In-depth Post Week #12: Tilling the soil, Planting the seed and Nurturing Growth

At this point in the project you should have concluded the preparing and negotiating phase.  We will now spend most of our time in the enabling phase.   The mentor provides adequate conditions, such as support, challenge and vision, adding feedback and reflection during the enabling phase.  Mentors coach and model what they would like us to know, understand and practice, providing continuous feedback and support and creating a learning environment to build and maintain the relationship.  The learning environment includes the physical setting, resources and opportunity. Respect, trust  and communication are important elements in maintaining the relationship as well.

Zachary (2000) notes that feedback and overcoming obstacles are two strategies to enable support, challenge and vision to occur. You, as the mentee, are responsible for asking for feedback by:

– being specific and descriptive in asking for feedback

– making sure that what you are asking for is clear and understandable

– staying focused

– avoiding being defensive

– seeking alternatives, not answers

– checking for understanding

– making sure you are getting what you need

– asking for feedback on a regular basis

Lastly, how can obstacles be overcome or reduced?

– making sure you are available but not expect they are available at your beg and call

– making sure your mentor is  more skilled than you are

– making sure your mentor is focused and meeting your needs

– making sure you commit as a mentee and follow through on your responsibilities

Reflection Questions for Week 12:

1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

6. What are you learning about one another?

Enjoy the learning in the moment!

Mulder ten Kate

In-depth Post #4: Week 8

Zachary points out that “mentoring relationships progress through four predictable phases: preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure” (p. 49).  Each of these phases may vary in length depending on the people involved and type of project.  Opportunities to reflect, such as blog posts, enhance the learning throughout these phases and allow for tweaking interactions throughout the entire duration of the project.  Zachary notes that ” Reflection, in combination with the key elements of readiness, opportunity, and support, forms the scaffolding (or structure) for facilitating the learning that takes place throughout each phase” (p. 50).

Preparing:

– clarifying expectations

– setting goals

– making sure the mentor is ready

Negotiating:

– defining content and relationship

– sharing understanding about assumptions, expectations, goals, and needs

– addressing confidentiality, boundaries, and limits

– sharing details about how and when to meet, responsibilities, criteria for success

Enabling:

– implementing the project

– maintaining trust, communicating and learning

Coming to closure:

– evaluating learning

– applying learning to other situations

– acknowledging mentor

– celebrating learning

At this point in the project, you should be in the enabling phases of the mentoring relationship.   Zachary (2000) concludes, “Facilitating effective learning relationships requires a mentor’s commitment to time and investment of time during the entire mentoring cycle.  Reflecting on one’s own learning and tending to the key elements of readiness, opportunity, and support to make sure that they are in place helps mentors promote the learning of their mentees” (p. 64),

Reflection Questions for post #4 :

1. What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why?

2. What is working well? Why?

3. What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens?

Mulder

Week six: Working the Ground Considering the Context

Zachary (2000) defines “context” as, “the circumstances, conditions, and contributing forces that affect how we connect, interact with, and learn from one another” (p. 29).  Every talons learner should realize that this statement does not only apply to our in-depth project, but also, for example, to our group projects in our quads and committee work for our upcoming adventure trip.  Even though each of these examples has a context, they vary from one another significantly. These contexts are situational and complex. In other words, the context changes from project to project, but also from moment to moment during one project.

Lets say that someone makes  a remark in a group that someone does not appreciate or takes offense with. The context in which we work will have slightly altered the relationship the group members have with one another.  The person most deeply affected by the comment may be assertive and point out how the comment was perceived or may remain silent and no one will know that something in the group has slightly shifted. Every act and every word will change the context in which we work with one another. At the same time, what we do or say in one context may not be appropriate in another context.  How we interpret a situation will depend on our own experiences and history.  Daloz (1986) points out that we, individually and collectively, respond to people’s behaviours and values in a context and in turn the context responds to us as well.

Zachary (2000) states, “The context of a mentoring relationship adds its own unique layer of complexity…Because multiple  contextual layers affect an individual simultaneously, learning partners in a mentoring relationship need to communicate expectations and establish ground rules and processes that work for them in specific context” (p. 30).

Is the context of the mentoring relationship, for example:

1. long distance?

2. cross-cultural?

3. cross-gender?

4. cross-generational?

In any mentoring relationship, some ground rules need to be set up in advance so the mentor and mentee have a clear picture of what the purpose, processes and product are going to be at the end of their time together.

Some of the questions and points to address are:

1. How many times are we going to be meeting?   How regular?  How long is each session? Time commitment?

2. How are we going to be communicating?  Online?  In person? Over the phone?

3. Where are we meeting?  Why?

4. How do we maintain our connection with one another?

Your task for your third post is to answer at least three of the following questions as well as report on your progress so far.

1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

2.  What relationship challenges did you face?  Address some of the sub- questions below

a. Were you communicating effectively with one another? Explain

b. Were you candid and open in your communication? Explain

c. Did you take care to check out assumptions with each other? Explain

d. Were you actually listening to each other? Explain

3. What learning challenges emerged?

a. What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?

4. What logical challenges affected your communication?

a. What factors affected your ability to interact effectively?

5. What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring  interactions?

6. What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies?

Context affects the learning that is going to take place. Zachary (2000) writes, “Context is an intimate part of who we are.  We bring contextual layering to our relationships-and, in fact, to everything we do. Consciously reflecting on context helps us ensure integrity of the learning process” (p. 47).

Mentorship Week four

Laurent A. Daloz (1999) states, “Education is something we neither “give” nor “do” to our students.  Rather, it is a way we stand in relation to them” pp. xvii).  His notion fits well with our program’s autonomous learner model and its philosophy. He asks an important question in Mentor Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, “The question for us as teachers is not whether but how we influence our students.  It is a question about a relationship: Where are our students going, and who are we for them in their journey?”  (p. 5).  A few years ago TALONS teachers and learners chose one word to describe a focus  for the year.  My word was “relationship” or to be more action-oriented, “to relate.”    Your  mentor and you are in relationship with one another during your in-depth project for the next five months. I will dissect this relationship approximately every two weeks in another blog post. Daloz (1999) points out that the mentor performs three tasks.  They support the learner.  They challenge the learner. Finally, they provide a vision for the learner.

Like Daloz, Lois J. Zachary (2000) uses the metaphor of “journey” in her book, called The Mentor’s Guide Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. During the next few months, I am going to be reflecting on her eight chapters:

Chapter one: Grounding the Work: Focusing on Learning

Chapter two: Working the Ground: Considering Context

Chapter three: To Everything There is a Season: Predictable Phases

Chapter f our: Tilling the Soil: Preparing

Chapter five : Planting Seeds: Negotiating

Chapter six: Nurturing Growth: Enabling

Chapter seven: Reaping the Harvest: Coming to Closure

Chapter eight: Regenerating Personal Growth Through Mentoring

Chapter One:

The in-depth project focuses on the learner and the direct experience.  Berends (1990) writes, “Everything that happens to you is your teacher.”  The mentee is an active partner and the mentor is a facilitator.  The learning process is self-directed and the mentee is responsible for their own learning.  The length of the relationship between the mentee and mentor depends on the goal not the calendar.  There will be many mentors over a life time andpossibly multiple ones for one project!  The relationship is not limited to face to face interactions even though there is a lot to be said for this approach.  For example, we gain tacit knowledge, not easily taught, by working alongside a mentor over long periods of time.  It is process-oriented supported with critical reflections, such as edublog posts, and applications beyond traditional schooling (Zachery, 2000).

The mentor and mentee relation is a learning journey for both partners. Our past and current experiences shape who we are and would like to become.   It is about self-discovery and learning. Helgeson (1995) writes about personal ecology and a web of relationships. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a god mother, a teacher, a snowshoe-er, a gardener, a kayaker, a pianist, to list just a few.  In these diverse roles, I relate to various people in various situations.   The mentor and mentee form another relationship in this complex web of relationships they already have with others.

Another concept frequently mentioned in the Talons room is the notion of facilitation rather than teaching.  The facilitator, or mentor, in this case, must

  1. create an effective learning environment
  2. involve the learner in planning and what they  are going to learn
  3. encourage the mentee to design their own learning contract/ plan
  4. support the learners to find their own resources and accomplish their objectives
  5. and finally, help the learners to implement and evaluate their own learning (Zachary, 2000)

Throughout this entire process, the mentee, the learner, will self-reflect as part of their learning cycle.

Something happens? –> What happens?–> So what? –> Now what? –> Something happens? and so on.

The mentor will need to be aware of the following guidelines:

  1. How fast the mentee’s learning should progress?
  2. When should the mentor intervene?
  3. How best to collaborate with the mentee?
  4. How to keep the focus on the learning process?
  5. How to set up the best environment for learning?
  6. How to structure the learning relationship and process?

Zachary (2000) concludes in chapter one, “The role of the mentor is to facilitate learning in such a way that the knowledge, skills, or competencies connect to action in the present and possibly in the future.  This requires building on the learner’s experience, providing a conducive environment for learning, and appropriately challenging, supporting, and providing vision for the learner” (p. 28).

Questions to think about for your post #2:

  1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
  2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?
  3. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
  4. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

In-Depth Project 2016: Week one

In-depth Study: Two Universal Goals.

The in-depth project is one of the TALONS Program’s final, large component of the school year, in addition to the May Adventure Trip.  The in-depth project has two main goals:

1. Know something about everything and everything about something.

In school you are usually taught about many subjects.  In this project, the goal is to learn a great deal about one field of activity, usually not available in a school setting.

2. Learn what others tell you is important and learn what you decide is important.

In school you are told what to learn and how to learn it.  In this project, you will decide in what field and with what strategies, you will become an “expert.”

REMEMBER:

We are interested in three components of your study.

1. The process: as young people, you will be learning patterns of behavior that will emphasize your strengths and that will help you overcome any difficulties.

–          Project will last approximately five months

–          Your bi-weekly blog post will demonstrate the process:

Blogging Criteria

Post includes: thorough progress report, includes information on mentor, describes frustrations, overcoming obstacles, includes evidence that illustrates process and product, includes modifications to project, includes relevant research, quotes, articles, references, websites etc, shows a caring about project.  Entry makes sense, is written concisely. Includes answers to questions in Ms. Mulder’s post 4
Includes most of the above description, but in less detail. 3
Includes about half of the above description, but in little detail.  Little progress is demonstrated. 2
In-depth study is progressing too slowly.  Entry is vague.  Demonstrates that not much effort has been made since last entry. 1
Not completed or handed in on time 0

2. The product: The product will include three areas:

i.            The evidence of learning

ii.            The source of self-esteem

iii.            The cause for celebration

3. The mentor: The relationship with the expert in your field.  This relationship will include three areas:

i.          Meeting with mentor on regularly basis

ii.         Expanding network in community

iii.       Getting feedback on progress

iv.       Obtaining an in-depth understanding of chosen field.

The learner’s first entry will  introduce their project, reasons for their choice and a description of their mentors.  In three weeks, learners will report back about their mentor and first few weeks of progress.

Sample Projects:

Andreas is mountain biking

Natalie is sewing

 

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

One of three TALONS “teachers”

Post #8: Last Progress Post

Topic 16: Interruption

De Bono writes, “In general, interruption is not something to be encouraged. There may, however, be occasions where interruption is useful and even necessary” (p. 193). A conversation is a dialogue and an interaction. It is important that people get a turn in conversation and give other people a chance to talk. Many interruptions are ego-driven. Other interruptions, such as offering examples, new perceptions, and values, amplify the conversations and are often considered less irritating.   They should be kept brief though. In addition to amplifying interruptions, challenge interruptions, such as errors in logic and misinformation, are often justified and important. You have three choices for interrupting or not:

  1. Wait until it is your turn to speak
  2. Interrupt right away and say it
  3. Interrupt at the right point and state you will elaborate later.

Interruptions may also happen to express doubt.

Task:

Recall a time that the conversation between you and your mentor was interrupted by one of you. Why was the conversation interrupted? Was it justified? Explain why or why not.

 

Topic 17: Attitude

There are many different attitudes that people can bring to a conversation: boredom, bullying, superiority, arrogance, righteousness, dumbness, eager helplessness, triumph of reason over emotion, agreement with the most powerful, innovator and negative enthusiasm.

The battle attitude is demonstrated where participants only see their points of view, trying to win a conversation. During an ego power game one person tries to get others on board to exercise ego power, trying to dominate the conversation. A person with a learner attitude, on the other hand, tries to learn something during the conversation. A person with an explorer attitude wants to explore different ideas, topics and concepts, mostly interested in the truth. A person with a constructive attitude wants to do something, going beyond mere reflection. A person with a fun attitude wants to enjoy the conversation. Lastly, a person with the “who cares” attitude focuses on the interaction between people not necessarily what was said.

Task:

Describe some example of the different attitudes that have been part of your conversations. Describe at least two examples.

Post #7: One month left!

Topic 11: Emotions and Feelings

This chapter explores the red hat in more detail. De Bono states, “If we had no emotions and feelings it would be very difficult to make decisions or choices” (p. 137) and “Emotions and feelings are the way we apply value to a situation. Our sense of values arouses our feelings, which then become emotions if they are strong enough” (p. 138).

Selective perception is when our emotions and feelings focus us on what we want to see and reinforces what we believe already. The way we see the world is filtered through our emotions and feelings, controlling our perceptions. De Bono points out a paradox. Feelings affect our perceptions but “without feelings we would not be interested in perceiving anything at all” (p. 139).   When making choices between options that are basically identical we use our feelings to figure out which feels the best.   Many rational decisions are based on underlying feelings and emotions.

De Bono distinguishes between subjective and objective adjectives.   Objective adjectives support logical decisions more than subjective adjectives would. Adjectives are simple and describe our feelings and emotions most effectively.

First reactions tend to be based on feelings and emotions. First reactions may add to the conversations; however, in some other conversations, listening, asking questions and considering all factors are more helpful before a first reaction is shared. Body language will often give away your first reaction.

Task:

Describe a situation with your mentor when you shared a feeling or emotion at the beginning of a conversation and a situation when you shared a feeling or emotion at the end of a conversation.   What criteria did you use to state your feelings early in the conversation versus to state your feelings until later in the conversation.

Topic 13: Diversions and off-course

How would you deal with diversions in a conversation? It depends on the purpose of the conversation. Is the conversation serious, boring, entertaining, or scattered? Conversations that move from person to person or topic to topic too quickly can be challenging to follow. Conversations that very few people can participate in are boring and conversations that are repetitive and routine are boring, too. Provocative questions can make conversations more interesting.   Elaborating on points can make conversations more entertaining and informative as well.

De Bono writes, “The repetition of conventional points of view is boring unless there is an effort to reconcile the points of view and to design a way forward” (p. 165). Suggesting new ideas, creating doubt and finding ways to move a discussion forward minimize diversions.

Humour is also an important element of conversations, lighting things up, adding fun, allowing things to be said that may otherwise not be said, allowing for speculation. New information, new ways of looking at information and listening to new insights make a conversation more enjoyable.

Task:

Describe an example of a diversion in one of your conversations with your mentor. How did this diversion affect the rest of the conversation?

Concepts and Alternatives (Post # 6)

  1. Concepts

De Bono states, “Concepts are the parents of practical ideas” (p. 107). For example, transportation is a concept and car is the practical idea. “When you believe you have extracted the concept from what is being said, you can check on this by asking a question: ‘It seems to me that the concept here is…Is that correct?’” (p. 111). Concepts are helpful when clarifying less familiar information or facts. Some concepts may be too specific, narrowing our thinking. Do Bono identifies different concepts, such as business concepts, customer value concepts, and delivery concept. “Concepts capture the main ‘essence’ but may not cover all aspects” (p. 118). Learning a need skill may be riddled with new concepts.

Task: List some examples of concepts in your most recent sessions with your mentor.

  1. Alternatives

Let’s have a closer look at “alternatives.” They provide additional insight, improvements, simplifications, and flexibility. Do Bono writes, “The main point is that having a way of doing something does not mean it is the best way of doing it” (p. 125). There are three stages:

  1. The willingness to look for alternatives
  2. The creative effort to generate alternatives
  3. The assessment of alternatives (de Bono, p. 126)

Alternatives can be explored when doing something or perceiving something. How do we generate alternatives?

For action alternatives:

  1. Think of known alternatives
  2. Then ask what other alternatives may be available

For perception alternatives:

  1. See the situation from another perspective.
  2. Take the opposite of the perception.

De Bono writes, “Alternatives of action and of ideas are about the future. . . .Alternatives of explanation and perception; however, are about the present and the past” (p. 135).

Task: You are a little more than half way your project, what alternatives has your mentor offered you? What alternatives may another mentor have offered you? Discuss.

Complete the two tasks before 11:59 pm on March 27th.

Mulder

Parallel Thinking – The Six Hats (post #5)

Parallel Thinking- the six hats

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle designed the art of argument. De Bono states, “Each side makes a ‘case’ and then seeks to defend that case and prove the other ‘case’ to be wrong” (p. 89). The motivation to be right is high but the actual content not so much. De Bono states, “We use argument not because we think it is such a wonderful method-but because we do not know any other method” (p. 89).

De Bono devised a different way of thinking, called the “Six Hats.” He uses different colours to describe the different ways of thinking about a situation. It is important that every member uses the same hat in the same conversation- parallel thinking. Therefore, you need to be able to identify the different hats.

White hat: White means information. Hard facts are facts that we can check. Soft information covers information such as rumours or personal facts. During a white hat conversations, all information is laid out on the table.

What do we know?

What do we need to know?

What is missing?

What questions should we ask?

How might we get the information we need?

Red hat: Red information includes emotions, feelings and intuition. You do not have to give any reasons to back up why you feel this way. Intuition is helpful when there is no other way to check the information.

I do not like this idea at all.

My feeling is that this simply will not work.

My intuition is that raising the price will destroy the market.

My gut feeling is that this is highly dangerous.

I feel it is a waste of time.

My intuition is that she is a bright person for the job.

Black hat: This hat includes critical thinking and judging information. It helps us to act properly and safely.

Does this fit our values?

Does this fit our resources?

Does this fit our strategy and objectives?

Does this fit our abilities?

The black hat thinking can:

Indicate a fault in logic

Point out incorrect information

Point out faults and weaknesses

Point out why something does not fit

Point out the “downside”

Point out potential problems.

Yellow hat: This hat looks for values, benefits and why something should work. The yellow hat leads to insights and everyone makes an effort to find value.

Green hat: This hat is productive because it “asks for ideas, alternatives, possibilities and designs” (de Bono, p. 99). This hat helps with creativity.

Blue hat: This hat helps organize other hats. First, it defines the focus and purpose of a conversation. Second, it sets up a sequence of hats for the conversation.

For the benefits of using hats read page 104 and for an excellent summary read pages 105-106.

Task:

Record a short section of conversation between you and your mentor. Transcribe the conversation. Identify the different hats in the conversation.  Post is due before 11:59 pm on March 6th.

Mulder

In-depth post #4 (week six and seven)

In-depth post #4 (week six and seven)

A good listener respects the speaker, pays attention, is genuinely interested, and values what is heard. At the beginning of your in-depth project, you probably spend more time listening than speaking with your mentor. Make sure you are patient and do not interrupt the speaker. De Bono states, “If you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than talking” (p. 67). Listening gives you new ideas, new information, new facts, new insights and new discoveries. When listening, take notice of the vocabulary being used, repeat or paraphrase part of the conversation, ask questions (more about this later), or ask for more details. According to de Bono, there are two foci: what is the speaker trying to tell you and what are you hearing and is it relevant to what the speaker is trying to say? For example, listen to the argument as well as the content of the argument.

Try to address some of the following possibilities during your next visit with your mentor:

  • #4 What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?
  • #5 Discuss any new points of view you developed while in conversation with your mentor.
  • #6 What were some of the alternative perceptions that are new to you.
  • #9 How do your mentor values differ from yours?
  • #12 What questions did you ask to check on facts and details? Elaborate.

In addition to how to listen, it is also important to ask questions to generate interaction. De Bono states, “A question is simply a way of directing attention” (p. 81).  Are you able to distinguish between shooting and fishing questions? Which type do you tend to use most of the time? Why? Questions allow you, for example, to check on the source and the validity of the information being shared, ask for more details, ask for an explanation, offer alternatives and possibilities, modify the proposition form the speaker, state multiple choice options and clarify values. Asking about the basis of someone’s thinking, someone’s feelings, someone’s decisions, or someone’s proposal will clarify the conversation.

Try the following during the next session with your mentor:

  • #1 Ask questions. Record them. Why did you ask these questions?
  • #8 Ask for an explanation for a certain skill you are learning. Discuss what happened.
  • #11 Ask a multiple choice question. Was this useful? Explain.
  • #12 Ask the speaker to clarify his or her underlying values for doing, thinking and feeling the way they do.

Keep the interest level high.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

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