The Poet Speaks

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
T.S. Elliot, Little Gidding

As I sat in church Sunday, listening to the Homily on beginnings and endings and the coming of Advent, I thought, too, about teaching. Our school years certainly begin and end, giving us closure on one episode and an ability to re-do or start again. But I also thought about how difficult this shift in thinking about teaching and learning is for some. Letting go of traditional beliefs means an end to what we know, what is comfortable, and what made sense in our past.

As Carol Dweck says, people hold onto a mindset for a reason. At some point in their past it made sense in forming who they were and who they wanted to be. When we ask people to shift their mindsets about how people learn and what they should do in the classroom, that “end” can be difficult, almost painful. As Dweck says, it’s like letting go of yourself.

But beginnings can also hopeful if we approach them well. We need to look for examples of what is working, using those positive models to frame reasons for change. As the Heaths said in Switch: Knowledge alone doesn’t change behavior. “To create and sustain change, you’ve got to act more like a coach and less like a scorekeeper. You’ve got to embrace a growth mindset and instill it in your team.”

Thinking About….

Funny, I read Peter Senge years ago…but for some reason he keeps drawing me back. I want to get these two quotes down, and think about them.

“Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs…..” Peter Senge

“Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-respect, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers–a prize for the best halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars–and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, and divisions are ranked, rewarded for the top, punished for the bottom. Management by Objectives, quotas, incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.” Edwards Deming

Coming back to this later. Need to run and process…

Resistance to Change


If part of your work means helping folks understand the shift in educational reform/revolution and the necessity for change, then this may help.

I stumbled across this e-book by Rick Maurer recently, and his suggestions for helping implement change seem simple yet profound.

He says there are three reasons why people don’t change.

  1. Level One: I don’t get it.
  2. Level Two: I don’t like it.
  3. Level Three: I don’t like you

These three levels, he says, are alive and either working for you or against you. To move things along, he says you should:

  1. Level One: Make your case.
  2. Level Two: Remove as much fear as you can and increase the excitement.
  3. Level Three: Rebuild damaged relationships and tend to neglected ones.

“Making a compelling case for change is the most important thing you can do–and the most neglected,” he says. “Avoid the trap of moving to HOW before WHY is answered.”

His e-book is here (about halfway down the page) and contains many specific suggestions (unfortunately he starts talking as soon as you hit the page, so turn down your speakers if you are in class!) The book (a PDF) addresses each level, so you’re not left with the “yeah, but how do it?” For example, he addresses how to “build institutional muscle.”

I’ve been saying personality plays a role in whether or not people seek change. And that may be. But we can’t change personalities, so these suggestions may help.

Was I in the Moment?

Checking the PhoneLast weekend, we went to a Dave Matthews Band concert. After chatting with my husband in the car (ok, reading on my iPhone), we headed to the venue, discovering a long line of people waiting to get in.

I do what I always do when I’m bored. I pulled out my phone to check email and twitter.

“Do you have to do that right now?” he asked. “Is it that important?”

I was stunned.

David never questions my connecting, never challenges how much time I spend online. So this really threw me.

Then I did what I always do when I don’t know what to say. I got quiet and pouted. (Ok, I know that’s rather childish, but my excuse is that it always gives me time to think about my anger, frustration, and response.)

Think about I did. All through the concert, falling asleep later, and the next day. I wanted to understand the tension.

For me, checking tweets was simply a way to pass the time. I was bored standing in line. For David, though, it was a disconnect, a separation. Even if we had nothing to say to one another, he felt I should have been in the moment.

I mean do I really want to do this? What are the guidelines for rude these days?

Am I part of the check-in culture, or am I now so bored with life, I can’t stand in line at a concert without reading my tweets? Or is it fueling the  “seeking”?

The recent New York Times article about kids being “wired for distraction” was met with much –is defensive anger too strong a statement? And I understand. We know social media will help our kids learn and connect in valuable, essential ways. But I also wonder about balance–for the kids and for myself.

Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has a great book out: Focus. He says it’s “about finding simplicity in this Age of Distraction.”  My goal for the next few months will be to find that balance–or at least make sure I am aware of my actions.

Because I know I’ll do this:

For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.

But I don’t want to be like this:

The problem, of course, is that constantly perusing your phone is freaking rude — a clear signal that your reception is more important than anything going on in the here and now.

image: By ozjimbob

Transliteracy: reading and writing…or adapting to change?

Transliteracy Clip

I’ve seen the term bounced around the internet over the past year, but I hadn’t taken the time to explore what transliteracy really means.

If you aren’t sure, here are some places to start:

Buffy Hamilton shares this presentation:

  • Buffy’s post links to great resources
  • Digital Media and Learning has a Q&A here (with an interesting quote about future of the book)
  • The Transliteracy NING
  • The reading/writing/learning world is changing faster than most of us can keep up, so realizing we need to label the need to communicate across various media makes sense to me. Defining this will also help us frame our teaching and learning, allowing us to let go of strongly-held beliefs that only traditional reading and writing matters for success.

    (By the way, I grabbed the clip above using my new LiveScribe pen!)