Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey

Interdependence

Interdependence
As you consider interdependence, notice key features of this state of mind. What words come to mind? Some might be reciprocity, mutuality, collaboration, shared values, common goals, interaction, etc. As you consider strategies for this state of mind, one is to invite collaboration. Some examples of this are:

• How might others support you in this work?
• What are some common goals you share?
• When you work best together, what is happening?

Questions from the Q Storming:

 What might our legacy be to accomplish this goal?
 What might be some collaborative needs in order to accomplish this goal?
 How might we best handle conflict during this process?
 What collective boundaries will support us in reaching our goal?
 What are the gifts we have to share with the world?

This week, look for opportunities to enhance collaboration. Be attentive to things that might be blocking collaboration. As a mediator of thinking, consider ways your work might invite collaboration.

Consciousness

Continuing this week is an exploration of powerful question strategies. The coach or the engaged participant begins by considering what State of Mind or Energy Source might be productive to mediate. If consciousness is chosen, a simple and reasonable place to start is to Invite Metacognition. This supports the coachee or the group by causing a review of internal thought processes. It enhances awareness and gives a mental picture of the mind’s inner workings, informing action. Some examples of this strategy are:

• How did you decide to…?
• What do you know about yourself in situations like this?
• How do your past experiences influence your thinking in this time?

Questions from the Q Storming

 What fears might (I) (we) need to set aside?
 What story do (we) (I) want to tell?
 Am I willing to do the work on myself to increase my own capacity to be in a thoughtful world?
 What would our identity need to be to accomplish this goal?

Use this week as an opportunity to explore your own consciousness regarding the coaching decisions you are making or the meetings in which you are a participant. Take a few minutes to reflect on your decisions related to support functions, questions, States of Mind, Energy Sources, etc. Also be deliberate in asking questions that invite metacognition both for individuals and groups. Notice the effect of your questions.

February 6, 2017

The 2013 Sustaining the Journey was about Cognitive Shift and the States of Mind/Energy Sources. We have revisited it here, but with some additional thoughts and ideas. This week in Denver at the 5th Annual Thinking Collaborative Symposium, Dr. Marilee Adams delivered a keynote entitled “With Our Questions We Make The World,” based upon her book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. Questions that have positive presuppositions in them are framed as Learner Questions while those that are negatively skewed are called Judger Questions. For example, a Judger Question might be, “Why am I such a failure?” A Learner Question would be “What can I learn?” Participants experimented with asking and responding to each type of question. A common theme was how the judger questions shut down thinking and caused other strong physiological responses.

Questions that are asked in Thinking Collaborative work have elements of invitation. They have positive presuppositions, tentative language, and plural forms. They are asked with approachability and they are non dichotomous or open ended to spur thinking.

The Five States of Mind (Cognitive Coachingsm) or Energy Sources (Adaptive Schools) are: Flexibility, Consciousness, Interdependence, Craftsmanship, and Efficacy.

Cognitive shift occurs when a person has a breakthrough in his/her thinking; it is a moment of incredible insight. It is the goal of the coach to invite cognitive shift. Artfully asked questions around the Energy Sources can also cause a group to shift in thinking and can be used to intervene when conflict occurs.

During the keynote participants engaged in an activity known as Q Storming, or a brainstorming of questions. Dr. Adams defined Q Storming this way: “Q-Storming is a collaborative, creative thinking, and problem-solving method/process that catalyzes the discovery of new questions, directions, and possibilities. It can be the difference that makes the difference, often creating breakthroughs in areas such as strategic planning, problem-solving, and innovation.”

Some of those questions have been added to each week’s conversation around questions. Powerful questions were constructed around values, beliefs, identity, and mental models that people hold. They reinforce the States Of Mind and the Energy Sources.

Flexibility

This week we consider the State of Mind or Energy Source of flexibility. One critical strategy is inviting a shift in perceptual position. This is a powerful strategy because it causes a person to move from his/her natural egocentricity to a new view of allocentricity (other centered). It is a powerful invitation to view the world differently. Some examples of how this strategy might sound are:

• What might be some other viewpoints on this issue?
• What were some of your perspectives on this when you were a classroom teacher?
• As you consider those you work with, what needs might be most prevalent for them?

Questions from the Q Storming

 What systems thinking might support our influence?
 What perspectives have I not considered yet?
 What people/resources might open my eyes to new perspectives?

This week, look for opportunities to use this strategy to invite flexibility in others. Also consider how it might serve you to ask these questions of yourself.

Effective Relationship and Effective Accomplishment as a Future Curriculum

Effective relationships are paramount to success in the workplace and in one’s personal life. However, schools do little systematically to help students know how to build and maintain effective relationships. Here are the topics Prensky (see January 9 Sustaining the Journey) suggests be included in a relationship curriculum.

Communication and Collaboration
One-to-one
In teams
In a family
In a community
At work
Online
Relationship-building
Empathy
Ethics
Politics
Citizenship
Negotiation
Conflict Resolution

The fourth pillar of his proposed curriculum is Effective Accomplishment. This is directly connected to effective relationships, but it adds value by having students work on real problems that they can solve collectively based on the environment they live in. Even young children seek meaningful work where their efficacy is built because they see they can make a difference and have control of their environments. Project-based learning is one way to move toward this kind of curriculum. Kids could leave school, Prensky offers, with not just a transcript of grades, but with a resume of accomplishments.

As you reflect on your own education, how did it support you in having effective relationships and feeling a sense of accomplishment? How do your schools do that today? What might we rethink our work so that students would graduate with skill and knowledge of relationship building? What are some ways we could truly give kids the opportunities to have meaningful accomplishments? What is considering this kind of curriculum worth to you?

Source: Prensky, Marc. “The world needs a new curriculum.” Educational Technology. May-June 2014. http://marcprensky.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Prensky-5-The-World_Needs_a_New_Curriculum.pdf

Effective Action as a Future Curriculum

A second course curriculum proposed by Prensky (see January 9 Sustaining the Journey) is Effective Action. It includes the following possible areas of exploration.

Habits of Highly Effective People
Mindset
Resilience
Grit
Entrepreneurship
Innovation
Improvisation
Breaking Barriers
Project Management

Prensky says we expect kids to be able to act in these ways, but we rarely teach them or hold them accountable for these actions. Curriculum for teaching these already exist, but are used only sparsely in schools. He proposes that children be immersed in them with an expectation they practice them every day.

How might these become outcomes of our teaching rather than just things we hope for in our children? As the old song says, “You have to be carefully taught.” Where are these being taught in your schools? What might you consider letting go of to emphasize these actions instead?

Source: Prensky, Marc. “The world needs a new curriculum.” Educational Technology. May-June 2014. http://marcprensky.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Prensky-5-The-World_Needs_a_New_Curriculum.pdf

Effective Thinking as a Future Curriculum

The first of four K-13 courses proposed by Prensky (see January 9 Sustaining the Journey) is Effective Thinking. He proposes the following to be the content that would be systemically taught.

Critical Thinking
Mathematical Thinking
Scientific Thinking
Creative Thinking
Problem-Solving
Inquiry Skills
Argument Skills
Design Thinking
Judgment
Aesthetics
Habits of Mind
Self-knowledge of One’s Own Passions and Strengths

His thesis is that these are only taught sporadically in some schools and this would become more systematic and systemic. Graduates would leave schools with consciousness, craftsmanship and efficacy as thinkers. Content would be a means to teach thinking rather than an end in and of itself. He proposes there would be some general skills for all and some individual differentiation based on student needs and interests.

Imagine how your own education might have been different if this was the curriculum. We believe the work of Habits of Mind (http://habitsofmind.org) is far ahead of its time in promoting this work. Schools adopting the work of Costa and Kallick have demonstrated dramatic results.

So apply your own critical thinking skills to this proposal. What are its merits? What might be some deficits? How might kids become different and/or more successful if they spent 13 years learning to think? Imagine…

Source: Prensky, Marc. “The world needs a new curriculum.” Educational Technology. May-June 2014. http://marcprensky.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Prensky-5-The-World_Needs_a_New_Curriculum.pdf

An Adaptive Curriculum

Marc Prensky provides a provocative challenge to schools to rethink our traditional mental models of curriculum which are structured around math, language arts, science, and social studies. His thinking addresses the need to be adaptive for a changing environment as well as examining students as whole persons who are thinking beings. He states,

The far more fundamental reform needed to make education effective for the kids of tomorrow is not HOW we teach what we currently do, but, rather, to changing WHAT we teach –to reforming the world’s core curriculum. Because the world’s context has changed, for our kids to thrive in the future our goals for education must change with it. We can neither adapt to the new context, nor reach our goals, with the curriculum we now have. The entire world today is in need–desperate need–of a wholly new education “core” and set of “basics.”

Prensky makes a strong case for how we are tinkering with the system rather than truly reshaping it for a new future with new learners. He proposes an alternative which we will examine during January. While we are not advocating a position, we are offering food for thought.

The new organization Prensky offers would be to organize kindergarten through secondary curriculum around four key subjects:

Effective Thinking
Effective Action
Effective Relationships
Effective Accomplishment

He suggests these are the skills that all people need in order to be productive and successful in spite of their location, work, or interests. These would be the courses for 13 years as Pensky proposes. Some of the old math, language arts, science and social studies would still be taught as part of these courses, but not all of what we currently do.

What is your first reaction to Prensky’s proposal? How does it fit for the students you serve and the world in which they live? What makes you uncomfortable? What makes sense to you at a gut level?

Source: Prensky, Marc. “The world needs a new curriculum.” Educational Technology. May-June 2014. http://marcprensky.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Prensky-5-The-World_Needs_a_New_Curriculum.pdf

Responding Effectively to V.U.C.A – “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”

Understanding V.U.C.A. (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) is part of living in an efficacious space in challenging times. A second consideration is how to be empowered in responding to the conditions which seem uncontrollable.

Lemoine and Bennett offer specific suggestions for being strategic with each condition.

Volatility requires investing in preparedness. For educators, this means providing professional development and coaching in order to respond to changing conditions.

Uncertainty means attending to information development. Personnel should be charged with seeking information and effectively sharing it and advocating for possible structural changes to respond to the uncertainty. This might mean creating a new class, reassigning staff, or revising current practices based on the most current information.

Complexity means resourcing the system for maximum flexibility. Alternative ways of working must be considered. Operating assumptions must be challenged. The three focusing questions of Adaptive Schools are critical: Who are we? Why are we doing this?
Why are we doing this, this way and whose needs are being served?

Ambiguity can only be powerfully addressed through experimentation. When variables are unknown, systems look at variables they have control of and hypothesize how to best employ their resources. Data is collected on experiments and adjustments are made in response to findings.

As you move toward some time away from work, reflect on how you are personally dealing with V.U.C.A. How might you respond more effectively in the New Year? What might be some questions you might ask to assist others with these challenges?

Source: Bennett, N. & Lemoine, G. J. “What VUCA really means for you,” Harvard Business Review. January-February, 2014.

What is V.U.C.A.?

V.U.C.A. is a term being used in the business world which is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. We think it is useful to those implementing Adaptive Schools as it describes the world of schools, as well.

Volatility refers to the unexpected or unstable challenges where knowledge is often unavailable. This can come in the form of new legislation, political upheaval resulting in new policies at a board of education level, or even just constant turnover of staff.

Uncertainty is often caused by external events beyond our control, even though we may understand the cause and effects. Examples might be a new superintendent, changes in demographics, or new curriculum.

Complexity is well known in the Adaptive Schools work. It describes an interconnected system with multiple variables all interacting in unpredictable ways. The ELL students are served by multiple staff members is one example. Another is the nature of a PLC working as individuals and as a team.

Ambiguity is the state of having “unknown unknowns.” Causal relationships are invisible and it is almost impossible to predict the future. The US presidential election has left states and school districts in a state of ambiguity. Court cases impacting schools also have this effect.

Which of the four elements of V.U.C.A. are most prevalent in your system? How do energy sources contribute to effectively intervening to create forward momentum? Which element is most impacting you personally? How are States of Mind resources for you remaining efficacious in challenging times?

Source: Bennett, N. & Lemoine, G. J. “What VUCA really means for you,” Harvard Business Review. January-February, 2014.

Cognitive CoachingSM Research: Outcome #7

Research on Cognitive CoachingSM has been conducted since 1988. Training Associate Jenny Edwards, PhD, has synthesized over 80 studies and has offered 10 outcomes as a result of the research. This annotated bibliography can be downloaded at http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/cognitive-coachingsm-synthesis-research/. During the month of November, we will look at studies behind several of the 10 outcomes.

Outcome #7 – Cognitive CoachingSM benefited teachers and principals professionally.
Chang, Lee, and Wang (2014) found that the teachers who used Cognitive CoachingSM improved significantly more than the comparison group in their teaching effectiveness in the areas of communicating, grasping teaching strategies, and applying teaching strategies dynamically.
Donahue-Barrett (2014) investigated the effects of Cognitive CoachingSM with six elementary teachers in a writing workshop. She found that with 4-6 cycles of coaching, the teachers increased in their knowledge of writing instruction, as well as in their instructional practices. She also found that the planning conferences, demonstrating lessons, and co-teaching lessons were most effective in helping to increase the teachers’ knowledge and instructional practices. The teachers said that they would have preferred to have had more time with their coach.

Cognitive CoachingSM Research: Outcomes #3 and #6

Research on Cognitive CoachingSM has been conducted since 1988. Training Associate Jenny Edwards, PhD, has synthesized over 80 studies and has offered 10 outcomes as a result of the research. This annotated bibliography can be downloaded at http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/cognitive-coachingsm-synthesis-research/. During the month of November, we will look at studies behind several of the 10 outcomes.

Outcome #3 – Cognitive CoachingSM impacted teacher thinking, causing teachers and administrators to be more reflective and to think in more complex ways.
Bjerken (2013) studied teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in a school district to determine their thoughts about how receiving Cognitive CoachingSM for four years had impacted their teaching. They had participated in three coaching cycles per year for four years with a certified Cognitive Coach. They indicated that they had increased in reflection and had decreased in their sense of isolation. Rather than focusing on the faults in their past lessons, they were able to focus on the positive aspects of lessons they had taught. They were able to apply their new learnings in future lessons and professional endeavors. In addition, participants focused more on the details of the lessons when they were being observed and coached than when they were not being coached. Teachers also focused more on planning for specific groups of students, as well as individuals. They became aware of how students were engaged while they were teaching, how they were interacting with their students, and how students were learning. They expressed the desire for more specific feedback and ideas for improving their lessons. Some participants indicated that they were more able to identify when students were achieving and were better able to measure student achievement
Outcome #6 – Teachers collaborated more.
In Eger’s (2006) study, which was done at the secondary level, “there was a strong conviction that Cognitive CoachingSM was responsible for developing deeper and stronger relationships with their peers, as well as with their students” (p. 57). Teachers said that Cognitive CoachingSM created more “collaboration, more conversations, and improved relationships more so now than in the past” (p. 58). They reported that they were able to listen more effectively, “become more patient with their colleagues and students” (p. 60), and improve their relationships with others. In addition, Cognitive CoachingSM “increased teachers’ appreciation and awareness of what other teachers did” (p. 60). They enjoyed having coaching partners who were in different departments. Teachers who had taken training in Cognitive CoachingSM reported that the training reduced their sense of isolation and helped them grow in trust (Dougherty, 2000). They also felt more of a sense of collegiality with other teachers in their school.

Cognitive CoachingSM Research: Outcome #3

Research on Cognitive CoachingSM has been conducted since 1988. Training Associate Jenny Edwards, PhD, has synthesized over 80 studies and has offered 10 outcomes as a result of the research. This annotated bibliography can be downloaded at http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/cognitive-coachingsm-synthesis-research/. During the month of November, we will look at studies behind several of the 10 outcomes.

Outcome #3 – Cognitive CoachingSM impacted teacher thinking, causing teachers and administrators to be more reflective and to think in more complex ways.
In a study by Gonzalez Del Castillo (2015), three regular education elementary teachers who were teaching children who were linguistically diverse received Cognitive Coaching from the researcher. “Participants…pointed out the increase in their use of reflective practice” (p. 114). They also felt “empowered to use skills and practices they were familiar with, analyze them, modify them, and apply them in a new way as a result of their participation in the Cognitive CoachingSM cycles” (p. 115). They felt the support of others as they were using the new strategies for working with their students, and they valued having the opportunity to engage in dialogue with their coach. In addition, the participants indicated that having the opportunity to discuss their planned activities prior to the actual lesson delivery was helpful, because it allowed them to create a mental picture of their lesson, see what needed to be adjusted, and what additional planning was necessary. (p. 116).
Jaede, Brosnan, Leigh, and Stroot (2014) examined the influence of Cognitive CoachingSM on 28 middle school and high school mentor teachers in an urban setting. They found that the mentor teachers increased their ability to reflect on their practice, and they were able to assist their interns in reflecting on their practice. Their use of Cognitive CoachingSM enabled them to become better mentors by focusing on the thinking and learning of their interns. They were able to assist their interns in becoming more autonomous, “help the interns develop their own perspective about teaching, and create their own identity as a teacher in an urban context” (p. 22).