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What I learned last week from podcasts - Jan 1st

January 11, 2017

In the past year, podcasts have become one of my go-to items for learning. I often listen to a podcast and find great resources, tools, and ideas to share with my clients, students, friends, and family. However, as the weeks pass after listening to a podcast, I find it more challenging to recall the information at an adequate level of detail for sharing.


So, I've decided to launch a new series where I attempt to record and reflect on what I've learned in the past week, to not only share it with others in the short-term but hopefully in the long-term as well. I listen to a few podcasts religiously on the topics of coaching, leadership, education, business, and try to keep my learning fresh with podcasts from a variety of other areas as well. 


As an ideal kick-off for this series, I listened to a podcast about effective strategies for recalling and retaining information. Followed by two other podcasts exploring the stages of adult development, and how to solve problems more effectively. 


Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast: Episode 132, Teaching Students How to Learn, featuring Saundra Y. McGuire.


This episode discussed how students often don't succeed in learning because they haven't learned the right strategies for success, and ways to support students for better outcomes. There were a few highlights for me in this episode. Firstly, teachers often don't recognize that students don't know how to succeed. I was impressed by the honesty of Dr. McGuire, who shared that for the first 30 years of her career she approached student learning with the belief system that students didn't have the capacity to learn challenging topics. I wonder how many teachers operate with this assumption about students abilities? The second takeaway for me was that not only do teachers need to understand how students learn, but they need to be part of the solution in supporting students to develop their learning capacities and showing students what level of success is possible. When Dr. McGuire started focusing on teaching students better strategies they had drastic shifts in their learning and success in the classroom. Simply helping students understand that there are different levels of learning, and to see that their ability to learn has nothing to do with their intelligence and a lot to do with the way that they are learning can significantly improve the outcome for students. Finally, there are clear strategies that students can implement for greater success, here's one example


Coaching for Leaders: Episode 273, Essentials of Adult Development,
Featuring Mindy Danna. 


Through this podcast, I began to think about learning from a different perspective, that of an adult. Although it wasn't always the case, we now know that the stages of development continue into adulthood.  
There are five stages of development, in Robert Kegan's Constructive Developmental Theory, and each stage requires a more complex understanding and experience of life. My biggest takeaway from this episode was from reflecting on this theory as applied to my management experience. In the past, I felt perplexed and frustrated when one of my employees failed to progress on areas of feedback, especially when they acknowledged the growth area as beneficial to them. Why weren't they trying to grow? I often felt as if they didn't care enough to improve, which made me form a negative opinion about their goals within the organization. I never considered the possibility that they weren't developmentally at the right stage for that growth. I'm interested in understanding the nuances of the stages of development, but I feel that even knowing they exist can provide a deeper level of emotional intelligence when engaging with others. 


HBR IdeaCast: Episode 556, The Secret to Better Problem Solving, featuring Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg.  


Finally, this episode discussed the difficulties faced not from solving problems with the wrong solution, but in solving the wrong problem altogether. To understand this idea in practice, imagine that you own an apartment building and your tenants begin complaining that the elevator is too slow. You may jump in and explore ways to make the elevator faster, which could be very timely and expensive. On the other hand, you could step back and recognize that the problem is that people don't want to wait and explore solutions that would make them willing to wait longer. The perfect solution could be placing a mirror by the elevator so you provide tenants with a distraction to increase their willingness to wait without dissatisfaction. People often jump too quickly into problem-solving mode, without first understanding what problem they are trying to solve. If we can increase our skill to reframe problems quickly, we can identify the elements of the problem that might be easier and better to solve. 


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