Monday, July 22, 2013

We don't know what we don't know...

Working with adult learners is a difficult task.  Us adult folk think we know everything.  I mean, I woke up this morning and made it through an entire day independently.  I'm doing well.  The learning within the context of our day seems minute.  It's not "scary" or "overwhelming" and tends to be task-based within the structure of our normal activities.  It's really not scary when you realize you don't know something -- to the Google machine!

Our most vulnerable moments as adult learners tend to be when we realize we don't know what we don't know!  

Let that marinate.

Sometimes, we need an outside catalyst to come along and shake our foundations with a question that truly makes us aware of our knowledge.  The joy I find within this type of interaction just cannot be described.

You learn something new every day, right?

Knowing this about myself has (I think) made me a better leader within our center.  I meet regularly with all of my team and we have scheduled time for reflection.  What's going well?  What isn't?  What do you have questions about?  What surprised you this month?  What would you have done differently?  The conversations that come from these meetings have shifted from task-based and very business-like conversation to more of a "how does that make you feel" vibe.  It's a safe place to talk about the demands of the positions my many different team members hold.  Our jobs are tough and it helps to have someone to bounce things off of without fear of criticism or punishment (I'm pretty confident that's why I blog).

I had a reflection meeting with a teacher yesterday who served as a teacher aide for a very long time (think almost as long as I've been alive) and was recently promoted to assistant teacher.  She also (!!!) just won a scholarship to pursue her associate's degree (I'm like a proud momma over here).  One of my big goals for my team is that we continue to learn and grow.  It's all I ask; how they learn and grow is up to them, but we cannot simply be stagnant.  She is now in a position to mentor and support the new teacher aide who was hired.  We spoke of her progress and areas to really help this new teacher develop and I provoked this conversation with "Well, she doesn't know what she doesn't know quite yet.  What have you noticed she might need support with?"  Our conversation was so rich and productive!!!  We spoke of ways to provoke this new teacher (to nudge if you will) and help her take ownership of her role within the classroom.  I think we're a pretty unique center in the way we operate within teaching teams.  There tends to be a lack of title association with the division of labor, but more of a sense of "we're in this together."  I've seen teachers really work together to capitalize on strengths and develop the areas that may need development.

Did you have a moment of awareness today in which you realized you didn't know you didn't know something?  Wasn't it exhilarating?

Have I ever told you how much I love my job?  Conversations like this are the reason why!


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