This week’s blog is going to be a mixed bag of observations from the last week:
1) I have recently found myself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to be engaged in my digital community – I feel I owe it to the group to be involved, to share, to trust, but mostly to contribute…but how does this work? What is my responsibility?
Can I simply take from the group…the last two #eci831 classes I have been keenly interested in the recurring theme of community with Dr. Richard Schwier and Shelly Terrell. I want to believe that any group of people that share ideas and knowledge (not to mention common interest and passion) essentially become a community – digital or otherwise. While the class readily shares ideas and knowledge through their blogs I wonder what I contribute to the group if I don’t blog as much as I would like or respond to more blogs in comments. Is this being a bad digital citizen? Perhaps, like the real word people give to the group when they can and take from the group as they need. Socialism in a digital world – I think I like it.
“The rear view mirror is one of the most effective motivational tools ever created.
(This photo is my dog Bisou in my rearview mirror)
There’s no doubt that many people speed up in the face of competition. We ask, “how’d the rest of the class do?” We listen for someone breathing down our necks. And we discover that competition sometimes brings out our best…
If you’re going to count on the competition to bring out your best work, you’ve surrendered control over your most important asset. Real achievement comes from racing ahead when no one else sees a path–and holding back when the rush isn’t going where you want to go.
If you’re dependent on competition then you’re counting on the quality of those that show up to determine how well you’ll do. Worse, you’ve signed up for a career of faux death matches as the only way to do your best work.
Self motivation is and always will be the most important form of motivation. Driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror is exhausting. It’s easier than ever to measure your performance against others, but if it’s not helping you with your mission, stop.”
I guess this ties into observation #1 whereby I must determine what my meaningful contributions can be. I need to own my learning and drive myself to figure out what is important for me. I do know that I continue to work at finding balance in my personal and professional lives but I am motivated to figure this out – whatever that looks like.
If you don’t read Seth’s blog I would suggest you follow it – I don’t read it everyday but I know that when I go there I will likely find something meaningful and thought provoking. I am uncertain who in the class suggested Godin’s blog in one of there posts – but I am certainly thankful for the reference.
3) I have found myself wondering about the connection between this class and my own professional practice. As a new administrator, I am trying to be reflective and figure out what it is that I can do to make the situation I am in better for students, teachers, and myself (on top of trying to figure out what exactly my job is). One of the issues that I feel myself coming back to – is the idea of creating situations where creativity is key in problem solving. After all, I do believe that individually I have thoughts but together we have answers.
Last week on Connected Principals George Aungst contributed a blog entry that was centered around the idea of helping teachers and students become more creative. His six key points were:
- Plant the seed. Instead of a vague “be creative,” tell someone, “give me an idea that only you could come up with.” According to Marc Runco of the University of Georgia, this simple switch in directions can double the student’s creative output.
- Make it messy. Creativity is squashed when people feel like they are looking for one right answer. For students, give them problems that have multiple solutions. Even better, give them problems with no clear solution. Mucking around in the problem solving process can free up creative thinking. With teachers, avoid predefining too many of the boundaries, and create situations where problems are left hanging instead of always coming to a conclusion.
- Never accept the first answer. Even if (or especially if) someone gives you the response you were expecting, say “Can anyone think of another answer?” or “Is there another way to do that?” It sets an expectation that one answer, even if it works, isn’t the end of the process but just the beginning.
- Teach creativity techniques. We often think of creativity as some sort of ethereal aura that some people have and some people don’t. In fact creativity is a skill and a process. It takes work and it can be taught. Techniques like SCAMPER can give people a concrete handle on something that can seem abstract and complicated.
- Reverse the roles. Instead of giving an assignment to students, ask them to tell you what they would do if they were the teacher. “What would you ask the class to do to show they understood this unit?” Share the best ideas with the class and let them pick their assignment. This can work for adults as well: “If you were in my place, what would be your priorities?”
- Get out. Changing the perspective can change students’ thinking. Hold a class, an inservice program, or a faculty meeting in the cafeteria, or the auditorium, or the football stadium. Or in a living room, on the sidewalk, or in an amusement park. Rearrange your classroom, your schedule, or your agenda.
My plan in the coming weeks is to try and use a few of these as I interact with staff and students and work with them to solve problems…