Majority Rule – the Inherent Flaw

Bringing together a team to make a plan can produce excellent results – or the process may lead to disagreements and a patched project that goes nowhere.

Perhaps success is not in majority rule.

Perhaps success is not in majority rule.

The following is a description of a group that took a different tack – one that honored each member’s contribution.

It was a contest – a science project at the university level. Three teams were competing and, although this seems unimportant to tell you now, two teams were Caucasian and one Native American.

On the Monday morning of the contest, the teams were given the challenge and told to take as long as they needed to create their plans. At that point, the contest to execute the plan would begin.

By Tuesday afternoon, the two Caucasian teams had checked in and were ready to begin the contest. The Native American group was still consulting among themselves. By Wednesday morning, the two earlier teams were commenting on the perceived inability of the last team to come up with a plan.  A few derisive remarks were heard.  Late Wednesday afternoon, the last team appeared with their project plan in hand.  Asked by a few puzzled and slightly disgruntled members of the other two teams, they explained their seeming lateness.  “Your team plans were put together with the underlying belief that the majority should always rule. As a result you finished the plan faster, but unique ideas that didn’t’ agree with the majority were set aside or just plain ignored. Our culture does not work like that.  We work through the plan until every member has contributed and adjustments are made to create a workable plan that has been thoroughly analyzed and laid out.”

It was true. The plan based on a thorough analysis and a fully involved and supportive team won.

Perhaps it is time to learn that the majority rule should be set aside for well thought out plans based on the intelligence of the entire group.  If I may state analogy, it is like taking the lowest bid. It does not mean the best materials or the highest workmanship will be used, it just means that the job is done more cheaply.

 

 

You Are What You Think

Check out what you're thinking.

Check out what you’re thinking.

Recently, I heard an individual claim that he felt constantly happy.  His explanation was that when he awoke each day, he began to think with gratitude about his life. Not only what he had, but what he learned, who he knew, and the opportunities he’d had. Before he got out of bed, his thoughts were firm in what he had going for him.  Best of all, he said he was never sick. I realized, who could entertain sick thoughts with all those great ones filling one up full!

Follow up that talk with my daughter. She was regularly watching a new TV show with speakers that emphasized paying attention to your thoughts – the old adage, ‘what you think is what you are’. This led her to identify the thoughts she had about herself: how she looked, what she listened to others say about her. She realized that self-criticism made her not just unhappy, but miserable.  As she thought better thoughts, life was looking good.  Her conclusion – “Why should I believe what others say? I know who I am.” Right on.

Jump to a recent lesson I learned from the two of them.  I serve on a committee that always seems to be disorganized, pushy, and downright angry.  Talking it over with a friend, the recommendation came: “Let go of my thinking that was determined to ‘be right’.  Pause, let the others think after you say something. then wait longer and see if they say what you would have said.”    That  night at the meeting, I paid attention to my thoughts.  I was totally amazed. The very ideas I had mentioned slightly days before came back at me better than ever. A direction for action that I was going to suggest and ‘plead my case for’ was laid out beautifully, and it wasn’t me talking!  I had changed my thoughts and actions, and the world changed with it.  Epic.

 

A long ago poem springs to mind:

I am not what I think I am.

I am not what you think I am.

I am what I  think you think I am.

And now to add:

I will think what I want

me to be.

And… Be grateful!

Think First….5 Ways

Open your door to thinking!

Open your door to thinking!

Are you a  learner or a teacher or are you  running a company? No matter what you do, to think is to add brilliance to your life!

Research proves that certain types of thinking just plain make you a better all around success story! These five will put you on the path to better thinking.

Ideas all over everywhere!

Ideas all over everywhere!

PRODUCTIVE/CREATIVE THINKING

Get the creative juices rolling. With this technique, you will be popping with new  ideas and alternatives every time!

Step by step and the answer is clear!

Step by step and the answer is clear!

DECISION MAKING considers the impact as well as the questions to lead you to finding the best solution to your problem  – whether shopping or taking a step into the future!

Think ahead and save time and trouble.

Think ahead and save time and trouble.

FORECASTING/PREDICTING isn’t fortune telling, but focus on the possible results and implications before you make a move OR figure out what went wrong from many angles, and you are doing what most people never learned.

A planner avoids mistakes and capitalizes are the future!

A planner avoids mistakes and capitalizes are the future!

Make that PLAN, and it reveals: specific steps, materials needed, and  the research as well as the possible  problems and solutions that may save you from disasters.  New home?                     New step in life?   Doing a project for work or school?  Develop a plan first!

Planning looks at the puzzle pieces before you start.

Effective communication brings it all together.

Analogies, metaphors, specifics or broad ideas – effective COMMUNICATION                           makes your point clear – and your voice heard.

 

Because it’s easier to introduce new ideas with familiar foundations, Cinderella of fairy tale renown will take you down the pathways to thinking.  Decision making helps Cindy decide how to get to the ball. Predicting possible problems, she identifies the implications of a midnight curfew. Creative ideas help her to get her three sisters’ bossy work load done faster – and better.  A plan helps her hide her glass slipper from her sisters.  Communication makes her points with analogies and metaphors when she writes to her sisters back home.

                 For  Cinderella’s detailed thinking techniques , go to http://www.trudicarter.com                                and click on Trudi Loves Teaching.

 

 Be brilliant!  Be a thinker!

 

 

 

Addendum.

This list of thinking skills is based on the teacher training program Talents Unlimited. I trained for them in  the 1980’s while teaching in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. How I use them now is my own take on them as I blend in other teaching ideas.

Source: Talents Unlimited materials are based on extensive research to prove that using thinking skills to learn subject areas increases student achievement both in the classroom and in testing. To find out more about them, go here:  eric.ed.gov and search Talents Unlimited.

The Age of Rewards

 

Stars or not?

Stars or not?

Stickers? Candy? Stars on a chart? If a reward is waiting, will the child work harder? Do better? Want to go home and learn more?

In my  humble opinion, either the successful children earn the rewards all the time, and the poor students have one more thing they cannot do. Or, the rewards are set up for the poor students because they need a boost, while the hard worker receives nothing. Then, the child of a higher intelligence doesn’t see the point of working harder.  After four decades of teaching different grade levels, the ‘ages’ of reward ideas came and went. The following ideas worked well for me either as rewards for behavior or for finishing work early.

The Age of Stickers  Teachers were spending a small fortune buying beautiful stickers for well done work and behavior that improved. Instead, in our classroom,  there was a basket with the sticker freebies [Actually quite nice as they were for the teachers to use.] that came with the book orders. The students were told to take one if they wanted one.  Seldom taken, the children did enjoy making their own decision as to whether they should have one. (First grade.)

The Age of Candy  Some classrooms had gallon jars filled with candy to give the students. In our class, candy was limited to one event: good behavior outside the room. The class as a whole had to receive a compliment from another adult for their good behavior  in the hallways.  (Quietness, straight line, getting drinks properly, etc.) As they re-entered the classroom, one single, lone, little M&M was taken by each child from the candy box.  If there were two compliments, there were two candies.  Yes, they loved it. (First grade.)

P.S. Holding the candy box was one of the classroom jobs.

The Age of Sharing If a student wanted to share something they wrote or a new idea that they figured out in math, they came to the front of the room with a friend and told their classmates all about it. (Grades 1-4.)

The Age of Reading  A stack of books on a topic in science or social studies was available for anyone who finished his classwork early.  Some were picture books, and some had in-depth articles. (Grades 1-4.)

The Age of Blocks  Having an industrial arts background, I had a stack of mini blocks I’d painted.  Kept in a basket, they could be used for five minutes. (Second grade.)

The Age of Drawing  Early in the school year,  I taught the children how to draw simple figures using math shapes – squares, triangles, etc.  Later, thumbprint [oval] designs were used as taught in a popular children’s book. (Ed Emberley) Blank paper and markers were on a table for those who finished early. (Grades 1-4.)

The Age of Charts and Smiley Faces   A giant chart had the children’s names listed on the left, while the dates of the spelling tests were across the top. Small stickers were put up to show the test was taken.   Oops, I take it back.  The smiley face was orange if the test was 100%, and yellow to show it was taken.

Not only did I save  money on treats and stickers and small rewards, but the children learned that work completed and well done was, truly, its own reward.

Computers or Enrich Thinking

Chairs facing, I learned.

Chairs facing, I learned.

I was raised ‘pretech’.  Elementary school  in the 1950’s and high school in the 1960’s was low key. As a child at home, my time was occupied with reading, gardening, drawing, photography, and roaming the woods. As a teacher in the 1970’s and ’80’s, I rewarded students for finishing their work early with independent investigations and activities, rather than computer time.

Today, as pictures in the news of students with laptops and articles about learning the basics on a computer abound,  some related research comes to mind. One experiment compared a child’s  brain activity during  TV watching to looking out a window. TV watching had almost a straight line or no brain activity.  Looking out the window had significantly higher brain activity. Also, a student’s study effort  rewarded with TV time significantly decreased information recall. Now the question, can computer time enrich thinking?

As a teacher, without a computer, it was natural to enrich the assignments. Giving a report? The student gave a five question quiz to their classmates,  graded the answers, returned them to the students;  and gave a class summary of the results. There would have been no time to use a computer.

Reading groups focused on biographical books about the same person,  then compared and contrasted similar events.  The favorite was the Great Brain series.  For fun, this same sixth grade reread Dr. Seuss for a week! There were a lot in-depth observations during the class discussion time.

To enrich the writing process, students learned how to critique writing – their own efforts and others.  Again, no time for a computer.

In essence, without a computer, they had the time to participate at higher levels of thinking. One last observation: As a child I needed to learn my multiplication facts. My mother sat me down on a chair facing her with our knees touching.  I learned them, and still remember the love.    LOL

VIGNETTE:  I first recognized the computer impact when my son called from work asking how to make his new ‘slightly smaller’ bed sheets stay in place. As I mentioned the words, ‘hospital corners’, he paused, then said, “Got it, Mom.”  The Google search and computer pictorial had beaten my explanation. “Motherhood is on the way out,” I commented to him. He chuckled and hung up.

NOTE: See trudilovesteaching.wordpress.com  for lessons on the above mentioned ideas.   Search ‘reading’, ‘presentations’ and ‘writing’.

Options for Writing Based On Abilities

 

Success comes when writing options are offered.

Success comes when writing options are offered.

If a teacher captures a student at the writing level at which he can succeed, the child gains confidence to move forward.   Students who begin at the easier levels will move up as they see how other students succeed.   The options listed below led to the  students’ willingness to move to more independent levels of writing. As they succeed, be sure to provide time for them to share their results!

To cover the range from totally dependent to independent writers, these ideas were used.

1.Two children of the same ability work together.  This works because neither child can lean or dominate the other.  As the lesson on enriching writing is taught, these two students work together to develop their work. Both children are responsible for writing a final copy.

2. A child who wants/needs to copy from the board is seated where it’s easy to see.   This approach shows that copying is allowed. Some children may copy everything with no rhyme or reason. They are happy just to be writing!  Over time, as they hear the other children share their sentence/story assignments, they will ‘catch’ the writing process.

3. Encourage enriching the sentences. Take time during the writing time to ask if anyone has enriched one of their sentences. (See the related blog “Young Writers Enriching Sentences”.)

4. Be available to help copy ‘a sentence or two’.

5. Post the introductory sentence, and let students choose from a list of class generated sentences which ones they will copy next. This takes a lot of pressure off a budding author.

6. Spelling. As they call out a word, write it on the board. (For ideas to encourage spelling, go to the website trudicarter.com then the blog  Trudi Loves Teaching,  and on to the post on spelling.)

VIGNETTE.   In a fifth grade class, we were learning how to give input to help others improve their writing. The students practiced giving suggestions with a piece the teacher had written.  As time went on, they contributed their own writing for a class critique. One girl held back. Her success in writing was low.  After watching other students have their work improved by their classmates, she reached that day when her hand waved, and she said, “I want my story on the overhead. I want to hear what I can do to make it better.” Listening to her classmates help each other and finding out how the improvement process worked, she became willing to join in.

Not only the children improve in writing over time, but you will find more ways for them to succeed.