Monday, December 08, 2014

New lenses

Back from a visit to the optometrist--
Where an order was placed for new lenses--
Computer glasses -- "these will help you see more clearly at your computer"
Leaving the progressives for seeing at other times.

In front of my computer
Scanning #ccourses in Feedly,
Progressive Lenses -- wait-- what a coincidence

As Simon Ensor was optimistically and eloquently looking to the future through his progressive lenses
I am of the opinion that as new networked culture emerges we will inevitably need to reflect on the lenses which are appropriate. ...
I am optimistic that new emerging conditions will enable new lenses which will allow us to reconsider issues of dominance, of transactions between us.
My new lenses offer greater clarity on what's to come enabling, through #ccourses reading, a novice understanding of possibilities for growing a truly authentic digital identity. When Bill Benzon suggested
The message is quite clear: build your own. No, not necessarily from scratch – whatever that means. But at least install your own Word Press instance, and even have your students do it – much as participants in this workshop had to set up their own blogs.
And that has, in fact, been a running theme throughout the workshop. Whatever course you are teaching or will be teaching, it is important to engage with the technology in an active way. If we treat the web as a big media server and passively consume text, videos, and music, we will become slaves of the web. We have to actively engage with the web, and setting up a blog is a good way to begin.
and referenced
Simon Thomson’s vision of establishing an online identity in kindergarten, maintaining it into and through primary and secondary school, on into higher ed, and out through final graduation into life in general.
with a link and description of Known

I began to think of pieces of my identity sprinkled around the web, much not readily available today --
And the import of the potential for me even now and  especially today's learners --

These new lenses enabling an exciting perspective that compels more thinking and exploration--

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


source of quote
"Learning is always a risk. It means, quite literally, opening ourselves to new ideas, new ways of thinking."
Trust as a foundation for learning

I've attempted to create an environment based on that in the eCourse I facilitate around coaching in online spaces.  We wonder together, we co-create together, and we play together. And I've written about the importance of that trust and relationship building, especially in online spaces, for learning.

And my focus has been on relationships--

With Jesse Stommel's post, Trust, Agency, and Connected Learning, my thinking has been stretched with his thoughts on agency and honesty about the learning environment -- their contribution to trust and connected learning.

As I'm sitting here thinking on agency, I think I may have approached it through a different lens with a request for each co-learner to develop a learning pledge and with additional requests to reflect in online spaces of their own choosing. I am going to have to spend more time clarifying this for myself.

I do have to say that one of Jesse's statements about trust in the environment truly jumped out for me.

(And yes, I do love Painting with Words!)
That syllabus I had to create for the university in order for co-learners to earn graduate credit--  sigh---     As I rethink that "trajectory map", there will be a sticky with the quote always visible.

"Trust literacies"-- I want to latch onto that thought "trust literacies". I may be stretching the author's intent --
yet it seems to me that this may be an important trust literacy--
"none of us can teach or learn freely in an environment without first getting our bearings — without first looking around and thinking about where we are and why we’re there."
And others--
Honesty, agency, relationships--

Am I onto something here that will strengthen, enrich, and set a foundation for even deeper connected learning?   I'm feeling so--

Monday, December 01, 2014

From the periphery--

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by potomo
As much as I encourage sharing and contributing in the online communities in which I coach and lead-- understanding the potential of connected learning

As many times as I've shared this video from the Co-Learning Unit -- Obvious to You Amazing to Others

You'd think I'd be walking my talk
Especially with the unit on co-learning which I find compelling
And yet--- I've been on periphery-- reading--
Curating great nuggets of insight from the posts of others.

Knowing at this point that I'll never compose the epic post that has played out in my mind daily--

I'm opting for and committing to a number of shorter posts on co-learning to clarify my thinking so I'll have them to come back to.

With Howard Rheingold's definition of co learning,
In my definition, co-learning involves a re-orientation of each learner from purely individual acquisition of knowledge toward a process of sharing learning and sense-making with each other learner — peer-learning and peer-teaching at the same time. Co-learning also means that the teachers learn along with and from other learners in the same course.  
my mind went back to 2001 when I had the privilege of a year's planning for a new career pathway program for high schoolers wanting to become teachers.  A piece from Thomas Carroll profoundly influenced my thinking and was key in my designing (Carroll, T. G. (2000). If we didn't have the schools we have today, would we create the schools we have today? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 1 (1). Available: ), particularly the images and excerpts quoted below.
Once we move the teacher—as an expert learner—into the learning activity we begin modeling the learning process with the students. They are all learning together. And as I have said, once we reach this point, it’s not useful to distinguish between students and teachers, because they are all learning. Who is teaching and who is learning? They are all learning.     Figure 4 helps us start thinking about everyone in this dynamic field as a learner.   I represent each individual with an “L” to indicate that they are learners, and that the role of each individual in this activity is learning.  We need to get rid of the circle and enable them to be learners in an open learning environment (see Figure 5).  One of the large “L’s” in the diagram is the expert learner, the more senior, experienced learner, the person we pay to continue to structure these learning activities, but the person who is also constantly learning more and modeling the learning process, as opposed to the teaching process.Once we have defined these individuals as learners, and once we have taken those boundaries away, we can actually add more learners to the equation.
I'm wondering how Carroll may have influenced the vision of #ccourses  -- if indeed others sense the connection. 

It's been an important one for me as I dig more deeply into the thinking of  #ccourses co-learners in the posts to follow.

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--

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Learning Pledges in the Connected Coaching eCourse

Note: Cross Posted from PLPNetwork

Last night's dinner-- an aspargus pasta-- was especially good! The flavor and the texture of each of the ingredients -- asparagus, onions, balsamic vinegar, Asiago cheese and whole grain penne -- coaxed the greatest possible flavor from them to create a memorable experience. It's a recipe that has evolved over the years; it's the tweaking as I sought just the right balsamic vinegar, the perfect time to add the cheese, the best whole grain pasta. While I cleaned up the kitchen and reflected on the meal, the similarities to the Connected Coaching eCourse that I design and facilitate stood out for me.

From it's inception, the "ingredients" of the course have remained constant and they continue to provide the firm foundation for the course  -- the strength based appreciative inquiry framework, the trustbuilding that grounds coaching in online spaces, the taking of time for reflections, the intentional building of relationships  and the focus on growing a community of learners.

And yet like the asparagus pasta, the course has evolved. There are more diverse and purposeful opportunities for reflection enhancing the potential for deepened understandings.

A much more significant tweak followed the search for the perfect flavor for self governed learning  -- the current learning pledge expectation, far more intense and unique,  and based on ideas from Heutagogy (briefly illustrated below) has set the stage for organic, messy, authentic learning. With the diverse group of learners that collaborate in the course, there is the increased likelihood for learning journeys characterized by detours, side trips and loop backs under the umbrella of Connected Coaching.
LEARNER ROLE Share information Learner driven, self directed, self governed
TEACHER ROLE Presents information Provides resources
CONTENT Basic to higher order skill based Authentic, meaningful, relevant
SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS Independent learning Social and collaborative learning
ASSESSMENT Tests, quizzes Self-assessment, reflection
Initially called learning contracts, the angst created by that term was too much for some and at the suggestion of a learner, they morphed to learning pledges.  Their shape, their form --different for each learner. And therein lies the beauty-- as the pledge is about what they want to learn, about their goals, about their own self--assessment.

Dawn's table format  best met her needs as she identified 3 areas of focus and essential questions from the course that would guide her learning.

Sara's 5 goals  set a path for her learning beyond the formal eCourse learning time together.

Kathryn added images to communicate more clearly her pledge to learning.

While Susan mapped out her learning through the lens of "know, do, be" and thoughtfully included assessment of, for and as learning.

Fiona also approached her learning pledge through the lens of  "know,do, be"; her's is one of the most dynamic pledges in that she has linked to her reflections and added thoughts as she learned.

Finally, Jennifer's narration addressed 5 questions

With a simple request and no prescribed template-- an open recipe screaming for  learners to tweak their own authentic path for learning-- the pledges, posted publicly in the course space, are rich with creativity, rich with expertise, rich with passion. Learning pledges, one critical ingredient that contributes to the learner centered inquiry environment for learning in the Connected Coaching eCourse.

I hope you will accept this cordial invitation to join the upcoming session and travel your Connected Coaching learning journey with only the best of ingredients.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Playing with time--

I'm participating in the MOOC-Ed on Coaching Digital Learning and one of the Unit 1 discussions has been around "What are your biggest challenges as a coach?" and Time has come up alot!
Here's my post from that discussion where I drew from great blog posts about time.

Time has been mentioned here alot! It always seems to be the big elephant in the room for both coach and coachee. So I've tried to have some resources that address the time issue when it comes up with those I am coaching. I'm wondering if you think they might be helpful? maybe one more than the other?
"I used to think of time as my enemy – it grinded me and wore me down as I constantly tried to battle and slay it. There was never enough time, and worse still, there was no way for me to somehow get more of this fleeting trickster."
In her post, Tanya de Hoog goes on to suggest
"..look at time from an investment perspective. Ultimately, we can choose how we invest our time. Instead of spending time, we need to invest our time. When we look at time from a perspective of scarcity, we are in fact hoarding it. If we always think there will never be enough time, there never will be enough time. However, when we look at time from the perspective of abundance then, and only then, can we have a magical play date with time."
Play with time? magical play date? You think?

She goes on to suggest strategies for playing with time (you'll want to read the descriptions that accompany each of these in her post):
1. Accept the fact that time is finite
2. Clarify priorities.
3. Habit Patterns Rule

And she includes this quote:
“If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.” ― Elizabeth Saunders

Some time ago, Seth Godin wrote about time too and I was also drawn to this one--
"Fred had an inspiring post about the ability to always add one more thing. His old roommate called it N+1. Just when you think there's no more, you find a little room. Perhaps it's worth considering an alternative. N-1. There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk. They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done. What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest? What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough?"
And then there is John's N + ! thinking that Godin linked to:
"I have found that most of the time, there is always more where you think there is nothing left. You may have to look a little harder/deeper but it is there. That does not mean that there is an infinite supply of everything. Math would say that when you extrapolate N+1 all the way out you get to infinity. But we are talking about life, not math, here.
I find the N+1 theory very inspiring. It is pure optimism sprinkled with tenacity and we need that in our work and our lives."

 WhatEdSaid had a great post on time.
"Teachers never have enough time. We have curriculum to cover, skills to teach, reports to write and meetings to attend.The demands are endless, both in and outside the classroom.

10 ways to save time, both in and out of the classroom. I’m sure you there are hundreds more so please share yours. 
1. Don’t talk about how little time you have. Use the time to do some of the things you don’t have time for.
2. Reduce meeting time. Only meet if you have to. Start on time or have something to do while you wait. Keep it brief. Stay on topic. Don’t get sidetracked.
3. Set the timer. When you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, set the timer for 15 minutes and start. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done. Do this once a day and see what you can achieve. Try it with your students too.
4. Talk less in the classroom. Establish routines. Use signals. Trust your students, everything doesn’t have to be controlled by you. Scaffold independent learning so that students can get on with it.
5. Collaborate on a Google doc. You don’t need to email documents back and forth. You don’t need to meet with the people. You don’t even need to be in the same place. Work together on the one doc. Use different colours to show who said what. Use it with students too.
6. Use Twitter. If you need a resource, a video, an article, a song or a tool… someone else has found it already. Ask for help on twitter. Help others in the same way. There’s on tap support 24 hours a day.
7. Have small group discussions. Give every student an opportunity to speak without having a whole class discussion. Move between the groups. Have groups share with the class only what was most interesting or most contentious.
8. Set up a class blog. It’s an easy way to learn with your students. They can respond to questions, comment on each other’s presentations and have discussions, without taking up class time.
9. Manage your emails. Set up class and parent distribution groups. Organise folders in your inbox so that you can easily file things you might need later. Act quickly on emails and delete when done.
10. Prioritise. Acknowledge that you are human and can’t always do everything. Decide what is urgent and what can wait. Accept that you aren’t ready for some things and will get to them when you are."
So I guess I am wondering-- with so many us of us seeing time as a challenge -- are there strategies we can suggest, resources we can link to help get this elephant out of the room?

What do you think? How else can we deal with time?

Photo Credit

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Insights from Deborah Meier

"The task from K-12 is building a thirst for knowledge, pleasure in speaking up, and curiosity, curiosity, curiosity—persistently pursued. We need habits of the mind that carry over to the many hours we are not in school and the years and years that follow.  "Take your hand off my throat so I can breathe" is precisely what the best teachers are crying out for."
 "Can schools hold liberty in high esteem when children rarely see adults who dare exercise their liberty or have a direct voice in deciding important matters about their own profession? Democracy is not just a mechanism for being represented—whether in a union, a corporation, or the government. Democracy's strength lies in all that leads up to that vote and everything that follows it. And learning how "to do" democracy is best learned close and near, in institutions where we can practice it directly."
In  The Task of Building a Thirst for Knowledge , Deborah Meier argued these words quoted above. That post has been open in a tab in my browser for over 2 weeks now -- powerful thoughts expressed articulately. Her voice continues to  passionately advocate for democracy and progressive education.

Just imagine-- classrooms, schools and districts in which all stakeholders immerse in the ongoing practice of democracy -- how that might look and sound, how might learning and teaching differ?