Thank you to Morgen Schuler

Nancy White speaking at Ignite 27 (and doing a side angle yoga pose)
Photo by morgen schuler

Earlier this year I presented at Ignite 20, here in Seattle. (Video here. Slides here.) I was delighted to come across some photos by Morgen Schuler of on Flickr. I asked Morgen if I could use her shots and she graciously said yes. She and Kris Krug are two photographers who have captured me on film, unlike most others. So I am delighted to share her work with you. (Hint to my sons – a new family portrait would be a lovely 30th Anniversary gift to your parents!)

Here they are! THANKS MORGEN!

ignite_32 ignite_31 ignite_30 ignite_29 ignite_28

Feedback to Amplify vs. to Recognize

Creative Commons from the wonderful Roland Tanglao via Flickr

The title of the article, Talent Isn’t Fixed and Other Mindsets That Lead to Greatness, drew me in. Here is the opening paragraph.

According to Stanford University’s Carol Dweck, the psychologist behind the much-praised book Mindset: The New Psychology for Success, the attitude that we bring to our creative work—and to mentoring our juniors—can play a huge role in shaping just how much of our inborn talents we realize.

One of the most important things that I think I offer the individuals and groups I work with is to notice their contribution, their creativity, passion, persistence –> whatever the quality. The article calls this people’s “inborn talents.” I think it is more than inborn, but I won’t quibble…

I call my role or function “holding up a mirror.”  Helping people see for themselves their power and agency. But that is an oversimplification. So it seems useful to consider how we give feedback — it matters. Take a look at some wise words from Stanford University’s Carol Dweck.

Could you give me an example of how that language would actually play out if I were giving someone feedback?

A fixed mindset approach would be saying something like: “This project turned out amazing. You’re a genius. I knew you had the talent. This is proof of it.” As opposed to a growth mindset approach of, “Wow, this project turned out fantastically well. I loved the way you mobilized the team, the way you kept everyone focused, the way you brought it to fruition, the way you made everybody feel the ownership.” These are things you can replicate and that you should replicate the next time. Whereas, when I say, “You’re a genius!”…how do you reproduce that over and over?

And what about when you need to give someone criticism? Or point out an area that needs work?

As I mentioned, when you are giving criticism, you need to carefully critique the process someone engaged in and discuss what skills they need to learn and improve.

But I’ve also fallen in love with a new word—“yet.” You can say to someone who fell short: “You don’t seem to have this,” but then add the word “yet.” As in, “You don’t seem to have these skills…yet.” By doing that, we give people a time perspective. It creates the idea of learning over time. It puts the other person on that learning curve and says, “Well, maybe you’re not at the finish line but you’re on that learning curve and let’s go further.” It’s such a growth mindset word.

The “yet” thing is interesting and it reminds me of the power of “Yes, And,” from improv. Interesting that searching for a link took me back to the 99U site! Look at this. It both cases, I don’t think the feedback is limited ONLY to specific feedback — I really liked what Dweck said in response to the first question. But also having some lack of clarity also leads to possibility. Thus Roland’s fuzzy mirror photo inspired my thinking a bit more. Clarity on feedback, and possibility going forward. How’s that? How do you give feedback?

Photo from my friend Roland Tanglao.

Random Sunday Thoughts: Identity/Ghosts

For some reason today my blog software noted a pingback from an old post from 2008 as noted by Patti Anklam. So I followed the link back to my original post and was once again struck by Bill Anderson’s Haiku. Here is the text from the post. 

Bill Anderson adds to the repetoire of conference capture techniques with Haiku Notes from SXSW with PRAXIS101: SXSW 2008 Reflection: Free association as a note-taking practice.

Your social footprint.
Or your ghost on the network.
You have to choose one.

Of course, to complement the text, I’ll grab one of Bill’s colleague’s visual efforts, an image from Honoria Starbuck

via Haiku as Conference Capture | Full Circle Associates.

You have to choose. Bill was and IS still so right. Our digital traces are everywhere. How do we choose to leave our footprints?

Something to think about. But the sun is out. Now back to the garden after an old trace reawaked Bill’s Haiku! (And Bill, blog, will ya!)

This is me, we, us: digital identity

Alan Levine has a great new video shared via the Flat Classroom Project that took me back to some thinking I did with some pals at the University of Reading’s OdinLab (UK) in 2010. We were pondering how to talk about identity, particularly in the internet era. The OdinLab folks had a project for university students called “This is Me” and I did a remix for Librarians as part of some work I was doing in the US.

I loved that Alan presented his ideas about identity through three “slices” of his public self, and that Alan himself is generous about all sides of his life. (Makes for good friends!) I chuckled at the mention of staying in the homes of people he had met “only” online… my husband has been chuckling at me for this since 1996, inviting in what he called, even way back then, my “imaginary friends.” But we all know, you aren’t imaginary! 😉

Take a look at this 13+ minute video. Alan asks some questions that are worth our time. I particularly like the bit at the end when he asks not just about our individual identity, but the “we” — our collective representation and identity online. Cool!

We, Our Digital Selves, and Us – Flat Classroom Project.

conVerge11 Keynote, Workshop and Reflections

I’ve been home just over a week after three great weeks in Australia, which started off with a keynote and workshop at ConVerge11 in Melbourne. (You can access all the session notes here.) The keynote was at 4pm on the first, packed day and I was asked to help encourage people to come to the cocktail reception afterwards. So I took my charge as “drive them to drink!”


My goal was to provoke some thought about how we step beyond this idea of “creating communities for learning online” and instead think about connecting for learning — across cohorts, with the outside world, with our sponsoring institutions and with ourselves. After all, we can’t simply keep joining more groups. That does not scale. When we do utilize community approaches, we also need to think about how we make them the best they can be.  So I wove in the idea of the social artist (borrowing from Wenger and Houston). I confess, I dumped a LOT on people in an hour. If they didn’t need a drink when we started, I’m sure they did when I finished!

Below are my annotated slides because, as usual, my slides make no sense on their own. First is the Slideshare deck, and below is the PDF handout which is actually easier for reading the annotations.

Workshop: Advanced Online Facilitation Practices
Friday afternoon we had a great group for the workshop. Since I dumped a million ideas on everyone the day before, my approach to the workshop was full on participatory. At the last minute I decided to run an online experiment with Google+ at the same time to both capture what we did and to bring in any outside voices from my network who happened to be awake. (Not many… it was Thanksgiving weekend in the US.) 55 comments later… Do read the comments. There is a lot of insight that people contributed and a big thanks to Evan for scribing! (most of the comments under my name are Evan capturing conversation from the room.)
I started by asking people to write their teaching and learning strengths via key words on paper, then share and talk about them with others around them — especially to move away from the people they know. Sort of unmasking the superpowers in the room.
We then went with Dave Gray’s Empathy Mapping exercise to help surface different perspectives. That generated some fantastic insights about our own teaching approaches and what we know or assume about our learners. Somehow someone asked about how to get people in a comfortable place to talk about what they think and I mentioned the Human Spectrogram. Instead of telling, we DID it!  By the time we did both of these activities the 50 minutes had disappeared, we were running five minutes late and everyone was coming in for the closing session. Poof! And ConVerge11 was history.
I also have a Tweetdoc of the Tweets I was able to capture Nancy-White-at-Converge11
All in all, it was a great re-entry into my network of teachers and learners in Australia, a well run conference and …as always, when I present, I present from my own edge to deepen my own learning.