Monday, September 9, 2019

Fail to Learn

How do we treat failure in our own learning lives? How do we talk about failure or mistakes or errors with learners in our classrooms? What is failure, really?

I don't know that I ever asked learners in my classroom to talk about failure together. When I read Andrew Miller's book Freedom to Fail this summer, his ideas around norming failure resonated with me.

Miller suggests we start early. When we're setting up classroom communities, consider having a discussion about what it means to fail. Make the discussion text based. Give students media to explore in order to form their opinions and develop their thoughts:  failure quotes, poetry, essays, videos, clips, vines, tweetbooks... other media.

Can you imagine? 

I tend to collect, so I started gathering quotes and looking for texts I could use for a text-based discussion. Miller's ideas brought Michael Jordan's I Can't Accept Not Trying immediately to mind. I wondered what else I could find?

I could see how such a discussion could help me establish learning routines and cultivate community. Miller's work has me wondering how to talk about failure in ways that make it central to learning (and not evaluation). Surely, there is an advisory lesson in here.

Each year when new faculty join the educators at Singapore American School we get a preview of their work and learn a bit about them. Our introductions to the "newbies" as many call them begins in the second semester of the year before they arrive. Andrew Miller joins Singapore American School as a Director of Personalized Learning from Shanghai American School where he most recently served as an instructional coach.  

Friday, September 6, 2019

Paraphrase Friends

Day Two of Adaptive Schools training with Ochen Kusuma-Powell from the Thinking Collaborative energized and encouraged. Layered and nuanced, when the day ended I walked away thinking about topics I could dig deeper: into strategies I could practice, and into ways of being intentional.  Masterful facilitation, I appreciated how Powell designed the environment and modeled feeding feedback back to the group by my making it visible and memorable. She posted the patterns she saw in our exit protocol: stealing the idea for future groups.

How do you create an environment for professional learning?
How do you make feedback visible and meaningful to learners?

In the afternoon we reviewed the Seven Norms of Collaboration, We went beyond reading and naming the seven norms:
Posing questions
Putting ideas on the table
Providing data
Paying attention to self and others
Presuming positive intentions

We took time to really process the first two. We met with eye contact partners from across the room. What does it mean to pause? If pausing is our "wait time," what types of pauses may we take when working in groups? While we may recognize paraphrasing as "reflective listening," there is more to paraphrasing than that. We talked about the different kinds of listening we can hear when group members paraphrase to organize another's ideas or to abstract another's ideas.

Teaching speaking is a glow area in my own practice and istening is definitely a growth area. At this time, I am most interested in developing my listening and paraphrasing skills.  Paraphrasing as Powell said gets at how to teach (and assess) listening.

We practiced three types of paraphrasing: acknowledging, organizing, and abstracting. When you acknowledge you restate what a person said in your own words,  being mindful of pronouns.

The pronouns piece will continue to resonate. This is a growth area for me as a group member and as a facilitator. As one person in my table group said, sometimes paraphrasing sounds like a put-down. For instance, when a person says "I hear you saying ..." that can sound to some like "You are saying this but I can say it better when I repeat it." akin to be "explained' by someone. Another seeming put down mentioned is when a participant says, "What's she's saying is..."  which to some feels like words are being put in their mouths.

There are many types of paraphrasing and each gets at a specific type of listening (Powell).

Acknowledging Paraphrases: demonstrate reflective listening. Listener restates what was said in his or her own words being mindful of pronouns.

Organizing Paraphrases: demonstrate analytical listening. Listener categorizes what the speaker has said.

Abstracting Paraphrases: demonstrate inferential listening. Listener connects what the speaker said to concepts to communicate what was inferred.

So Friends, let's practice. Watch this clip, "Phoebe's Running Style" from Friends.

Pharaphrasing in these ways is a growth area for me. I'd like to think I'm good at reflective listening, summarizing what I hear, but I am not as good at minding my pronouns and organizing or abstracting ideas in the moment, when I hear them. Those will become goals for me this year.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Adaptive Strategies

Ochan Kusuma-Powell is leading Adaptive Schools sessions at Singapore American School.  Top of mind at day's end is how she facilitated conversations while at the same time naming and noting the strategies (protocols) she used to do so.

Dr. Powell framed the strategies we used with what, why and how and as soon as she'd reviewed those keys and released us to do, she would create visual reminders of our doing and or circle the room, listening in and gathering connections she would use in the next transition.

Listening, paraphrasing, connecting, probing, modeling, all moves Dr. Powell made during our session today. She reminds me to slow down, to pause, to use space, movement and silent cues to facilitate processing. She cited work from one of my favorite thinkers and several new-to-me that I'm looking forward to looking up and adding to my professional reading.  I'm still processing all I learned today from the "triple track" of our agenda.

I tried to capture the strategies she used for bringing us into conversations with various groups-- no doubt, I missed some, but here is a place holder list for now.

Audience Connect
Welcoming, forming learning community
Listening for the Lull
Facilitation Move: listening for natural lulls and using them to transition to the next activity
Facilitation Move:  transition signal: at the signal partners or groups can “finish their sentences but not their paragraphs”
Welcoming, Inclusion activity, create connections
What | Why | How
Patterns for learning, predictable framing, create boundaries and safe spaces
Facilitation Move: Visible, posturing and pausing in order to close an activity, express appreciation and transition.
Small group processing, build connections within the larger group, create safe spaces for sharing
Set the ground rules for small fires groups
Debriefing content & process
Facilitation Move: Processing for learning, reflecting to learn
Text processing, ranking ideas prior to sharing, sorting | prioritizing what and how to share
(paried with Penny Payout) Text processing, selecting portion of text to discuss based on rankings
Regrouping activity, inclusion activity, learning about one another, building relationship
Number Off 
Facilitation Move: To remix table groups; to assign parts to read for Jigsaw
Facilitation Move: Moving from one group | table to another
Station naming
Facilitation Move: Returning to the agenda to name where the group has been and where the group is 
Processing after breaktime to summarize learning and thinking
Text reading, processing and teaching
Finger partners
Moving out of Jigsaw home groups to number alike groups to rehearse information
Individual, written processing
Regrouping activity
Partnered text processing and teaching
*links from the Adaptive Schools Livebinder by pciganick