Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tools of the trade

An early arrival at Sea-Tac this morning offered me the chance to watch the action on the tarmac while sipping hot coffee. I was intrigued and impressed with what appeared, at least from my vantage point, to be a clear illustration of effective communication at play. A man used his orange light sticks and carefully executed arm signals to direct the pilot to bring the plane in to the gate. Everything about the interaction indicated all parties were on board with the task and there was no room for misinterpretation or an independent agenda: "Do this, and do it now."

As a teacher of young children, I often hear myself say, "Follow directions the first time." In truth, it's a fairly futile attempt on my part to convey my expectation that students are to respond to my direction now. In reality, some completely ignore me, some hear but don't listen, some don't hear and therefore miss the instruction, and the rest have an agenda unrelated to mine.

Eureka! Could it be as simple as using orange light sticks? I'll get back to you on that!

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