Monday, September 29, 2014

Spaghetti sauce and the Connected Coaching eCourse--a new perspective

Photo Credit
I thought it was the best -- it was delicious-- it worked-- it was good--
3 years ago
when I wrote
The homemade spaghetti sauce last week was rich, flavorful-- just downright extraordinary.
I attribute most of that to the quality of the ingredients-- something about organic farm fresh tomatoes, new onions, fresh organo, real garlic, and a touch of hot sauce to add a bit of a zing. Yet I've used those same ingredients before and the sauce never had the unique flavor of this batch. There must be something to the love, to the passion that becomes part of the process. No longer a strict recipe follower when I'm putting together a dish I've made before, there is the possibility of an extra large clove of garlic, maybe dried oregano-- always evolving, responding to conditions at hand.
And then recently
a neighbor shared some she had made
it was time to consider
how to take the best of what was and create the best of what could be
and this time it seems as it's the addition of 2 cloves and a bay leaf--

In that post of years ago,
the sauce and the Connected Coaching pilot were the focus of my thinking--

the sauce with its added spices --
And as it simmered, my thoughts focused on the Connected Coaching eCourse I facilitate, in its 3 or 4th iteration. Learners have been transparent with their excitement at the possibilities and I have been, I fear, a bit too satisfied, lulled into some sense of complacency. Should know better at this age.  Time and time again, each group developed meaningful relationships to their surprise. And my hope, that others might see the potential of the appreciative inquiry approach (that I view as a real game changer in education) in which they are immersed in the eCourse and adopt that stance in coaching, has come to fruition more than I could ever imagine.

And I attributed much of it to our purposeful collective building of trust through a variety of activities and to my continued thinking on adult learning and assessment , influenced significantly by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Dean Shareski, Dave Cormier, Cathy Davidson and Anne Fox who introduced me to the research on heutagogy. I thought I had developed a Lani remix that enabled self directed learning.   I thought I was on to something.

As one who thought she put learners at the forefront-- In 2013, the co learners in one section of the course objected to the term "learning contract":
Although I hope that everyone in the course will always view the potential for change in our Connected Coaching model and see the possibilities throughout the process, I am never sure how our journey will play out for so many reasons. Since I've requested that each co learner create his/her own learning contract, since I've stressed our time together is about their following their personal interests under the umbrella of coaching in online spaces-- it has been my fervent hope that that request and some possible paths outlined mapped in the MentorMob playlists and weekly overviews set the stage for organic, messy, linked learning increasing the likelihood of trips characterized by detours, side trips and loop backs.  
For this trek, the discussion and angst around the learning contracts which are shared with the entire group and for which many request feedback went deep with serious questions around its purpose and value. Initially, this request (the learning contract and it is a request as are all the learning opportunities) is open with few parameters or introduction. When the questions arose  I added a resource on heutagogy that speaks to the importance of self governed learning, the contracts filled the discussion thread as did comments supporting each others efforts and various paths towards personal goals emerged. We were on our way-- together. And I had my first big aha moment! When I had adapted the learning contract for the eCourse, I had not given thought(and should have) to the connotations of "contract". When Doris  suggested she'd prefer to call her contract a learning pledge-- my brain stopped for a moment-- and then realized the implications remembering what a difference one word can make and how much more aligned pledge is to the community building of the eCourse and to the Connected Coaching model! Next trip-- learning pledge is it!

And has been since---

The "learning pledges" developed, we do a KWL and a collective wondering as the course begins and I'm feeling we're delving into each learner's purpose. (My feelings on the eCourse were much the same as the ones I had had for the spaghetti sauce.) And as we progress through each week, I suggest essential questions.

Let's stop there    ---enter Connected Courses
and Michael Wesch's and Gardner Campbell's videos --

my making connections to my context--
knowing I know "my why" of the course-- to provide the opportunity to experience the potential of a strength based inquiry to improve practice and the world of education--

and my questions. WAIT-- my questions
and realizing that my questions become the focus-- really
despite my intention that learners engage in their own "why", to follow their passions

It's time -- to take the best of what works and create the best of what could be--
Just as the goodness of the spaghetti sauce grew and benefited from additional perspectives and the added spices--
So should the eCourse with my intended focus on the next iteration with an additional, more sustained focus on the "why" of the co learners.

Can I share fully developed thoughts on what that will look like, sound like? Not yet-- a work in progress-- additional thoughts on this welcomed!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I teach--

This photo from 2002, my last year in a face to face classroom --
Juniors and seniors in high school aspiring to become teachers--
Presenting at the State of Ohio Technology Conference--

The seniors shared their 2 week summer experience for elementary students that they had designed, planned and taught the previous summer.

The juniors held a live video conference session as part of an ongoing collaboration with Josh Baron from Marist College who was supporting their own planning for their upcoming summer camp.

And I--  I was in the audience experiencing the joy that comes from observing learners spreading their wings and flying, being
in the “helping folks realize they can do things they didn't think they could” business. --Bud Hunt (Thanks so much Bud for helping me articulate why I teach)
In the same business in online spaces since that photo-- with educators and adult learners-- opening doors to possibilities.

Why I teach---

Monday, September 15, 2014

The "on ramp" --

Photo credit

An extraordinary "on ramp" --
already vast learning landscapes--
The pre-course week of Connected Courses

The "voice" of the course calls to me The tone is warm, light; that in itself so warm and inviting. Word choice implies trust in me as a learner, positive intent, integrity.  For example -- guidelines --

captured from 
The community guidelines  -- expectations for honest conversations with a commitment to collegial learning on a number of levels.
"Trust that people are always doing the best they can." 
i the biggest surprise to see and at the same time heartwarming as it aligns with the strength based coaching I facilitate currently.

The language in how to join the syndication flow  -- "We know you're excited but"-- had me smiling as I followed the expert instructions.

And guidelines again for blogging like a champion with the striking images especially the "now what" four legged friend at the end make it clear these were not rules but there for everyone to learn from.

In addition, those invitations are inclusive-- specific instructions for those more novice, additional resources for others more technically competent and assurances that this is not to be about mastery of all content but rather, as Howard Rheingold tweeted

And Mia declared "a guilt-free learning zone"
Informal and Creative--
Full evidence here as Embed, Click and Link lead the second Blog Talk with Howard Rheingold taking a "learning posture" in many instances. The laughter, Link's tools, the hats, the talk of playing, the thorough enjoyment and the potential for learning-- at the end of the session, I begin to consider for the first time the possibilities of my own tinkering; although I know some very very basic html, I'd not ever given a thought to creating such a learning hub believing I lacked the capacity. Thanks much to the "brothers" for opening my thinking.

The potential for options, choice in blogging platform, dipping into the flow make this learning journey feel very personalized.

The facilitators' comments on posts in the pre course establish a real sense that each co learner's voice is important to what will come.

I just have to say-- that Howard Rheingold comment on my first post three hours after it was published was really exciting (continues to be, smiling very very broadly) as I've long been fan of his writing, his ideas, his approach to learning. And just a few hours later, Kim Jaxon left a comment too; I'll learn much from her as learners in her course participate in Connected Courses too.

Instructive and thought provoking --
New learning landscapes and this is just the "on ramp"--

The principles of connected learning -- The interactive graphic, new to me, visually summarizes learning and design principles parallels my aspirations for the current facilitation and community work in which I'm engaged.

As I read Howard Rheingold's Under the hood, where technology pedagogy and power meet I make connections to the TPACK framework that informs my practice, realizing that my stepping out to "look under the hood" can engender more fully the true collaboration and co learning possibilities.
"The technologies of publishing and discourse that become available to those who are willing to look under the hood and try some tinkering can be used as powerful amplifiers of co-learning. The objective is not to teach mastery of web media, but to make it easier for students to take responsibility for their own learning and enough co-responsibility for their classmates’ learning that a real learning community can emerge."
And then in Reflection conversation co learning this!
"Reflecting on texts is a path to understanding by an individual learner, but when a group of learners reflect in public, they provide a rich field for conversations about the material. Debates. Conjectures. Contrapositives. Analysis. Conversations can lead to co-learning, when other elements — trust, shared purpose, fun, reciprocity, serendipity, lead learners, skilled facilitation — combine to influence groups of learners to be co-responsible for each other’s learning."
There it is, eloquently articulated, a description of our recent Connected Coaching Strategies 2 with one exception-- "in public". I now imagine the possibilities had that been the case.

Reading and rereading Maha Bali's Process for Connecting,  and wondering and thinking on her image and my experiences (a shared purpose/vision enabled connections)-- reflecting deeply on the essential component of trust in the process, the need for trust in self, and for reciprocity. Her post causing me to explore my own thoughts more deeply, still.

Why this matters to me --
On a personal quest to become more inviting, even more inclusive in facilitating connected learning in online spaces, I'm soaking up the modeling and demonstrating to adopt/adapt for the K12 environment in which I facilitate and co learn.

Wanting to stretch my thinking and doing, aspiring to better articulate my thinking, and yes, wanting to exercise this old brain in the best of ways--

Connected courses modeling, demonstrating the best of ramps onto learning - I'm more than pumped for the next leg of this connected learning journey.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

It's settled-- Connected Courses it is!

photo credit
Decisions, decisions
They seem more difficult to make as the years roll by

The waning gardens call to me-- greatly in need of tender care
As does the new AI Studio -- so full of possibility
And the ramp up to Connected Courses has truly captured my attention

Which direction? or can it be, should it be directions?

for the opportunity to be in the open air and digging and cutting back and thinking already about next spring--

for digging deeper into appreciative inquiry with AI practitioners from across the globe--

for learning as compelling as I experienced in CCK08  and sensing the enormous potential  in #ccourses 

I'm not in higher ed although I do design and facilitate professional learning for educators; with other commitments I'm afraid I won't be able to be as active a learner as I would like--

Excuses. Really.

Especially when I read  Why Would I Take a Higher-Ed Connected Course? from a middle school teacher

And even more with Mia Zamora's  Connected Courses: Towards a guilt-free learning zone…. 
I for one want everyone to know that their own learning pathway (whatever that may turn out to be) is perfect.  Such is the particular affordance of truly open learning.  In my experience, magical things happen when we let ourselves unlearn the criterion of institutionalized conventions.  So let’s drop the guilt instinct, and just learn by self-design (interest-driven lurking is the foundation!). What “open” really means is that YOU are the true center of the learning.
What a wonderful invitation!

and Alan Levine's  thoughtful comment to that post:
Everyone is on a spectrum of participation they chose, change- its constantly evolving. There are many avenues of participation that do not require being loud and visible online.
photo credit
Those pushed me to the edge yet should I hang back?

What's surprising to me is I feel just like I did prior to CCK08 -- it must be like the anticipation of the first day of school for those many 35 years-- so full of possibilities and yet underneath the surface serious tensions -- oh the uncertainty. Can I? Should I? Do I?


Decision-- direction--
I’m jumping in again, almost jumping--sensing some pretty special opportunities and possibilities (there's that word again) for extending learning and deepening understanding-- disregarding the nagging “what have I got myself into this time”.

It’s just time to let the learning begin!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connected Coaches earn certification

Connected Coaching eCourse
Note: Cross posted from Powerful Learning Practice blog.

What happens when a group of passioned Connected Coaches from around the world come together for six weeks to reflect upon and improve their practice?

They become poster children for global collaboration as they dialogue asynchronously and juggle time zones across the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and Australia to collaborate synchronously. They dig even more deeply into the complexity of appreciative inquiry, cognitive coaching, trustbuilding, and protocols to become more accomplished in the craft of coaching. And as they do, they co create:

Coaching Tips and Tricks

  5 Card Flickr Stories about coaching  

 Coaching Metaphors

Brainstorming areas of interest, they self select into 2 groups to conduct mini action research-- one group around a growth mindset and coaching and the other, protocols that support design thinking. In a final celebration webinar, they present their process and all they've learned-- enriching our collective coaching wisdom.

 From the design thinking group

And the group exploring growth mindset and coaching

It was, as Shelley mentioned, "six weeks of extraordinary commitment"!

And with that commitment, that exceptional learning, that action research, Powerful Learning Practice is proud to announce it's first group of certified Connected Coaches, coaches who have adopted the dispositions of and met the standards for a Connected Coach.
Amy Musone
Anne Fox 
Cathy Beach 
David Baker
Dawn Imada Chan 
Fiona Turner 
Jennifer Bloomingdale
Linda Nitsche 
Mark Carbone
Shelley Labiosa 
Viv Hall

Congratulations! We are delighted to acknowledge your certification as PLP Connected Coaches.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Are we listening?

A voice from the past--- more than 50 years ago--
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation.  
But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.  
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. 
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. 
16 April 1963, Excerpts from Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 A voice from the present

Are we listening?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Open, safe learning--

It started with this--
during the week for "digital citizenship" in the Coaching Digital Learning MOOC in which I've been a learner.

That brief interaction prompted a flood of memories
From some 15 years ago when I, a resource teacher in the Instructional Technology Office, often felt as if I was repeatedly running into a brick wall as I traversed so many schools of a large urban district.

One significant cause of my frustration-- our ability to access this--
Especially this audio file--
If I thought, had any idea, that I'd ever be a slave again, I'd take a gun an' jus' end it all right away. Because you're nothing but a dog. You're not a thing but a dog.

There are no words to describe the power of that audio file when students approach the topic of slavery in their learning. Those words, that voice-- so compelling-- in every classroom total silence. And the discussions that followed were far richer and deeper.

And the district filter blocked that website (highlight mine)
The  ~ they told me meant a personal file and they all were blocked. I would make my case to the IT department; they would unblock it. The following week, at another school the next week, we couldn't access it.

Math teachers, eager to engage their students, planned lessons on percentages, probability based on baseball/basketball/football statistics-- only to find those websites blocked as well. And some years later, wanting to help students understand how to evaluate information resources, (purposefully not linked here; search for it at WHOis to learn why) was blocked as were others that provide extremely valuable learning moments. They are anecdotes enough for content for a year's worth of posts.

What's important---

I knew from my years in the classroom  (before the district wide network and a filter; with students using my personal ISP account) that opportunities for student learning grew exponentially when they had access to the Web. My students and I created our own AUP (we were on the Web prior to a district created one), had significant meaningful discussions on expectations of Web use for learning, and incredible travels in learning with our mutual understandings. And a teachable moment when someone pushed the boundaries-- once.

I've long been an advocate for open learning, for scaffolding safe learning, for maintaining high expectations, and for providing the opportunities for students to make good choices. Without those choices, without that guided practice so to speak in a safe environment-- more possibilities arise for poor decision making when youngsters surf the Web at home, in their or a friends' bedroom, on their smartphones or phones of others.

I stand by that quote I tweeted from ISTE-- even for little ones--
And as Amy Musone, an accomplished 3rd grade teacher said to me:
"Little kids are capable of making good choices...right?"
Yes, absolutely--
with support, with just in time and continuous guidance, and with opportunities to make them and learn in a safe space from any missteps--

Believing in the capacity of children and open learning and the possibilities--