Deepening our learning with the Blended Learning program

Anita (from Brussels), Suse and I (from Amsterdam) started the Blended Learning programme approx. two months ago. We're really enjoying learning about SALT and moving through the motions of the CLCP. I've done the CLC Process twice before in a group, in a 3-day facilitators course, and I'm learning a lot of new things now. Personally I find it easier to concentrate myself and grasp the learning in a small group. There's always so much going on in a large group... on so many levels....

I think SALT and CLCP may sometimes look (too) simple. Now I'm grasping more and more about the how and why of the way of working & the way of thinking by EXPERIENCING it in a small group as we take sufficient time to REFLECT on the experiences. It is much easier to adapt to individual learning styles and needs within the context of a TRIAD. 

What I also like about this collaborative learning journey, is the fact that we have different but overlapping backgrounds. The variety creates richness in experiences and lively discussions. The strengths of each person is highlighted naturally during the steps of the CLCP.

Here are three of my favorite practices. Today we described level 5 of all 10 practices. Level 5 means that the practice has become as natural as breathing, it becomes 'part of your DNA'. 

1) We stay open and curious with regard to our facilitation skills. We acquire the habit of inquiry and learning on a daily basis.
What it looks like when it is a habit or routine:
Learning is our way to connect to the world. Every experience in mind, body and feeling can be valuable for raising our awareness and consciousness. We are naturally open to learn from our environment as well as from inside sensations. We share these new experiences with each other.

2) We feel comfortable with not knowing.
It's part of our DNA when:
We have a deep trust in the unfolding process, in ourselves and the people we work with. Therefore we can be present from moment to moment being awake to what wants to unfold. Every part of the proces (technical, communication, experience,....) can be information for us. Unexpected insights can emerge in this way.

3) We share stories so that we can transfer insights.
When it is natural to us:
During our Blended Learning program we take time to listen to each other’s stories/experiences that can help us understand SALT and CLCP. We actively ask each other to share experiences from either daily life or from work life. When we listen to stories, we listen for the strengths of the narrator. We share the strengths that we noticed and our insights afterwards.

These are our take-aways from today's assignment to describe the practices as habit:

* Practices will be assessed, so they need to include observable behavior.

* Practices need to be phrased as distinct practices, because of the assessment that takes place later on and the assessment needs to be rigorous.

* Talking about level 5, we found out that sometimes there is a difference in understanding. We are coming from different backgrounds, so it is really good to stay curious and ask probing questions (one of our practices ;-)

As to the Self-Assessment step: when rating we drew conclusions by comparing observations. The process was quite straight-forward, the five categories were self-explanatory. I can imagine that the self-assessment assignment in a community can be tense, but the good thing is that you are talking about observable behavior, and not about motives. So the concrete descriptions of the practices help to avoid speculation as to motives (a major trigger for conflicts!).

Conclusion: even though we are all experienced facilitators, partaking in the Blended Learning programme is deeping our insights and will strenghten our capability to work with communities, thus bringing more value to the people we work with. That's why we recommend doing this program ;-)

Thank you, Autry, for guiding us steadily through the journey. Thank you to Célicia for your enthusiasm.

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Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on August 26, 2016 at 9:55pm

Actually, we were discussing today in our triad how to practice those less tangible skills, the more 'being' than 'doing' skills. Your suggestion to incorporate a bodily check-in during a call, along the lines of the TeamUp practices, sounds good.

I haven't heard about TeamUp's approach. I do relate to the distinction between feeling contracted or expanded.

I think you refer to Bohm Dialogue. I remember he wrote a book on dialogue. 


Comment by Célicia Theys on August 26, 2016 at 1:25pm

Haha yes Birgitta, I also feel it as a life-long practice :-D ! it's also extremely liberating, because it asks us to let go... and let come :) ! Trust, and surrender.

Would love to hear from Suse on "learning from bodily sensations"- in fact why don't we practice that during our next BL call? A bodily check-in and check-out, and paying attention to our body throughout the call.
I have found TeamUp's practices of observing whether we are feeling contracted or expanded very powerful!

Also Nathalie Legros has great practice on this "listening to what is going on within", I believe it's called "Brohm Dialogue".

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on August 25, 2016 at 9:21pm

Maybe Suse would like to share more about 'learning from bodily sensations'. I find this a very intruiging topic: tuning into what is going on within me during conversations, group sessions. It requires a relaxed state of mind, and slowing down the process,  allowing for silences ... 

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 25, 2016 at 8:51pm

The example has helped a lot Birgitta. This reminds me of the landmark course I did ages ago. it encouraged participants not to make assumptions as they are cause of conflicts and disagreements. Thank you! I need loads of coaching from you:-)

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on August 25, 2016 at 8:51pm

Hi Celicia, thank you for your appreciation. I notice how stimulating its impact is ;-)
You wrote:
A concept which I have found useful to describe that is 
Theory U's concept of "presencing", a mixture of presence and sensing, “sensing and actualizing one’s highest future possibility—acting from the presence of what is wanting to emerge.” Only then can we truly appreciate what the potential is, and stimulate its birth into the world...  

Suse, Anita and I are all very much inspired by Theory U. I get unpatient with it sometimes, i mean the left part of the U, going down to the bottom. I told you I tend to be action oriented, wanting to move forward. It's partly my 'intolerance for ambiguity', being afraid of chaos, that we came up with the practice about 'not knowing'. It is such an important state of mind, a presence for a facilitator. I will be practising this probably for the rest of my life, LOL, as in the state of 'knowing' (e.g. knowing what should be done next) is where I feel most at ease, safe and secure. 

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on August 25, 2016 at 8:44pm

ooppsss... Rituu, your questions are thought provoking ;-)

When I wrote this "So the concrete descriptions of the practices help to avoid speculation as to motives (a major trigger for conflicts!)",

I was thinking of a television series in which a judge was doing mediation with neighbors who were having conflicts. As it turns out, it is not what people do that troubles us most, but the motives we ascribe to them, like "He creates trouble on purpose", "She is parking her new car in front of my house to block my view, she wants to brag that she can afford to buy a new car", etc.

In dealing with conflict it is important to distinguish the facts (what exactly happened) from the impact it has (emotionally and behaviors) or the thoughts (interpretations, speculations, assumptions) that go with it. 

I'm sorry that I cannot come up with more examples. But when you think of trouble with neighbors, maybe something comes to your mind. 

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 25, 2016 at 8:21pm

You are a deep thinker. I would like to learn more from you. Please would you elaborate this with an example- So the concrete descriptions of the practices help to avoid speculation as to motives (a major trigger for conflicts!).

Comment by Célicia Theys on August 25, 2016 at 11:59am

Birgitta, thank you... once again I am amazed at the depth of reflection and experience that you three ladies bring to the Triad!

Particularly amazed (though not surprised) that you have grasped in such a short time span (and probably helped by your extensive experience as coaches) something which I am not sure we have yet managed to theorize in our way of introducing SALT: that rich and transformative bridge between the L and the A, between appreciation and listening, as well as learning from what is unfolding.... to me it feels like a mix of your first and second practice. Being open and curious about the many insights we receive of any situation as it is unfolding, and the fact that these insights are not limited to intellectual learning from a situation, but from all the learning we can get from listening to and appreciating what goes on in "mind body and feeling" as you so nicely put it; mind, body and heart! That coupled with trusting the unknown and the process!!!!

Yesterday, I was asked an excellent question by our friend Boaz Pollé, currently doing research into SALT (which we are so grateful for!). He asked: "when working with a community, what in your experience sparks the shift from the (inactive) potential to the activation of that potential in the community?".

After much thought I said: it's because of the bridge between the "A" and the "L"... it's the bridge between your 1 and your 2 :) .

A concept which I have found useful to describe that is Theory U's concept of "presencing", a mixture of presence and sensing, “sensing and actualizing one’s highest future possibility—acting from the presence of what is wanting to emerge.” Only then can we truly appreciate what the potential is, and stimulate its birth into the world...

Again, thanks so much Birgitta, Suse and Anita for the continuous inspiration you gift us with :) ! Looking forward to connecting on Monday.


Comment by Autry Haynes on August 25, 2016 at 1:51am

Thanks Birgitta, this post is rich in inspiration. I reflected on my similar experience more than five years ago. The Blended Learning, really does contribute to our deepening our understanding and internalizing SALT / CLCP. And sure this contributes to the series "[.......] and this is why I appreciate SALT." (^_^)

I am sincerely looking forward to the replicate effect of YOUR shared experience.



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