Success: The power of coaching with growth mindsets

This thoughtful talk by John Wooden gives some valuable insights into ways in which we can get the best out of our learners. John Wooden is referenced in a number of books I’ve read recently, including Carol Dweck’s “Mindset: The new psychology of success” and Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code”. There are some great links between his words and the work that Dweck, in particular has developed. I met with a teacher recently who is working to develop a whole-school culture of growth mindsets, with teachers, students and parents & carers alike.

I am excited to see what the change will be as a result of this very deliberate work. It would be great to hear from other schools who are embarking on similar journeys, so please leave your comments below for everybody to share.

This talk is pretty much an all-encapsulating journey into the mind of a powerfully inspirational coach. Sit back and simply immerse yourself in the experiences and love of learning that he shares here.

Policy & Practice: Tread softly on their dreams

Sir Ken Robinson: Part Two”. This talk follows up Sir Ken Robinson’s original TED talk with a call for a revolution, rather than reformation in education. I particularly like his request that we ‘disenthrall’ ourselves from that which we have become accustomed. The original text of the Lincoln speech he quotes is worth a read, and possible a wordle

All in all, with this talk, I suggest you just sit back, watch, listen and reflect. Oh, and don’t forget to make yourself a cup of tea to drink while you watch. And then go to to check out his video responses to tweeted questions about education. Oh, and then read some of his books.

And no, I’m not on commission. I promise.

Here’s those fabulous cognitive media peeps again. A 10 minute animation of his address on the same topic. 

Leadership: learning entrepreneurs, stand up!

A delightful 6 minute talk from Derek Sivers (plus an extra at the end) which explains that it is those who follow who give leaders their power. A leader without any followers is a loner. This is a great talk that is worth showing anybody who is interested in making a change in their own lives or the lives of others.

It is also one of those films that can be shown, as it is, to students, to get them to reflect on peer pressure and influence and to encourage them to think about the reasons behind any of the choices that they make. 

I’ve written about the concept of a ‘learning entrepreneur’; a learner who is hungry not for material wealth and power but for intellectual wealth and power. I think this film does a great job of reassuring anybody who is excited by their own learning, but feels that this makes them an outsider. I am sure there’s a tie-in here with the powerful Apple adverts of the 80’s too…

Engaging learners & leading changes

Simon Sinek unpicks the importance of why we do what we do in his talk about leading change here. In using the brain as a model, he provides a powerful insight into how leaders should construct their message or sell their product. In doing so, he highlights the way in which we are physiologically wired to respond to the world we encounter.

We first experience the world through our emotions. The part of our brain that is activated when we find ourselves in a new situation is our most primitive, reptilian brain, the amygdala. Very soon after this, our rational, language-functioning part of the brain starts to make sense of what we are feeling and sensing. Finally, we formulate a considered response and can make an informed decision about what we are going to do or say. All of this happens in a matter of milli-seconds (probably less, I’m sure somebody can tell me).

On watching this, I wondered whether we could design and then communicate learning in a similar way. If we did, it would look something like this:

(1) WHY are we learning this today? This appeals to the emotional brain of our learners. Particularly if it is reinforced with a smile, a greeting and energy that betrays our own excitement and passion for what the lesson is about to cover.

(2) HOW are we going to learn today? At this point, we are appealing to the rational brain of our learners. We all like to know if we are going to be asked to actually DO or SAY publicily when we are in a new situation. Just think about any workshops you’ve attended. You get that sinking feeling when the presenter, having led the session from the front for 20 minutes, without warning, asks you to interact with the people sitting near us. And this after you had understood you could get away with being an entirely passive recipient throughout the whole session. The thing is, we all like to know from the outset what will be asked of us. We need to be emotionally prepared to be sociable, whatever our age or experience.

(3) WHAT are we going to learn today? Finally, we communicate the context and the content of what we are going to learn. The WHY has put us at ease by the expert emotional stage-setting led by the person at the front. We know HOW we are going to learn; with whom and with what and where. Now, we are emotionally prepared and engaged so we can get into the ‘stuff’ of the learning.

I’ve started to use this as a framework for lesson design and it really seems to work. Admittedly, I do still find it uncomfortable as it contradicts what I was always told, particularly when using group work, “Don’t mention group work until the last minute otherwise you’ll lose ten minutes of the lesson to your students arguing over this when you’re trying to convey the lesson aims.” But I now find that if I have organised the groups effectively, and established a culture where group work is a regular feature of learning, any discussion of the groups by the students is simply a vital component of their emotional readiness to learn. If the WHY is explained well enough, you cut down on much of any consternation expressed by the students.