Adding “insight” to the summer learning list

Brushing up on insight and information to share

Remember writing those “what I did over the summer” essays when you were a kid? For educators and student support professionals, there’s no such thing as summer downtime. But there’s still something about summertime that leads to reflection. For InsideTrack’s own educators, our Learning and Development team, that means learning new insights to share with schools and students. Here’s what’s on their summer learning list.

“We all sleep, we all make decisions and we all negotiate.”

So what types of information intrigue Aaron Murphy? “I’m curious about why and how people make decisions, how people communicate, and health — since that makes the other two topics possible.” Take a look (and a listen) to what’s on Aaron’s summer learning list:

And from these podcasts, Aaron discovered a trio of books he’s reading now or has read.

  • Why We Sleep by Peter Walker, lead sleep researcher at University of California, Berkeley: Explains how we can turn the power of sleep into improved learning, mood and energy levels, preventing cancer, and increasing longevity.
  • Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke, former World Series of Poker champion: A new way to think about life’s decisions — and why even the best decision doesn’t always yield the best outcome.
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator: Practical guide to effective principles that can help you become more persuasive  — the same skills that helped Voss save lives.

So how does Aaron see his summer learning relating to higher ed teams and students? “We all sleep, we all make decisions and we all negotiate.”

“Understanding the how and why our brains operate.”

For Anna Kern, summer learning is all about discovering “how positive psychology, behavioral economics and mindfulness can tie into our work in higher education. These topics have come up in conversations with client partners in my capacity building projects.” With that in mind, here are Anna’s summer learning recommendations:

  • The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, The Blind Side and The Big Short: Story of two Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and best friends who changed how we think about the way we think.
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (one of the two Nobel Prize winning psychologists from the above story): A tour of the mind that explains the two systems that drive our thinking. One is fast — intuitive and emotional. One is slow — more deliberate and logical.
  • Mindfulness research from University of California, Berkeley: Research highlights about mindfulness in education — everything from the impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in teenagers to how mindful meditation may lessen anxiety, promote social skills and improve academic performance among teens with learning disabilities.     

As Anna sees it, “We can better support and impact our students and client partners across the nation by understanding how and why our brains operate and impact the decisions we make, as well as recognize that mindfulness can have a large impact on our happiness and ability to receive and retain information.”

“Seek to understand.”

Brad McKerihan found an interesting commonality in the two books he’s read so far this summer. “I’ve read a few books that inform my work with students who are going through transitions. In one book, it was an individual’s transition from male to female. In the other, it was about the transition from life to death. Surprisingly, with such different content, both of these books had the same theme — seek to understand.” 

Here are Brad’s two summer learning reads, along with his summary of each story:

  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock: “In this book, Janet Mock tells about her journey as a young trans woman in Hawaii. Hearing her describe her high school experience, her family situation, and how she found a community among other trans women was fascinating, especially knowing how she went on to get her undergraduate and graduate degrees. As more students come out as trans or queer (one in five millennials identify as queer), we as coaches need to know how best to support these students — and this book was a good place for me to start. While Janet shares her story, she’s also sharing statistics, facts and resources. It’s a great read that informed my ability to be a good ally.”
  • Being Moral: Medicine and What Matters In the End by Atul Gawande: “This book, which is all about dying, weirdly has impacted how I think about how we coach. Dr. Gawande talks about how doctors should really be asking questions of their patients before they just offer advice. Some doctors are like the ‘Great Expert,’ where we just do whatever the doctor says. Others are like ‘Information Dispensers,’ simply telling the patient what the choices are and letting the patient make decisions from there. Dr. Gawande says that we should seek to understand what the patient hopes for and what the patient fears. Knowing that person’s hopes and fears will help shape further treatment (or, in some cases, cease further treatment). I think Dr. Gawande’s thoughts lined up really well with how we as coaches approach students. We’re not simply gurus guiding students, nor are we just information dispensers. Instead, we are asking questions, seeking to understand before we solve so we know what we are even trying to solve for. And looking at a student’s hopes and fears is a good place to start. This book was an unexpected place to find parallels with coaching, but people JUST WANT TO BE HEARD, and we should be offering that to anyone, no matter the circumstance.”

Brad sums up his recommended reads with these words of wisdom, spoken by someone who has been a leader in the coaching field for more than a decade: “Students are…guess what… just people! In both books, just being heard made all the difference during the individual’s transition. That’s what we do our best to offer to all the folks we encounter through our work at InsideTrack. And it makes a huge difference!”

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