Monday, January 16, 2012

Story – A Strategy for Generating Ideas

We know that stories make information come alive and are a great way to connect learners to new information and concepts.  Meaning and involvement become more personal for the learner when stories are involved. This is an example of how story was used during an advisory committee meeting as a way to generate ideas from members.  In this case advisory committee members were asked to individually create their own story.  This story would be rich in detail  and would depict someone in the community that would benefit from completing an associate degree in the Business Management program.  They were given five minutes to write their stories.  Each member shared their story while someone outlined the important details on an individual flip chart page.  Next, the group was paired up with an advisory committee member and a college representative.  The pairs reviewed the various pages and brainstormed ways to connect with the person in the story. Ideas were captured on post-it notes.  What resulted from this activity were new ideas and very rich information.  The advisory committee members reported enjoying the experience.

This example comes to us from Karen Barr, Beth Kost and Dianne Lazear.  October 2011

Creating a Story from a Picture

Story can be used in every phase of the learning cycle.  This is an example of how story is used in the “generalizing” phase. It comes to us from Sherry Nazer, a student in Dianne Lazear’s Business Management class.  Dianne was teaching a unit on ethics.  The students were asked to create a learning activity around the concepts they had been studying and then facilitate the activity in the class. If they created a game they needed to supply the answer key to the game. While studying this unit, Dianne displayed various ethical principles on posters around the classroom.  Sherry gave each student a different picture and asked them to create a story from the picture that pulled in one of the ethical principles. Dianne reported a high level of intense engagement as the students developed their stories which were then individually shared. The photos combined with the stories made the information come alive in a personal way. You can see how various aspects of the brain were engaged. The pictures evoked emotion and triggered memories.  Both the right and left sides of the brain were involved with the right brain looking for the big picture and meaning while the left brain fills in the details. 

Teaching and Leadership

I reconnected recently to the field of leadership. I am taking a class on instructional design from Dee Fink and am reading his book "Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses." When talking about teacher credibility, Fink draws from the work of Kouzes and Polzner and highlights these three characteristics: competence (knowledge of the subject), trustworthiness (have the best interest of the student at heart), and dynamism (excited about the subject).

This lead me to revisit the books that I have on leadership.  I plan to share a summary every so often.  Below is a summary from Frances Hesselbein's book. My life in leadership: The journey and lessons learned along the way.

There are several key take aways from this book, one is that leadership is done in the spirit of service. Another has to do with inclusion and the role the leader plays in helping people grow the mission in their hearts and minds so they can express it everyday in their work.  Hesselbein suggests that this is how you grow the organization of the future. She describes how she implemented what she calls circular management versus hierarchical command and control, in her role as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of America and now as the CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute. Hesselbein defines leadership this way. "Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do. You and I spend most of our lives learning how to do and teaching others how to do, yet it is the quality and character of the leader that determines performance, the results. Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do" (p.89).  She suggests that we use the power of saying no as a way to define ourselves and out organizations. Being true to our values and our personal and organizational mission requires saying no. It enhances the ethical performance of the leader and the organization. I love this quote from President Lincoln.

     I am not bound to win,
     But I am bound to be true.
     I am not bound to succeed,
     But I am bound to live
     Up to the light I have.