Sunday, April 7, 2019

Using my Ears Twice as Much as my Mouth

On reflecting on my own listening skills and completing this Interactive Listening Self-assessment Tool, it is fair to say I have a few things to work on in the area of listening.

At the moment I would classify myself as a poor listener, as you can see from the list below I have highlighted some actions I am guilty of during conversations.

The poor listener will often;
  • Look away 
  • Interrupt
  • Finishes other's sentences
  • Offer solutions without asking
  • Look bored or fidget
  • Looks at their watch
  • Ask too many questions
  • Do most of the talking
  • Give their opinion without asking
A focus for me will be to turn off my inner dialogue, so I am focussed on the speaker. By not having this dialogue running should also reduce the desire for me to interrupt or finish sentences, This will occur as I will not be biasing the conversation with my own thoughts.  I think increasing the use of questioning will stop me offering solutions or opinions. These questions need to be effective and not too numerous, and this will evolve as I work my way through this module especially looking at Joan Dalton's work again. I already have some critical questions from my previous blog post to use in upcoming work.

There are three different layers of listening:
  • surface listening
  • directed listening
  • listening for learning. 

The key skills of listening for learning are:
Switching off your own inner dialogue
Sending out the right signals through non-verbal signals
Suspending your own judgment
Showing empathy

A key for me to work towards listening for learning is working on summarising and paraphrasing, this is a focus from the last blog post as well.

How to Listen: Autobiographical Listening

Autobiographical Listening is where you ask a question to start a conversation that is in an area where you want to share something of your own. I am guilty of this at times and think I do it to build relationships with others by sharing my personal experiences to create connections with them. This enables me to then build trust and supports my work with them professionally.

Listening to the video and reflecting on its content I can see how this really shuts quiet people down and possibly creates a barrier to forming relationships and engagement in the work I do with teachers.

The suggestion form the video was to attempt to enter the other person's space and explore with their experiences with them. 

For example, when someone responds to the question of “how are you?” with "I am busy, rushed off my feet.", instead of saying "me too" and start telling them all about it, try asking a question, “What's keeping you busy?” and enter their world.

Asking an appropriate question opens up the possibility for discussion, and then listening creates the opportunity for dialogue and builds better relationships.

The importance of Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbals communicate 90% of understanding of the message
Facial Expression
Eye contact
Physical appearance
Spatial Behaviour
Paralinguistics - Pitch and tone
Kinesics - posture and gestures

Reflecting on non-verbal communication, I think I read these well in other people, however possibly due to my poor listening skills I get mixed messages from the verbal message and the non-verbal cues not always matching up. Focussing on my listening should really support my practice. I will also take more note of non-verbal cues of others and try subtly reflecting these gestures.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Building Trust - Relationships Take Time

Relationships are so critical and take time. Reflecting back on term 1, this has been something that I have not done well with all the teachers I work with. I have been swamped in the first half of the term prioritising potentially the wrong things. Now towards the end of term one, this has meant I am not really where I want to be with my teachers.

Coaching and Mentoring is a focus for my inquiry, and I know that developing this is really going to improve my facilitation.

Building Trust in Mentoring Relationships from Mentor Modules on Vimeo.

In the first video, the mentor did not listen to the mentee at all and used the negative language of but, I have always been told as soon as you use "but" in a sentence, everything said beforehand is BS.

Suggestions for teaching practice that worked for the mentor may not necessarily work for the mentee. There was no real time or effort to get to know her mentee and work out what would work for her. The mentor did not read the body language of the mentee during the hui and she did not recognise she was uncomfortable. The mentor was friendly; however, she did not give choice or options or ask what the teacher wanted. The mentor was quite positive yet never built relationships at any stage.

The mentor modelled lessons but gave no choice, so the mentee was not engaged and was doing planning not focussed. The mentor got involved in the teaching and said how much she enjoyed taking the lesson, therefore, making the mentor feel even more like she was not doing a good job. The mentor offered help that she thought she needed and did not listen to her mentee or ask what advice she felt was needed.

In the end, the mentor understood the mentees position when she forcibly stated it, and then the mentor asked to start over and  "you tell me".

I think I do this in class at times as I feel a bit time poor especially in classes where I need to leave quickly to get to another room or school. In some hubs, the number of students makes building relationships and trust or even discuss planning or direction during the session almost impossible.

How do I overcome this? Discuss with leaders and teachers to reduce the number of students I work within a session. In term two I will aim to meet with all the teachers in the first 2-3 weeks to reflect on term 1 and also to continue to build the relationships. This week I will email all teachers and set up hui either before or after school.

Getting to Know You from Mentor Modules on Vimeo.

In the second video, the mentor takes a much different strategy by taking a back seat with her own sharing about herself and really focussing on listening and asking questions to gather more information such as "how so?", "what did you learn specifically?". The mentor also used paraphrasing, which enabled her to ensure she had the right understanding of what was being said and had not assumed based on her bias.

The mentor told a wee bit about herself but not in depth, and was more concerned about getting the mentee to talk about himself. She was using active listening and came across as really genuine in her desire to know about her mentee. She asked guided questions starting with a non-threatening one, "What are your strengths?". She asked about any concerns, however, did not jump into solutions and instead wanted to know if the mentee had any ideas to address his concerns? The mentor responded with a statement of  I understand and an invitation of "how can I help you?".

The mentor only offered suggestions when asked and even let the mentee decide how often do they meet and then negotiated to an acceptable outcome for both parties.

The mentor only talked about her own experience right at the end as a way of reassuring the mentee she understood where he was coming from. She had empathy for him as she had experienced a similar situation.

In my hui with teachers, I will look at utilising the same model and questions the mentor used in her hui.

First I am going to talk to the teachers about how I am doing a coaching and mentoring course and I am still learning how to be an active listener and how to use the coaching and mentoring model.

I will try paraphrasing and use the guiding questions, keeping it simple.  In Manaiakalani Outreach we use a reflection of What's working, What's not working and What do I need help with? I will discuss this as part of the hui.

Questions to start with
  • Tell me about your experience teaching with devices
  • Use these guiding questions: "how so?", "what did you learn specifically?"
  • What are your strengths? What is working well with Outreach support?
  • What are your concerns? Do you have any ideas to address your concerns? What are the solutions? What do you need and what can I do to help?
  • What's not working with Outreach?
  • How can I help you?

Sunday, March 31, 2019

How to Create Half an Ironman!

Create is often seen as a product that you make, for example, art and craftwork, music, sculpture, photography, bridge building, boat making, weaving, screen printing to name but a few.

However, create can also be a do. I want to unpack this in terms of my training for the Challenge Wanaka Half Iron Man.

I already knew a fair bit about running and cycling, as I have done many half marathons and 100-kilometre road cycle races, a couple of marathons, some short duathlons, one short triathlon and one 500 metre ocean swim. However, my knowledge of endurance multisport events was limited.
So I was able to access my knowledge. However, there came the point where I needed to obtain intelligence from others through a variety of sources, modes and text types.

So to access my new knowledge I have a coach, I’m using Facebook to access swimming tutorials, and I am connected through communities like Strava, Garmin and my Coached coaching app to keep my motivation up. I also belong to the Ellesmere Road Runners and Christchurch Marathon Clinic running club to stay motivated, get more knowledge, hill work and variety in my training. I also belong to the Leeston Road Cycling Club for the same reasons.

All the components I have mentioned above enable me to access and engage with a variety and multitude of knowledge through face to face discussions, text, video, audio, and self-reflection. They allow me to access recognised effective practice from expert practitioners ensuring my training was best practise and minimised the risk of an injury.

Coaching became very important providing me with access to knowledge in the Learn phase and giving me a focus to analyse the Create phase.  Having a coach became a big part of my training. The coach helped build a training programme, examining my outputs and consistency and giving me access to a library of resources to support my plan.

My most significant change to mindset and understanding as up until now I would have possibly put creating a training plan in as a Create, however, now I see a training programme fitting more into the Learn aspect of learning.

The Create is when I got to combine my existing knowledge with other original ideas in new and imaginative ways to create a new outcome. These Creates involved each training swim, cycle and run as this was where deep learning occurs and gives you more opportunities for self-reflection and understanding.

These Creates included many moments of looking very silly completing swimming, cycling and running drills to build up my strength and efficiency to improve my speed and endurance, running in the public parks with high knees or completing squats and lunges on the side of the road.

The most significant learning, however, came when I competed in races, these included sprint triathlons, Olympic triathlons, ocean swims and half marathons. These are the most critical Creates, as events stop you from lying to yourself or making excuses for your performance which is easy to do in training. The pressure of a race is hard to replicate in practice. I remember my first competitive ocean swim being one of the worst events I had ever done, and it was not until I was debriefing with a good friend that I realised I had not been breathing out underwater, meaning I could not take a full breath when swimming.

The competitive events also gave me an opportunity to put into to action my learnings about nutrition, pacing, cadence, transitioning, hydration and endurance. It also surrounds you with a multitude of like-minded people of all ranges that you can glean nuggets of gold from watching, listening or talking too.

The digital technology I utilised during my training really amplified my ability to Share by connecting with others, it empowered me to be able to Share easily and look at my own and others performances, it gave myself, my connections and my coaches ubiquitous access to my data and visibility of all aspects of my training and events.

Without the use of my Garmin GPS watch and Garmin cycle computer, Coached app, Strava app, Garmin Connect App my experience and learning would not have been as turbocharged.  This turbocharging enabled me to rewind and review sessions; it allowed for me to collaborate with others quickly and efficiently online in real time, access and share knowledge with other athletes and my coaches and create connections online which then became face to face when at events. The ability to connect online with other athletes was quite comforting especially when I was competing at a new race and did not know anyone, having a connection with someone online and then meeting face to face at the event helped calm the nerves.

A safety aspect that the technology-enabled was the incident reporting on my cycle computer, as much training involves 3-hour rides I was often a long way from home on quiet country roads. My cycle computer can recognise if I have a crash and will text specific contacts with my GPS location, this is a sharing component that was unheard of only a few years ago at such a cheap cost.

I did much sharing with my coaches and colleagues through the Coached app however did not share a lot through social media such as Facebook. I felt my friends on this would find the sharing of nine specific training sessions a week as well as a multitude of events a bit much and possibly defriend me. It is essential when sharing that you connect with the right audience to get the most of the connections.

Overall my experience of Challenge Wanaka was really excellent and looking back and reflecting was amplified by the new learning, connections and access to technology. The only thing is now I want to take this new learning and have another crack in 2020. Bring it on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mentoring and Coaching - Building foundations - Reflection

In your context, what difference could effective mentoring have on teacher retention?

Looking at the teachers I work with, the 1:1 support offered each week has the potential to decrease the leaving rate as the teachers are supported in class each week. This support helps ensure the teachers in their first year of a 1:1 digital level have support in their learning and creation of structures and systems to prepare them for effective use and the ability to maximise the affordances of digital technology.
Part of my role is also to transition these teachers into their second year when my support ends to ensure they still feel connected or supported at an appropriate level.

In your context, what difference could effective mentoring/ coaching have for priority learners?

The impact on priority learners is large with engagement in their learning increasing due to the access of technology and the authenticity through Learn Create Share and Blogging.  For me, it is to move into being a high effect facilitator to get a more significant shift of teachers in the year I am with them. It is also to ensure that ownership remains always with the principals, SLT and teachers and not with me which limits buy-in and shift. There is a fine line between supporting to stop overloading and having it being done to them.

What difference could effective mentoring / coaching have in your context for building teacher agency and leadership capacity?

The teacher's capabilities in a digital world increase, giving them the skills and knowledge to apply their pedagogical knowledge to students using the affordances of technology to increase student achievement, well being and engagement. In the second year, opportunities could arise to take a leadership role in the school around Manaiakalani Outreach and Learn Create Share. The new confidence and leadership opportunities also can lead to more agency as they then become the drivers of Learn Create Share.

What does a coach/mentor ‘look’ like and what do they do? Is it the same across cultures?

The coach/mentor needs to be highly adaptive and able to change to meet the needs of the mentees. If they cannot then they need to recognise this and suggest alternatives. They need to be able to build relationships and make connections quickly with the mentee to enable relational trust which ties in nicely with Five Dysfunctions of Team learning I have done in the past.
My definition of Mentor and Coach (developing)
Mentor = Guide - Greater use of questioning and learning talk to get the mentee to set a goal and then work towards it? Educative mentoring represents a shift away from advice and guidance / pastoral care to the facilitation of “evidence-informed reflective learning conversations.”
Coach = Support - Goal is preset, and then the coach is there to support the mentee to get there?
Learning conversations are crucial for both.
Listening to Manu and Anaru's Podcast and thinking in my own context it does seem there are synergies between cultures with knowing your learner being at the centre. Maori may prefer a group mentoring model to a 1:1 model.

Where do you think your current mentoring / coaching relationship sits in relation to these definitions and the ‘Situational coach-mentoring continuum visual diagram’? How do the definitions/continuum approach shape your expectations of this relationship?

My role possibly has me sitting in the middle of performance and potential on the continuum as it is context driven around Cybersmart and Learn Create Share, is a medium-term and focuses on roles and competencies. Somehow I need to be able to move this into the Personal Space for leadership as they are long term and have a more complex and evolving landscape to the teachers. There needs to be a partnership where the leaders to take more ownership in the strategic direction of the school in relation to Outreach and the cluster and requires me to facilitate this rather than do it to them.

While you read through these principles consider why they might be significant for you in a mentoring / coaching relationship and how they might influence the way you work with your current mentee/coachee.

Adult problem solving
  • Watching and feeling
  • Watching and thinking
  • Doing and feeling
  • Doing and thinking

What other practical applications of these adult learning principles can you see?

What’s on top for the mentee? Need to know this first before we can move forward and ensure the discussion is actually supporting the mentee and relevant to them.
In our model of Learn Create Share the opportunities for Watching and feeling, Watching and thinking, Doing and feeling, Doing and thinking are amplified as the mentees go through the process of learning. By accessing some new knowledge/information and then either creating or watching someone else produce a learning object is really going to support their education. The sharing of the new knowledge also gives opportunities for Watching and feeling, Watching and thinking, Doing and feeling, Doing and thinking as they interact with the blog post and potentially comment.
I guess in a 1:1 session there is going to need to be times when I am modelling in order to give the mentee an opportunity for Watching and feeling or  Watching and thinking or giving the mentee opportunities to do the Doing and feeling, Doing and thinking and being able to talk through this if they so desire.
Staff meeting implications - Adult Education
  • let learners know why something is important to learn,
  • show learners how to direct themselves through information,
  • relate the topic to the learner's experiences,
  • help ensure that people are at the stage where they are ready and motivated to learn, and
  • help learners overcome inhibitions, behaviours and preconceived beliefs about learning.
This is an excellent framework to use when planning staff meetings and would complement the use of a site rather than a slideshow. I would need to know my learners well to relate the topic back to their experiences.
  • Following a formal process
  • Getting to know your coachee/ mentee
  • Setting aside a time for the session
  • Protecting the time from other responsibilities or keeping the different roles clearly separated
  • Taking the meeting off-site

When thinking about your current mentoring/coaching relationship, which approach do you think you presently take in your mentoring relationship? Why? What outcomes are you trying to achieve? When might you need to use a variety of approaches with the same mentee/coachee?

At the stage when working with teachers, the approach I take is Directive  - Control to Directive - Informational. This is due to teachers not feeling empowered to direct the learning and move into the collaborative space where I would much prefer to work. This is possibly due to many reasons
  • Lack of planning time with the teacher - need to book in time with each teacher at the end of the term to plan the following term
  • Lack of buy-in that they can drive the learning - make time to discuss this and use active listening. I may move to problem-solving before hearing all the message?
  • A structured context of cyber smart making them feel like they have no choice - I have tried giving options in the past to choose from still found little buy-in.
  • Poor communication of expectations and opportunities for engagement of my support - School leadership taking some role in here as well as my part especially at the start of the year.
  • Busy teachers overloaded - working Cybersmart into what they are already doing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Coaching and Mentoring to Develop Practice

Sometimes being a reflective practitioner really sucks, all these ideas formulating and getting chewed to bits inside my head. I have been thinking about my inquiry for 2018 and have been lucky enough to be mentored by Sarah Whiting as a Whānau lead. Going in for my first session in 2018 my head was definitely full of ideas and reflections that Sarah skillfully drew out into a concrete substance. This allowed me to then group the themes together which had led to the formulation of my inquiry and my new learning for 2018.

Busy - this is part of a new cluster and will slow down as we move into Year 2.
Relationships - This has been very good in some classes however I have possibly not invested enough time in some classes to build these. The lack of a day at the start of 2018 to set expectations etc for the year has contributed to this. I need to reflect on “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and remember relational trust is the first part to build.

  • Expectations of Learners - Sometimes the expectations on learners completing work is not very high. This has been noticed in other cluster schools as well and even measures have been put in place to support learners with learning how to finish task. How can I support teachers in setting expectations for their students?
  • Accountability - Who are the teachers I work with accountable to? Do the teachers understand the expectations of the programme and their leader's expectations?
  • Value Added - What is the value-add to the teachers from my work, I see the value with the students. How could I measure the value-add with staff?
  • Frustration - The risk of the above themes developing into frustration on my part and then this impacting on the relationships with staff and schools.

My inquiry is going to focus on the use of coaching and mentoring to facilitate better practice. I am interested to learn the skills and knowledge of coaching and mentoring and then see if this can be utilised in the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme implementation. I am intrigued to know how I could use coaching and mentoring in the programme.

Next step is to do some new learning around coaching and mentoring as part of a CORE Education Tātai Aho Rau Empower Course on Coaching and Mentoring.