How thrilled I was to learn that my presentation proposalsubmitted to the ACPA National Convention review board had been accepted! I was glad to see the selection committee recognized that a topic on environmental design could apply to the various constituents of this professional organization. My elation was quickly quelled, however, when I learned that my presentation time was 7:30AM. Who would get up at 6AM to hear about the theory and application of intentional environmental design? To my surprise and delight, 25 more people than I expected! Not being a morning person myself, I was reluctant to get my hopes up that this was a positive sign. As people filed into the room with their coffee and breakfast items, I nervously wondered how awake and engaged one could be at such an early hour.
My fears were allayed early. As I greeted people and talked with them, I learned that my audience consisted of attendees from institutions on both coasts and many locations in between. It soon became apparent that interest in the theoretical background for my project was high, as evidenced by the many requests attendees made for copies of my presentation. The most satisfying aspect for me was the rich conversation that ensued after I shared the application of environmental theory to my project. Participants were given time to reflect on their work environment and asked to share a few ways in which it may be enhanced to promote student learning and development. Quite a few people admitted they were embarrassed that this was not an area to which they had given much consideration. A lively discussion ensued as participants described aspects of his or her environment that was lacking, and other participants joined together to brainstorm solutions. I became a facilitator directing the flow of conversation until our time ended. Thirty minutes into the discussion, I gently persuaded people that it was time to disengage and move to the next section.
It was immensely satisfying to know that my sharing of the application of a critical theory inspired colleagues to engage with each other at the crack of dawn. Having the opportunity to present this topic twice at different conferences has whet my appetite for the continued application of theory to practice that I can ultimately share with others. I have come to learn that embracing theory to create ways to enhance student growth and learning can lead to numerous positive outcomes for not only students, but also for me!