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Push or Pull - how do you teach?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
A mentor of mine once said, "Kiersten - you're a puller."

of course I had to have that explained to me... so, she went onto explain the theory of pushing and pulling.

Pushing: some people teach by pushing information at a learner... by pushing them to do an exercise, etc

Pulling: some people teach by pulling information out of a learner (forcing their participation), pulling them along on the path to discovery

My mentor was right. I am a puller. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

What are you? Have you ever thought about it?

WHY do you teach the way you do?

thanks in advance!
kiersten
post #2 of 30
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
A mentor of mine once said, "Kiersten - you're a puller."

of course I had to have that explained to me... so, she went onto explain the theory of pushing and pulling.

Pushing: some people teach by pushing information at a learner... by pushing them to do an exercise, etc

Pulling: some people teach by pulling information out of a learner (forcing their participation), pulling them along on the path to discovery

My mentor was right. I am a puller. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

What are you? Have you ever thought about it?

WHY do you teach the way you do?
Great question! I hope you don't mind my taking a swing at it even though I have not formally taught skiing (yet--looks like I may get a chance this winter!). I have taught a number of other subjects in various venues from individuals to small groups to classroom to conferences/seminars.

When teaching, I try to accommodate my students and the environment. In a small group, I work to determine the learning style of each member, and use that insight to adjust the communication with each of them. For example, I tend to encourage the more communicative to communicate in a way that will guide the entire group to discovery. I also endeavor to draw out the others and not allow one or two to dominate, but I recognize that some will not speak nearly as much as others.

In addition, some people are "processors" who require time to assimilate and synergize. It's important when teaching people of this temperament that we realize that there is nothing we can do to change that part of their nature, so we need to work within that, consider how to use it to advantage (i.e., give them something to process over time and then come back and work on later), while keeping them moving forward (however slowly it may seem to us).

There are times when I am mostly an exhorter, encouraging learning, thinking, and experiencing by students. At other times, I work at drawing insight out of students and their own discoveries.

Kiersten, I've got it. I'm a push-me pull-you. :

ssh
post #3 of 30
Whether they are pushing or pulling, I guide their efforts in the direction of the experience they need to learn from.

post #4 of 30
Kieli,

I like to have a good opening question. I love nothing more than to have a student explain something to the class. What really makes me happy is when the class tells me what we're going to work on and where we're going to ski. I judge my performance as a teacher by the freedom with which students ask questions and stop the class when they don't get it and volunteer a helpful tip to someone struggling.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
ssh, arc, and nolo...

very interesting responses... let me go further with this thread...

do you ever find that you have an "ulterior motive"? that is to say - do you just tell the learner what you want them to know or do... or do you guide them down a path of "self-discovery" (even though you know it's you who is helping them to get to their AHA or what have you)?

thanks again,
kiersten
post #6 of 30
Thought provoking question!

I think, (if my self-evaluation is accurate) that my teaching focus changes as the level of skier changes. With beginners, I find myself more on the dictator side (pushing?) and as the skier gains more skills and tactics, I rely on a more "guided discovery" approach (pulling?). Not really sure why

Have a nice day everyone!
Spag :

EDIT: Well I was going to edit this, but then my other post wouldn't make any sense. Sorry. Read on!

[ November 10, 2003, 04:16 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #7 of 30
Spag may not know why, but he's using teaching styles as they were intended to be used--progressively handing more of the decisions over to the learner. (Fox was dead-on in another thread where he said the good teacher works herself out of a job.) While one can use a discovery style with a novice, generally these styles are reserved for more advanced students because you're trying to involve them in a higher level of thinking. Guided discovery is the gateway to problem solving.

I think that gaining proficiency at teaching is not unlike skiing--you begin with instinct and mimicry, then maybe you learn a lot of theory and technique which makes you even more self-conscious and perhaps wonkish about teaching, but once the knowledge has been internalized through lots and lots of practice, then it becomes possible to be spontaneous, responsive, and so thoroughly absorbed in student learning that doing the right thing comes naturally and easily.
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Spag...

IMHO getting to the "why do I do that" is a particularly meaningful thing for an instructor to do.

in another thread someone (sorry that I cannot remember who off the top of my head) referred to the 4 levels of competency:

- unconsciously incompetent
(don't know what you don't know)
- consciously incompetent
(aware of what you lack)
- consciously competent
(able but must always THINK about what you do)
- unconsciously competent
(so skilled at what you do that you don't even have to think about it)

as a DOER - I strive for unconscious competence .

as a TEACHER - I strive for conscious competence .

WHY do you suppose I have made that distinct difference???

kiersten
post #9 of 30
That's a good point. To answer that, I would say that we are searching for a level of automacity in our movements while we ski... so that we can relax and not over-think. Let things be what they are. Unconscious competency. When we teach, however, we must have our hard-earned intellectual properties readily available to share. Conscious competency. When you ask why you've made that distinction, I think in terms of DOING and SHARING. Is that where you are headed?

The points Nolo makes are very close to paralleling (sp?) my thoughts on the different teaching styles as the level of skier increases. (She is FAR better at puting those thoughts into words.) After reading my previous post, I realize that I never completed my thought... Must've gotten distracted by my ultra-hyper doggies as they terrorized my household this morning. I meant to complete it by saying I don't know why I rarely leave that standard in my teaching (probably because I don't teach all that much anymore) and experiment with things like reciprocal styles and problem solving in my beginner lessons. I guess I just have a system that works.

But you're right. The "why's" have it. It's important to ask yourself and others on your team to step out of the rut every so often and blend teaching skills just as you would skiing skills. I ski different blends for different situations, why should teaching be any different?

Spag :
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
ssh, arc, and nolo...

very interesting responses... let me go further with this thread...

do you ever find that you have an "ulterior motive"? that is to say - do you just tell the learner what you want them to know or do... or do you guide them down a path of "self-discovery" (even though you know it's you who is helping them to get to their AHA or what have you)?

thanks again,
kiersten
I wouldn't call it an ulterior motive, I have always know it (30+ years) refered to as "guided discovery". This can be applied thru a physical experience via a task (i.e. try this and tell me what happens), or a puzzel to be solved (i.e. try to make your skis feel "softer" and show me how you moved to do so), or thru having them watch (i.e. which of those skiers is doing what we have been working on? how does it affect their sking?) or even thru a conversation (i.e. do you ever find that you have an "ulterior motive"?)

[ November 10, 2003, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
ahhhh teaching styles. :

I actually teach a course called "train the trainer" in the corporate world where we spend 2-3 days and we touch all of these topics.

I think of the competency scale as simply an *awareness* of what you're doing... for me to teach well, I must be fully aware of every single solitary detail of what I am doing... so that I can share that level of detail with the learner.

You ever try to learn to do something from someone who is an expert, but they leave out a bunch of important details when they explain stuff to you... so, you ask "what about..." and they reply "oh yeah...". To avoid that we need to be consciously competent - aware of every single detail!

as for teaching styles... I see that in 2 distinct categories:
- delivery models
- teaching behaviors (just like learning behaviors)

**incidentally - we tend to teach in the same style that we learn**

we can talk more about those topics if you like...

kiersten
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
ahhhh teaching styles. :

You ever try to learn to do something from someone who is an expert, but they leave out a bunch of important details when they explain stuff to you... so, you ask "what about..." and they reply "oh yeah...". To avoid that we need to be consciously competent - aware of every single detail!

kiersten
Its also possible that person (expert)is leading you down your own path of discovery, letting the questions unfold as each level of understanding is reached, consciously avoiding excessive and meaningless (because momentarily irrelevant) detail. Timing is very important.

I watched a departing coworker recently trying to instruct his replacement on a cad software we use. It was curious. He covered virtually every important feature in great detail, describing and demonstating most everything she would eventually learn to use over the the next few weeks. I watched it fall upon this intelligent person, barely comprehending, desparately scribbling notes, aware that very little if any of it was going to stick. He went away with, I imagine, a warm feeling. For her, I think, the experience was somewhat less satisfactory.

We tend to misconstrue the process(es) by which we and others learn, confusing it with a transfer of information, forgetting that we create within us a kind of internal structure as we progress that allows us to assimilate each level of information and make it meaningful.

I have also been somewhat frustrated trying to learn from "experts" but it is generally because they have a difficult time sorting out the detail from the meaningful organizing threads or patterns that would form a more appropriate introduction to an unfamiliar area of knowledge.
post #13 of 30
Regarding "consciously competent" versus "unconsciously competent":

The latter is not fully aware of the situation and if there is a lapse .... it'll hit the fan big time.

The former is aware and has both hands and mind on the controls.

This reminds me of an old aviation saw....... There's old pilots. There's bold pilots. But, there are no old bold pilots.
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
arcadie - I really appreciate your post and I think you nailed a lot of concepts squarely on the head. OF COURSE, everything is situational.

I am springboarding off what you wrote because you made me think of something other ideas - and some points worthy of clarification.

for clarification-sake:

the concept of being consciously competent, aware of exactly what it takes to DO something, is critical to being able to explain it correctly the first time. and, I wholly agree that information needs to be broken down into very small segments of information. my mantra is always "you can only teach 1 thing at a time"... and it's amazing that so many interpret "skiing" as 1 thing. : hahaha when I say "1 thing" I mean exactly 1 concept - and your learner has to really GET IT before you can build onto it with another concept. (the usage of good delivery models helps with this)

the second thing that occurs to me falls under the Taxonomy of Learning - aka - the evolution of the learner. it's believed that as a learner evolves they will more actively participate in their learning - asking questions, requesting to receive information in a certain manner, etc. sadly, the average learner is not very evolved. why? our classrooms train children to sit and listen and often others will make fun of the child who particpates or asks questions. this kind of conditioning is profound and it shows up on our ski slopes. as an instructor, I believe that I can't AFFORD to wait for the learner to ask questions - or I can't EXPECT that they will participate unless I create an environment that requires them to do so.

so it ties back together neatly - as instructors we have a TOOLBOX... in mine I carry different delivery models, questioning techniques, the focus to be consciously competent (requiring me to thing of all the steps require to actually DO something), etc. the goal is to facilitate learning.

I am anxious to see what more people think about these ideas... it's not about agreeing or disagreeing - I fully appreciate the new perspectives!

kiersten
post #15 of 30
I thought "taxonomy" referred to classification!????
Whatever, I think part of the challenge of your job is to reach those reticent individuals and involve them. I have a little problem with "require". That implies superimposition of your own goals and agenda and controlling behavior. I think that goes too far.

I think teaching is not only situational but involves profound respect. The individual you are instructing is a PERSON with all that implies and not an object. That seemingly simple concept dictates so much of the process and is often so difficult to get across, much head nodding incomprehension aside. Accept that and your own learning about teaching begins. Of course you will discover myriad strategies. You also discover the need for greater patience. After all it is the learner you are seeking to bring along and not your program.
post #16 of 30
My favorite class arrangement is reciprocal because it's so active and interactive and gets people to be conscious of what they or another are doing within the framework (given performance parameters) of a task. I get a lot of insight from watching from the balcony, and later when we regroup to share observations and make a few conclusions, I notice people to be more animated and engaged in the discussion.

I really think students learn more from each other than their teachers, just as teenagers tend to be influenced more by their peer group than their families. Whenever you can tap into peer-to-peer learning, do it. I try to have at least one partners segment every lesson.

[ November 11, 2003, 02:54 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #17 of 30
kiele is pulling us into learning teaching, and she's doing a damn fine job of it!

Thanks!
post #18 of 30
I agree.

:
post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 
thanks for the kind words...

Nolo - I like what you have to say about "partners" during a lesson and "watching from the balcony"...

1. I think it opens the doors wide open to being experimental when you send people out as a team to do/feel/experience something

2. it's a fantastic trick to use when you have those groups with widely different skill sets and "needs"

I'd love to hear stories of what you all do when it comes to getting a group to interact/participate - particularly the "quieter" folks...

kiersten
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
Its also possible that person (expert)is leading you down your own path of discovery, letting the questions unfold as each level of understanding is reached, consciously avoiding excessive and meaningless (because momentarily irrelevant) detail. Timing is very important.

.
[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

I do this a lot when training our dispensary technicians & assistants... The system has grown up over many years & is stupidly convoluted... it is easier to teach them the basics in simple examples... you know they are ready for the next step when the ASK "what the f@#$ do I do with this one?" or they stop looking nervous & start horsing around a LOT.. (then you find a nice sneaky hard prescription & leave 'em to it...) [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #21 of 30
I think that Arcadie's point that we teach "people", is something I strive to keep in the forefront in everything I do as a teacher. Try to leave my asumptions and judgements in the lockeroom. I strive for concious competance here.

From my perspective out on the snow I conciously try to facilitate my students learning/experience, which does mean that I conciously recognize each individual for who they are. I may be simultaneously pushing one as I pull others, but I think that the real point is for me to conciously stay connected to each one at some level for a relationship to grow. And during that dynamic multitasking of the realtionships we've established in my group, unconcious competance does happen. Hopefully though, frequently checking for concious competance will keep my "unconcious incompetance" from showing up.

You gotta pay enough attention to each individual to know when to push or pull as needed. I don't think I give a lesson where I don't do both at sometime. I would say though, that I try to spend most of my shared time pulling.
post #22 of 30
Thread Starter 
I reread this thread and was "chewing on it" all when I thought of another question. It may seem like a diversion - but sometimes we find the best stuff when we take these "learning excursions"...

please take a second to answer the following:

what do you consider yourself?
a. trainer
b. instructor
c. coach
d. teacher
e. write in your own response

what is YOUR role in a lesson? for what are you responsible?

thanks!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
kiersten
post #23 of 30
Facilitator.
post #24 of 30
Enabler, entertainer and learner.

Help them learn while having fun and learning something new myself.

Ideally I'd like to pull. Too often I find myself pushing. If you think about your experience in learning, don't we need both?
I like to be drawn out, to participate as an equal but there are times I need to be pushed, to be led and taken beyond my expectations and preconceived limitations.

[ November 19, 2003, 11:00 AM: Message edited by: Springhill Crazie ]
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
I reread this thread and was "chewing on it" all when I thought of another question. It may seem like a diversion - but sometimes we find the best stuff when we take these "learning excursions"...

please take a second to answer the following:

what do you consider yourself?
a. trainer
b. instructor
c. coach
d. teacher
e. write in your own response

what is YOUR role in a lesson? for what are you responsible?

thanks!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
kiersten
Student
post #26 of 30
Well, I used facilitate in my earlier post, so I guess I'm in there with Nolo, I'm a facilitator. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
Montana - The "facilitator state"???? hahahaha

let's look at all of the terms (begging your pardon DISSKI for leaving out student for the moment!!)...

- facilitator
- coach
- teacher
- trainer
- instructor

how do you define each? some might argue they mean the same thing - do they? (for the same of the argument - give a quick in your own words definition of each of those 5 nouns).

Thanks!
kiersten
post #28 of 30
Push/Pull!!!!! Nothing is an absolute. I think that we all do a bit of both. Most inportant for me is to create enough skills that establishes a pattern that allows the learner to experience the pleasure of self discovery.
This puts the learner in the primary position, they have achieved with an "A HA". You have become a necessary but secondary part of the experience.
post #29 of 30
Kiersten - to add to your research
Quote:
What are you? Have you ever thought about it?
I consider myself neither a pusher nor a puller. Based on my students needs (60% level 1, 30% level 2-3) I end up pushing about 75% of the time. So you can call me a pusher, I guess. Rush does. He took all my oxycontin.
Quote:
WHY do you teach the way you do?
Because I don't know any better, it works, I get good feedback and it's fun! Most of the time. I know I need to get wayyyyy better. There are no bad students. If I think I have a bad student, it's only because I did not teach them right. Take what works, throw out what doesn't, steal from everybody, repeat the cycle.

</font>
  • - facilitator - person who makes things happen easier
    - coach - monitors, guides, helps set goals
    - teacher - focuses more on knowledge
    - trainer - focuses more on physical methods; synonymous with coach
    - instructor - synonymous with teacher</font>
Quote:
what is YOUR role in a lesson? for what are you responsible?
I'm responsible for safety, fun and learning. To misquote The Matrix, there is no role, there is only your students and yourself. There are so many roles, it's an injustice to attempt to list them (father, mother, uncle, nanny, entertainer, guide, zen master, god, tailor, mechanic, salesman, translator, chump).
With regards to ulterior motives...
Aside from normal guided discovery, occaisonally an alien called "Evil Rusty" descends our slopes. Some of Evil Rusty's accomplishments include an introduction to the worst conditions ever and assigning a progression that starts right at the threshold of ability and then asks the victim to pierce through the threshold just to the other side (i.e. identifying the soft spots by poking at them with a stick instead of a cattle prod). Evil Rusty always assigns tasks that seem eminently doable, but turn out to be impossible (or in the YIKES zone) and then shows that the impossible can be done. The requested tasks almost always agitate and irritate, but ALWAYS spark motivation. Evil Rusty sessions are hard and fun. ER sessions ALWAYS raise the YIKES zone level. The best feedback from an ER session:
"You're Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevillllllllllll".

To do "evil" sessions, your victims must know you and you must know your victims. The conditions need to be just right and your victim(s) needs to be "ready" for an evil session. One nice thing about ER sessions, is that when you advertise one ahead of time, high expectations are set. Another nice thing is that when "real students" (again those that know you - not people off the street) are wary of a lesson, when you tell them it won't be an evil lesson/clinic you really boost trust and relaxation. To do effective evil sessions, people must know that they are only for special occaisions. If you can get your victims to swear and make nasty remarks about your lineage, you've done it. If they soil their clothing, you've gone too far.

For example, there are some at our mountain who fear our toughest run called Bold Decision (aka Bad Decision). But on the days when there is fresh powder on it or it's freshly groomed, it's an order of magnitude easier to ski. That's the time to grab someone and introduce them to that run for the first time. Trust me, it's easy today. You're ready. And a great time is had by all. But the macho guys who call it Babies Decision (with the Arnold [aww-node] accent) really need Evil Rusty to send them straight down the foggy zipper line when the death cookies are fresh from the oven and the bumps have old ski tracks flash frozen into them. Zer iz no zuch ting az unskiable! Eat bark - you need more fiber!

My two ulterior motives are to create more smiles and occaisonally see a light bulb turn on. Thanks Kiersten, it's topics like these that put more arrows in my quiver.
post #30 of 30
Thread Starter 
what about this concept....

I theorize that the list of roles

- teacher
- instructor
- trainer
- coach
- facilitator

actually shows an EVOLUTION in the role of "one who shares knowledge"

further, I'd like to suggest that over the course of a lesson we might engage the learner using one role or another... or we might use different roles with different learners.

what do you all think?
kiersten
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