Falconry: problem-finding, find the dissonance

Identifying problems as a way to move others takes two long-standing skills and turns them upside down. First, in the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second, in the past, the best salespeople were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions— uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems. (Pink, 132 p.)

What if we simply think about the changes in history? Do the learners in our care ever experience current history lessons and learning? What about math? Are we “stuck” in an AP Calculus track for “good” math students? Do we learn enough probability and statistics? What about combinatorics or fractals and recursion?

How are we curating information? Are we teaching how to curate information and uncover possibilities? Are we striving to make connections from our discipline to the work of others? Do we model learning, curation, and connecting ideas?

Real learning, whether in the classroom or the real world, occurs when an individual takes a personal stake in solving a problem that is meaningful to him or her. The person finds a visceral, tangible difference between the world as they expect or want it to be and the world as it is. They will wrestle and prod and provoke the problem, using all of their tools and resources, until they either resolve the conflict to a point of satisfaction or just give up. Dissonance immediately leads to questioning: we ask “why,” “why not,” and “what if” until answers of satisfactory magnitude are found that either eliminate the dissonance or decrease it to a level of acceptability. (Lichtman, 104-105 p.)

Why is it so uncomfortable to linger in and embrace the struggle? Do we see struggle to learn as failure?  Do we believe that if we don’t learn it the first time, we fail? What if we encouraged learners to discuss and reflect on the struggle?

First, resist the urge to react. Nine times out of ten, we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Reaction without analysis and understanding will almost always result in an inadequate solution. It may be easy, but it won’t be right. Remember where problems come from; dissonance. Find the dissonance. (Lichtman, 116 p.)

I argue with labeling events (or people) as failures.  What if, when you fail, you try again? Isn’t this event then just a stumble?    I assume, again, that I have attention blindness and need others to help me with perspective. I agree that, while difficult, we should ask more questions before problem solving.  I aspire to dwell in problem-find analysis and questioning long enough to uncover multiple possibilities and find unexpected problems.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

_________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted at Experiments in Learning by Doing]

Falconry: create dissonance, check “under the hood”

Good teachers ensure that their students learn the subject material to an acceptable or superior level.  Great teachers all do one thing well:  they create dissonance in the minds of their students and guide them in the resolution of that dissonance. (Lichtman, 105 p.)

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We as teachers must create opportunities for thinking.  However, even when opportunities for thinking are present, we must still recognize that thinking is largely an internal process, something that happens “under the hood” as it were.  (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 30 p.)

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Asking authentic questions – that is, questions to which the teacher does not already know the answer or to which there are not predetermined answers – is extremely powerful in creating a classroom culture that feels intellectually engaging.  Such questions allow students to see teachers as learners and foster a community of inquiry. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 31 p.)

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In all cases dissonance, the recognition that “I” have a problem, leads first to questioning and then to growth of knowledge or experience.  The individual is directly, in some cases, passionately involved, self-interested in the outcome, in finding answers and more questions and more answers until the dissonance is reduced to an acceptable level.  This is the true process of learning.  It can be tumultuous, exciting, uplifting, rocky, enlightening, or all of them at once.  (Lichtman, 105 p.)

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We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 p.)

I agree that great teachers create dissonance in the minds of learners and guide them to find paths to resolution.  I agree that this is really hard to do.  I argue with myself. I argue with myself a lot. It is okay for learners to struggle and wrestle with concepts, problems, and goals.  I assume the goal is to retain what is learned.  I assume we aspire to teach and learn rather than present and regurgitate.  I assume that sometimes learners will go home frustrated. I aspire to be strong enough to stand firm and guide learners through the struggle rather than give the solution or solve the problem for them.  I aspire to check “under the hood” for deep understanding.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Falconry: wise general listening to become a hero

 Sun Tzu says: Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy.
This means that many aspects of the solution you seek lie within the problem itself.  Come to the problem unburdened by preconceptions and use the information along the way to guide you. (Lichtman, 96 p.)

If we lead learning by following the learners’ questions, won’t we be coming to the problem relatively unburdened?  Through history and experience, I might assume that the learners in my care will struggle with the approaching concept.  What if I facilitate a question-generating session and see where the questions lead?

The provenance of authentic questions doesn’t rest solely with the teacher, however.  When students ask authentic questions, we know they are focused on the learning and not just completion of assignments.  Students’ authentic questions are a good measure of their intellectual engagement. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, p. 32)

What if we collect multiple questions – authentic questions – from our learners? Will the collection of questions lead to the same product or outcome with increased interest and engagement?

The act of prioritization – the ability to assign importance properly is an intellectual task involving a wide range of skills, including comparison, categorization, analysis, assessment, and synthesis. (Rothstein and Santana, 88 p.)

Are we able to teach more because we follow their thinking paths? In addition to teaching content, will we teach comparison, categorization, analysis, assessment, and synthesis?

Great teachers create opportunities for students to ask questions that excite them to self-discovery.  Great leaders, in business, politics, sports, or families, create opportunities for others to be self-successful.  Many of our heroes are heroes because they find a way for us to find something within ourselves – courage, kindness, leadership, charity, vision – that we might not have found without their help.  They prepare us to be prepared to take advantages of opportunities. (Lichtman, p. 33)

I aspire to find solutions that may be within the problem.  I argue that it takes collaboration, communication, and empathy to find the myriad of perspectives in any complex problem.  I agree that great teachers help uncover critical human-centered qualities that need to be offered to the world.  I aspire to be a teacher that prepares learners to be prepared.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Falconry: multiply the diversity and scope of learning

Questions, however, can lead to many new points of information.  Questions are the source of inquiry and creativity.  They multiply the diversity and scope of the learning process.  (Lichtman, 43 p.)

Isn’t this what we want for our learners? Am I confident enough to collect questions before, during, and after a lesson?  Am I flexible and talented enough to lead learning by following the learners’ questions?

The importance of curiosity and questioning in propelling learning is easily seen in our experience as learners.  We know that when our curiosity is sparked and we have a desire to know and learn something, our engagement is heightened.  (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 13 p.)

Can I spark curiosity and facilitate need-to-knows that heighten engagement?

We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 p.)

Satisfaction, deep understanding, urgency to learn, and bursts of energy…Wow!

Even after extensive efforts to develop understanding, we find that we may be left with more questions than when we started. These new questions reflect our depth of understanding.  This depth and ability to go below the surface of things is a vital part of our ongoing development of understanding.  Rather than look for or accept the easy answers, we push to identify the complexity in the events, stories, and ideas before us.  In this complexity lay the richness, intrigue, and mystery that engage us as learners. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 13 p.)

I wonder if, in my past, I taught kids to be relieved to find an answer. Did I push them to find multiple paths, solutions, approaches, and answers? Did we strive for richness? Did we press to go below the surface? I know I struggled with depth and breadth. I know I struggled with the balance of coverage and understanding.

I have been argued with – lots – about these ideas. How will learners be able to ask questions if I have not taught them anything? Do we assume that learners are blank slates when they arrive to us? Do we ask first or tell first?

I agree that questions lead to new points of information.  I argue that the learner was not ready to learn what was just delivered if they turn right around as ask the question that was just answered.  I assume that they are ready to learn when they ask a question. I aspire embrace the challenge of ask first, follow their our questions, and make course corrections to lead learning.

I assume that I fall victim to attention blindness as described by Cathy Davidson in Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, last summer’s reading.  I argue that I can do better, but I need help.  I agree that learning episodes will be more engaging if I attend to the questions of the learners rather than exclusively the way I think and plan.  I aspire to lead learning by multiplying the diversity and scope of the learning process.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Falconry: power, influence, and persuasion jujitsu

… power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspective. (Pink, 72 p.)

I agree. This is really yet another call to focus on learning rather than teaching.  If I, the teacher, focus on my work and the job I do too heavily, then I may miss the fact that some in my care are not learning what I think I’m teaching.  (How many times have I been surprised about what my learners do not know?)

Sun Tzu writes: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.  It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected.

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This means that facing challenges, both problems and opportunities, is vital to personal success.  This is the arena in which we can grow, excel, create, and expand. Without these challenges we wither. Because of this importance, it is equally vital to examine the way in which we meet the challenges by questioning our path from the outset. (Lichtman, 51 p.)

Learning is of vital importance.  How do we face the challenges of ensuring that everyone learns? How do we grow, excel, create, and expand our abilities to differentiate, enrich and intervene, so that everyone is making progress.  Can we overcome the subtle, and not so subtle, barriers in communication, expectations, confidence, and support? How do we teach learners to overcome these barriers too?

As a result, the ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: understanding another person’s perspective, getting inside his head, and seeing the world through his eyes. (Pink, 72 p.)

Offering learners multiple ways to become aware of what is to be learned and designing experiences to lead learning and practice should enable and empower the learner to grow stronger and more confident.

I’ve been thinking a lot about power and influence.  I do not have the power to make anyone learn.  Learning is within the power and control of the learner.  I have a sphere of influence and an ability to persuade.

Think of this first principle of attunement as persuasion jujitsu: using an apparent weakness as an actual strength. Start your encounters with the assumption that you’re in a position of lower power. That will help you see the other side’s perspective more accurately, which, in turn, will help you move them. (Pink, 72 p.)

I instantly loved the phrase persuasion jujitsu.  The American Heritage Dictionary breaks down jujitsu or jujutsu as  , soft;  + jutsu, technique.

I aspire to develop persuasion jujitsu, a soft technique, when teaching and learning.  I agree that it is critical to understand the learner’s perspective.  I argue with the idea that because I was a student once, I have that understanding.  I assume that I need to walk more in the shoes of a learner in 2013 rather than reflect on the needs I had as a student long ago.

Can I model lifelong learning and openly discuss my learning with others? Can I teach persistence, risk-taking, and overcoming failure struggle if I share, question, and collaborate?

I aspire to be a positive influence. I aspire to examine the way in which I meet challenges.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Falconry: value, honor, and ask questions

Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom.  Each question leads to one or more new questions or answers.  Sometimes answers are dead ends; they don’t lead anywhere.  Questions are never dead ends.  Every question has the inherent potential to lead to a new level of discovery, understanding, or creation, levels that can range from the trivial to the sublime. (Lichtman, 35 p.)

Spending today as a student-learner has been valuable and interesting.  Along with 20 of my colleagues, I spent the day learning about teaching reading using the Orton-Gillingman approach.  With zero background knowledge and no experience, I stretched to be considered in the novice category.  In other words, this was all new learning for me.  While I have heard and seen the acronym REVLOC, it had no meaning to me.  It does now.

I cannot tell you how many times today a question was asked with the preface “I’m sure this is a dumb question.” It makes me wonder…Do we not see ourselves as learners too?  Do we honor and value the questions our students have? Do we honor and value the questions we have?

The seventeenth-century British statesman, scientist, and philosopher, Francis Bacon, who advanced the idea of the scientific method, said “Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.[emphasis added] Centuries later, one of the students quoted in this chapter made pretty much the same argument: “You can’t learn unless you ask questions. [emphasis added] Unless you ask questions, nobody knows what you are thinking or what you want to know.”

If we have asked a question about a subject or concern, we are much better attuned to the information coming back to us.  We are, therefore, more likely to retain it.  (Rothstein and Santana, 135 p.)

How do we elicit questions from the learners in the room who are not quite brave enough to risk asking a question for fear of how they will be perceived by others? What if we bright spot, value and honor questions? Can we adjust our own thinking and actions to create a community where learning is transparent?

Interrogative self-talk, the researchers say, “may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to purse a goal.”  As ample research has demonstrated, people are more likely to act, and to perform well, when the motivations come from intrinsic choices rather than from extrinsic pressures.  Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within. (Pink, 103 p.)

What if I ask more questions? Can I teach so that agitation and irritation are the same or at least aligned? What if I structure learning episodes where learners are invited/encouraged/required to ask questions? Can I teach what needs to be learned by listening to and following the path of the learners?

What can be learned if we question our way through an entire lesson? Is it possible to allow students to steer the lesson through their questions? Will listening to student questions help us diagnose, assess and chart a course in real-time? Can we lead learning by following their thinking?

Our educational systems have been constructed entirely around the goal of providing the correct answer to a question provided by an instructor or handed out on a standardized exam.  This system provides a form of valid comparison for the results of a group of students, and it provides a foundation of shared information amongst those who have followed a course of study.  Unfortunately, the real world, particularly the real world of the coming century, does not and will not work this way.  Our heroes are not defined by how well they answered canned questions or what they scored on their SATs precisely because these outcomes do not determine success in real-world situations.  The real revolution in education and training, if it comes, will be overtly switching our priority from the skills of giving answers to the skills of finding new questions. (Lichtman, pag. 35)

I argue that we will be able to teach more if we start from our students’ questions.  I’ve been told it is impossible to teach what needs to be learned from a starting point of the students’ questions.  I’ve also seen the results when brave teachers have put aside their assumptions and tried.  See the Kara Leaman’s comment on my blog.

I agree with the idea of interrogative self-talk.  How often do I prevent myself from learning, questioning, and risking by the way I reason with myself? Can I change the chatter in my head to be one who questions much, learns much, and retains much?

I assume that we are all here to learn.  We function in a learning community. We aspire to be lifelong learners.  I aspire to offer my colleagues as much grace and encouragement as I need to learn and grow. I aspire to be patient will every learner when they have questions.

Can I grow into an irritant-agitator practicing the art of questioning?

I aspire to value, honor, and encourage questions from learners.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Flourish.]

Falconry: Feedback loops, communication, and formative assessment

Reading from Step 1: The Art of Questioning of The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

By learning to insert feedback loops into our thought, questioning, and decision-making process, we increase the chance of staying on our desired path. Or, if the path needs to be modified, our midcourse corrections become less dramatic and disruptive. (Lichtman, 49 pag.)

This paragraph caused me to go back to a Mr. Sun quote from Step 0: Preparation.

But there are many more subtle barriers to communication as well, and if we cannot, or do not chose to overcome these barriers, we will encounter life decisions and try to solve problems and do a lot of falconing all by ourselves with little, if any, success. Even in the briefest of communications, people develop and share common models that allow them to communicate effectively.  If you don’t share the model, you can’t communicate. If you can’t communicate, you can’t teach, learn, lead, or follow.  (Lichtman, 32 pag.)

Mr Sun goes on to ask

So how do we find common models? (Lichtman, 32 pag.)

Finding common models of communication between all learners is critical to a community focused on everyone growing and learning together. In Chapter 1: Unpacking Thinking of Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners, the authors write

If we want to support students in learning, and we believe that learning is a product of thinking, then we need to be clear about what we are trying to support. (Ritchhart, 5 pag.)

And, in Chapter 3: Grading Strategies that Support and Motivate Student Effort and Learning of Grading and Learning: Practices That Support Student Achievement, Susan Brookhart writes:

First, these teachers settled on the most important learning targets for grading. By learning targets, they meant standards phrased in student-friendly language so that students could use them in monitoring their own learning and, ultimately, understanding their grade.

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One of these learning targets was ‘I can use decimals, fractions, and percent to solve a problem.’ The teachers listed statements for each proficiency level under that target and steps students might use to reach proficiency.

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The [lowest] level was not failure but rather signified ‘I don’t get it yet, but I’m still working.’ (Brookhart, 30 pag.)

Yet is such a powerful word. I just love using yet to communicate support and issue subtle challenges.  Yet, used correctly, sends the message that I (you) will learn this.  I believe in you, and you believe in me.

As a community, we have started the challenging work of writing commonly agreed upon essential learnings for our student-learners.  Now that we are on a path of shared models of communication, we are able to develop feedback loops and formative assessments for student-learners to use to monitor their learning as well as empower learners to ask more questions.

What if we build common formative assessments that communicate how to level up, how to ask targeted questions, and that motivate learning?

I agree that we must work to clearly communicate the intended, essential outcomes for learners. While our methods of learning and leading do not have to be identical, the core learning outcomes should be common for learners. In other words, we should have a guaranteed curriculum.

I assume that groups working together as teams have, or are on a path to, common models of communication between themselves and are making strides to share these with student-learners and parents of their students.

I argue with the statement that we already have this in place.  I don’t think this work is ever done.  When we have commonly agreed upon “I can…” statements, we need rubrics or descriptions of what it means to be on target, how to reach a target, and where to go if you are already at the target level.

I aspire to work collaboratively in teams to teach, learn, lead, and follow by asking questions to develop common models to communicate effectively.  I aspire to serve our learners by developing, implementing, and using stronger feedback loops.  I aspire to help learners level up.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

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Brookhart, Susan M. Grading and Learning: Practices That Support Student Achievement. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2011. Print.

Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]