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Talking at Cross Purposes…Again…

The phrase “talking at cross purposes” has me mesmerized. I wrote about Perspectives and Talking at Cross Purposes in a previous post, but have not let go in exploring its meaning and the reflection of daily confrontation with the reality of talking at cross purposes in education.

The Cambridge Dictionaries Online define “to talk at cross purposes”:

If two or more people are at cross purposes, they do not understand each other because they are talking about different subjects without realizing this

In my previous post, I mentioned the subject of “What does it mean to be educated”, “Where and how do we learn?”, “Where do we go for information”, “What does a classroom look like?”, “How do we read and write?”and “How do we collaborate and communicate?” and how different stakeholders in education have a different definition, perspective and mental outlook, when they think and speak of these subjects.

I am continuing to add to this list of “talking at cross purposes” keywords  as I am reflecting on miscommunication between Professional Development provides, coaches, administrators and classroom teachers.

I am acutely aware of the little word “help“in the school environment and its potential of being a catalyst for talking at cross purposes. In this specific example below, I am looking at a conversation between a classroom teacher and a learning coach (or technology integrationist/facilitator/21st century literacy specialist). One is asking for help, the other one is gladly offering help….both use and interpret the word ‘help” differently, which can lead to frustration on one or both parts.

 

Download the pdf file  or click on the image for a larger version of the “Talking at Cross Purposes” cartoon.

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Chic Foote says:

    Thanks for posting this Silvia. It is an excellent example of the way that our varied perspectives can so very easily complicate what may appear to be a very simple and supportive interaction…where one person asks for help and the other is willing to provide.

    As a consultant to schools where my role is often that of coach, guide on the side and facilitator of staff development models. Your blog post is a timely reminder of the ways in which we can so very easily lose momentum if we do not check for and develop some understanding of the perspective of others. Over the years I have found that taking time out establish expectations helps to clarify and provide an opportunity to negotiate through the difference in perspectives to identify strategies that will ensure deeper level engagement and transfer of learning. However as I reads your post and thought through the professional development lens that is my world I became aware of how powerful it would be to make ‘perspective’ a focus of the process that establishes the professional learning strategy for any project or initiative. This would provide a model for teachers to take back into their classroom setting where the perspectives of the learner is so vital to engagement in learning and purposeful application which ultimately will impact achievement.

  2. Don Flaig says:

    Thanks for the gem! In our Master’s class, we are making a distinction between Professional Development and Professional Learning. In the former category you have the traditional workshops, conventions, and “sit and git” activities, which often don’t follow through, and resources are often lost. In the latter, there are more options, especially for school-based knowledge-building as teachers work together on school missions and action-research projects. “Experts” can be brought in, but the goals are already set, the learning teams are in place, and the criteria (are the students learning more?) for assessing the teachers’ learning are clear. -Klassenwolf

  3. Keilan Yancey says:

    I love the cartoon; it is a great way to illustrate what you are talking about, so people can understand. I see people all the time with different views or meanings of the word help. Some think help means to get someone to do the work for them and others think it means to work together has one to get a task done. Now I know what to call it when people view the same thing a different way without knowing it.

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