Story+ grad mentors reflect on learning to lead

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Left of Black team
Team members Allison Raven, Nicole Higgins, Malcolm Brown and Ce'Ondra Ellison

Left of Black team graduate student mentors Allison Raven and Nicole Higgins reflect on team-building and communication in a recent blog post for Versatile Humanists at Duke, one of the Franklin Humanities Institute's partners in the Story+ program.

Our project lead and Left of Black host, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, wanted the team to create digital experiences that could be used by K-12 teachers to make classroom instruction more engaging and compelling to students, and by students and interested others to explore on their own topics like the historical significance of Black barbershops.

But what was a digital experience?! Were we supposed to be prioritizing pedagogical impact, or striving to create the most entertaining material possible? Could we achieve both and still operate within the boundaries of copyright law? Working through these questions created our first major obstacle as a team: communication. In the conversations about what to prioritize, we had a particularly tense team meeting where everyone left frustrated and feeling unheard. Though we’d set norms for communication frequency in the opening bootcamp, we neglected to set norms for ways to speak to one another. It was one of our amazingly reflective undergraduates who reached out through the tension and said, “I think we need to have a conversation about how we’d like to receive feedback.”