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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #170

The Dialogic Learning Weekly #170
Hi everyone, welcome! In this week’s newsletter: a reason why we are all feeling so tired, some emerging thoughts on transition and innovation.

Can you hear me OK?
Our current reliance on video conferencing has made me realise the types of communication cues I rely upon. How does the saying go:
You don’t realise what you have got, until it has gone.
I am lamenting the loss of the signals that help me understand the experience others are having. The way people stand; a shift in tone; eye contact and breathing. There is so much that I pick up that I can no longer access.
These cues help paint a holistic picture of what is being conveyed and what’s expected in response from the listener. Since humans evolved as social animals, perceiving these cues comes naturally to most of us, takes little conscious effort to parse, and can lay the groundwork for emotional intimacy.
However, a typical video call impairs these ingrained abilities, and requires sustained and intense attention to words instead. If a person is framed only from the shoulders up, the possibility of viewing hand gestures or other body language is eliminated. If the video quality is poor, any hope of gleaning something from minute facial expressions is dashed.
What replaces this natural unconscious perception, is an effortful, hyper-focused search for cues. A malfunctioning sentinel scanning, searching, scouring! This type of processing is tiring.
Throughout the course of 5 hours of meetings today, the least tiring was an hour long coaching phone call. I prefer to use the phone because it is just one channel of information and attention, and I know I am not going to search for other cues.
You will know the unusual tiredness too if you have had 4-5 hours of video calls. This National Geographic article helped me understand that better.
‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here's why that happens.
Looking Ahead
Casey Fields Primary School is a brand new government school in Melbourne. It is one of my school partnerships and this week I have been collaborating with the leadership team.
We have been turning our attention to the transition back to a face to face experience of school in Term 3 (for government schools in Victoria). The leadership team is reaching out to their community to surface the stories that have not been told.
There are lots of assumptions about what students and their families are experiencing. By using a design thinking methodology we will hopefully better understand the different needs, as we transition to a semblance of normality.
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
Tom Stoppard
Our students are experiencing such an increase in control and agency over their learning, how will they return to the formal routines of school?
What methodologies will allow us to surface the untold stories of this experience, and perhaps unmet needs?
Your Models Are No Longer Relevant
I have been pondering on the way our models of change and innovation have been shattered by this experience. Decades of digital transformation in schools has happened in a few short weeks.
What we considered to be innovative practice within our community 2 months ago has to be rewritten.
Innovation is very contextual. What is new for one region, district, county, school, department or class, is not necessarily new for another. Of course our recent experience has been a great leveller, it has meant we have all lifted.
But what comes next for schools? I think it will be about discerning the most valued impact and then sustaining that change. Maybe it goes like this.
  1. Hold on. Breathe.
  2. Surface the stories. Listen.
  3. Filter for patterns of high impact.
  4. Reconnect with first principles (of teaching and learning.)
  5. Share what works.
  6. Keep going. Persist.
  7. Consolidate your gains.
  8. Keep going.
Innovation is just as much about continuous implementation as it is about the next new thing.
The effort all teachers and leaders have invested into such rapid digital transformation deserves a full debrief. Not just a snap back to the ways things were.
Thanks to Dean Pearman for the provocative chats this afternoon about innovation.
We made it to another weekend. They seem to be barrelling around so quickly. It is a privilege to have the chance to share ideas with you like this - thank you for being a subscriber.
As always, let me know what resonates.
In dialogue we trust.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Tom Barrett from Dialogic Learning

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