Stairway to Failure @mcleod

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Two weeks ago, I found myself sharing about The Twitter Tornado to a group of secondary teachers, who were participating in a Teacher Academy. My goal was to get them fired up about using Twitter.  Alas, I failed. Sadly, I didn't realize I'd completely missed the boat until later that evening when I awoke from my nap.

Since I'd just facilitated the same class a few weeks prior, I asked myself, Where did I go wrong? It occurred to me that I'd forgotten to break the large group into smaller ones and have them jigsaw various articles about using Twitter and social media to faciltiate professional learning network (PLN) creation.

Simply put, I'd spent a lot of time talking about what they should do, but given them no opportunity to come to these realizations on their own. As I reflected on the difference between group 1 (successful) and group 2 (unsuccessful), this component was clearly evident to me. Why did I miss the critical focus on WHY, allowing adult learners to make up their own mind about Twitter?

Here's why:

  • I stayed up late the night before. I was worn out and tired the next day.
  • I didn't review my own agenda, or I clearly would have seen the planned activities that would have better engaged adult learners.
  • I failed to gauge the temperature of the group (coolly distant) in the moment.
  • I was more focused on my lecture than on their collaborating to make sense of resources.

It's with that in mind that I find Dangerously Irrelevant's blog entry, When Your Workshop Isn't Awesome, an affirmation of blogging. It's our failures that bring us together, often more so than success. As the old saying goes, it's when we're most vulnerable that we have wisdom to share that others can profit from.

Scott writes:
So there it is: a workshop that was supposed to be great but went a bit off the rails instead. Not for everyone, not by a long margin. I got plenty of comments like ‘learned great stuff and can’t wait to use with kids‘ and ‘I loved the interaction – the bouncing of ideas and inspiration‘ and ‘I liked the overall structure of this session; it was much more well-planned, practical, and immediately useful to me than that of many other sessions that I have attended‘ and ‘I wish my entire staff could have been here.’ But the overall evaluation averages weren’t where they usually are.
Scott asks, what do you do when your workshop isn't awesome? Once, I would have agonized over not hitting my target. Now, I see learning as an invitation, an opportunity I share with others. Even if my delivery is perfect, even I engage the audience emotionally, the question remains, "Are you prepared to dig deeper as a learner?"

  • A poor lecture from a professor? What did I as a learner bring forward?
  • A workshop that fell flat? How did I flesh out the learning?
  • A session that didn't engage? How do I get excited about what I'm learning, even when it's something that doesn't necessarily grab me at first glance?

Check out Miguel's Workshop Materials online at

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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