The Critical Nature of “Closing”

Guest post by Genevieve Chandler,RN, PhD, Associate Professor, UMass Amherst

“I learned how quick I go into ‘catastrophizing’ mode in my thinking. I do that all the time. But now I can change, stop, take a breath and consider my options,” David, one of our athletes’, commented in the closing of our class. This is an example of an Affirmation, one of the choices of the 3 A’s, as we affectionately refer to our course closing practice.

This one credit course on building psychological resilience is a freshman seminar that is offered through the College of Nursing to all freshman and specifically required for entering athletes, football players, men’s and women’s basketball. In the ritual closing of our class each individual is invited to offer either an Affirmation of what they learned or an Appreciation of what a peer or faculty contributed or an Appraisal of what they wished happened in class but we did not get to. I invite students, staff or patients to participate in this dynamic closing practice that is derived from the Peace & Power process (Chinn, 2001).

Whether leading a class, a clinical meeting or a patient group, the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting are facilitated by each member of the group responding to the 3As. Hearing what other group members affirm, appreciate or appraise is rewarding for everyone present. The resulting individual recognition and productive feedback builds group cohesion. In David’s comment he described learning about catastrophizing from the brief lecture I gave on cognitive awareness, a component of the Changing Minds, Changing Lives (CMCL) resilience intervention. As an educator, it is always helpful to learn what stays with students!

The framework for the Changing Minds, Changing Lives (CMCL) resilience intervention is based on ABCS model for building resilience. Active coping, Building strength, Cognitive awareness and Social support are the four constructs that serve as a framework for the Changing Minds, Changing Lives (CMCL) intervention. The CMCL consists of an academic course and mentoring opportunities. The strength-based intervention is designed to bring mental health and well-being from the auspices of the clinic to the learning environment of the classroom. Each class consists of a mindfulness/yoga training, an educational presentation on a topic related to resilience such as the neurobiology of stress or leadership, followed by an expressive writing exercise and closing with an Affirmation, and Appreciation or an Appraisal. “I appreciate hearing Carl’s story of his first day on campus, it helps to understand where people are coming from.”

Comparison of the CMCL intervention pre and post data indicate an increase in emotional awareness, belonging and resilience during the transition to college, all essential attributes to college success (Chandler, Roberts & Chiodo, 2015). Recently funded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, sophomores now mentor freshman and freshman mentor high school students within the CMCL course. In a course where students learn their individual strengths and hear stories of their teammates experiences, our participants thrive, resulting in an increase in self efficacy and team bonding.

I highly recommend reserving the last 10 minutes of every group for the 3As where each component of the closing, an Affirmation of learning, an Appreciation of another group member’s contribution or an Appraisal of what was needed, is so helpful to the participants and the facilitator. The 3As practice offers everyone the opportunity to speak their voice, whether a class of 80, where you can pop around the room, or a seminar of 12, where each individual can share their perspective. “I have an appraisal,” Michael began, “I wish we could have heard everyone’s strengths and not just those in our small group,” Good to know. Next time I’ll make time for each small group to report out. I can’t leave a meeting without a closing. Invite your group members to have the last word, their voices are so inspiring and everyone feels included.

Chandler, G., Robert, S., & Chiodo, L. (2015). Resilience intervention for young adults with adverse childhood experiences. Journal of American Psychiatric Nursing Association, 21(6), 406-416.

Peace and Power as a Relational Leadership Handbook

Writtten by Adeline Falk-Rafael, PhD, FAAN, Professor, York University

For the past 4 years, I have taught a 4th year leadership course to Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs), who are in our RN-BScN program at York University in Toronto, Canada. The course is designed to support students to meet professional standards of leadership in whatever position they practice and to provide them with beginning knowledge and skills required for nursing leadership, particularly at the bedside, but applicable in positions of

Adeline Falk-Rafael
Adeline Falk-Rafael

leadership as well. The course reading materials include 2 “textbooks” – one that focuses on leadership (not management) and Peace and Power. My use of Peace and Power began simply as a process to use in the classroom, as I had in other courses for years. In reading it simultaneously with leadership literature, however, I began to see the strong relationship of its tenets with relational leadership approaches and the usefulness of its processes in helping students develop various leadership/followership skills.

Contemporary leadership theories, which stress the relationship of leaders with their followers, have their roots in the paradigmatic shift towards transformational leadership initiated by Burns in 1976. In this transformational context, Continue reading “Peace and Power as a Relational Leadership Handbook”

Let the conversation begin!

Today I  received a comment on my personal blog in response to a post about this blog!  I appreciated the person’s comments for a number of reasons.  I am not repeating the content of the comments here, because it was not the content of the comments that were significant for me, but instead, my own reaction to them, and what I came away with once I reflected on both the comment and my reaction.  The comment brought into discussion dreamsharp focus the opportunity that this blog offers to “model” processes of peace and power!

First, there was the issue that the person commented as an anonymous person.  In the context of Peace and Power, the “power of responsibility” is highly valued. One of my first reactions to the comment was that I would not respond at all, given the anonymity of the person who was commenting.  However, I do realize that on the Web anonymity is sometimes highly desirable, perhaps even necessary (although it still annoys me immensely!).  And for some people (perhaps celebrities for example) they might need a “cover” to protect their privacy. Still, for this blog and discussions around the challenges we face in creating “peace and power” I feel strongly about Continue reading “Let the conversation begin!”