“Inner Tracking” is a guided, written reflective practice that follows the spiral movement of the Work that Reconnects from gratitude, to honoring pain, to seeing anew, to going forth. The central question is: “How is your learning affecting you as a person?” This practice can help students get in touch with how they are feeling about their learning and the learning process and with what they will carry forward.
I have published a chapter titled “Inner Tracking: A Reflective Practice for Transformative Learning” in Contemplative Practices and Anti-Oppressive Pedagogies for Higher Education: Bridging the Disciplines, edited by Greta Gaard and Bengü Ergüner-Tekinalp (May 2022).
The current version of the Inner Tracking practice is available here:
- Inner Tracking version 3.4 (July 17, 2023)
I have much gratitude to share in connection with both the Inner Tracking practice and my writing process for the chapter noted above.
The ideas and intentions reflected in the Inner Tracking practice emerged during the summer of 2017, when I was incredibly fortunate to participate in several gatherings that helped me rethink the role of contemplative practices in my pedagogy. I attended the “The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Well-Being,” which was a “Bringing Theory to Practice Project” national conference. At the 2017 Village Fire gathering near Decorah, Iowa, not only was I able to participate directly in meaningful community building, but I was also able to experience the Work that Reconnects for the first time, in session facilitated by Gretchen Sleicher. My attendance at that brief workshop was life-changing in a number of ways, for which I am grateful. Later that summer, I attended the Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Higher Education, offered by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (CMIND), where I learned from several inspiring teachers. The Provost’s office at University of Wisconsin–Green Bay supported my attendance as part of a Contemplative Pedagogy Cohort. I would like to thank cohort members Franklin Chen, Lisa Poupart, Sawa Senzaki, Alison Staudinger, and Georjeanna Wilson-Doenges for their wonderful companionship. As the summer came to a close, I was fortunate to speak with my friend Alex Britzius at the Lake Superior Traditional Ways Gathering about the concept of “inner tracking,” as promoted by Jon Young. I thank my colleagues Lisa Poupart and Sarah Schuetze for co-teaching the “Humans & Nature” course with me, and for all that I learned by working with them. (I am deeply saddened that Sarah passed away as I was completing revisions of this chapter.) My conversations with Sam Cocks (University of Wisconsin–La Crosse) helped me clarify the approach that I wanted to use for analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data that I collected. I am grateful to my partner Nicole Bickham for being supportive of this work in many ways, and especially for helping me refine the prompt for “centering” within the Inner Tracking assignment and for reviewing my qualitative rubric. I was very fortunate to meet Greta Gaard (UW–River Falls) at the CMIND summer session, and I greatly appreciate her initiative in proposing a volume on contemplative pedagogy, as well as her encouragement of my work. These relationships and experiences, along with a number of others, have helped me pursue ongoing, transformative learning for myself, and I aspire to share the fruits with my students. I have learned much from them through their participation in this study and through their many forms of engagement. For that, too, I am grateful. Finally, I would like to thank Greta Gaard, Bengu Ergüner-Tekinalp, and Alison Staudinger for their insightful and helpful feedback on a draft of the chapter.