Learning is built on a foundation of trust.
I'm having a hard time trying explain it. It's kind of a gut feeling and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway.
I joined the Making Learning Connected MOOC for summer professional development and specifically to help develop my Independent Inquiry project for the next school year. Since the project was largely inspired by Mimi Ito's talk in the MIT MediaLab Learning Creative Learning MOOC, it only made sense to continue along that path of inquiry. I introduced myself innocuously and interacted with some nice people until...
I was shanghaied by the dread pirates Tellio and Dogtrax and their band of swarthy makers and dangerous creative thinkers! They hacked and challenged me and each other with unbridled aggression. Do this! Do that! Look here! Look there! My Google+ notifications were a distress beacon calling mayday on the high seas of my iPhone.
Then they did something unprecedented which has changed my outlook on learning forever.
They encouraged me.
With fervor. I couldn't help but get swept up in the enthusiasm. I felt driven to participate. Within days, I felt that I had joined the gang. I was encouraging other land lubbers with positive comments and thoughtful suggestions. I began to consider piercings and tattoos. I hoisted the Jolly Roger and invaded new communities, trying to draw others into the mischief.
Then I began to trust my fellow pirates. I knew that whatever I tried, they would take seriously. If I made an honest effort, they would return it in kind. If I stumbled, they would lend their arms. When they hesitated, I would urge them on. Keep to the code.
The confidence that followed freed my mind. I began to act strangely, pondering the imponderable and imagining the unimaginable until a revelation hit me like a storm-driven swell!
This is what I want for my students, and now I know how to do it.
Build trust through unrelenting encouragement.