Wednesday, August 03, 2016

2016 MTA Summer Conference Introduces Promising Practice for Innovation and Change

The workshop description from the MTA Summer Conference bulletin.
This blog post gives you a good snapshot of the topic. 
Way back I read Intentional Interruption, a book that essentially pointed to the need for greater analysis in schools in order to create the stage for better teaching and learning. After that I participated in The Deeper Learning MOOC which pushed my desire to deepen the work we do with students to make the learning more memorable, valuable, and enjoyable. In addition, I found that after significant professional share via social media, edcamps, and conferences, I wanted more, and my analysis of what I desired, in part, pointed out that I wanted systematic processes that fostered the kind of deep collaboration and collective effort that inspires, motivates, and develops the best of who we are and what we can do on our own and together to teach well. 

This analysis led me to a rich learning experience this week, "The Art of Hosting: Conversations that Matter" by Rich Wilson, Mike Ritzius, Dan Callahan, and Charmaine Champagne The presenters led about twenty participants with new information and strategies to speak with intention, listen with attention, and attend to the welfare of the group. We looked at a model that demonstrated the intersections between and amongst control, order, chaos, and chamos (destructive chaos), and then discussed what effects those intersections create. It was fascinating to recognize how we naturally tend to move towards a need for order and control even though innovation and leadership lie at the center of chaos and order. Just recognizing this reality supports our understanding that risk, making mistakes, and the messiness of new learning is integral to shifting our mindsets and moving towards positive development.

Image Link: Learn about the Ladder of Inference
We also discussed hosting conversations with ourselves and others, and how careful attention to those conversations reveal world view, better understanding, and lead us to a community of individual learners and eventually to a community that learns. Storytelling and reflective listening found us engaging in the practice of conversation with a focus on one's ownership of his/her story and the values, feelings, and facts that story reveals. The Ladder of Inference helped us to see how quickly we jump to conclusions and make decisions without giving these events the needed time or thoughtful analyses that can truly promote positive decision making, change, and growth.

Practicing Open Space share and learning models furthered our understanding of how new models of working together, conversing, and sharing ideas can truly elevate what's possible. Similar to the edcamp model, we embarked on open space conversation and share which led to terrific exchange, new ideas, and increased learning.

Throughout our first meeting, the realization that this kind of paradigm shift, new learning, and reworking of our long held tendencies will take time to embed into our teaching/learning communities. However, the time will be well worth it since the exercises also demonstrated that these models are worth our intent since they provide a path to deepen and better what we can do together. Mike, Dan, Rich, and Charmaine have been sharing this information successfully with educators, representatives, leaders, and coaches as part of their Teachers' Union Leadership work in New Jersey and Massachusetts. An important part of this learning includes observation, modeling, and practice.

This is a professional area I want to pay attention to in the days ahead as I really believe it holds merit for the good work possible as we aim to elevate what we can do with and for students. Have you engaged in this kind of work? If so, what have been the benefits, and how did your accelerate your ability to grasp and embed these mental models into your mind and work? Today I'll attend day two of the workshop. I'm sure that I'll have more to share in the days in the come.