This month’s mentions have been broken down into a product, a show, a book and a podcast!
To use: I discovered the Q&A a Day Journal, which is only 10cm by 15cm and it asks you one question a day. You have four small lines to write on so you only have to write one sentence really. In this age of mindfulness and gratitude, it doesn’t feel overwhelming to use and it lasts for five years! Each year when you answer the same question, you can see how you have changed, or not! An example is on 11 April (my birthday) it asks “ what sound effect are you most like today?” – well, it would have to be champagne corks popping!
To listen: I often listen to ADHD Experts Podcast by ADDitude Magazine as it is a podcast series about all things ADHD — recognising symptoms, researching treatment, raising children, living better with attention deficit, and much more — with leading experts in ADHD. They have some great episodes with new ones dropping every week. There is a large library of previous episodes, so whatever your question, it has probably been answered already. They don’t only focus on ADHD, other learning differences, like dyslexia and dyscalculia, do make an appearance as well.
To read: I bought the book Teacher by Gabbie Stroud on a Saturday afternoon and finished it the next day. Admittedly it was a rainy weekend in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, so perfect for curling up with a good book, which it was! It is a powerful memoir inspired by her original essay, where she tells the full story of how she came to teaching, what makes a great teacher, what our kids need from their teachers, and what it was that finally broke her. I think that those of us who have experienced frustration with the education system need to read this to get a better understanding of the challenges faced by teachers and hopefully, we can all come to a place of understanding each other and working together to bring about the best for children who face learning challenges. Gabbie was also interviewed on the Mamamia No Filter Podcast which is worth a listen.
To watch: I finally watched Schitt’s Creek on Netflix (and some of it’s on ABC iView) after ignoring it for a long time. It’s about the wealthy Rose family, video store magnate Johnny, his wife and former soap opera actress Moira, and their adult children David and Alexis, who lose their fortune after being defrauded by their business manager. They are forced to rebuild their lives with their sole remaining asset: a small town named Schitt's Creek, which they had bought their son as a joke birthday gift back in 1991. Don’t let the title put you off and get through season one, as it gets funnier and better with each season. It has five seasons so you can happily binge and escape while watching this. It is feel-good television which shines a light on an aspect of inclusion and diversity in a beautiful way.
Let me know what you think of these!
A few years ago I sold my shares in an RTO and I remember waking up the first morning after the official end date, thinking to myself “what is my purpose now?” I knew that I loved facilitating workshops, specifically in leadership, and that I was good at it so I decided to pursue that.
I landed a job with a company as a facilitator and coach for local Queensland councils and I spent the next year travelling throughout Queensland getting a buzz out of seeing people have a lightbulb moment. For me, I see the biggest learnings come after a workshop when people have had time to practice their new skills, which is why I am a big believer in coaching sessions afterwards. People sometimes need time to practice and then debrief and tweak their practices and coaching gives them the space to do this.
It was during this time that I was noticing a lot of diversity and inclusion training going on within all industries and it got me thinking that we have a very limited view on diversity and inclusion. Lots of organisations were rolling out these programmes almost as though they needed to tick a box and they were not really getting it. It reminded me of when I was working within the RTO environment and we were training early childhood educators in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and trying to get them to embed it in their programmes. Too often it was just about displaying a flag and a few words and it just came across as tokenistic.
This was also the time that my daughter, who has ADHD, was now finished her degree and had entered the workplace. She would share with me her experiences with her managers and supervisors and how they responded to her disclosure of her ADHD.
All these things collided and really got me thinking and I truly understood Simon Sinek’s quote “people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”. So a few weeks ago I had an epiphany and I finally put into words why I do what I do:
I do not want another person to fall through the cracks due to a learning difference – whether that be in school or the workplace. Equity is when we give each person what they need in order to succeed – it is not about being ‘fair’. If we identify how we can meet the individual needs of each person, we can still be focused on the outcomes. We just need to understand that each person’s path may look different.
For me this is the best of both my worlds as I can facilitate leadership workshops while drawing attention to how we manage learning differences, I can continue to offer neurofeedback therapy to anyone who needs it and help them optimise their brain and I can help educate teachers, leaders, families and the community about the importance of seeing each individual as an individual and providing for them in a way that meets their needs.
Lately I have been chatting to a few people who are needing to have a difficult conversation with either a teacher at their child's school or someone they work with. I am always interested in how much they have to hype themselves up in order to have these conversations.
Have you ever had to hype yourself up to give someone feedback and then you still don't see the change you asked for? How do you give feedback that results in positive change when the person you’re talking to gets defensive?
Part of staying on top of the feedback loop is instituting consequences if things don’t change. If performance is sub-optimal and continues to fall below standards, then consequences could include a demotion, taking away of responsibilities or even losing a job. If it is about your child, then let the school know you might remove your child or even take the matter higher.
These consequences are something you should work out before you share the feedback, so you can share the consequences, as well as the feedback. There are a few things you could think about to ensure you get the most out of a feedback conversation:
If the person has been working or behaving one way for a while without getting any feedback from you, then they might have taken your silence as approval. Recognise that the longer you let something sit, the harder it can be for the person to accept, which may lead to defensiveness when the issue is raised. The more frequently you check in, the faster you can point out corrections, giving the person smaller changes to make that are less likely to cause a stir.
Time to improve
If you wait too long to give difficult feedback, you may have already resigned yourself to this being an incurable situation, and the person, though it’s the first time they are hearing this, may sense you’ve already given up. Make sure you give feedback early enough for results to get back on track, but also early enough in your relationship with the person that you haven’t given up on them and they know that.
Support to improve
Another cause for defensiveness is confusion. Maybe the person does accept that there needs to be a change but doesn’t know how to make that change. You might need to provide more direction instead of just sharing the end result of what you need.
Defensiveness could also just be an initial reaction but, with time, a more constructive dialogue could ensue. Therefore, if you are met with pushback on your feedback and suggestions, suggest that you take a break and meet later in the day or even the next day to brainstorm suggestions for moving forward, making the person part of the solution. People are less likely to get defensive about their own ideas!
It is also imperative that you ensure you follow through with any support, resources or requests you made during conversations. You need to stay on top of the changes and requests you have asked for to ensure that people act on your feedback. While it is important to continue to identify problems and illuminate weaknesses, remember to also provide honest praise when things go well, recognise effort, and thank others for contributions. If you can make this change, you will notice a positive difference in yourself and in others.