Noticing with Intention

Noticing. We do it endlessly, as we move around our daily lives we observe, we notice, we cast a fleeting thought towards something, and then, generally, we move on. These are small, fleeting, moments. More often than not we think we will remember what we noticed. We have the intention to hold onto our noticing and come back to it. More often than not though, we forget!

In the context of community building and relationship forming, noticing holds a great deal of potential. If we think about what our youngest learners do, they often narrate their ‘noticings’, in fact sometimes everything they are thinking and doing aloud! As we develop, our ‘noticings’ and narration becomes increasingly internal and this is of course an important and valuable growth in our development. However, what if our ‘noticings’ hold missed opportunities? How can we move from passively noticing, to transferring our ‘noticings’ into having impact on learning growth in our community? For me the key is to unlock this with intention.

As we move around in our learning communities, in and out of classrooms, between learning experiences, meetings and workshops, there is so much to notice and we observe, process and hold onto lots of information internally – yet we often actually do little with our ‘noticings’.

Here are four strategies that could support building a culture of ‘noticing habits’ into our daily practices. These could have a powerful impact on, and within, our learning communities.

Noticing with Intention.

Notice & Share

Step back, take 5 or 10 mins and walk around learning spaces. What do you notice? When you choose something, then act on it by telling someone what you notice. For example, ‘I noticed how you moved your seat to make sure that everyone could join the circle, I could see that made everyone feel good’ or ‘I noticed that getting started on this task was taking some time, might it help if we talked it through?’ or ‘I noticed how much effort you are putting into your drawing, I imagine it is going to be something you are very proud of when you are ready to share.’

How does this impact learning in communities?
  • Builds connection between action and consequence
  • Provides acknowledgement and reinforcement
  • Shows understanding and can build empathy for one another
  • Ensures individuals feel seen and heard.

Notice & Connect

When there is a focus on exploring a particular disposition, learning habit, or skill you could seek out examples to acknowledge this skill building through noticing. For example, if we were focusing on ‘being principled’ or on our communication skills, I could intentionally set aside time to seek out acts of being principled or active listening and collect these. Then using whatever sharing practice you have implemented in the community, share your ‘noticings’ with the class. As a next step, support the learners in thinking about their impacts.

How does this impact learning in communities?
  • Connects abstract concepts and skills to practical demonstration
  • Fosters appreciation in the class community
  • Strengthens learning habits and contributes to development of skills and attributes.

Notice & Affirm

Introduce a culture of noticing to your classroom or learning community. This can support routines such as sharing in a compliment circle and encourage reflective learning conversations and conferring practices. Invite learners to take a ‘noticing’ break to then be able to share their positive observations of the learning behaviours happening around them. Have learners note down these ‘noticings’ to later share in a compliment circle. Again encouraging conversation and connection to the impacts of what was noticed.

How does this impact learning communities?
  • Promotes empathy building and encourages a culture of compassion
  • Enables all community members to show appreciation and acknowledge each other
  • Encourages a culture of ‘seeking out’, or ‘being active’, to grow as a learner.

Notice & Coach

During collaborative learning activities in the classroom, adopt a coaching approach or mindset in your noticing. Notice, invite reflection and encourage learners in reinforcing behaviours that contribute positively. Sitting alongside a group of learners as an observer who can confer with individuals to help encourage and provide insights is powerful. Taking this one step further and coaching learners to take actions based on these insights leads to visible impacts. Impacts on both the group and on the individual learner.

How does this impact learning communities?
  • Invites reflection ‘in the moment’
  • Creates a culture of ‘feedback to feedforward’
  • Encourages learners to deepen their understanding of their own role as a collaborator
  • Promotes sense of self-belief in capacities.

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