I am amazed by what I wrote months and months ago. You really should keep a blog and write and write. At the time, your posts may be rough, but they will clarify and when you reread them months late, you will be surprised by your insights.
It seems that some months ago, I jotted down some of my thoughts on using Twitter in classrooms. In the course of the post, I jotted down three critical features of developing flourishing communities like thriving classrooms.
Talk to someone. Work with someone. If there is no one else, feel the ground under your feet. Listen to the birds. Pay attention! As we pay attention to the world, we ourselves come alive and the world pays attention to us.
Managers & designers: Start the conversation. Provide tools and opportunities for people to talk to each other. Watch the range of conversations and help people join in. Also watch the content of conversations and help people extend their conversations – to more people in and outside the organization.
Be positive. I don’t mean gushy and airy-fairy. I mean talk to the facts, including your own negative emotions, but don’t exclude other stories. We should own our negative experience but not think they are the whole story. Keep a gratitude diary because if you don’t, with the best will in the world, when shit-happens, and it does, you might find you cannot see the good with the bad.
Managers & designers: Set up “positive” procedures – which are procedures that allow us to recognize negative events, which ensure that we never disrespect anyone by ignoring how events impact on them, yet which acknowledge what is good and true and that we want to do more of. Abandoning the negative art of “gap management” takes thought and disciplined work. Falling out of love with our own tempers takes practice and like-minded friends. But unless and until we can achieve positivity : negativity ratios of 5:1 when things are going badly, we will not predictably sustain communities where we will flourish. The key to flourishing communities begins with us and our loyalty to our members.
#3 Meta-cognition (talking about)
As people settle in, watch out for discussion of the “rules of engagement” and the purpose of our existence. Everyone will have an idea and they need to be heard. We need to listen to others to allow them to hear themselves and to help them relax sufficiently to hear others. We need to be patient because this takes time and some people aren’t good at it. Once advocacy is balanced with curiosity, the group might begin to thrive as a group. Blogging, of course, as a form of talking-about – of putting our experiences into words and making sense of them.
Managers & designers: Help the group move through the five stages of group formation (forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning) and move as fast or as slow as they do extending the conversations appropriately but listening to the relevant concerns that people have at each stage though, quite rightly, these concerns are very different from yours. People move on faster when they are allowed to complete each stage to their satisfaction.
Leading takes work. No doubt about that! It is not as glamorous as it looks.
If you have read this far, you’ll have noticed that I am making little distinction between classrooms, businesses and for that matter, my own life. I don’t. I think the three points
- talk to others
- keep faith with others (even when it taxes your patience)
- and put into words what we are thinking and experience
these three simple points are guides to building any community that you care enough to build.
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