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?

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