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L&D Lessons Learned from Being a Parent (Part 5 of 5)

Once we get into a comfortable routine, how easy is it to want to try something new? Erin Clarke shares a few ah-ha's about what she discovered and how she became better when she decided to leave her comfort zone and try something new.

Try Something New

During the 2020-2021 school year, my oldest was in third grade, and in our state, school was remote for six months of the year and an optional remote for the last three months. Which meant, we got to do third grade virtually from home. (And yes, there is an emphasis on the “we”. I would like to give a shout-out to all of you parents who did the exact same thing. We ALL earn a gold star for virtual school!) 

Here’s the thing that amazed me. She got up everyday, got ready, and made it a priority to log-in and participate. But why? What was it that engaged her so?

I would love it if all my virtual classroom attendees arrived with her exuberance!… Some of it is certainly my daughter’s personality and her age, but what I also observed was her teacher continually trying new things. He adjusted the flow of activities so there were more breakout rooms earlier in the day when the kids were more focused, he spent more time on assignments when it was clear they weren’t grasping the concepts, and he offered variations on projects when students had different supplies available. I am sure this was far from easy for my daughter’s teacher, but it reminded me of the importance of trying new things. Both in the classroom, whether it’s virtual third grade or facilitated training sessions, and out of the classroom.

And speaking of trying new things… Anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t like change. I’m not one who is going to rearrange my living room when I’m bored, or drive a new route to the store. I’m a tried and true loyalist. I’m a “this is how it’s always been” type of gal. Problem is, that doesn’t lend itself well when you’re trying to muddle through a global pandemic and its aftermath in real time. We just don’t know what we don’t know, and what was true yesterday, may not be true today. 

The same could be said of parenting. What worked as a bedtime strategy last night may not work tonight and the favorite food at lunchtime might be “disgusting” by dinner. We have to constantly try new things.

It’s also true for those of us in learning and development.

I have relatively recently been introduced to the work of Dr. Jane Vella and her book, Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach, in which she outlines the 12 Principles of Dialogue Education. One of the principles is “praxis” which is a Greek word meaning “action with reflection”. When we learn or experience something new, and reflect on that experience, we are applying the principle of praxis. So I have been paying extra attention and consciously reflecting lately – when have I tried something new and what have I learned?

(Side note: If you want to hear Dr. Jane Vella talk more about Dialogue Education, here’s a quick and fun interview.) 

Before being home during the pandemic, I didn’t know that my neighborhood bloomed so beautifully in the spring. I learned this from taking daily walks with my kids and observing the amazing changes in nature. I didn’t know that I could actually like exercise and become addicted to riding a stationary bike that goes nowhere. I didn’t know my kids could be happy eating microwaved chicken nuggets and frozen peas day after day. I tried new things and I learned from the experience.

Before joining this amazing team of Learning and Development Professionals, I didn’t know how quickly we could create content by putting like-minded people on a zoom call. I didn’t know that Storyline could give you an estimated run time for an eLearning module. I didn’t know how to use Google Slides well, and I didn’t know nearly the amount of information I do now about features and benefits of so many of our customers’ products! I didn’t know I could reflect on my lessons learned in parenting, apply them to the world of work, and share them through a blog. I am continuing to learn by trying something new. And the best part is – the learning continues!

A few fun photo memories: we finished virtual third grade / endless neighborhood walks / summer smiles

My kids taught me: Try something new. You might be surprised by how you can become better because of it. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit of me with you through this mini series. It’s been fun to reflect on my adventures in parenting and find parallels to work.

Please share your experience! When was the last time you tried something new and learned a different, maybe better way? Or were surprised by what the outcome was?

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