Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 274

No matter the #role, no matter the #task, the best #leaders know that nothing is beneath them. #QuoteADay #Day274 #edchat #edu 

It doesn’t matter what your role is as a leader, everything is potentially within your purview.  As leaders, we have to remember that we aren’t leaders just to share our expertise.  We’re leaders because we also can help others when they need us most.

A quick story (and by no means am I implicating that I am a “great” leader):

Yesterday, one of our staff members was really strapped for time.  In effect, she was doing the job of two people (one of our other team members has just gone on maternity leave, and her leave replacement is just getting up to speed).  In addition, she was just asked to take on something else.  Knowing this, I took on her role of stuffing and organizing folders for a workshop today.  It was a task I was happy to assist with, as it needed to get done, and my colleague was too busy to be able to do it (or to be able to do it as she normally would).

At the end of the day, she said, “Fred, I just want to thank you for taking care of those folders for me.  I felt like I would never get to them.  I responded, “No thanks necessary.  That’s what we do here.”
And it needs to be.  If, as leaders, we aren’t willing to take on any job or role, then what are we teaching those we serve?  A leader might not be able to be everything to everyone, but the best leaders can be anyone at any time. 

As we consider what we want for our future leaders of society, one of those “wants” should be to cultivate a population that never feels as if they can’t (or won’t) do something, simply because of the position they hold.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 273

Information leaks like an old faucet.  The best leaders share news before someone else does. #QuoteADay #Day273 #edchat #edu #Share

Have you ever noticed that information gets out even before it can be verified?  There’s something about sharing information that even the most introverted of us like to do.  Maybe it’s the chance to let other people learn something they don’t know yet, or maybe, more self-servingly, it’s the opportunity to prove how much we know (hopefully that isn’t it).  Regardless, there is something about passing on information that we all like to do.

The problem is, often, the information we pass on isn’t necessarily fully formed, or worse, even correct.  It seems like our desire to get the word out often is at the expense of getting the correct word out.

For this reason, leaders need to be the providers of information, making sure that nothing escapes too soon and/or before it is fully formed.  This doesn’t mean we have to share erroneous information before we know everything.  Rather, it means that we need to share what we can, and what we know, so others understand that we’re looking out for them, and that we will keep them posted.

Sharing information often accomplishes two purposes.  First, it identifies the leader as someone who knows what is happening and will share it; this leads our constituents to want to come to us for assistance.  Second, it provides a means to dispelling falsities.  After all, if a leader hasn’t yet shared it, then maybe it isn’t true (or true yet).

Sharing bad news can be hard, but it is impossible to un-share bad news or misinformation.  Better to be the bearer of bad news than have incorrect information borne for us.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 272

 without  is almost like learning nothing at all.       

I read a great piece by Frank Bruni today in the New York Times about taking risks in education.  In Bruni's view, and I agree with him on this, our schools and places of learning have become risk-free, in a sense.  

True, we want our institutions to be free of violence and safe for all learners and leaders.  But safe doesn't have to equal risk-free.

In fact, our schools should be safe, but our learning shouldn't.  Learners of all ages should feel comfortable taking risks.  Only through risk-taking can we be truly innovative and truly discover new things.

This idea is the same regarding leadership.  Leaders who don't take risks are leaders who breed the status quo.  If a leader plays it safe all the time, than all in the community are likely to do the same.  This means that the community, school, district, what have you, will exist in a perpetual state of wheel-spinning.  Nothing will change, because no one is pushing for change.

As we know, change is necessary.  If we want our education system to be the best it possibly can, we have to keep making positive changes.  The way to do that?

By making sure our learning environments are safe, but the process of learning is not.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 271

is something you make, not something you're given.

We all want to be happy, but it often seems like we expect happiness to come to us.  It isn't that simple, however.  In fact, happiness isn't something we're given, it is something we make.

If we stand around waiting for others to make us happy, we'll be standing around for a long time.  To rely on others to build up our level of happiness is to remove ourselves from the leading and learning frame, and let the proverbial ocean "take us where it may."

While it is wonderful when others make us happy, it isn't realistic to assume that this will always happen.

Instead, we need to pursue our own happiness destinations on the journey of life.  Here are three ways to do this, and be happy about it.

First, make sure that you make the time to pursue what makes you happy.  There is never enough time, and there never will be.  We need to make sure that in all that we do, we're finding the time to engage in the things we like, not just the things we need to.

Second, do what really makes you happy.  It doesn't matter how silly or strange, as long as it makes you happy (and doesn't hurt anyone in the process), you need to do it.

Finally, bring others along for the ride.  While we should never assume others will make us happy, we should take every opportunity to share our happiness with others.

If we remember that happiness occurs because we make it, we always have the power to be positive.  Remember that happiness is in our control.  Therefore, not being happy is oftentimes our own fault.

Quote-A-Day: Day 270

If something is unexpected, chances are, you should be prepared for it to happen. #QuoteADay #Day270 #edchat #edu #ExpectTheUnexpected

There are plenty of adages I don’t put much stock in, but “Expect the Unexpected” is one that regularly seems to hold true for me.  It isn’t just that the things we don’t prepare for seem to happen when we least expect them (or want them) to, but it makes clear that being prepared for anything is truly the best policy.  Let me provide you with three recent happenings in my life where this is the case.

Family: Our first daughter was a late walker.  We had no reason to believe our second daughter would be any different.  Now that she’s walking, and just about to turn one, we have to be extra vigilant, as our house preparations haven’t been completed yet.

Professional: We received a tremendous grant. YAY!  With it came a lot of unanticipated additional responsibilities.  YIKES! (We knew this could happen, but weren’t entirely prepared for it).

Personal: I’m in a number of fantasy football pools.  I thought it prudent to pick up Kirk Cousins who was sitting on the waiver wire for last night’s game against the Giants.  Cousins had a good first half, then threw up four interceptions in thirty minutes.  A bad way to start the fantasy football week. J
These three scenarios are all very different, and all have differing levels of importance.  Yet the lesson is clear:

If something is unexpected to occur, then we should expect that it will happen.  Not if, but when.  The best preparation is a move towards a frame of proactive leadership.  By leading in all directions, we are prepared to lead in any direction life takes us.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 269

Just because someone was there, doesn't mean they were actually "there."

Yesterday, in our first Curriculum Council meeting of the year, I had the opportunity to read a passage from D. Graham Burnett called "Catch and Release."  While it is too difficult to sum up the passage in a quick blog post (after an hour Socratic Seminar, I don't even think I have it quite figured out), one interesting point I took from the reading was that simply our presence somewhere alters reality, and often, we don't even realize it.  Therefore, we might think that we're just fading into the background, but in reality, we are having an impact on the world around us.

There's an opposing view to this, though.  We might be somewhere, but because we don't see ourselves as having an impact, we don't invest in actually being "there."  This is a challenge for leaders and learners alike.  If we assume that we don't have an impact on somewhere or someplace, and don't invest ourselves in what happens, it becomes that much more difficult to build capacity for positive change.

We need to realize two things:

First, we have to understand that just by being somewhere, we make a difference.  We alter reality just by stepping into the room, and if we remember that we can make a difference even without "doing something" we're better prepared to assist those we live with and we serve.

Second, if we realize that most of those we serve think that they can be somewhere without actually being "there" we can help them see that everything we do, every place we are, changes reality and makes us participants, even if we would have hoped we weren't.

The big lesson here?  We are always part of the story, even when we think we aren't.  Therefore, we need to make sure that we are always thinking of how what we do influences those around us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 268

#Money is great at building things up, but it is also great at tearing things down. #QuoteADay #Day268 #edchat #edu

Money is a funny thing.  It's great to have it, but most of the time, we're always left wanting more.  It's a resource where there is never enough to go around, and where no matter what we have, it isn't enough.

The problem with money as a resource is that even though it is great at building things up, it is equally as good at tearing them down.  Money might not be the root of all evil, but it certainly does plenty of harm along with the good.

Money is also a smokescreen for all our other needs.  We often refer to "resource-rich" and "resource poor" schools and districts through the lens of money, which is a problem as there are so many other resources that are important to making things work for learners.

If we spend all our time and energy focusing on money, then we'll be left unhappy, as even in the most "resource rich" districts, more money could always allow us to do, well, more.

Since we're never truly happy with the money we have, even when we have "enough" it's better for us to think of money as just another resource, no more important than anything else.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 267

It should never be about what learners can't do, but always about what they can. #QuoteADay #Day267 #edchat #edu #YouCanDoIt

If we can't focus on what others can do, then what can we focus on?  If we expect others to learn, and feel successful in their learning endeavors, then we have to celebrate their successes and failures, and not focus on what cannot be done, instead choosing to focus on what was, and can be, in the future.

Keeping it all about what we can achieve sets a climate that says, "Even when we fail, we succeed."

Focusing on what can't be done simply minimizes the contribution of all, and if our goal is to keep moving forward, nothing could be done to push us further back than focusing on what can't (or more likely won't) be achieved.

Let's vow to set our sights on promoting learning as a process of building, rather than a process of tearing down.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 266

Doesn't matter how far you've come, or how far you've gone, the path to getting better never ends. #QuoteADay #Day266 #edchat #edu #ASCDL2L

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the path towards always getting better.  Besides becoming a better educator and leader (which is always a work in progress), I’m constantly trying to become a better person.  And, truth be told, it isn’t easy.

As humans, we struggle regularly with the “right thing to do.”  We try to put others first while remembering that we need to take care of ourselves.  We push to make everyone’s needs a priority, without forgetting that not everything can be a priority at the same time.  And, we do our best to make sure that the impact we have on others is more positive than it is negative.

I would like to think that I’m an effective educator.  But, I realize that I have miles and miles to travel before I feel as if I’m as effective as I can be (and don’t tell myself this, but, I don’t think I’ll ever get there).

Learning is a journey, just as life is.  We embark on a path that we know we’ll never get to the end of.  And yet, during our short time on that path, we must do whatever we can to soak up as much learning as we can, and by the same token, pay that learning forward to others, so that they might get a bit further down their respective pathways than we did ours.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 265

No has ever been told, "Stop. You're being too innovative."

Leaders get told lots of things.  Sometimes, what they're told isn't so nice.  But, I have never met a leader who has been told, "Hey, you need to stop innovating.  It's too much."

That should be a lesson to us.  If we need to stop anything, it is never innovating.

Creating things that are new is imperative to education "working."  If we don't keep innovating, if we don't keep moving things forward, then we're stuck, and if there is one thing we know, it's that being mired in the status quo in education is not a great place to be.

How do we keep innovation moving forward?

First, we should be comfortable taking positive risks.  Taking steps into the great unknown is a key role for leaders.  And, if we are comfortable taking risks and making mistakes, those we serve will be more comfortable doing so too.  After all, nobody ever innovated by doing nothing at all.

Second, we need to reward "outside the box" thinking.  We can keep doing the same thing over and over again, or we can try something new and different.  New ideas don't necessarily necessitate action and change, but they do keep the creative juices flowing.  The more new ideas we're exposed to, the more likely we'll be able to come across something that truly brings us to a whole new level.

Finally, we have to publicize the changes we make, and celebrate those changes that bring about benefits for those we serve.  Publicizing can be as simple as a quick note or as expansive as an opportunity to bring in local and national media.  Sharing the good things we do is a great way to let everyone know we value innovation.

You can never be too innovative, so welcome any opportunity for positive change and exploring new things.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 264

People will care when you give them a reason to.

Newsflash: People won't think what you say is important just because you're saying it.

To build capacity, we have to help others see the importance in the initiatives we're keyed to, and likewise, those with initiatives they want us to explore need to find ways to show us how important they are.

We're all different, and since we inherently tend to think that our ideas mirror those of others, we have to step out of that frame from time-to-time to consider the fact that there are many more viewpoints than our own.

An idea's importance is often as much about how it is expressed, than how the idea itself "works."  Sometimes the greatest ideas get lost, simply because people didn't understand why/how the idea was so great.

Therefore, the best leaders understand the importance of a well-crafted initiative elevator speech; a simple summary of the importance of an idea that will help others its the worth too.

How do we help cultivate care?  Here are three thoughts:

1.  First, understand why the idea is important yourself.  If you can't verbally, visually, or in any other communicative form, express the value of your idea, then stop and consider whether the idea actually has deep value.

2.  Make it about the message, not the messenger.  When sharing why people should care, it should always be about where the idea will get you, not about how the person who is sharing the idea will get you there.  People may care about you as a person, but they won't care about an idea simply because it is coming from you.

3.  Implement the "tire spoke" approach.  To build capacity, you have to first start with those on the inside.  Your leadership cabinet, executive group, administrative council, etc. should be the first stop in bringing people on board.  The more support you have on the inside, the easier it will be to extend that support outward.

Ideas truly have a life of their own, and often that life has little to do with the idea maker.  Remember that to make people truly care, we have to first give them a reason to.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 263

No matter how many times you bang your head against the wall, it is still going to hurt the next time you do it. #QuoteADay #Day263 #edchat

It’s frustrating when people keep doing things over and over again, despite the fact that they aren’t getting different results.  What’s even worse is when we know deep down that what we’re doing isn’t effective, yet we keep doing so anyway.

Change is never easy.  In fact, sometimes, it is incredibly challenging.  But, if all the data points to what we’re doing as not working, then we have to change.

Doing the same thing over and over again in hopes that the next time it will work is an exercise in futility, a losing battle with learning, and a lack of leadership.

And yet, we’ve all done this before.

The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to set clear and simple goals to dig ourselves out of the rut we’re currently in.  Oftentimes, we keep doing the same “broken” think over and over again because the leap to what might work is too great.  By setting small goals and taking tiny steps, we can begin a longer trek towards making things work, and just as importantly, changing our mindset to showcase the importance of change and the damage of the status quo.

Doing the same thing multiple times in hopes of a different outcome is a huge waste of time and energy.  In today’s world, who can afford to waste either one?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 262

The best leaders not only laugh with others, but also laugh at themselves.

Does anyone know when we became so serious?

We all know some leaders who never seem to crack a smile.  It's as if all aspects of the work they do is so onerous and so devastating, that each day is a disaster even before it has begun.

That's no way to live.

And it's no way to lead.

The best leaders know that the only way to truly lead with others is to "live" with them, and that means that we have to be just as capable of being silly as we are of being serious.

That doesn't mean that you have to swing all the way to the other side and be a jokester.  Instead, as situations arise, we must be comfortable being serious, silly, sad, and every other range of emotion that exists.

While work is different in many ways than our personal lives, it is also an extension of who we are and who we need to be.  That means that the leader who only shows one side of him/herself is the leader who can never truly lead.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 261

is 50 percent what you do, and 50 percent what you think about after you've done it.

If we aren't reflecting, are we truly leading?

That's a question I was thinking about this morning at the gym.  So often, when we're asked how we're doing, we reply with something like, "Great.  Just really busy."

While being busy is great (it's often a clear sign that the position we're in is challenging for us; we need challenge if we're going to lead and learn effectively), being so busy that we never have the time to reflect on our actions is the antithesis of great.

I've written previously of the power of reflection.  But, in reality, it isn't a separate frame from that of leading.  Both the "doing" of leading and the "thinking of what we've "done" are two faces of the same coin.  We can't be great leaders if we aren't spending a great amount of time reflecting.

Building time for reflection into our days isn't always easy.  Many of us are just as busy once we leave our professions as we are when we arrive.  But, blocking out time doesn't have to be an impossibility.  Here are some thoughts for feasible reflection times (they may not get you to 50 percent, but it's a start):

  • The commute to and from work; turn off that radio and put that phone down
  • A pre-morning thinking session; arrive to work thirty minutes early as we're often at our thinking best before we're taxed with other mind-challenging items
  • During lunch; eating helps energize us, and also is a natural mind-clearer
  • After lunch; take a thirty minute recess and walk either through your building or take a walk "in the wilderness" outside
  • Do an evening check-in; have a conversation with yourself (either internally, or face-to-face with a tool like Google Hangouts)
None of these will work for everyone, but it is likely that at least one will work for everyone.  The point is, if we take the time to think about our work today, we'll be more effective leaders tomorrow. 

 And who wouldn't want that?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 260

The worst thing you can ever do is nothing.

Sometimes inaction paralyzes us.

We feel as if we can't do anything, because we aren't sure what to do.

The problem with inaction is that it is the one thing you can do that is always going to result in nothing.

Inaction, of course, is very different from waiting, thinking, and reflecting.  It is okay to take time to make a decision, as long as the decision we make isn't to do nothing at all.

This can be a challenge though, as doing nothing is always the easiest thing to do.

Of course, easiest is rarely best, and to not take any action predisposes us to not learn from a given situation.

And any choice that results in no learning is a bad choice.

When we're faced with a challenge, we should remember that while it is often bad to act too hastily, it is always bad to not act at all.  Better to take the time to gather data and then act properly than to stick our heads in the sand and not act at all.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 259

Giving into temptation doesn't define you.  However, how you learn from it, does.    

I read a great piece this morning from yesterday's New York Times.  The piece, written by Pamela Druckerman, shared some insight on the marshmallow test, and what temptation really means for us as members of society (and to a smaller extent, as leaders and learners).  The article, titled "Learning How to Exert Self-Control" shared thoughts from Druckerman based on conversations she had with Walter Mischel, the lead behind the marshmallow tests started in the late 60's.  The gist of these tests was to study delayed gratification, and to see how young children handled the idea of "waiting," in this case, to eat something they really enjoyed.

Druckerman shares many great tidbits in this piece, one of which is Mischel's belief (based on research), that distraction is a great way to deal with self-control, and that it isn't a problem to give in to temptation every once in a while, but temptation should never define our decision-making.

As leaders, this should make perfect sense.  We are nothing if not human, so to pretend that we aren't prone to temptation (whether it be to buy that chocolate bar, stay up later to finish a movie, or buy the newest video game) is just silly.  And in fact, giving in to that temptation can be just fine.  But, how we learn from that temptation is of utmost importance.

Let's say that you stay up to finish a movie.  The next day you're tired.  If you then continue to day-in and day-out stay up to watch movies, you haven't learned well from that temptation.  If, however, you realize that you'll need to alternate your late nights with a number of earlier nights, one might say you have learned, and as such, have used temptation to your advantage.

The big learning here is that our actions, at least in the initial frame, rarely define us.  Rather, it is how we gain insight from our actions, and what we do in response, that makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 258

The best understand small steps often lead to the destination more effectively than large ones.

As I was walking through the apple orchard today, I came close a number of times to twisting my ankle on the half-eaten apples and cores that littered the grass.

I realized that in order to make sure it was an injury-free trip, I would need to look down to watch where I was going as much as I was looking up to admire the trees and the view.  In addition, I realized that if I took smaller steps instead of bigger ones, I could better monitor where my foot would go.

Not especially "breaking news," I know, but it speaks to an important leadership lesson: When we work towards meeting goals, often the small steps we take can be just as powerful as the large ones.

Leading today isn't easy, and it isn't just hard for those who are leading others.  For those we serve, especially in education, the path is littered with half-eaten apples and cores, and if we aren't careful, we can twist an ankle (or two).

For that reason, it often pays to take slow, measured steps rather than giant leaps and bounds.  Sure those big steps can be fun to watch and can result in some really amazing results, but so can small steps, if we're willing to give them the chance, and the time.

Another benefit to small steps is that they provide an even greater opportunity to celebrate success.  While an express train might get you to your final destination faster, a local provides you with many opportunities to stop, explore, and celebrate what the world has to offer.

As I sit in my living room typing this post up, I'm looking at my two ankles and smiling, knowing that the small steps I took helped me make sure that the only thing I left the orchard with was a bag of apples.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 257

is the only thing preventing us from moving from who we are, to who we want to be.

This morning I read a great piece in the New York Times about the power (or power-sapping) that fear can have over our lives (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/travel/ignoring-the-warnings-for-a-honeymoon-in-mexico.html?ref=travel&_r=0).

It was such a great piece, and it made me think a bit about how when we're fearful of things, we can miss out on important opportunities.  That isn't too say we should be fearful about nothing, but rather, if we let our fears get the best of us, then we'll never be able to be the best that we can truly be.

In the article in the Times, a newly-married couple ends up exploring areas of Mexico that are deemed dangerous by the US, and they have an amazing time and meet amazing people.  Granted, that level of risk might be too high for some, but it speaks to the necessity of pushing our own boundaries as a means to forcing ourselves to become better (or at least more informed).

When we're faced with a challenge in which there is a tremendous unknown, we have to be willing to take risks, and while it is perfectly reasonable to acknowledge the fear we face, it is often unacceptable to let fear rule our decision-making.

Be fearful, but understand that if fear makes the decisions for us, then we will never be the people we can possibly become.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 256

It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”

Really, it is.

In fact, it’s better than okay to say, “I don’t know;” it’s a necessity. 

As leaders, we need to be willing to admit that we don’t know everything, and since there is much we don’t know, we have to be comfortable saying to others that our realm of knowledge isn’t absolute, and there is much that we still have to figure out.

What’s key, however, is that we make sure that others know that we aren’t using “I don’t know” as an excuse, but rather as a real response.  “I don’t know” can’t be said in isolation.  There needs to be follow-up with something else, such as, “Let’s find out” or “Let me look into this for you,” or “Check it out and let me know what you discover.”

These follow-ups show others that we’re interested in what they’re asking, and what the response will be.  Nothing discourages drive like an interpretation that someone doesn’t care about what you’re doing.  By encouraging discovery, the best leaders allow for their knowledge base to grow while that of others is growing too.

No one will think less of a leader for not knowing the answer.  But everyone will think less of a leader for not caring about the question. 

Be comfortable using “I don’t know” as a jumping off point to future discovery, both for you and for those you serve.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 255

It's rarely about what you've done, but always about what you're doing. #QuoteADay #Day255 #edchat #edu #ASCDL2L #DoWhatMatters

At times, we like to believe that the past shapes who we are, and what we’ll do.  But, in reality, it is the present, and where that leads us in the future, that makes the most difference.  While we are shaped by our past, we aren’t owned by it.  What we do today, however, makes us who we are.

As leaders, one of the most important things for us to remember is that the past is truly the past.  We should call on it as we lead and learn, and we should utilize our past experiences to help guide what we do in the present, but in the grand scheme of things, how we handled a situation in the past, as important as it is, takes a back seat to how we address a similar situation in the here and now.

Therefore, when we take action, or plan to do so, we should remember that what we do must be based on who we currently are, not who we have been.  This is important, because if we truly want to show growth, we need to step out of the shadow of the past.  In this way, every action we take reflects us now, and as such, when we look back on situations in the past, we can chart our growth, rather than seeing a static response that never changes.

In other words, it is rarely about what you’ve done, but always about what you’re doing.  Understand that to lead in the present we have to be in the present, and as much as we might like to rely on the past, the only true way to grow is to lead for the future.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 254

I was reading up on an interview that Daniel Pink did with Amy Azzam in the recent Educational Leadership.  During the interview, Pink shares thoughts on what makes learners actually want to learn.  One of the things Pink talks about is that when it comes to learners, we want those who are engaged, and truly invested in the learning process.

Pink mentions (and I wholeheartedly agree) that those learners who are compliant are no better off  than those who are defiant, when it comes to embracing learning.  In fact, the way I see it, both of these ends of the spectrum fully discourage learning.  The problem is, when learners are defiant, they are actively choosing not to learn by shutting down and shutting others out.  Those who are compliant do exactly the same thing, but in a slightly different way; they choose not to learn by never shutting anything or anyone out and simply doing everything that is asked.

How is being engaged different?  Quite simply, those who are engaged embrace learning, by thinking deeply about what should be shut down and why.  By monitoring their own learning pathways, engaged learners are not only passengers in a vehicle, but are controlling both the vehicle itself, and on a larger scale, the traffic that surrounds their thinking.

An engaged learner welcomes the opportunity to hear from different people and their perspectives, knowing that even if they come to different conclusions, they’re better off for having heard (and listened).  This is very different from compliance, because the engaged learner understands the importance of pushing back respectfully.  If we don’t question what we’re told, then how do we actually learn?

Whether young or old, all learners need to move through life as engaged participants.  At the same time, when we are sharing knowledge with potential learners we need to make sure that we share it in a way that can engage them, and when we sense defiance or compliance coming on, we have to stop and consider how we can move away from these and back towards high interest and high relevance.