Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 120

A without advisers is like a flashlight without batteries. Both are in the dark.

No person is an island.  And why would that be the case?

We can't hope to make decisions in a vacuum.  A leader who leads alone is a leader who is out of touch with his/her stakeholders.

We all need advisers.  And, contrary to what some might say, we need advisers who are different from ourselves.  If we create a council of friends, we put blinders on to the way things really are.  If we diversify our council, we're more likely to truly get the "big picture."

So, assuming you don't want to be left in the dark, what are some tips for creating a council of collaborators?

First, select by respect, not by role.  Your council needs to be composed of people who will help you lead, and that doesn't necessarily mean help you by agreeing with you.  Your council needs to be composed of learners and leaders who have the respect of the community, irrespective of their role.  Whether administrator, teacher, support staff member, facilities worker, student, or parent, every role should be considered.  While there may be some items that can't be shared with certain stakeholders, that doesn't mean your council shouldn't be composed of all those who make up your community.

Second, select true collaborators.  Your team will need to make some tough decisions.  So, it stands to reason that those who you put on the team should be capable of negotiating effectively.  This is why it doesn't matter whether the people on your team are your supporters or your detractors.  If they support the community, and can be collaborative, they'll help you get to feasible solutions.

Third, vary your team.  Your council shouldn't be static.  People change over time and their responsibilities and activities change too.  In addiiton, if you want to build a truly collaborative community, you need to engage all your stakeholders.  So, council membership could be a yearly (or every two year) tenure.  This lets everyone know that all voices are valued, and provides you with fresh perspective to continue to help you grow.

Regardless of how you build your team, remember to build one.  Otherwise, things will be pretty lonely at the top.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 119

There are no . Only different methods of collecting .

In simplest terms, there are no right answers.

The decisions we make are nothing more than various methods to collecting data.

In fact, all of our decisions start with a question to be answered, or a problem to be solved.  Questions and problems, as we know, are rarely black and white.  There are always multiple shades of gray that are just as feasible (or likely) to answering any type of query; in all but the most extreme situations, a simple "right" or "wrong" doesn't cut it.

The problem is, as a society, we're so predisposed to believing in "rightness" or "wrongness" that we often look to pose a response that will be accepted as "correct," rather than welcomed for bringing up interesting ideas or additional questions.

This is a challenge.  Our way of assessing students (and the structure of our schools, in general) rewards the one "true" answer, not the deeper digging responses that encourage learning (rather than stifling it).  "Right" answers are often detrimental to discussion, as they put a finality on the conversation taking place, at the expense of creative ideas and connected thoughts that learners may be tossing around in their minds.

Leaders (and learners) must not accept education and life to be as a simple as a coin flip.  Instead, we have to recognize that any answer is a potential source of data, and as such, we must welcome it for the learning it can bring.

Note: As a quick aside, I have the suspicion that I put together a quote similar to this in the past.  I guess it shows how deeply held this idea is to my core beliefs. :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 118

There are no people, only smart behaviors.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a smart person.

But, I do believe I exhibit some pretty smart behaviors.

One piece we have to remember is that even the "smartest" people receive that label because along with an inborn intelligence that we all possess, they have learned how to utilize behaviors and actions to propel themselves further.

We're all different, but we all have the capacity to be successful (even though success may look different for some).

Looking at others as "smart" or "not smart" is a mindset thing.  If we believe that some are just born smarter, we're exhibiting the fixed mindset that we know is damaging for learning and growing.

If, however, we focus instead on the fact that we are all "smart" in our own way, and what separates us is how well we exhibit smart behaviors, then we're putting the onus on the actions we take, and not the people we are.

It's that shift, that movement towards "smart" being about a set of actions (rather than just "being") that I truly believe helps define what learning should be about (and just as importantly, who we are as people).

My daughter turns four today.  I want her to believe that she isn't just "smart."  Instead, I want her to know that she can exhibit either smart or less smart behaviors, and it is that choice, that will allow her to be as successful as she wants to be (Happy Birthday Sydney. :) ).

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 117

Life's job is to throw you . Your job is to hit them out of the park.

I'm not a tremendous baseball fan, but you have to admire a sport that has so many great analogies for life.

Nothing about life is meant to be easy.  In fact, the curve balls that life throws our way should be swung at, rather than stepped away from.  Sometimes I think we expect life to throw us floaters, or meatballs that we can hit without a second thought.

But, that would make the game of life quite a bit less interesting.

I'm at the start of (potentially) embarking on a professional activity that I have dreamed about for many years.  I'm still not sure what will come of it, but if I do decide to give it a go (and just as importantly if I'm given the position in the "batting rotation"), I'll be trying to fit it between a family I love deeply, and a job I feel the same about.

And yet, I'm extremely excited for this (potential) opportunity.  Rather than run from this curve ball, I'm stepping up to the plate, taking my stance, and getting ready to swing.

I imagine if this opportunity does present itself, I'll be writing quite a bit about it in the coming months.

But, for now, I'm ready to embrace life's new challenges.

Whether I strike out, or hit it out of the park, at least I'm getting ready to take a swing.  We all should do the same, whenever we get the chance.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 116

A leader who is too busy for people is a leader who is too busy to lead.

I made a poor leadership move yesterday.  It was about 3:00 PM, and I was anxious to complete a number of important items before the weekend.  I had just finished an extremely worthwhile team thinking session, and I was excited to have about an hour or so to wrap up a few loose ends before ending the week with a short meeting.

As I was getting into the work, and really feeling like I was in the zone, one of my colleagues stepped into my office and asked, "Do you have five seconds?"

I inhaled and made that noise you make when something hurts or you expect it to (you know what I'm talking about).  I was torn.  Should I finish up items that needed to get done, or meet with my colleague?

I responded, "I can do five seconds," and we met and chatted.  The meeting wasn't lengthy (of course it was more than five seconds), and I was able to get back to work shortly (long story short, I did wrap up the items I needed to).

But, I felt bad about my response.  The way I see it, if we're too busy for those we work with, we're too busy to really be effective leaders.

Now, we've all been in this type of situation before, and I admit, there are times when there is much on my desk I would like to accomplish.

Still, if we're to be the best leaders we can truly be, we must always make time for people, because they are the most important.

My response troubled me because I really do consider myself to be "all about the relationships."  But, it proves a very relevant point:  No matter where we are in our learning and leading lives, we can always get better.

I'm still not yet at the point where people always come first, even though deep down, I know that is how it needs to be.  The good news is, this is another goal for me to strive towards.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 115

Focus on the things that you can ; not the things that you cannot.

Life is filled with things that are out of our control.

Some of these things we wish we could control.

Others we're very glad that we cannot.

Of course, when it comes to "control," often our wishes don't matter.  There are just some things that we can't do anything about.  And that's that.

But, even though there will always be some things that we can't influence, that doesn't mean that we're doing anything "wrong" as leaders and learners.  Rather, we need to embrace the fact that we can't change everything, and instead, we need to put our effort into those things that we can change.

By focusing on the things in our lives that are within our locus of control, we can be more efficient and can more effectively provide the creative push and critical thinking necessary to become successful.

We know that we can only focus on so many things at once.  So, it stands to reason that if we are too focused on those areas that we can't influence, we're more apt to be spread too thin.

It isn't easy to admit we can't change everything.  But, while we can modify some things, and some people, no matter what we do, we can't alter everything to fit our needs.

The good news here is that if we can come to an understanding of this, we won't be as defeated when certain things don't go our way.  The other great piece is that having an understanding of this proves to us that we are, after all, only human, and as such only capable of doing the best that we can do.

And that's okay.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 114

Lack of doesn't mean lack of .

Here's a bit about me to speak to this point. . .

I taught eighth grade science for ten years and served as a department chair for about half that time.  I greatly enjoyed working in the classroom, so when I left to become our regional science coordinator, the move was bittersweet.  Two years later, I find myself serving as our assistant director of curriculum, working with assistant superintendents from districts in our region.

By all accounts, I'm an educator who has gathered about fifteen years of experience leading and learning.  Yet, from a central office perspective, I'm relatively inexperienced, with only three years "under my belt."

That being said, I'm honored to work for an agency and in a region where experience doesn't equal ability.  My perspective and ideas are considered just as critically as everyone else's, and for that, I am very grateful.

We need to place ourselves in locations where our age, time in a role, or general life experience doesn't label us as being incapable of success (or even worse, truly learning).

If our agencies don't support this type of open thinking, then we need to ask ourselves, "Are we in the right place?"

The fact of the matter is that experience does matter, but not any more than characteristics such as collaborative ability, creativity, critical thinking, grit, and a host of other leading and learning needs.

We need to make sure that we are never blinded by where folks come from and how long they've been there.  That is never the true test of what people are capable of.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 113

Never be afraid to try something new. Whether you succeed or fail, what's most important is you've learned.

Trying new things must be a staple in our lives.  If we don't explore things that are different from what we do on a daily basis, we become stagnant.

And in the world of leading and learning, stagnancy is one of the worst things that can happen.

Sometimes we fear the new, worried that we're entering an area where we don't know enough to be successful or to feel comfortable.  But that's part of the adventure, isn't it?

In the grand scheme of things, even if we fail, and fail miserably, we have still learned something.

And that's what is most important, right?

Whether we succeed or fail in an action we take, as long as we have learned something, we are in a better position than before we had taken that action.

So, our promise to ourselves needs to be that we won't run from the new, but instead we'll embrace any opportunity to learn.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 112

Just because it has been done before, doesn't mean you can't do it better now.

You don't have to create something new to be an innovator.

In fact, you don't really have to create anything.

But, what you do have to do is make something better.  And that is infinitely easier (though still quite challenging) than creating something from scratch.

An important idea to remember is that just because something exists (whether product or process), that doesn't mean that it is great.  In fact, we know much about education needs to be improved; there are lots of areas that could use even greater innovation.

Therefore, as we posit how best to use our creative talents and critical thinking, we shouldn't be detracted from something simply because it is already "out there."

In fact, if anything, we should be more inclined to make improvements, as ideas that already "exist" are influencing people right now.

One of the goals for us as leaders and learners is to realize that we have what it takes to make something much better than it was before we were involved in it.  This doesn't mean we can innovate everything, but it certainly means that we can improve on something.

So, rather than spending time trying to only think up ideas that nobody has thought of yet, why not focus attention on what already exists, and put our energy into making it better for all?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 111

Remember that your  never fully gets completed.      

Yesterday was an interesting day for me.  I don't celebrate Easter, so I spent most of the day knocking off items on my "To-Do" list.  I've had a number of pieces of artwork that have had to go up around the house that I just haven't been able to get to.  That took a good portion of the morning, and I was finished by about noon.  I then started work on the backyard and deck, finishing that up with some grill maintenance.

When I add in time with the family and playing with my older daughter, pretty soon it was time to prepare for dinner.  It turns out that one item on my list (fertilizing the lawn) never got done.

At first, I was frustrated by this.  Why couldn't I have more time?  I really wanted to get this crossed off.

Then I started to wonder if I could, in fact, get it done.  Maybe I could do an okay job before dinner and just be done with it?

But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was okay that I had not accomplished this task.  To race through it would be a bad idea as I likely wouldn't do as good a job as I needed to, and to be frustrated that I never got to it didn't work either, as I had a great day accomplishing other tasks and spending time with my family.

The realization that came to me was this: Our "To-Do" lists never will actually get fully completed.

And that's okay.

There is always much and more to do, and when one task is completed, another one simply takes its place.  The good news is that this means we keep moving forward, reaching new heights as our lives continue.  The challenge is getting ourselves in a frame of mind where we're okay with leaving some items unchecked on the list.

The fact of the matter is that if we recognize the fact that we can never truly cross everything off the list (and would we even want to), we can come to grips with the fact that our list is parts aspiration, and parts realism.

And that's exactly how it should be.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quote-A-Day: 110

Some days are . Some days are . Your job is to make every day .

Every day has its own rhythm.  Some days are fast while other days are slow.  We never know what a day is going to be like until we experience it.  At times, this labeling of "fast" and "slow" deals with the actual speed of the day and how quick it feels.  At other points, it deals more with the amount of "work" that is accomplished.

As an example, I was off from work on Friday, and it was a fairly slow day.  I took my daughter in to daycare, brought one of our cars in for an oil change, did a bit of writing, and then basically relaxed.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was the complete opposite.  I did some work in the morning, took my oldest daughter food shopping, went out and leased a new car, took the family to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx for the orchid show, went to dinner at an excellent Greek restaurant, stopped for ice cream, and then went home.

Friday was slow, Saturday was fast.  But, what is more important than these labels is the fact that I made both days count.

We know what it feels like when a day counts.  We enjoy knowing that we've had a successful day, and we tend to wonder about ways to make those days that are less than successful more efficient.  Whether a lot or a little is actually "accomplished" on any given day doesn't detract from its potential for success.  Instead, we have to ask ourselves if the day really "mattered."  If we can honestly say that each and every day of our lives has counted, then we have accomplished more than we could have ever dreamed of.

I'm happy to say that Friday and Saturday did count for me, and I'm hopeful that today (Sunday) will count as well.  But, i would be lying if I wrote that I feel this way about every day of my life.  There have been some days where I've wondered about what has taken place, and whether the day really made a difference.

I think this is normal.  Sometimes we experience the days we want to leave behind, and sometimes, no matter how much we reflect, we can't seem to find much benefit in those days.  But those days need to be a lesson for us, a lesson that shows that while we can't have a perfect day everyday, we can keep striving for days that are always better and even more meaningful, than the last.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 109

Take time to celebrate accomplishments. Everyone deserves a pat on the back (including you).

Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to take the time to applaud our achievements.  Life is fast-moving, and it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of things and forget that every once in a while, we need to stop and congratulate ourselves for all that we have done.

Being humble is important, but so is seeing the value of the work that we accomplish.  If we don't take the time to bask in a bit of glory, then the hard work we've done never has the opportunity to truly be showcased.

A little celebration is good for the soul, and good for community-building.  It encourages people to continue striving for greatness, and it helps to show that even though hard work is its own reward, it's okay to take a break and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

As a leader, you also need to take some praise from time-to-time.  Many of us are uncomfortable with praise being thrown our way, and we are apt to say we really had no part in it, or it was due to the work of everyone.  Both of these may be true, but it is certainly appropriate to celebrate along with the rest of the team, and in the event where you did, in fact, play a role in the achievements being celebrated, then by all means, feel free to toot your own horn (albeit lightly).

The world is a big and scary place.  Every once in a while, it's nice to feel like a big fish in a small pond.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 108

Whatever you do, do it with the passion of a three year-old.

So, I was driving my daughter to day care this morning.  She loves the movie, Frozen, and we were listening to the song, "Let It Go," one of her favorites (and apparently one of the favorites of toddlers the world over).

She was belting out the song from the backseat, and when I looked in the rear view mirror, her eyes were wide and intense, her mouth was totally open, and her arms were extended, following her voice into the crescendo of the chorus.

I couldn't help but laugh, not so much from the humor of the situation (though it was funny to see), but from the sheer passion she was showing for this one song.  This happens a lot with my older daughter, and likely all young children.

Surprisingly, (or maybe not so) the energy she put into signing this one song is more energy and intensity than we see in some adults over the course of a day (or longer, even).

We should take this intensity and passion to heart.  And, we should mirror this excitement in all that we do.

Imagine if everyone we knew was this engrossed in life!  How much more efficient, effective, and happy, overall, would we be as a society?

The key to building intensity and passion is helping people find those things that truly motivate them.  Whether it be singing a song, teaching students, writing a book, visiting a new location, or something else entirely, we are all passionate about something.

The goal is to find a way to transfer this passion into all that we do.  We can help those in our lives do this by asking, and truly being invested in, what they are passionate about.  Beyond that, we can help them build connections between their passions and those things that they aren't as passionate about, as a means to helping them see how their love for something can help build a love for something else.

After all, if a three year old can show this intensity without any prompting, then it shouldn't be a challenge for adults, right? :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 107

Evaluation is a necessary part of learning. Unless it doesn't involve those who are being evaluated.

Evaluation is a tremendously powerful process.

And a necessary one.

Without evaluation, it would be tough for us to grow, learn, or reflect.  We need to know how we are doing, and we need to be provided with nuggets of thought to help us reach the benchmarks and goals that we set for ourselves.

Regardless of what the talk is around learner and leader evaluation today, no one can deny the importance of evaluative practice.  Where we appear to be split (and likely not evenly) is on what this process should look like, and how much influence the person being evaluated should have.

While I'm just one person, and while my thoughts on the matter are not necessarily that much more informed than the next person's, I firmly believe that for evaluative practices to be truly beneficial, those who are being evaluated need to share the driver's seat with those doing the evaluating.

It isn't enough for those being evaluated to know or understand how the process will work.  Instead, evaluation must be a two-way street.  Both the evaluator and the "evaluatee" must work to design the instrument used together, and must realize that interpretation can never be removed from even the most well-defined instruments.

For that reason, any and every evaluation should be about improving practice, rather than "asssigning scores."  As research has shown us, all written feedback is negated the minute grades come into play.  Whether the learner is an adult or a child, this still holds true.

If we want our evaluative practice to be meaningful for everyone, we have to make sure that everyone holds a stake in the process, and the process is transparent, with the sole goal of improving practice as the rationale.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 106

You've never known your , until you've known your .

Let's face it.  We've all done things we're not proud of.  Goodness knows I've made my share of poor decisions.

There are two types of failure that exist.  The first is the failure we want to experience, the positive failure.  This failure is the first step towards success; the necessary ingredient to truly learning something new.  The more times we experience this type of failure the more learned we have the potential to become.  This is the failure that we learn to welcome.

The second type of failure is different.  This failure often stems from a poor decision that we have made, and almost always stems from a situation where "we knew better."  This is the type of negative failure that can destroy relationships, hurt us deeply physically and emotionally, and leave scars on the lives of others.  This type of failure doesn't provide a block to stumble out of.  It provides a hole that we often have to crawl our way out of, and it can take a long time to return to the surface.

This is the type of failure that truly pains us; the type of failure we learn to avoid.

But, I propose that even though we want to welcome the first type and avoid the second, we still need our share of "negative failure" to help us realize all we are capable of.  By learning what not to do, and learning about the scenarios we never want to experience again, we are better able to shape ourselves to be the people we most want to be.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that we have to experience some type of "rock bottom" before we can see what we're truly capable of.  If we haven't yet seen ourselves at our worst, how can we expect to be able to show ourselves at our best?

This doesn't mean we should seek to experience the horrible failure; life has a way of presenting us with those opportunities, and being human, every once in a while we'll throw ourselves down that hole.

We must, however, use those negative failings to highlight who we don't want to become, so we can better sculpt the person we do want to be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 105

is like the air around us. Even if you can't see or hear it, you know it's always there.

We need to breathe.  We also need to learn.  So, it's fitting, that as I sit here looking outside and envisioning the crisp spring air, that I'm also contemplating what the day will bring for me learning-wise.

Every day yields the chance to explore numerous opportunities for learning.  And, just like the air we breathe or that coolly brushes up against us on these brisk spring mornings, even if we can't see it, smell it, or hear it, we know it is there.

Sometimes, when our minds are occupied, we might forget about the existence of air, and how necessary it is for life.  The same is true for learning.  If we aren't careful, or if we're too busy to think about it, we can  forget just how much learning there is out there for us.

So, we must do whatever we can to make sure that we always take advantage of learning opportunities whenever they present themselves.  Like the air we breathe, though it will always be there, we're apt to forget its importance if we don't embrace it on a daily basis.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 104

is like the ocean. Even at its most turbulent times, you can't ignore its beauty.

As the temperature warms, I start to think of being by the water.  I spent a good portion of my early life living close to the beach, and I think I tend to gravitate more towards natural water than that of the man-made variety.  I like to boat, scuba dive, and snorkel, and for me, water and the surrounding coastline is very beautiful, indeed.

So, it's not a stretch for me to connect my love of the water with my love for what I do.  To me, being in a leadership role is akin to being on the ocean.  You don't always know what the day will bring, but regardless of whether calm or rocky, it is still beautiful.

Being in any type of leadership role must be difficult, and being an educator certainly isn't easy.  Yet, just like when out on the open water, we start our days with a safety check to make sure everything is running smoothly, and even when we relax, we always keep an eye on our direction, tank pressure, and proximity to shore.

At the calmest times, nothing beats the feeling of being an educational leader.  During the most rocky phases, we batten down the hatches and ride out the storm, as the alternative would be far worse.  When the storm subsides, we assess the damage and rebuild.

I've had a few mishaps on the water.  Happily, nothing that has led to any serious injury.  The same goes for my work as an educational leader.  Even with those mishaps in mind, I can't take my eyes off the way the sun reflects on the water, just as much as I can't separate myself from the learning and leading I do every day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 103

There are no stupid questions. Every inquiry is a lode waiting to be mined.

There are truly no stupid questions.

Any question asked, regardless of how abstract, or concrete, is a potential pathway to explore.  The more questions that get asked, the greater the potential everyone has to learn something.

And that is very important.

Whether as a leader or a learner, any question asked has a benefit.  Sometimes it is in the answer that is given.  At other points, it is in the question we ask (or pursue) in response.  The greatest gift a question gives is the potential to find out something new.

And yet, even when we say "There are no stupid questions" our actions betray our words.  We can get frustrated with learners who ask question after question, and we can appear flummoxed by the inquiry that doesn't make sense or the request to repeat what was just said.

What's interesting, though, is that these three examples actually show how powerful questions can be (rather than detracting from their intelligence).  For instance, the learner who keeps inquiring may simply be ready to explore a topic deeper; it falls on us to differentiate experiences well enough for all learners to feel intellectually satisfied.  The question that doesn't make sense provides us with data that the learner asking it may have missed an important point, or may be struggling with aspects of the "second curriculum," and contact with parents or a guardian may be warranted.  For the learner who requests repetition, it may be that our framing of the idea wasn't compatible with learning style, or the learner wants to hear the idea again to reflect on it from another perspective, or maybe the learner just wasn't paying attention.

Every question asked, whether "on topic" or not, provides data that is topical, and data that can't be ignored.  Rather than worrying about whether learners are asking the "right" questions, we should instead embrace all questioning, as it provides us with the truly right measure of where those we work with really are.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 102

alone may not save lives, but it certainly extends them.

I laughed more over the last two days than I have in a long time.  That isn't to say I don't laugh often.  In fact, I laugh all the time.  But, my Friday evening into Saturday morning with a number of colleagues and friends was so uproarious, so ridiculous, that I laughed so hard and so regularly that my sides hurt as I'm typing this.

I know I've read a number of articles that speak to the health benefits of laughing.  I don't believe I've ever read of laughter actually saving someone's life (I'm sure it has happened somewhere, at some time), but I can't imagine that laughing this much these last two days hasn't had a positive effect on my health.

We live in a world that is so fast-paced, and often so stressful, that sometimes it is all we can do to not cry or scream.  So, the opportunities where we can laugh, and laugh hard, need to come regularly enough to allow us to let off steam and totally decompress.

I think, too, that laughter not only benefits those in the conversation, but also puts those outside of it in a better mood too.  A baby's laughter can brighten an entire room.  While that of an adult might not have quite the same effect, it's hard not to smile when you stumble upon a few folks laughing so hard that they can't even speak.

We need to make time to laugh everyday.  And, we need to make sure we find the time to laugh with everyone in our circles.  Happiness and the art of laughter cross age, cultural, and language barriers.  As a form of communication that is hard not to feel good about, it pays for all of us to do more of it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 101

Never underestimate the power of open communication.

Sometimes we can forget the true power of communication.  Our world is so fast-paced that most of our communication can be asynchronous.  While the advantages of this are tremendous (who doesn't want to stay in touch with friends who are worlds away), there are some definite challenges (at times, we look at our devices more than we do the people we're engaging with face-to-face).

True face-to-face communication accomplishes quite a bit.  It lets people see, hear, and "feel" each other speak, and body language is a form of communication all in its own right; we can learn much from "reading" the actions of others.

Leaders and learners need to remember the merits of true open communication.  For communication to truly be open, all parties need to be "present," and often that means being in the same room with each other.

Yes, you can have open communication online, but there is always a small shred of secrecy that comes from not being in the same place as somebody else; something is always hidden.

But, in a common space, this is much harder.  People find it tougher to hide their feelings and to hide who they really are.  This is important as transparency requires everyone to bare their souls.

What we gain from transparency is an ability to see where everyone is, and to start making a move to bring all on the same page.  Once we've done that, we can begin the process of building capacity for change, certainly not an easy feat, but one made easier simply because we can "hear" each other while also seeing "eye-to-eye."

We need to embrace every form of communication, but we must make sure that we make time for honest, open, and face-to-face, discourse.