Monday, February 4, 2013

Ask More Questions!

As I sit on the plane heading back to WY from Educon (bracing for culture shock) I am reflecting back on what I have really taken away from the conference. In truth, I am more than a little shell shocked.  Being in such a large city (there were probably more people in the hotel I stayed at than live in my town) and surrounded by so many fascinating people with so many interesting ideas (every single person I talked to was doing something truly innovative and inspiring in education) has left me needing some time to decompress.  

Luckily I have notes on all the big ideas, things to look into, and interesting theories that occurred to me during the conference that I will refer back to and process over the coming weeks.  But as I sit here on the plane there is one huge “aha” moment that is at the forefront of my thoughts. That is the need to ask more questions.

This “aha” occurred for me during a David Jakes/Pam Moran/Christian Long session that I attended on design thinking.  The conversation leaders did an amazing job of facilitating meaningful conversations in a way that I had not previously experienced.  Each section of the room was given a scenario (ours was a tech saavy middle school teacher who only had two computers in his room).  Instead of proposing solutions (we were in fact forbidden from problem solving), we were directed to determine directions for further questioning that we would recommend pursuing before ideas for solving the problem were proffered.

This type of conversation required a bit of a mindshift for most folks in the group who were by their own admission, problem solvers.   However, I think it is a mindshift that was worth the effort.  When I reflect back on decision making processes, both personal and those I have collaborated on with others, that have not resulted in ideal outcomes, it occurs to me that more questioning might have led to a different path.  Taking time to generate thoughtful questions and to explore them leads to a more comprehensive understanding of the context and thus a more thoughtful solution.   

This evening I will be a part of a strategic planning session for my district.  I am not sure if people will take time to ask deep questions before making a 3 year plan for the district.  I most likely will not be able to change their approach if they don’t.  However, I will look at the process through a new lens and learn something regardless of what happens.  

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