March Author of the Month: Rolla E. Lewis and Peg Winkelman

Rolla E. Lewis and Peg Winkelman, authors of Lifescaping Practices in School Communities, are our Routledge Mental Health Author of the Month for March! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about their fantastic new book!

"We want student advocates to have the knowledge, skills, and wisdom to collaborate with others to bring about the school community they want to construct together."
Our students, school counselors and school leaders in-training, asked us to provide a text with the tools to engage in what we have come identify as lifescaping. We hoped to bring about a book that shared how to bring about the school you really want.

Action research is an everyday practice. Public schools are democratic institutions that should be shaped by members of the local community to foster the learning power and well being of all students. It is up to student advocates to have the knowledge, skills, and wisdom to bring that about in ways that protect the basic civil rights of all kids.

Lifescaping is an active and engaged process. It takes courage to do the work. The action researcher has to look at the eco-context of the community, initiate conversations and identify challenges with others, engage in deeper inquiry with more stakeholders about what to do, take collaborative action, and assess and reflect on that action as a community.

We want to help student advocates recognize something Ken Gergen pointed out: action research and appreciative inquiry do not describe or mirror the world. Action research and appreciative inquiry are about bringing the world you want into being. For us, we call this process lifescaping.

In collaboration with the Taos Institute, we created the Lifescaping Project, a performative and results-based direct action advocacy endeavor designed to help education professionals bring about the world they want to build with others.

The Lifescaping Project was founded to help share the action research (AR) and appreciative inquiry (AI) efforts of student advocates including graduate students, professionals-in-training, and working professionals in San Francisco East Bay Area public schools. We hope to extend the effort to other school communities by providing resources and models of practice.

This book represents our thinking and our work preparing school counselors and administrators who engage school communities in affirming cycles of inquiry to better serve students. We refer to our readers as student advocates as we feel it’s safe to assume anyone who picks up a book on lifescaping shares our vision of better futures for youth. Drawing upon a rich history of social justice advocacy, we build upon two action research pathways called the Participatory Inquiry Process (PIP) and Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to help all student advocates lifescape or bring about the school community they desire.

Lifescaping Practices in School Communities offers student advocates the tools to bring about and maintain the school community they dream about bringing to life. The text presents theoretical grounding, an accessible how-to conduct action research using PIP and AI overview and steps, as well as actual examples from graduate students and professionals who have used the approach. We introduce readers to an eco-relational approach concerned with promoting relational wellness and learning power in schools by fostering conversations and actions that include students, parents, teachers, school helping professionals, school administrators and other school community members.
We intentionally use terms, such as “lifescaping” to deepen and invite what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. As student advocates, we must actively work and often struggle to bring about the world we want to be. Lifescaping reveals that there is no perfect plan, but rather a continuous living process where we work within our school communities to foster relational wellness and learning power in all students. We purposefully employ the notion of “participatory leadership” to emphasize the importance of collective knowledge construction and action. Student advocates must possess the courage, moral fiber, and desire to bring about school communities that teach all those involved core democratic values. Instead of perpetuating oppressive, systemic inequalities, schools can provide spaces for communities to unflinchingly address societal opportunity gaps.
We want student advocates to have the knowledge, skills, and wisdom to collaborate with others to bring about the school community they want to construct together. We also share the practice of “mindful wonderment” in order to help advocates maintain their curiosity, flexibility, sense of play, and ability to see the world anew.

Rolla E. Lewis, EdD, NCC, is professor emeritus in Educational Psychology at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). His current research and scholarly interests include public education advocacy, school counseling program development, mentoring participatory leaders, and sharing action research practices using the participatory inquiry process as lifescaping in schools. Dr. Lewis has published numerous chapters, articles, and poems in books, peer-reviewed journals, and other professional publications. He is the recipient of the Oregon Counseling Association’s Leona Tyler Award for outstanding contributions to professional counseling.

Peg Winkelman, PhD, is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Educational Leadership at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). She has also taught in schools of education at the University of California, Berkeley, Mills College, and Saint Mary’s College of California. She is past president of the California Association of Professors of Educational Administration. Her publications focus on her commitment to collaborative inquiry and scholar-practitioner leadership for social justice.

Lifescaping Practices in School Communities

  • Lifescaping Practices in School Communities

    Implementing Action Research and Appreciative Inquiry

    By Rolla E. Lewis, Peg Winkelman

    Lifescaping Practices in School Communities is a guide for school administrators and helping professionals (school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and other stakeholders) looking to promote relational wellness and student success in their school. This informative new…

    Paperback – 2016-11-17