What Different Student Behavior May be telling us

Hands contractJust recently I had an encounter with a 14 year old special needs student who opted to spend the first 15 minutes of classroom time sulking through a project which he seemed to have no interest in.  After several attempts to get him on board with what the class was doing (stencil design to create their own paper montage) I found it better for him to be the ‘color custodian’ for the evening: that meant he got to select colors for each table in keeping with the designs they chose. A task which required some color coordination skill (which he had!) and which would’ve taken extra time for me to complete.  Needless to say, we were all happy in the end. (We’ll discuss ‘rules are meant for everyone’ at another time.)

As educators and youth custodians we encounter moments when a student may want to challenge your instructions and ideas and you find yourself stumped when trying to pull ‘one more strategy from the toolbox’. These are the times we just need reminders on some of the underlying messages that come from negative behavior and how we can focus on strengths then. A task that requires ample doses of patience, creativity and effort.

 Let’s take defiant behavior as an example.  Sometimes when a student acts up this often hides leadership potential that needs to be harnessed. In times like these you want to call on them to assume that “leadership role”. Some useful strategies you can use: let them lead a small team to brainstorm on a class project; or organize the class session by fetching water for the next art project.  For the older student, we may want to challenge them to think about the difference between destructive defiance and healthy defiance. For example, defiance that disregards all guidelines, regulations, law and order can hurt communities. On the other hand, defiance that riles against injustice and inequality can be a way of raising awareness for fairness and equality. One of the key ways to help students build healthy defiance is to encourage that spirit of service to others. One good example of this is by supporting their efforts to write letters to city council leaders who neglect garbage collection in poorer communities. 

Now, let’s consider the student with apathetic behavior; one who shows little or no interest in day-to-day class activities and appears bored most times. This can be quite irritating as you seldom know how to encourage or motivate since they appear not to care about anything.  In fact nothing is further from the truth! On the contrary this student may be hurting deeply and may just be good at detaching themselves to cope. A great strategy is to let them know you have faith that they want to be successful and you then try to find what they care for.  In fact you can even modify a lesson plan to fit their specific interest or invite professionals to speak on topics that peak their interest.  For example a mandatory First Aid class module can even predict positive futures for them as an emergency planning specialist or search and rescue professionals.

The road to positive student engagement is a long and bumpy one but not without rich rewards that can benefit us all. So the next encounter you have with difficult student behavior remind yourself of that hidden message that may be lurking behind the drama!


Posted in education, elearning, Generation Y, leadership, Life Skills, special needs students, teenagers, Training, Youth Leadership | Tagged | Leave a comment

ORIGINALS … & how non conformists move the world



View from Paria Bay

Considered one of this generation’s most ‘provocative thought leaders’, Adam Grant explores how individuals with great ideas get ‘discovered’, their own human foibles (like you and me)  and their persistence to act anyway!

In pointing out some flaws that plague most creative minds, Grant suggests that we’re typically “too close to our own tastes…to evaluate it accurately” or what psychologists call confirmation bias where we focus too much on the strength of our ideas and ignore the limitations. What we deduce here is that as ORIGINALS if we aren’t reliable judges of the quality of our ideas, we may best maximize the odds of creating a masterpiece by creating a large number of alternatives, so that a greater volume of work allow for a higher chance of hitting on one for originality!

In the book’s Foreword Facebook’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg refers to Grant as the Informed Optimist and we can see why as he explores the Sarick Effect with full confidence.  Here, Grant talks about putting ‘your worst foot forward’ – a theory developed by social scientist, Leslie Sarick.  We learn how Rufus Griscom pitched  his online mag and blog, Babble to venture capitalists by giving top 5 reasons why not to invest in his business.  This counterintuitive approach brought in $3.3 m in funding … and that was just the beginning! The lesson here is that most of us have been taught the reverse: how to emphasize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.  According to Grant, that mindset works when our audience is supportive, like let’s say community activists.  But when presenting to venture capitalists, who are looking to poke holes in your arguments you may want to start by ‘doing it yourself’…right!! According to Grant “leading with weakness disarms the audience”

Another counterintuitive concept that Grant explores is one where procastination can be conducive to originality; meaning that by delaying work that needs to be done, you buy yourself time for more divergent thinking rather than foreclosing on one particular idea!  All well and good for those who may not be in the copy room where your editor is breathing down your neck to meet press deadlines!

Using a stream of familiar tag lines such as “Fools rush In”, “Out on a Limb” and “Rebel with a Cause” as chapter headlines, Grant delves into themes such as timing, procrastination, mentors and devils advocates to hammer home thoughts on drawing our better creative instincts. His final chapter on Actions for Impact is indeed a call to action for readers (and inventors) bent on making their original ideas rise to the top. So whether you’re planning the next community rally or a sales pitch for your invention, Originals is certainly a must read for you! 


Posted in education, Generation Y, leadership, Life Skills, millenials, mobile learning, social media, Uncategorized, virtual learning, writing, Youth Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cudillero: A View from Above — Discover

At Wandanlust, Danielle — who’s currently traveling around Europe by sailboat — shares a gorgeous shot of Cudillero, a fishing village on Spain’s Asturian coast.

via Cudillero: A View from Above — Discover

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finding mutual pathways for a Multi Gen workplace

doesn't get better than this.JPG

Just recently I had the opportunity to volunteer at a large non-profit agency in Atlanta where a diverse team of employees came together (at short notice) to rescue parrots that were in a state of neglect by a pet lover turned alcoholic.  The team was required to handle all logistics: police notice and intervention, local SPCA authorities, temporary shelter, vet, food and medication for birds and a volunteer shift schedule to handle round-the-clock care.

What struck me the most is that staff ranging in ages from 18 to 65 had this great sense of camaraderie –  a quality that most reports on ‘multiple generations at work’ don’t seem to celebrate. In fact, we hear complaints on both sides: Boomers: “they’ve got no work ethic” … “they want minimum work, quick rewards”. Gen Y: “their long meetings will kill us ..why can’t they let us work from home sometimes?”

These are just a few of the many issues that supervisors today find themselves facing as they attempt to bridge gaps to get the work done!   Experts like Sylvia Ann Hewitt, of The Hidden Brain Drain, hold the view that there’s more common ground in these 2 ‘book end’ generations than we think!

In her survey of over 3000 participants, there are certain elements that mutually motivate both Gen Ys and Boomers and which talent managers can pay attention to. The popular wisdom that Gen Ys have short attention spans isn’t really true; what they want are a range of experiences throughout their work life.  For example, Gen Ys will happily trump the pay check, and do sabbaticals abroad where they can volunteer to teach English to students; the same is true for those in their 50 & 60s – who themselves want to ‘mix things up’ and join the Peace Corps or volunteer for building homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Another quality that both generations have in common is work/life balance. No longer content with spending 40+ hours in the corporate mill, they both want time to pursue private passions.  Again HR and Talent managers may want to pay attention to this.  ­­Finally, despite difference styles in how they approach work, each generation ultimately want collaboration and a sense of team work.

The old adage that there’s ‘nothing new under the sun’ holds true here – both generations crave age old values for belonging and balance.  The crux now is figuring out ways to make it happen.  One simple way may be ‘opening the conversation’ for solutions – how about intergenerational mentoring where boomers may help Gen Ys with ‘navigating corporate culture’ and Gen Ys can help them figure out the latest tech tool.   Finding solutions to journey together will create the synergy business needs in these competitive times.


Posted in education, elearning, Generation Y, human resources, leadership, Life Skills, management, millenials, social media, technology, teenagers, Uncategorized, Youth Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Metaphor Tool — Live to Write – Write to Live

Sometimes, when we are wrestling with a big topic, it can be difficult to address it in a direct way. For example, I struggle with making time for my writing, as I wrote in a recent blog post. I addressed the problem directly there (and have implemented the strategies I mentioned) but sometimes it can […]

via The Metaphor Tool — Live to Write – Write to Live

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Past: It Sounds Beautiful, Whatever It Means

Tessa Hadley’s The Past is an exploration of family tensions that intensify when a group of relatives gather in their grandparents’ country home, possibly for the last time. The gathering includes …

Source: The Past: It Sounds Beautiful, Whatever It Means

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Technology at the speed of light…. but where will it take us?

The world of technology and robotics continue to astound me.  Before 2016 closes, there’ll be Apple’s I-phone 7. Maybe another one that dispenses medication or selects our evening entertainment is also in the making. These notions may not be so far off if we consider what’s happening in the tech world today.

Remember Disney’s Wall-e who rid the earth of garbage! Next, drones may soon be littering the skies delivering packages and other paraphernalia to our doorsteps.Wall e

Already techies are investigating unmanned vehicles aka driverless cars –images we saw in futuristic film some years ago.  … And, you may ask, just how is this new phenomenon going to be regulated so everyone feels safe on overcrowded highways and by-ways?

Recently we’ve been hearing about the Ladybird, a giant-sized solar-powered red-winged robot that can help farmers manage weed control, by targeting individual weeds and assist with insect management! Following closely behind is Shrimp another robot designed to collect agricultural data in the fields and so help farmers determine crop yield and vigor on their farms.

Ladybird robot


Pretty much we can think of any type of computerized gadget that can support and enhance human capabilities. But the big question is whether they will soon do us out of jobs. More concerning is what will the jobs of the future look like for younger graduates and is our education system surveying the landscape to determine what technological skills need to be taught to keep abreast of changing tides. The more we search the deeper our questions become: How far will robotics advance to assist human efforts and what are some of the ethical issues we need to address as we advance along the technology continuum.  In some fields, scientists are working on getting robots to perform like humans (consider the Henn-na Hotel which opened as a full scale ‘robot hotel’ in Japan!) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/japan/galleries/Henn-na-Hotel-inside-the-worlds-first-robot-hotel/

Other researchers have even gone further afield to consider suggesting emotional intelligence so they (robots) can think like humans.  There’s little doubt that robots can compute faster and sometimes more accurately than humans, but can we equip them with the powers of deduction and discernment or understand human emotions like love and compassion or is the jury still out on whether emotions can be mere computations?

Artificial intelligence warns world-renowned physicist,  Stephen Hawking, has many dangers.  Professor Salah Sukkarieh who is leading the robotic aircraft project at ACFR http://confluence.acfr.usyd.edu.au/display/AGPub/Welcome+to+Agriculture+at+ACFR

has determined that computers can fly and do flight control more accurately than pilots and adds: “but largely computers still can’t deal with risk and uncertainty fast enough, as compared as human pilots”

So where will it end …. I continue to delve deeper with skepticism yet with a sense of awe and wonder.

Posted in artificial intelligence, education, elearning, technology, Training | Tagged | Leave a comment