Being an Outsider to a Class

Over the last ten weeks, I have had the opportunity to take a class outside the typical Student Development Administration (SDA) curriculum. I was taken outside my comfort zone, walking anxiously into a classroom not knowing anyone– I guess this is how it must feel for non-SDA students walking into a class full of us, I thought to myself.

The class is titled Education Policies and Leadership in Political Context, and it’s a required class for students in the Master’s in Education Policy program at the University of Washington, or as they like to call it, “the MEP program”. Yes, I had to use Google to find out what MEP was short for.

While I thoroughly enjoyed learning all about political processes in education and how policy windows open when certain situations align, among other theories, I also learned to understand what it means to be the odd one out in a class. That first day, more than half of the students introduced themselves as being in “the MEP program”, afterwards going on to say who their political hero is. What sort of cult is this? Political heroes!?

I ended up declaring Suey Park and Paulo Freire my political heroes before Googling “the MEP program at UW”.

This experience has definitely helped me realize that there are times I get carried away with using unique SDA/student affairs language, throwing out terms and acronyms like GA, GAships, SEVIS, FERPA, TPC, SES, CRT, NUFP, NASPA, etc. without realizing who the audience really is. I’ve also been guilty of using student affairs concepts during in-class group discussions with non-SDA students, and getting frustrated when they just “don’t get it”.

It’s about time I learn to be more aware of my audience and take opportunities like these to be an educator. I’d like to encourage my fellow SDAers to do the same whenever there are interactions with people outside the field and even with the next batch of incoming SDA students because I remember how intimidating it was. The next time you’re introducing yourself in class, be proud to declare that you’re a student in the “Student Development Administration program or SDA for short”.





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