Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Tale of Two Conversations

I want to paint a picture of two conversations between a teacher and a student. Both started with a problem that needed solving.

In the first conversation, they talk about the issue.
The teacher helps the student brainstorm ideas about how to solve it, or at least what next steps might be. The questions that the teacher asks sound like this: "What is the root of the problem? What would make it better? How could you get there?"
They bounce ideas around and end up co-constructing a plan. In the end, they walk out of there with a clear idea of what to do next.

In the second conversation, they talk a bit about the issue, but more about the student who is seeking help.
The teacher asks questions to help the student reflect, such as, "What do you wish you could say? How do you think this is affecting you? What would you need to be able to move forward?"
They talk through these questions, and in the end, they walk out with some ideas of what to do, but a deeper understanding of themselves personally.

Both of these conversations are helpful, but they lead to slightly different outcomes.
Which conversation is more helpful in the short-term?
Which conversation is more helpful in the long-term?
Which conversation do you tend to have with your students?
How can we incorporate both angles into our interactions?

[Thoughts I'm pondering as I think about how to teach SEL skills, with both students and adults!]

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Little Reminder Goes a Long Way

It feels like I'm blogging a lot about my personal journey at work these days (as opposed to students/teachers), but that's where I'm at - and I know I'm not the only one who has ever dealt with a reorganization or job change!

My new role has been full of a lot of learning, which is GOOD. I love learning new things! At the same time, it can be hard on my confidence. Impostor Syndrome is a real thing, and I have found myself wondering how I can effectively support teachers whose jobs look very different than mine looked when I was teaching.

It's with this mix of overwhelmed learning + "Am I really the right person for this?" that I approached the Colorado EdTechTeam Summit this year.

The day started off with a good reminder from keynote speaker Rushton Hurley

"The only person to whom you ever need to compare yourself is the you who you were yesterday."

Are you looking in the mirror to compare, or looking out the window at everyone else?


After that, I had the opportunity to present on fun stuff: GSuite in the Arts, Spreadsheet AutoMagic, and some Google Experiment play at the playground. It reminded me (as always) that I really enjoy presenting! All of those little moments - the exclamations of "Oh, that's awesome!", "I am doing this with my kids on Monday!", and "That's so cool!" - filled my bucket. I always appreciate positive feedback (who doesn't?), but even more this year when I have felt like such a novice in my day-to-day job.

I think God knew I needed this reminder - despite all of the new, I still have strengths to bring to the table. I have a renewed sense of efficacy in being able to serve and help teachers & students. I have so much to learn, but I also have some good background to draw on.

Passing It On

Which, of course brings me to students. How often do we focus on their weaknesses, instead of their strengths? Do we recognize the background that they bring to the table as a source of learning? Do we make them feel like they are a beginner at everything, or do we value and build on their prior knowledge? These questions are especially relevant for our students who come with different cultural backgrounds that we do.

A little reminder goes a long way. Which student needs a little reminder from you today?