The Power of the Ask

We know that a transformed learning experience includes opportunities that were previously inconceivable – opportunities to communicate and collaborate with others, without the barriers of time and distance, for example.  We recognize a transformed learning experience is our goal for our students, but this should also be the case for our educators and administrators.  How are we taking advantage of this opportunity for transformed learning and applying it to professional learning?  I encourage you to take a step beyond the traditional format and experiences you have had with professional learning and ask, “What if?” What if we were able to use tools such as Twitter, Flipgrid, Skype, or Slack to work together with individuals toward the same goal (learning) in a different environment?  What if we supported individuals to pursue learning in unconventional ways and in non-typical time periods (such as August to June)?  What if we supported more organic, authentic professional learning?

In what ways are we working toward profound learning for ourselves, our campus leaders, our teachers, as well as our students?  We believe that V.j Profound learning (owning the knowledge) as opposed to superficial learning (short-term memory) comes more from engagement and commitment than from various forms of compliance, coercion, sanctions, or rewards.

We are members of learning institutions.  We must talk about learning as it is our professional responsibility.

Get out of the way of the learning.

First, we must get out of the way of the learning.  Words such as sparkinspire, and encourage paint a picture of our role as district and campus leaders when it comes to supporting our teachers to continue along their own learning journeys.  We must not attempt to design professional learning in a one-size-fits-all format.  We know that is not what is best for our students’ learning and for many of the same reasons it is not what is best for our teachers, either.  Let us not get in the way of our teachers’ learning.  Let us not confine them to a box of professional learning that occurs in August, October, and February, during designated days on our district calendar.  Let us help them to set individualized learning goals, seek opportunities to learn, and celebrate the journey they are on as educated professionals.

Advocate for learning.

Then, we must advocate for learning.  We must also advocate for others’ learning.  This advocacy might look different for those educators and administrators who seem to yearn for learning on a daily basis, as compared to those who might appear to lack the motivation to learn.  Leadership books such as Drive by Daniel Pink and Switch by Chip & Dan Heath articulate the apparent mystery behind motivation, especially that motivation in adult learners.  How might we spread the tenacity to learn that is evident in some people to others so we all have this indescribable yearning to learn?

Modeling such a desire to learn is a step toward encouraging others to do so – we should never be content with the current understanding, rather always seeking to learn more.  Remove barriers to learning by taking action and advocating for yourself and others.  The power of the ask enters the picture when there is a connection that needs to be made or a resource that exists that would positively impact learning, yet it seems a bit beyond reach.  To ask for something is a humbling experience.  It is through the acknowledgement that someone else has something you need that the risk is taken to ask.  Taking risks through asking is an outward sign of advocacy for learning.

Have you seen Jia Jiang’s TED Talk What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection?  It is worth the watch if you wonder about the power of the ask.

I encourage you to advocate for learning through the power of the ask.  This is an ongoing act of championing for your teachers and students.   It requires you to both continue to ask for what is needed and continue to say yes when the time comes that you are asked for something.


  1. Continue to ask.  We are better together.   Also, being humble enough to ask others to fulfill what you need will allow you to grow in ways you cannot anticipate.
  2. Continue to say yes.  When others approach you with a need, say yes.  You will grow by giving to others.

Now go, get out of the way of the learning and advocate for learning so that others may continue to grow as educators.

What risks have you taken to get out of the way of the learning and advocate for learning recently?  In our world of accessibility to other education experts around the world, it is our responsibility to continue to move forward with learning.


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