Plus One Mentality

Isolated, lonely, and disillusioned are adjectives that some educators use to describe their low moments in their noble quest to support learning. These terms, along with being tired and having a lack of time to create and design beautiful learning experience, can fill the end of a long school year. All of these feelings are exhausting for educators, and once they start, they often spiral into stress and anxiety. 

I'm on a quest to look for small ways to be proactive in preventing these low moments and build the whole teacher that remains robust in mind, body, and spirit until the end of the school year. 

This quest has led me to explore the concept of a plus one mentality for educators. 

Plus one mentality calls on educators to support other students and educators beyond the normal scope of their work as a regular practice. Plus one mentality blends the ideas of Wharton professor, Adam Grant, in his book Give and Take; passion projects for educators, and the best of being a connected educator.

It calls for all educators to have at least one project that supports student or adult learning beyond the walls of their classroom, school or district. It moves their sphere of influence from the students and adults that they work with every day to learning everywhere.

Why does the plus one mentality matter? It takes the routine and changes it. The jolt of having a project in which you are passionate and inserting it into the normal day injects fresh energy and ideas. It showcases that the things that you know and do can have a larger impact, and the plus one mentality also connects educators to others that may have a belly fire for modern learning that they aren't seeing or feeling from inside of their school or district. 

Plus one mentality also spreads ideas. It plants fresh ideas in new places, and gives them an opportunity for another home. Adam Grant describes these acts of giving as a habit that results in exponential returns. These returns include additional positive energy, a sense of confidence that individuals see you as an expert, and a growing network of idea amplifiers. 

Asking for people to do more work rarely gets a standing ovation, but developing a culture that embracing the plus one mentality can inoculate educators from the end of the year blues where physical and mental health are sacrificed and isolation, loneliness, and disillusionment creep heavily in the halls and walls of our schools.  

Begin today by asking an educator beyond your school or district how you can team up to support an idea or project or take something that you know that students enjoy about how your classroom or school and share it with fervor. 

Waiting to be Told What to Do

There are a number of people that want to be their own boss. They want to make decisions. They want to control their time and space. They want to work on things in which they are passionate. All of these things can make us feel alive and most human. 

I've noticed lately though that some of these same folks that crave that autonomy are standing around waiting to be told what to do. They are waiting for direction. They are waiting not to make a mistake. They are waiting in a time when we don't have time to wait. 

How can we create a culture that empowers individuals to seek out, explore, create, design, and risk into solution making? Rarely do ideas generated with missional purpose get splattered on the wall for disposal. 

We could all steal a few moments of our days to be our own boss and stop waiting to be told what to do. 

Facilitating Great Learning

Facilitating great learning includes allowing the right amount of frustration, asking the right questions, and coaching individuals into deeper participation and thinking. The role of the facilitator is essential for learning to be maximized. Consider using the following strategies and concepts.

  1. Those that are talking and doing are the most actively engaged in the learning. Great facilitators choose the quantity and quality of their words wisely.

  2. Questions are king. Facilitators often answer questions with questions, but they are careful not to allow new learning to be framed in faulty understandings as unlearning can be most difficult.

  3. Learning happens in mistakes. Great facilitators support learners through mistakes instead of saving them from mistakes.

  4. There is collective wisdom in the room. It is the facilitator’s role to amplify and cross pollinate that wisdom.

  5. Energy is king. Feed the room with positive energy for learning. Model the beauty of discovery and curiosity.

Avoiding the Learning Space Gap

As the research continues to mount on the importance of intentional learning space design, innovative, progressive, and forward thinking schools are engaging in a change process. They are starting the conversation, budgeting, and planning for their next generation classrooms. This is excellent news for researchers, educators, parents, and students. The unintended consequences of this achievement is the emerging learning space gap.

Like its predecessors the achievement gap, the opportunity gap, and the experience gap, the learning space gap is set to leave hundreds of thousands of classrooms behind. We need to make an effort to bring the learning space design that all kids need to as many classrooms as possible. This means sharing hacks, tips, and tricks that can be implemented without a budget. It means thinking about $500 budgets instead of $50,000. 

We also need to support a “designer’s culture” in all schools. This is a culture where every educator thinks and sees like a designer so that they can be effective for kids with each of their micro-decisions in their learning space.

Equity in learning spaces is essential as we move forward and so many practical things mined from research and translated into “teacher” can help to make this a positive reality for classrooms across the globe.  

The Silence of Survival

After a week in Hawaii, it is clear that the raw natural beauty of this place has drawn many to visit and stay. It is unmatched in any of the states on the mainland. It is both raw and delicate, and it allows the spirit to wander. In contrast, when we look beyond this majestic surface, there is a state of survival similar to the rural and urban cities that we call home. There is an economic poverty that is hidden by the natural beauty and the spirit of the island and its residents. Beyond the main roads, there are houses and properties that speak of survival. There are farmers and merchants that count on every dollar from the weekly farmer's market, and there signs everywhere, when we are awake to see them, that these islands that we visit for pleasure have a deafening silence of survival. It is hard to fully enjoy the experience knowing that a struggle by families and kids hides blocks and streets away. I continue to be surrounded by this juxtaposition, but I'm leaving my heart and mind open, open to the beauty and open to pain. More adventures and more real moments lie ahead.