Being Open to Learning is Harder Than It Appears

There is a volume of information about carrying on meaningful conversations, especially about change. In the last posting I mentioned Grice’s Maxims which specify 4 qualities of conversation (from:

https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html )

  1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
  2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity

This appears to be fairly straightforward but, in my experience, not a simple task.

Looking at the work of Robinson, I think we get a more realistic orientation to the challenges of conversations that are open to learning, conversations in making changes.

Here is a quote from the author (Viviane M. J. Robinson) University of Auckland cautioning us that “Open to learning” conversations are not easy, even when an administrator is talking with a teacher:

The Key Components of an Open-to-learning Conversation. There are no rules or step-by-step guides to open-to-learning conversations. This is because the shifts from less open to more open-to-learning conversations are as much about changes in values and ways of thinking as they are about changes in communication skills. Hard and fast rules also do not work because good conversations are responsive to context and to the other person. Despite this, it is possible to identify some of the recurring components of open-to-learning conversations. Table 3 identifies some of these components and shows how a leader might use them in conversations about the quality of teaching.”….

Nevertheless, she lists 7 components (starting points?):

  1. Describe your concern as your point of view. I need to tell you about a possible concern I have about.. I think we may have different views… I realise this may not be how you see it….
  2. Describe what your concern is based on. The reason why I was concerned is..
  3. Invite the other’s point of view. Pause and look at the other person or say.. What do you think?
  4. Paraphrase their point of view and check. I got three important messages from that…Am I on the right track?
  5. Detect and check important assumptions… What leads you to believe that the children…
  6. Establish common ground. The common ground might be based…
  7. Make a plan to get what you both want. How would you like to learn more about….

There are several YouTube videos that provide examples.  For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV5KmINdTWY

 

 

Focus on Dialogue About Teaching/Learning: Who is Engaged?

I began this current sequence of blogs by introducing a posting about “Openness to Learning” in which an expert on communication and learning provided insights into how administrators and teachers can optimize student success by engaging in meaningful dialogue.  But it isn’t only teachers and administrators who are engaged in this topic.  Here are some other “potential” discourse partners who can/will influence student success.

Teacher/Parent Conversations

Teacher/Student Conversations

Parent/Student Conversations

Student/Student Conversations

Special Educator/Teacher/Parent/Student Conversations

Teacher/Support Staff Conversations

In an attempt to curate/find relevant files/links for this current series I went back to my ScoopIt site for posts I had curated for my Dialogue and Learning Board: http://www.scoop.it/t/dialogue-and-learning which has over 500 posting starting in 2012.  Here is just a brief listing of the types of posts I curated:

Parent-Teacher Dialogue

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/parent-teacher-conferences-collaborative-conversations-john-mccarthy?spMailingID=12608933&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=640473825&spReportId=NjQwNDczODI1S0

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-parents-want-teachers-to-know-joe-mazza?spMailingID=9633557&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=400677021&spReportId=NDAwNjc3MDIxS0

http://www.scilearn.com/blog/10-questions-to-ask-your-childs-teacher-cognitive-skills

Teacher-Student Dialogue

Students Voice…what are student’s thinking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocM9Sqz2gzg

Teaching Students to Give and Receive Feedback

http://inservice.ascd.org/teaching-students-to-give-and-receive-meaningful-feedback/

Parent-Student Dialogue

Good Talk: Raising Smart Learners Through Rich Conversations

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/09/30/good-talk-raising-smart-learners-through-rich-conversations/

Student-Student Dialogue

https://www.middleweb.com/28404/scaffolding-student-skills-for-productive-classroom-discussions/

https://cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/

What’s Next?

Are there general guidelines for conversation?  Do they apply to all partnerships?  To all situations? Grice’s Maxims offer a starting place ( https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html ) but are they enough?

 

 

 

An Approach to Being “Open to Learning”…for Educational Leaders

Leading Students to Success in School

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Open-to-learning_Conversations_Background_Paper_In%20(1).pdf

A few short excerpts that I hope will gain your interest and willingness to read and consider the whole 12 page document!  You may find it helpful to start with this 5 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

 

“The model of communication that informs this module is that of “Open-to-learning” conversations. At the heart of the model is the value of openness to learning – learning about the quality of the thinking and information that we use when making judgments about what is happening, why and what to do about it. An open-to-learning conversation, therefore, is one in which this value is evident in how people think and talk…. …Leaders may want to address what they see as a performance issue yet believe they can not do so without running an unacceptable risk of increased stress and conflict. In other words, they feel that they can not address the performance issues and maintain relationships with the staff member…”

“… The dilemma between concern for the person and for the task is irresolvable in both these examples,           doc4-cooperation                    because the leader leaves no room for a shared or co-constructed evaluation of the reading programme.

 

In the soft sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by failure to disclose her evaluation of the reading programme. In the hard sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by assuming the truth of her views. Neither strategy will produce the type of conversation that is necessary to reach a principled agreement about the quality of the programme and about whether change is needed….”

“When leaders seek to impose their views rather than invite debate and co-construction,

they face the dilemma of how to do so without creating negative emotional reactions. The key to resolving this dilemma is not, as we have seen, to hide one’s own views in the hope that the other party will express what the leader is reluctant to disclose….”

“Guiding Values Key Strategies

  1. Increase the Validity of Information • Information includes thoughts, opinions, reasoning, inferences and feelings
  • Disclose the reasoning that leads to your views
  • Provide examples and illustrations of your views • Treat own views as hypotheses rather than taken for granted truths
  • Seek feedback and disconfirmation
  1. Increase Respect • Treat others as well intentioned, as interested in learning and as capable of contributing to your own….
  2. Increase Commitment • Foster ownership of decisions through transparent and shared processes,,,,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words….the smallest unit of communication.

One of my favorite resources on Literacy is The TextProject.  Here is a recent post on word/vocabulary learning.  Putting words in context build background knowledge and gives kids something to talk about.

The Text Project and Resources on Words (Vocabulary Learning)

http://www.textproject.org/classroom-materials/students/stories-of-words/

We are pleased to offer you our newest product, Stories of Words.

Stories of Words aims to develop students’ interest in interesting words (e.g., snickerdoodles, terrapin, scuba). The texts in Stories of Words use the TExT model—the same model that underlies all TextProject products (e.g., FYI for Kids) and commercial products (e.g., QuickReads). That means that reading the texts also increases students’ exposure to the core vocabulary. Each book of the 12-volume series explores the vocabulary of a different topic such as food, movies, and acronyms.

Each topic falls into one of four methods of how words have been added to the English Language.

  1. Languages from other parts of the world.
  2. Themes that play a big part of our lives.
  3. Words that we’ve manipulated or reused to suit different needs.
  4. New words to describe new inventions or technological advances.

 

Here is one example from the Word “Flight.”

http://www.textproject.org/assets/products/stories-of-words/Stories-of-Words-2016-Flight.pdf

Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in School

Up to this time, this blog has focused on language development and use by children.  The idea was to focus on the ways in which children do and can develop the language skills that help them to be successful learners.  There is a wealth of information “out there” as well an on this blog about ways to do this.

It is time for a new focus: the communication of adults that impacts children’s success in school and beyond.  Teachers and parents talk about children and their success or lack of success in school, administrators and teachers talk about children, special educators and teachers talk about children.  Support staff members and “outside” experts “communicate” about children and their success or lack of success in school.  What do we know about how these “stakeholders” (is that the correct term?) talk to each/one another about children’s success in school?  How much of their conversations address the reasons for children’s success or lack of success and what each adult does/can do to ensure that success.

I am going to start with a very brief video (4+ minutes) featuring an expert on adult communication about children’s success in school.  I “found” this video when I googled the topic “open to learning.”  Here is my starting point: exploring what this well respected expert has to say.  More to follow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_l5-HKIR1s

Here is a follow-up video with more detail about “Open to learning communication.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

The Power of Words – Building Vocabulary Age 3 to Grade 3

Deep Listening. Especially Important for Learning

Deep Listening

Posted to Dialogue on Oct 20 16

Bookmark

http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/deep-listening-activities-academic-discussions

Amy Heusterberg-Richards , ELA Teacher – High School

Posted 10/01/2016 9:01PM | Last Commented 10/07/2016 8:41PM

Deep Listening Activities for Academic Discussions

A short excerpt:

“Deep listening is a technique beautifully rooted in American traditions like the Quaker faith and various Native tribes. At its core, deep listening entails listening over hearing and connecting over responding. In relationships, deep listening means acknowledging others’ emotions so they feel heard. In careers, deep listening means developing productive, honest communication by listening to understand, not merely to reply. In my classroom, deep listening can mean students better know each other’s ideas and therefore better know our studies.  It can mean a more inclusive atmosphere where all voices feel respected and where moments of silence are welcome….”

 

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