Being an Explorer (and an athlete) helps me to embrace change in my work environment

After taking @DuncanSSD’s Gamer Type Quiz (What Type of Gamer Are You?), there is no doubt that I’m an Explorer:

Explorer Gamer Type Badge

I’ve taken this quiz, or some form of it, several times and consistently I get the same result.  I definitely enjoy discovering new ideas, objects, and places.  While I also have some “Achiever” tendencies, they are usually related to my primary gamer identity as an Explorer.  I am more motivated to earn badges or rewards as they relate to my discoveries and exploration of a game rather than in comparison with other players.  Part of my explorer nature, tends to be curious about what’s behind the scene and I get restless in confined spaces (virtual or otherwise); usually, I’m the one looking for an an alternative option to the status quo, under the “let’s get creative” hat that I often wear.

As an explorer in gaming environments and an athlete in real life, I’ve always enjoyed playing or competing with others, but mostly I love challenges, obstacles, discovery, riddles, puzzles, and games of all types.  I enjoy the process or journey involved in tackling a challenge – finding out everything I can (research), making a plan or devising a strategy, exploring creative alternatives, teamwork, iterations, and even applying what I’ve discovered in new or similar situations.

Learning to play basketball at a young age brought out the aspects of play that I love the most:

  1. I learned to make quick decisions on and off the court, by reading the situation (and others) while also understanding the context or bigger picture and how my decisions would impact the overall experience.
  2. I learned that a defensive or offensive play (or a plan) has many moving parts; this provides many options based on the context or environment and the individuals involved.  Those individuals play a major role in how the play unfolds; their skills or abilities, their decisions, and the timing of those actions or decisions, can lead to many different results – this was an accepted part of the intrigue and challenge of the game.
  3. Practice and iterations enable progress to be made, problems to be solved, skills to be gained and improved, and allow an individual or a team to continually build on what they know about the game.  In others words, through practice and iteration, I developed my skills, knowledge, and understanding of the game; not only could this contribute to my success on the court but in my relationships and camaraderie with other players and coaches.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned, is that all of these three (3) aspects of how I play, will continue to change as I meet new players, join new teams, and play in different leagues.  Embracing change is literally part of the game and it comes with the territory; embracing change is an integral part of the way I play and learn.  In my professional life, I find that I enjoy change because it presents a new challenge for me and prevents me from burning out or getting bored.  I love solving problems and thrive on adapting to changing needs, interests, and priorities involved in my work.

Now having said all these things above, it’s important to clarify that embracing change does not mean that I always enjoy it or that for some reason it always comes easily.  Far from it; embracing change is humbling, and change can be confusing, even discouraging at times.  In the 20th century, technology was introduced into schools and the workplace at a much slower pace, giving schools and companies ample time to design appropriate training methods and courses (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  Now, not only is technology rapidly advancing in our society, but it is more accessible than ever before and the school or corporate environment is not the only place where technology can exist.  Added to that, the ways in which technologies are used also continue to evolve; older technologies can be brought back into the forefront when users begin to use it in a different way than it was previously introduced or intended.  Usually, timing is everything and when change is sudden or unexpected it can create a sense of panic or discomfort that I am not ready or frustration because I feel that I’m “finally” starting to make progress and now I have to shift my focus or my efforts in a different direction.  Constant change can have an overwhelming effect and make me feel that I can’t catch up or gain my footing.  I can admit, occasionally, during times of frequent and constant change, I find myself wish my job was counting paper clips and I could just go to work and know exactly what was going to happen and what I was going to do there.  Then I take a step back and look at the bigger picture, when I see how the change is leading towards progress or something better, then I find motivation to “embrace” the changes that are happening around me.  Ultimately, anyone can learn to embrace change if they can discover their own interest and motivation in the process.  Incorporating technology into learning has been an interesting journey as I consider how I play and how that impacts my practice.  As we see such rapid changes in technology and its use around us, it becomes necessary as an educator to embrace our role and responsibility to make appropriate choices and changes for our students:

“Passive use of technology and any type of screen media is an inappropriate replacement for active play, engagement with other children, and interactions with adults. Digitally literate educators who are grounded in child development theory and developmentally appropriate practices have the knowledge, skills, and experience to select and use technology tools and interactive media that suit the ages and developmental levels of the children in their care, and they know when and how to integrate technology into the program effectively. Educators who lack technology skills and digital literacy are at risk of making inappropriate choices and using technology with young children in ways that can negatively impact learning and development” (NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center, 2012, pg 4).

In my work with youth, I often find myself in the role of creating or instilling some sort of change in their learning experience.  As an often eager change-embracer, I have to be careful to introduce and cultivate change that is safe, supportive, and meaningful for the youth.  Russell (2013) points out that successfully implementing change in the work environment depends in large part to how well it is communicated and in the agency that employees feel about that change.   “Employees may actually be positive to a change, but if the change is imposed on them, their reaction is often more obstinate. Leaders have to help employees feel a sense of ownership in the change process and outcomes” (Russell, 2013, para 5).  Youth (and students) are not much different than employees; the conditions and timing surrounding change can impact their motivation and willingness to embrace new ideas, concepts, and processes.  When I learn more about the particular makeup of youth that I have in a program, I often get clues about how they learn and play.  Are they explorers, achievers, socializers, or aggressors?  Are they kinesthetic, visual, spatial, musical, etc.?  What are their interests, skills, and hobbies?  As I differentiate for their various needs, interests, abilities, and readiness levels, technology can be our best friend in learning and playing.  There is something (technology) for everyone and my role is to ensure that the youth can play and be the explorers, achievers, socializers, and aggressors they are while learning.  While this can often be challenging when the needs and interests are diverse and we have limited time and resources, my own explorer mentality should kick in so I can try to find new and creative ways to make it all happen.

References:

Duncan, C.  (2015).  What Type of Gamer Are You?  www.qzzr.com.  Retrieved from:  https://www.qzzr.com/quiz/what-type-of-gamer-are-you-0d2307e9-9487-466e-a79c-9ba068edd8df/fi9xdWl6emVzLzQzNDI0

Thomas, D. & Brown, J.S.  (2011).  A new culture of learning:  Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change [Kindle book].  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Russell, J.E.A.  (December 1, 2013).  How to create change in the workplace.   The Washington Post.  Retrieved from:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/how-to-create-change-in-the-workplace/2013/11/27/9d62f8de-5548-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html

National Association for the Education of Young Children, Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning, & Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.  (2012).  Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.  Washington, DC: NAEYC.  Retrieved from:  http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PS_technology_WEB2.pdf

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