Aimed at schools this recently published David Fullan book is potentially a great resource as part of a collective pedagogical approach to learning for Colleges too. This easy to digest book provides a research base behind tried and tested pedagogical tools and techniques. I love the concept of ‘academic buoyancy’ #37, new for me. The 5 competencies of ‘academic buoyancy’ take building resilience a step further; by simultaneously targeting confidence, co-ordination, commitment, composure & control. Research on this approach is in its infancy, but it appears to offer a great base for tutorials and the work of learning coaches.
,You can only ‘hold’ information in your working memory, that is the short-term processing part of your brain. Information needs to be converted to long term memory or it will just be lost, and you must start again. I call this move to storing information in the long-term memory achieving ‘stickability in learning’. Has the information been taught stuck; can students consistently recall information say 1-3-5-days after they were taught it?
Lucy Crehan in her book Clever Lands, which is a rich collection of reflections on her time spent in some of the best performing classrooms across the world (according to PISA results in English, maths & problem solving) calls it memorisation. Japanese students do well in PISA tables in problem solving even though active learning is still a relatively new concept for teachers. Lucy talks about observing Japanese students in Junior High and the way in which they are taught. They must be able to and do recall 2,300 characters as part of their writing system by the time they leave Junior High. Lucy tells us that memorising and committing information to long term memory is intrinsic within pedagogical approaches and learning in Japan.
I know this stuff about short term and long-term memory and needing to achieve ‘stickability in learning’, it’s not new. What is striking and different for me in the book is the consistency of the pedagogical approaches being used in learning in other countries. Pedagogical approaches it seems are at the forefront of teaching and learning. Teachers, students and their parents/carers even, understand the pedagogical approaches being used and therefore students are more able to learn independently in or outside of the classroom. I saw this approach for myself in Finland when observing lessons. One of the first things the teachers did at the start of the academic year in the College I visited was to teach students the pedagogical approaches they were using. That is ‘how we are going to help you learn’. Students in Finland were able to effectively use the pedagogical approaches they had been shown by the teachers, together in groups with each other, with the teacher or independently at home or at work. “Look” said a teacher in Finland “I have many teachers in my classroom” as students actively used and developed the pedagogical approach they had been shown to move themselves and each other forward in learning. A cross curriculum shared pedagogical approach which is effective in achieving ‘stickability in learning’ seems worth its weight in gold. Thanks Lucy it’s been great to refresh my thinking.
April began for me with a workshop on Branding and Marketing with Business Fast Wales. Great event facilitated by Sid Madge, inspirational guy, hence Yellow Goose book of the month for April is Meee IN A MINUTE - 60 ways to improve your life in 60 Secs. The book is a great pick up put down read full of live enhancing tips and tools, the true inspiration in all of this for me is the Meee Programme, actively providing effective tools and support to improve the lives of others, particularly the lives of young people in our communities and their families.
As a leadership trainer and coach, I have a real interest in resilience, how we can build and sustain it, both for myself and my coachees. The prasee on the back of this book caught my eye in the airport book shop recently “How do some people bounce back with vigour from daily setbacks, professional crises, or even personal trauma”. Part of the HBR Emotional Intelligence Series, I found this collection of short thought-provoking essays based on proven research fascinating. This text provides great insight into what resilience is and how to evaluate, manage and strengthen resilience. The nugget of gold in the book for me is essay 4 written by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone entitled ‘Finding the Coaching in Criticism’. They outline six steps to becoming better at receiving feedback. How to make sure we can be open and able to maximise the benefits of feedback. “Feedback is crucial, it improves performance, develops talent, aligns expectations, solves problems, guides promotion and pay and boosts the bottom line”. Poorly done it can leave you feeling “angry, anxious, badly treated or profoundly threatened” it seems a no brainer, being able to be in control of how we receive feedback along with the ability to take it, shape it and use it to make positive steps forward is a vital skill for any leader and manager. Worth a read, some great tips throughout the book both to use yourself and with teams. Looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Avoiding the peril of pig wrestling – a framework and tools for managers and leaders to create a climate for successful change. A thought provoking read with an interesting approach to problem solving and change management with techniques and strategies for both individuals and teams.
This book is easy to pick up and digest when time is precious, an engaging read based on a fable around avoiding the perils of ‘pig wrestling’. If you have a problem (or challenge) you have been wrestling with for some time despite your best efforts to find or secure a great solution, then Pete and Mark’s approach offers some useful tools. Strategies such as cleaning the problem (a clean pig is much easier to wrestle with), avoiding premature evaluation (don’t jump straight to the solution) and re-framing the problem (changing your perspective and your approach). The easy to follow steps, stretched my thinking and helped me see how I could look at problems and challenges differently, I particularly liked the re-framing and cleaning the language related to the problem which has helped shift my thinking.
As I am currently studying for my L7 Coaching Qualification with not a lot of time to commit to reading weighty texts I have found this book great to dip into for ideas and explanations. The author describes the book as a series of “cheat sheets” designed to help you quickly brush up on your questioning skills. Those of you who are also studying for a coaching qualification may find the rich mix of models and work sheets helpful. I liked the ‘Starting Significant Conversations’ work sheet it contains a range of useful Icebreaker questions suitable for meeting new business contacts and colleagues, or when you are attending networking events.
Creating healthy work environments resonates with me as it is about people and the creation of a work environment where individuals can thrive. The page at the beginning of the book infused with a scent, which Simon Sinek suggests, is the smell of optimism is an interesting slant, making the link between familiar smells and emotions, behaviours and motivation via our olfactory bulb in our nose and the limbic system of the brain. For me the smell reflects a clear summer day on the top of a mountain, it reminds of Donald Schon’s work on reflective practice and the need to spend time focused on the ‘high pinnacle of academia’ understanding theories and reflecting in and on leadership practice in order to function effectively in the ‘low swamp land’ of everyday life, where as a leader and manager you are making complex decisions. I never tire of reading this little book, it serves to remind me that it is a privilege to lead others, that putting others first and seeing them develop and succeed is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a successful leader.
One remarkable aspect of this book is that each page works on its own, like a mini fable to stimulate discussion in team development activities or in personal reflection or just simply as a digestible and enjoyable dose of inspiration to focus you and spur you on. One of my favourite quotes is P 80 “The opportunity is not to discover the perfect company for ourselves, the opportunity is to build the perfect company for each other”, like a flock or team of geese all heading in the same direction, in any company we are stronger and more effective together so for me “Together is Better” is a great read.
‘One of the most successful business books ever’Daily Telegraph Whilst I love to read life is busy and so I relish a book that is readable and easily digestible, whilst also providing something to take away and use in my leadership practice, this book hit all of these markers. I read ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ as I prepared for my transition from full time employment into starting my own Company and working freelance, it reminded me of the value of ‘story telling’ both as a flexible research tool but also as a way of establishing common ground and bonding collaborative teams. Most importantly I reflected that change is an intrinsic part of professional life and positively embracing it by being forward thinking provides the best chance of success, whilst not forgetting to consistently find ways to ‘nourish your soul’ and remember the difference between activity and productivity. A great and insightful read.