Connecting the dots…

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the demands of teaching?  Does it sometimes feel as if there isn’t space in your head for more ideas, programs, strategies and tools? It might help to spend some time thinking about how the seemingly disparate parts are connected…

We met yesterday to start some dialogue about how best to synthesise the parts. The aim was to promote thinking  to assist team leaders in supporting their teams in connecting the dots.

Each person received a puzzle piece with one aspect of their teaching and completed the puzzle as a group.

But there’s more… How can we fit all these pieces into the puzzle?

Teachers chose to work on the next stage independently, so as to allow for individual thinking first. The task was to think of all the ‘parts’ and to create a visualisation of how they fit together. It was interesting to see how varied our visualisations were. One started with the child in the centre and everything else leading off that. One started with herself, the teacher, at the centre. Another put everything down in list form without connecting them at all initially. Some examples (not all completed)…

The ensuing conversation was really good. People willingly shared their personal challenges, their understanding of how the parts connect and their ideas for managing both themselves and their teams. There was a great deal of trust evident in the session. I won’t breech that by sharing specifics of the conversation…



6 thoughts on “Connecting the dots…

  1. Thanks for the great post Edna!

    Connecting the dots, that is, making sense of unprocessed information is something we all struggle with. My favorite tool for organizing and connecting dots is mind mapping. In one mind map, I can integrate key ideas from pages of information, in as much or as little detail as needed, and then share my thinking with others or collaborate with others on a joint mind map. Final maps look like the visualizations in the pictures, except they’re electronic and have additional layers of data within them, such as web links, notes within concepts, images, attachments, tasks, and other great features. Here are some examples from the recent First-Year Experience Conference:


  2. This looks like an interesting and worthy endeavor for faculty to engage in. Seems like most of the learning could take place in the self-reflection as well as the collaborative dialogue. What is the next step to advance the work beyond the talking and thinking stage. Putting into action what you learned from the exercise. How to help you function as a more effective team? Would love to follow the progress.

    Bob Ryshke


  3. Hello Edna!
    I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed your post. I believe in the importance of creativity in the classroom, and I loved the different mind maps and how they connected with each teachers struggles and ideas. I think teachers should come together more so that good change can happen. I know one day I may be overwhelmed by teaching, but I think it would help tremendously if teachers engaged in more of these activities. I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    Visit My Class Blog!


  4. Hello Edna! I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I enjoyed reading your post. The visuals that you have displayed on your post are really nice. Being a teacher requires thinking outside of the box. If teachers do not think outside of the box, they would not enjoy teaching and neither will their students enjoy their teaching. This takes a lot of effort and hard work, but it will pay off in the long run. I substitute teach for four different school districts, and I run into so many teachers who would tell me that they get very overwhelmed with the demands of teaching. But, they tell me that they love their job. I know that this will probably be me one day! I am looking forward to my teaching career! Feel free to view and post comments on my class blog!


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