Appreciative Education which at first focused on Appreciative Advising, a positive approach to academic advising.
The Office of Appreciative Education sponsored the first Appreciative Advising Institute in 2011 in Las Vegas, NV. Subsequently in 2012, the Office of Appreciative Education began offering an online Appreciative Advising class. The initial class held in Summer 2012 enrolled 6 students that subsequently swelled to 70 in Fall 2012 and then to 140 planned for Spring 2013! "Through positive ways to increase student retention and success rates," says Bloom, "Appreciative Advising harnesses the power of the organizational development theory of Appreciative Inquiry and the positive psychology literature to provide a framework for increasing adviser and student success."
As a founding member of the Appreciative Advising Team, Bloom travels across the country nationally and internationally to present half-day, full-day or multi-day training workshops on Appreciative Advising and/or Appreciative Education. This team will conduct their 3rd annual Appreciative Advising Institute from July 28th-31st in Savannah, Georgia at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto.
Although Appreciative Advising was the initial emphasis of the Office of Appreciative Education, Bloom and her team are now shifting their focus to advancing a broader Appreciative Education framework that can guide Pre-K through graduate level work (P-20). "Appreciative Education (AE)" Bloom says "is defined as an organizational and individual framework for creating a culture with high standards that simultaneously embraces ongoing learning, change, and improvement…It provides an intentional and positive approach to bettering educational enterprises by focusing on the strengths and potential of individuals and organizations to accomplish co-created goals."
There are six phases that undergird the Appreciative Education framework:
Disarm: Make a positive first impression with the student, build rapport, and create a safe, welcoming space.
Discover: Ask positive open-ended questions that help advisers learn about students' strengths, skills, and abilities.
Dream: Inquire about students' hopes and dreams for their futures.
Design: Co-create a plan for making their dreams a reality.
Deliver: The student delivers on the plan created during the Design phase and the adviser is available to encourage and support students.
Don't Settle: Advisers and students alike need to set their own internal bars of expectations high
Be on the lookout for future exciting initiatives from the Office of Appreciative Education.