With the new school year quickly approaching, I’m taking the liberty of re-posting a blog from earlier this year.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin
This has always been a favorite quote of mine and I think predominantly because it is a direct reflection of the way I learn. There is no question that we are all different in our learning styles and what works well for one person, may not for another. The ability for a teacher, leader, or parent to appreciate these different styles is paramount to the success of the learner. I’ll use myself as an example. Although I have a decent memory, it’s simply not the way I learn. I learn by doing which is in direct alignment with experential learning theory (Kolb, 1984). In order to learn by experience however, we need to know that we are in a safe environment. One where we feel comfortable to try new things. One where we feel confident that we won’t be ridiculed for trying. One where we know we can try repeatedly and fail until the penny drops. And when that penny drops, there is no sweeter feeling!
The fascinating thing about creating safe learning environments is that it is transferable in many aspects of our lives. Whether at school, at work, at home, in social settings, and especially in a coaching session. We want to know that the level of trust that is present will support our level of perceived risk. We want to feel supported. We want to be in a position to trust others and to be trusted. In his study on the psychological conditions necessary for employee engagement to occur, researcher Kahn (1990), found that “supportive, resilient, and clarifying management heightened psychological safety”. Although Kahn’s work was focused on individuals in a leader / follower context, I believe these same characteristics hold true in any learning environment. Take a parent child relationship for example. If you make your child feel supported, encourage resilience in order to bounce back and make feedback very clear, your child is going to feel safe and trust the process of learning. I believe that we can take any of these examples of relationships and use this same formula to create safe learning environments.
To Benjamin Franklin’s point, involving a learner by allowing the process of learning to unfold through engagement can only be a good thing. While others don’t “give us” courage to try new things, what they can give us that is even more powerful is support and encouragement without judgement. As my clever friend and colleague, Dominique O’Rourke from Accolade Communications reminded me of recently, courage is embedded in encourage. There is likely a reason for that!
So the next time you are looking for a safe learning environment to try something new out in, surround yourself with those who will support and encourage you. If you are looking to create a safe learning environment for others, be one of those people who involves others. Trust them to learn in their own way and at their own pace. Trust the process of learning.
Whether you are a leader in an organization, a teacher, a colleague, a parent, or a friend, we all have the ability to step into a supportive coach position to enable learning. What are some of your examples where you felt very supported to learn?
Yours in learning, Glo
(C) 2012 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon