Life-long Learning: The Elements of Practice

One of our students in the Master of Arts in Educating Adults program, Amy Krenzke, was recently invited to write an article for the October issue of  Training Today on her experiences with life-long learning and the four “Elements of Practice.”  We are excited to be able to share her article in this blog!

Life-long Learning: The Elements of Practice
Life-long learning requires each and every one of us to be prepared to keep learning every moment of every day. As a student, especially an adult student, it requires one to constantly be prepared and flexible towards change. Each semester a student is required to take on a new schedule of classes, new textbooks ($100 textbooks…that was an unexpected change for me this quarter. Whew!), tuition fees change, classrooms, new professors, and simple things like entrances to buildings change. Everything changes constantly and as an adult student it becomes even more challenging when you need to make it fit with your work schedule, relationships and other commitments. As a student at DePaul University in the Masters of Arts Program in Educating Adults (MAEA) we are given a Handbook in our first core course and one major component is the Elements of Practice. Here I gave the example of managing change with flexibility and adaptability and that is just one of the Elements of Practice. Recently, as I faced many changes in my workplace I was reflecting on my experience and the Elements of Practice.

DePaul University School for New Learning has an excellent set of four “Elements of Practice” that we are expected to learn and follow throughout our experience at DePaul but also as life-long learners and as educators of adults in our practices. These four elements of practice are: 1. Reflection 2. Flexibility and Adaptability 3. Inquiry and 4. Decision Making. As students we are constantly encouraged by our professors to use these elements of practice to analyze our work plus courses are designed to help us develop these skills. During my coursework I have been asked to use these Elements of Practice in what we call Reflective Practice sessions where we review how we have used these Elements of Practice in our work out in the “real world”. We then discuss with our classmates how we’ve used the Elements of Practice, what we’ve grown in and what needs to be developed to become a better practitioner. Hopefully, then as we grow in the program we are learning to expand on these Elements of Practice and become better prepared as life-long learners and educators of adults.

When I attended my most recent Reflective Practice session I was asked to consider these Elements of Practice and what I have used the most since we last met in the spring. This assignment made me Reflect (hey, look that’s Element #1: Reflection) on my current work situation. Besides being a student I am store manager at the LEGO Store on Michigan Avenue. Yes, LEGO is a great place and a job working with toys and making kids happy is tons of fun yet just like any other job there are challenges. My biggest challenge during this summer was to move my store from our original location to a temporary location with a three week time-frame and then move again to a permanent location by the end of July. The first move was completed in that three week period with a last minute overnight shift on May 31st to be ready to open in the temporary store at 10am; this day my assistant manager, district manager and I each worked a 22 hour day. Talk about Flexibility and Adaptability (hey, look that’s Element #2: Flexibility and Adaptability) there was no other option and we had to put our lives on hold to ensure we were ready to open on June 1st. It was successful and we were open at 10am with a fresh team of people ready to tackle the first day in the temporary store.

The process of moving from old store to new store took much Inquiry (hey, look that’s Element #3: Inquiry). Finding out the right information from the right people and how to proceed to make the move as smooth of a process as possible was a daily task on my plate since May and finished up about end of July once we moved into the permanent store. Constant inquiry was necessary to make sure everything was going to plan, that my staff was happy, and that we would be ready to go in the new store. Since we had little notice of the move we had to live in a temporary store for a little while as our colorful, engaging new store was being built. This meant many decisions for me. Each step of the way I needed to work with the project manager to ensure all the right things got done with the right people; including getting a business license in place. If any of you have dealt with the City of Chicago on obtaining a license of any sort it is its own special challenge with numerous forms, waiting, many trips back to the office because you didn’t have the right form and did I mention waiting! Decisions needed to be made to get the new store open and the temporary store functioning and much of that came down to me (hey, look that’s Element #4: Decision-Making) Lastly, here is where I had to put those T+D skills to use. I had to figure out how many additional staff to hire then interview them and decide who would best fit into our team. From there I had to create a learning session to train them in the new store and remember this new store was a whole new experience even for me!

When writing these articles we had decided to look at what we were learning in our T+D programs and how we apply it on a daily basis in our practice. These Elements of Practice truly became integral in my life as I encountered this experience over the summer. I have had to frame this experience around the Elements of Practice. Furthermore, I believe I will be better prepared one day in a job interview or in further graduate studies to discuss my own learning and how it connected to the Four Elements of Practice. So now I ask you to think about the Four Elements of Practice and how you can use them to reflect on your experience in the T+D field. Personally, I know I will be using this experience to better understand how to help my staff adapt to change, personally become more resilient to change and how I can better meet my staff’s needs in training and development. Give it a try, have some fun and be a life-long learner with the Four Elements of Practice!

The Masters of Arts Program in Educating Adults (MAEA) Program Handbook (2009-2010). 21-22.

Amy Krenzke is a student at DePaul University – School for New Learning in the Masters of Arts in Educating Adults program. Recently she completed an insightful independent study of Mindfulness and using Mindfulness in the Workplace. Besides being a student Amy is the store manager of the LEGO Store in Chicago and enjoys helping her team grow and develop every day.

One Response to Life-long Learning: The Elements of Practice

  1. Pingback: MAEA Graduate Showcase « Inspired Ideations

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