Tag Archives: reflection

Purpose, Connection, Real Life – Make a difference

Have you ever fallen and decided that THE WAY you get up will energize you, even if it looks silly to anyone watching?

How you get up.001.jpeg

No doubt – the important part IS the actual getting up but why not reflect, while you’re down on HOW you will get back up.

It’s not always easy to re-start writing / blogging. Especially, if you’re like me and you keep reading articles (from bloggers I highly respect and follow) that indicate that bloggers should make REAL / ORIGINAL contributions rather than reposting or regurgitating existing ideas. I truly enjoy the process of publicly reflecting on what I have read and sharing  my own thoughts… but…

I want to make a difference and not just post for the sake of posting.

Here are some cool posts by Bill Ferriter with a counter-perspective on blogging, more in line with my own thinking:

It has been a long process and I have read and reflected on some amazing ideas that have now lead me to think about my own purpose – what my mission in life is – and how to realize it.

I have realized that I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others through making connections. Connections with people, ideas, places, paradigms, etc. Yes, it’s the educator, father and traveler in me. We are enriched by the connections we make – positive and negative. How can I facilitate these connections? By sharing, interacting, questioning and prompting others to reflect.

So, I came up with these steps that I will try (and, MAY be helpful for others):

  • Take time:
    • For myself to recharge
    • Before answering
    • To re-center and be present with those that I’m with
  • Think thoroughly before speaking
  • Work on precise, concise messages
  • Always try to consider the ‘bigger picture’ of what someone is saying or sharing and consider sharing connections that may help create a greater understanding
  • Ask reflective questions and truly listen to the answers

What do YOU think? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

I’ll still write about interesting apps and ideas that I come across in the interest of sharing something useful and helping others connect… for now… It just feels good to be ‘up’, again!

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School… a place for learning?

Dewey Quote

From: http://missklohnsclassroom.blogspot.com.eg/2012/10/what-weve-been-up-to.html

It has been a while! Last post – beginning of July. Now, I’m in Egypt and pondering the same questions with new friends!!!

So… How do we bridge the gap between what we know is best and the constraints of the current system that we are in?

A system that is largely dictated by university/college and employer expectations and guidelines as well as parent perspectives on what education/classroom learning SHOULD look like. Is this fair? Can we change this? Is it already changing?

Then, I come across Will Ferriter’s post on a Will Richardson TEDx Talk. Both are worthwhile to spend some time digesting and reflecting on! What resonated to me is the idea that, when something happens that makes us want to learn more… we dive in deep for the sake of our own curiosity. How can we, as educators, create those events that make students want to learn more about what we are TRYING to teach?
We have talked long and often about the disconnect between what we know about how learning best occurs and how we ‘do’ learning. So, let’s work on connecting some of these concepts, within the constraints that we face, as we work on eliminating the constraints.
Here are some concepts we can immediately use to engage our students more (many of these can be hit by developing Project-Based Learning activities – see previous posts on PBL):
  • Make it fun
  • Make it with a real world application
  • Make it relevant to young lives, now
  • Make it social
  • Make it for a real audience
  • Make it challenging
  • Make it from the ideas of our students!

Reduce Conflicts… Increase your EQ

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/ CC License - Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/
CC License – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Due to a fortuitous convergence of related articles I have been thinking a lot about Emotional Intelligence, whether we can change it for ourselves and how one’s EQ relates to interpersonal conflicts.

Unless you live in a bubble you’re likely exposed to POTENTIAL interpersonal conflicts on a weekly (if not daily) basis. I say POTENTIAL because we have a fair bit of control over whether these actually develop into conflicts. Having two teenage children, right now, I have been reflecting A LOT on how to reduce interpersonal conflict (that should give you a clue as to how often these potential conflicts develop!). Occasionally, conflicts at work also occur… So, I read a useful article on “Five Secrets for Mastering Conflict” published by the “VitalSmarts” folks who are behind Crucial Conversations and CrucialSkills. Skills for Change. Change for Good.

Essentially, before having a crucial/difficult conversation…

  • Be truthful without being brutally honest. I like to call it compassionate honesty.
  • Get your facts straight first and link them to your feelings… don’t just share your feelings without facts, it turns people off and causes them to tune you out, fast.
  • Don’t listen defensively, listen with true intent to understand the other’s perspective.
  • Take honest responsibility for how YOU have contributed to the situation.
  • Instead of being afraid of saying something because you fear the costs, if things don’t go well, consider the costs if you don’t say what needs to be said and try to think positive about how the conversation could turn out if it goes well.

The possible problem with all this is that these skills directly relate to one’s Emotional Intelligence. So… if your EQ isn’t great, what do you do? Can an EQ be increased? The good news is, it can! It’s not easy but there are some basic, positives to get us going down the path to improvement. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review, there are 5 key points to consider:

  1. We CAN change our EQ but long term improvements require plenty of hard work and guidance/feedback. Luckily, our EQ tends to naturally improve with age.
  2. Interpersonal Skills is the most coachable characteristic of one’s EQ.
  3. To improve, we need specific and accurate feedback – like, 360-degree feedback and other specific, accurate coaching processes.
  4. Since some techniques and processes are better than others, focus on the ones that are in the “cognitive-behavioral therapy” realm NOT the “self-esteem/confidence-building” realm.
  5. Some people are simply more coachable than others… this is not a reason to give up! This is a reason to do a coachability pre-assessment to help initially map the journey and increase the effectiveness of the coaching.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0
    This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The bottom line is, if you really want to improve, there are concrete ways to do it that can help you develop better interpersonal communication skills that can help reduce conflict. Here is another resource on improving one’s EQ:

Where learning lies…

Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

This was a long article! It was worth every minute. Take some time. Quiet time. Give yourself enough time to read this AND reflect. Then, think about how to foster those learning moments that happen naturally.

 

Reflection: Is the “Why” of a school administrator the same “Why” as a teacher?

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

I have been fortunate to have spent the entire school day in several elementary, middle and high school classrooms in the past month. Why do I think this is fortunate?

Because, the fact is, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a wide variety of teachers and students, in the classroom learning environment, for extended periods… and, it’s incredibly valuable!

I firmly believe that school administrators SHOULD spend as much time in classrooms as is practically possible. It can really help us concretely connect to the WHY of our jobs, it helps us connect to students, it helps us witness exemplary teaching (and, sometimes, not so

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/4595576424. Under CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/4595576424. Under CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

exemplary teaching)… in short, it gives us meaningful material to reflect on as we consider what we want our learners to achieve, how we know they are (or, aren’t) achieving that and what we need to do to ensure their success.

We all see with different lenses. This can be one of the greatest strengths for a learning community that is focused on the same questions and issues… as long as we truly consider the entire range of observations that come from our community.

Trust flows from a respect for each other’s ideas and the more we share our learning experiences and ideas with each other the more we can tackle the questions that answer why we are here, why we are educators… it is the same why. We just may have different ways of moving forward on supporting our learners.

QUCK POST: “The Hard Part”

If we can keep honoring teaching perhaps the US will finally develop a culture that values professional educators the way many other countries (with great student learning results) do…

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

The metaphor from this article really jumped out at me:

Teaching is like painting a huge Victorian mansion. And you don’t actually have enough paint. And when you get to some sections of the house it turns out the wood is a little rotten or not ready for the paint. And about every hour some supervisor comes around and asks you to get down off the ladder and explain why you aren’t making faster progress. And some days the weather is terrible. So it takes all your art and skill and experience to do a job where the house still ends up looking good.

Read it… it’s good. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html