Let's Try It Together and See What Happens!

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images

My teaching philosophy can probably be boiled down to the statement, "Let's try it together and see what happens!" I'm in the midst of designing a new course in our graduate Counseling program that will involve having our students provide lessons on self-awareness and career development with residents of a local juvenile detention center. We've never done anything like this before. It's as exciting as planning a trip to a new place and also as scary as jumping off a cliff. The intersection of fear and excitement is the essence of innovation.

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, a book that I read last year, has really made an impact on how I think about my role as a professor, counselor and student advocate. Over the next few weeks I'm participating (as my schedule allows), in #IMMOOC, the Innovator's Mindset Massive Open Online Course, and my first MOOC. As I've listened to the course moderators and guest speakers, read blog posts, tweets, etc., I also encounter feelings of fear and excitement because through the MOOC I'm a learner in an environment that is unfamiliar to me. I suspect this might be what students in the new course will experience too.

In counseling we use the term "parallel process" to refer to times when the interpersonal dynamic between that of counselor and client, is also represented in the interpersonal dynamic of counselor and supervisor (Giordano, Clark & Borders, 2013), or sometimes vice versa. Replace the client with content, counselor with student, and supervisor with teacher, and we can take the analogy to education. As I consider this in an educational context, I wonder if what innovation offers, through the use of new learning formats, tools and environments, is the opportunity for the phenomenon of "parallel learning" (I'll have to research that term to see if someone has coined it already) to occur. 

"Parallel learning," to me, means that I learn while my students learn; I learn from them while they learn from me. We both experience excitement and fear together. We simultaneously take risks and try new things. Maybe from "parallel learning" there is also "parallel innovation," or the parallel development of the Innovator's Mindset if the learning environment truly values the developing abilities, intelligences and talents of both the teacher and the students.

Pop in on the learning and visit #IMOOC on Twitter and Facebook. Let's try it together and see what happens!

Reference: Giordano, A., Clarke, P., & Borders, L. D. (2013). Using Motivational Interviewing Techniques to Address Parallel Process in Supervision. Counselor Education & Supervision52(1), 15-29. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6978.2013.00025.x