Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mining for Gold: Four Questions to Guide Your Memory

For the past three days I have had the pleasure of attending a free online conference about mindfulness and social emotional learning. Hosted by Jason and Cecilia Hilkey, the conference features 35 experts from many disciplines, each of whom speaks to the themes of mindfulness and social emotional learning in the context of parenting or education.

The Great Things about this Online Conference
Conferences are intense. Information is packed into every nook and cranny. Like conventional conferences - ones where you sit in auditoriums and listen to people speak in front of powerpoint presentations - Ed: Next Gen is rich with inspiring stories, compelling evidence, and words of wisdom.

Presented unconventionally and online means that you are not stuck in an auditorium seat. You can listen and watch videos of the hosts interviewing other experts. The conversations are relatable and fun to feel a part of. You can pause to go to the bathroom and return later. You can purchase the videos to watch and re-watch at your convenience and with colleagues who could not attend with us.

Awesome Information Overload
The videos are split screens. Half of the video shows Jason and Cecilia; the other half shows their expert guest. There is no powerpoint presentation. There are no audience members coughing, surfing the internet in front of you, or other distractions. Having it so simple is a lovely experience.

Just sitting and listening is important.

But sometimes someone says something that is so profound that you just can't bear the thought of forgetting it.

Four Questions to Guide Your Memory
These questions are based on one of my favorite learning theorists David Kolb, who was an experiential education psychologist. Bear in mind that the order you answer these questions isn't as important as being sure to answer all of them.

  1. What is it?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How can I use it in my parenting/teaching?
  4. There are limits to this idea. How can I change it to make it work for me?

A Quick Example
This is how I might jot down notes from Dr. Siegel's talk:

1.What is "mind"?

Conventional definitions of "mind" make it synonymous with brain. Dr. Siegel asks us to imagine that mind is bigger than includes our entire bodies, our environment, and the people and creatures with whom we share our lives.

2. Why is it important?

If the mind is not just located in the brain, then teaching and learning MUST consider more than individual performance on tests. Plans for learning and assessments have to account for the stories that surround the teachers and learners.

3. How can I use it in my parenting/teaching?
This theory of mind can be developed further to explain/support my definition of LEARNING within the context of being an advocate for children and playful, independent STEAM learners.

4. There are limits to this idea. How can I change it to make it work for me?
In writing a family story of learning, how do I honor my child's ideas as his or her own? Riding the pendulum between learning together and independent learning is an on-going, important, and valid process.

*EDIT: I just finished watching Sam Chaltain's talk and I'm tickled that he referenced the same point about Dr. Siegel's theory of mind that I did.

What is Your Framework?
I like lists. They are very comforting. This list of questions is one of many systems for making sense of what you learn. As I head into day four of this conference, I need to hold on to these questions as a guide for organizing the essence of each talk. I'm curious to know what other people are doing...

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