Monthly Archives: June 2012

Helping Groups Make a Difference!

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EACH Student a Learner!

When I see young people – I see potential!

Currently there are too many students that are left behind.  Dropouts, underachievers, and minimal learners are all too common. The current system for educating society’s youth is broken: Broken if we agree that there is student potential that is not being tapped.  Yet, there are those that might cling to that status quo in our schools because it is familiar and in some ways comfortably predictable.

Chris Dede and John Richards have published: Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student, 2012.  They are providing a ‘bright light’ on what is currently possible for, as the subtitle says “customizing learning for each student”.  The powerful presence and potential of interactive technology and learning is presented and explored in their book.

To move forward into the possibility of customization, highly interactive, and evolving learning environments for each and every student means ‘letting go’ of the status quo.  It does not mean teachers are not and will not be important.  I absolutely know that teachers are and will continue to be essential for their ability to know their student, planning, evaluating, orchestration, implementation, supportive relationships, direct teaching and so much, much more to insure that high quality learning deeply touches each and every child.

To go back to the fact that currently, many students are not benefiting from school leads me to believe that learning opportunities need to continue grs45to evolve.  Learning has to and needs to continue to benefit from technology.  All learners deserve to have access to precise, in-depth learning opportunities at a pace that fits them.  Digital Teaching Platforms, as explain by Dede and Richards in the book their book mentioned above (p 1), are designed to bring interactive technology to teaching and learning in classrooms where each student and teacher have laptops, or some equivalent computational device, connected to the network designed to operate in a teacher-led classroom as a major carrier of the curriculum content and function as the primary instructional environment for students.

Learning through effective and vibrant technology platforms means that a student is afforded the opportunity to adjust the learning pace to match his or her own pace.  Students who find the depth of learning in traditional situations to be either too sallow or too deep can work from the precise place they are in the continuum of learning and move forward. For learners who find that the content presented in traditional learning settings to be something they have already mastered or is dramatically beyond their prior knowledge are able to make sense of the potential ‘learning puzzle’ and begin to move forward with their learning from where they are.

If society is going to work toward tapping the potential of each student we are going to have to be willing to be resourceful and let go of the past as our ‘lens’ for the future.  We are going to want to find and use platforms of possibility.  Digital Teaching Platforms are worth investigating if we want to customize classroom learning for each student.

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Listening>Turn Taking

When people gather whether it is to help: a school district that wants to figure out how best to use their technology resources, a state or region wanting to improve the environmental quality of its ground water, or nonprofit wanting to effectively reduce bullying among young people across the nation – the people coming together to make a difference related to any topic will benefit from getting very good at listening to each other.   

Costa and Kallick in Activating & Engaging Habits of Mind (2000) write:”We spend 55 percent of our lives listening”.  They go on to explain that, “Adults often say they are listening when actually they are rehearsing in their heads what they will say when it is their turn to speak”. (p76)

If there is any truth to Costa’s and Kallick’s assertion (and I think there is) then adults are often preoccupied ‘rehearsing’ what they are going to say next. So, sadly – for adults engaged in talking together, they are more likely to be, at best, polite ‘turn takers’ rather than ‘deep listeners’.  Being good at ‘turn taking’ can’t be the goal of connecting with others. And connecting with others is essential as we work our way through the many challenges we face in our personal as well as our civic lives.

Stephen R. Covey’s in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People challenges us to strive to “first seek to understand” as we listen. He makes the point that effective communication is a two way street. Yet, many people seek first to be understood instead of to understand. So, when a listener is coming from a ‘wanting to be understood’ frame, that listener is not truly listening well.  That listener is more likely listening with the intent to reply.

Sometimes, I must admit, I am that listener that ‘wants to be understood’, that is ‘rehearsing’ and not listening, and that, at best, is trying to politely wait my ‘turn’ to talk.  This is not the way I want to “show up”. 

I want to be able to work effectively with others.  I believe in the power of interdependent thinking.  I know that the diversity of ideas, points of view and dreams are positive forces in service to the common good. I recognize that at times it takes courage to reach out to others and sincerely work together. And, I know I am a ‘work in progress’ and know I want to be able to work more and more effectively with others.

I believe that when people work together much can be accomplished. And I believe that working together with others requires effective, sincere listening: The kind of listening that leads towards understanding. Understanding can potentially lead to collaboration, cooperation, idea generation and/or interdependence.

So, that is why listening is better than turn taking – if you want to make a difference with others.

Listening

Working together in service of a common goal

For families, work places, communities, businesses, states, govenments, countires and even the world – working together in service of the common good is an essential element of building a better tomorrow.

Bill Bradley said: “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.”

I agree! Listening to and understanding each other is crucial, if want to discover common beliefs and goals.  As Covey says: “Seek first to understand.”

 Robert Greenleaf said: “The first order of business is to build a group of people who, under the influence of the institution, grow taller and become healthier, stronger more autonomous.”

When Greenleaf speaks of “the institution” I think: family, work place, commity, business, government, country and world.  Yes, I am an optimist.  I want all people in all situations to “grow taller and become healthier, stronger and more autonomous.” 

Yes, I know that to be ‘autonomous’ means to act in ways you choose to act.  My vision of the future for families, work places, commuities, businesses, states, govenments, countires and even the world is that people will focus on the common good by choice.

I believe that:

Discussions with an open mind and a sincere desire to understand

There are many things leadership isn’t. It is service!

When Wen Serve, We Serve!

“Otherizing” will continue the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality rather than the ‘we’ mentality – Irreconcilable is UNACCEPTABLE!

Clear, accurate words can help us to embrace our differences . . .  May we share words of peace and justice . . .

Getting good at thinking interdependently is import for all of our futures!

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