Leadership 4 Learning - #ASK - Leading with a Learner Mindset -Marilee Adams Pt 2

Leadership 4 Learning

Change Leaders are Leaders who #ASK

#ASK - Leading with a Learner Mindset
Learner/Judger - Marilee Adams Pt 2

Two weeks ago, I was working at a school with the Head of Accounting Faculty. We were in her classroom, and I had asked for some time to sit down with her to discuss how she and her team were developing their curriculum and the use of digital tools to create blended learning opportunities. We began by looking at all of the digital resources and folders on her computer. She explained to me how she had started to use Google Classroom to share the resources with her students. She was proud of what she had achieved - and rightfully so.

However, what I was seeing and hearing resonated with elements of 'I have done it, and I am finished' and I began to wonder why this is the case in so many situations when talking to teachers. So often I hear in conversation "I am finished". We work so hard to create life long learning in our students, yet we seem to be missing the mark ourselves.
I wanted to stretch her thinking and see if we could explore further ideas on how to use blended learning techniques to accelerate student learning. I was curious as to how she and her team envisioned using digital resources in a blended learning way going forward, and my questions reflected as much. At one point, mid-sentence, she turned to me and exclaimed "I hope you don't think you can tell me how to teach Accounting! I am the expert here."
So what triggered this outburst? I believe what was happening was the "I'm an expert" mindset was sitting in conversation with a fellow "I'm a learner" mindset, and they just weren't on the same frequency.
Brene Brown, in Rising Strong, talks about the importance of setting the scene of any - what she calls a rumble. A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy muddle of problem identification and solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and, as psychologist Harriet Lerner teaches, to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.
When in a well defined 'rumble', mindsets are in resonance and the dialogue flows. (Brown, 2015)
I am sharing this experience with you as a perfect example of how the power of learning can be stopped in its tracks when there is not a common ground on which the conversation is happening. The ability to shed our "I'm the expert" mindsets when in conversation with others, will open up a world of learning possibility. This story tags the importance of setting up the frame in which conversations happen. We are all guilty on occasion of expecting that learning will occur. We are in a learning environment after all, it’s what we do. 
However, more often than not, we see a lack of the learner dominant mindset and more of "I'm the expert" mindset. This "I'm the expert" mindset hinders learning in our schools. Just think what we could do if we were able to step outside of our subject expert mindsets and take on more of a general learner mindset.
The special sauce of a learner mindset is the ability to be curious about what others are doing to accelerate learning regardless of the subject. A learner mindset is about being able to take the best ideas and apply/adapt them to our learning area.
The "I'm the expert" mindset we have is suffocating our learner mindset. I believe as the leaders of learning in our schools, we, as adults, are suffering from a locked learner mindset that needs to be unlocked. When we enter teaching, we perceive that there is an expectation that we know everything, and we have an "I'm the expert" mindset. But what happens when "expert" dominates over "learner"?

“I’m the Expert” mindset

TELL - borne out of the need to be right
Judgement - borne out of the need to be the expert
Always deciding on behalf of others

“I’m a Learner” mindset

#ASK - borne out of curiosity
Growth - borne out of adaptability
Always questioning and seeking to understand

"Questions open our minds, our eyes, and our hearts. With the questions we learn, connect, and create. We are smarter, more productive, and able to get better results. We shift our orientation from fixed opinions and easy answers to curiosity, thoughtful questions, and open-minded conversations, lighting the way to collaboration, exploration, discovery, and innovation."  Marilee Adams, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life
I have a vision of workplaces and a society—of individuals, families, organisations, and communities—that are vibrant with the spirit of inquiry and possibility.
Whats locking up learning in our schools? After this particular conversation, I was left wondering why we jump to the "I'm the expert" mindset as though it is a type of default setting, and this, in turn, makes us much less open to learning than we ought to be. This story is not unique to this person or this school. Everywhere I go, I see resistance and rebellion towards change and growth.
Just imagine what we could achieve together if we were only able to manage better our "I'm an expert" mindsets and sit firmly in our “I’m a learner” mindsets.

Go Well....


Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead.  Random House Publishing Group, 2018.

Brown, Brene. Rising Strong. Random House Publishing Group, 2015.

Adams, Marilee. Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. 3rd edition,  Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2016


Dare to Lead.jpg
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.jpg
rising strong.jpg

Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead. Random House Publishing Group, 2018.

Adams, Marilee. Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. 3rd edition,  Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2016

Brown, Brene. Rising Strong. Random House Publishing Group, 2015.