Failure, Patience, and Respect

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This week, I’ve been returning to The Self-Directed Learning Handbook after some personal failures in relating with students and parents. I want to learn from these experiences and also to be prepared for more of the same as the E3 Learning CO program grows. I’m frustrated and uncomfortable- thankfully I was recently reminded that discomfort is an opportunity for growth. (hat tip to Michael Schneider)

This quote really hit home today:

Be infinitely patient, and show unqualified respect. Your students will be struggling with the demons that keep them from taking responsibility for their learning, their lives, and themselves.

As I review these situations in my head, I can definitely say that I was not “infinitely patient“. This is my struggle and an area for needed improvement. I will work hard to give you the tools and skills you need to learn independently. I will invest personal time seeking out technology tools to assist you in a way that meets your learning style. I will sit next to you and walk you through the process of learning independently. I will help you set up reminders so you don’t forget to work your plan. I will touch base to see how you are progressing. At that point, I have some expectations. I expect you to invest time in working the plan. I expect you to be honest with me regarding your progress, or lack thereof. I expect you to do actual work.  I expect you to be invested in your own learning. If students are not in a place to meet those expectations, my supply of patience runs low. Not how I want to be.

What is the balance between holding a student accountable and being infinitely patient? How am I as learning facilitator patient while addressing progress concerns?  How do I learn better language to communicate patience? I don’t have answers, and I’d like to have some. If you can share what you are learning in this area, I’d love to hear it. Comment, blog, tweet. Whatever works for you, but please share so I can learn from you.

The other part of the quote that hit home was showing unqualified respect. One of my concerns about my behavior this week is not so much what was said- I wasn’t mean or unkind, but did expect some answers. I know that my line of questioning could have been more respectful to the student as a whole person. I could have been more gentle in acknowledging “the demons that were keeping this student from taking responsibility”.

My learnings from this week?

  • I do a great job sharing resources and tools.
  • I can also train students to use technology.
  • I research well and can help others learn to research.
  • I need to learn to be more positive and clear in my communication with both students and parents.
  • I need to adjust my expectations of students.
  • I need to be comfortable with this learning path not working for everyone.

I’m somewhat afraid I have fulfilled “The Peter Principle” this week… rising to the level of my own incompetence. I’d like to change that. Time to do some more learning on the science and psychology of learning. (Resources welcome! I will be seeking out some Love and Logic info based on a suggestion from my admin.)

What are you learning this week? 

[image credit: cobrasoft]

5 Values for Self-Directed Learners

As I learn more and more how to guide self-directed learners, I find it very important to have an ‘exit strategy’ in mind for each of them at graduation. Begin with the end in mind, and all that jazz. Of course, a personalized educational path will mean very individualized goals for graduation. In general, there are five values that I want each student to have by the time they leave my advisory group.

5 Values for Self-Directed Learners

  1. To know your own strengths and weaknesses as a learner. Intimately. Be who you are, but be prepared to bolster yourself in some areas and allow yourself to shine in others. Understand how to manage your procrastination, etc. Know your personality type and what that means for yourself and your coworkers.
  2. To be confident in your ability to learn anything, anywhere, autonomously. Know what works best for you- and do that. Pick a MOOC or an internship or a book or a university class or research a topic to the end of the internet. Take notes in pictures or graphs or words. Record a lecture and listen to it while running. Be an expert researcher in every way possible.
  3. To understand that passionate interest does not absolve you from hard work. I love the recent quote by Ashton Kutcher-  “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” Just because you love something does not mean it will be easy. You will have to work hard, even while loving what you do. You may even work hard at something you hate, just to get the chance to do what you love. Take personal responsibility. Have a work ethic. Ask your grandparents what that means.
  4. To work within the system while changing the system. Know how to package your independent and personalized learning adventures in a way that works for universities and employers. Be a translator. Keep plugging away at change, but do it through your own personal excellence. You do not always get to pick how things are done, even in a self-directed environment.
  5. To network, collaborate, and value people with humility. Others invest in you because they want to see you succeed- you are not entitled to anything. Value your mentors. Thank your parents. Work well with others. Forgive. Reach out. Know when to move on. And make sure you give back when and where you can. You may think you are an expert, but there are generally others out there that are much further along the journey than you… and know more than you. Be passionate about your area of expertise, but listen. Learn from others even when you think they have nothing to teach you.

Of course, I’m still learning.  And growing. And I’m confident that this list will change…. I leave you with Ashton’s Kutcher’s speech. If you haven’t see it already, it’s worth the 4 1/2 minutes of your life.  

What are the five values you want your students to have prior to leaving your classroom? 

Links:

[3.4 Coursera FLT2]