Tag: student engagement

Part 2 of my interview with The Los Angeles Examiner

February 19th, 2011

Communication, respect and trust are 3 important issues when dealing with teens. In Part 2 of our Relating With Teens interview, author and speaker Andrew F. Robinson discusses these issues. Although Andrew is based in Oregon, his relevant, practical insights speak to the heart of anyone seeking to make a positive difference in others’ lives. He travels to speak and work with groups here in Los Angeles and all over North America.

EBB: How can educators and parents reestablish a better form of communication with their teens?

AFR: Cultivate curiosity! Good communication flows from genuine curiosity. Here are a few elements I explore in The Teen Age.

1. Say less—this creates space and capacity for connection with teens.

2. Ask good questions—a good question is one that produces more questions.

3. Listen—seek to understand the meaning behind the oft-confusing ways teens communicate.

Notice the natural rhythm that takes place in conversations with people we trust. Such communication serves to connect us with others because there is a natural give and take. These three elements help us create similar rhythms with teens.

EBB: How do we get teens to return respect?

AFR: In Put Your Boots On, one of the 40 reflections in The Teen Age, I liken relating to teens to an occupation. When we don’t show up for a job, when we cut corners, we lose the respect of others and may lose our job. Consistency is a key ingredient to fostering mutual respect with teens.

EBB: What do teens want their parents and educators to do? (or not do?)

AFR: Though the particulars may vary, all teens would like adults to do the following:

1. See them—demonstrate the same fascination you would exhibit for a partially buried treasure

2. Respect them as people regardless of their decisions

3. Furnish fair, clear, unapologetic guidelines and expectations

4. Do not try to be their buddy, or so-called, Best Friend Parent

5. Connect with them

Over the past decade I’ve conducted numerous interviews with teens. One thing in particular that may surprise adults is the degree to which they want adults to share their own past with them. I explore each of these in my book. Your readers can also watch The 6Teens Project, collection of free videos on our website in which I interview teens about these topics.

EBB: What conditions are necessary for teens and adults to better connect?

AFR: The Teen Age contains several reflections that address this question. In short, the essential conditions are generous amounts of time, trust and interaction. All three are necessary. Compromise any of these conditions and we will weaken our connection with teens.

For more information, write to Andrew at: andrew@peoplechangepeople.com.

    Part 1 of my interview with The Los Angeles Examiner

    February 19th, 2011

    Author of The Teen Age: 40 Reflections on Relating With Teens, Andrew F. Robinson, M.Ed is the founder of People Change People and creator of Epic Training. He provides coalitions and organizations with breakaway, uncommonly powerful approaches to working with teens. We had the privilege of interviewing Andrew to get his insights on reaching teens.

    EBB: What needs to change in environments where adults work with teens (schools, programs) to make relationships stronger and healthier?

    AFR: Few things are nearer to my heart than this question and few things grieve me more than what I see happening under the auspices of education. If, like Rip Van Winkle, I could fall asleep for twenty years, here’s what I would long to see when I awoke:

    1. Schools employing interactive, relationship-based approaches that engage and captivate teens at a personal level.

    2. Teachers who fuel the learning process by enflaming a student’s natural curiosity.

    3. Learning environments that have shed teach-to-the-test tactics in favor of unbounded creativity, divergent thinking, and regard for human ingenuity.

    If our country is serious about transforming education, these three ingredients must be at the heart of the transformation process.

    EBB: Given all the risks and dangers presented to teens, what can educators and parents do to help teens make better choices?

    AFR: Commit to finding points of entry into the relationship. This takes determination on the part of the adult. Study teens and you’ll discover these entry points. But you have to be intently focused and committed, like when you lock yourself out of your house. You check every door and window to see if one is unlocked. The same is true with teens.

    I introduce groups to the following three phases to help them strengthen their positive influence in the life of teens—C.P.R.

    1. Crystallize your message— Sharpen your focus to the essentials

    2. Personalize your methods— Increase relevance and meaning for teens as they take ownership

    3. Relationalize your approach and build trust with students— Teens will connect with your message as they connect with the messenger.

    EBB: What do educators and parents need to know about the adolescent brain?

    AFR: Can you imagine hosting Thanksgiving while remodeling your kitchen? You could get the job done, but it wouldn’t be pretty. A similar remodeling process is underway between the ears of every 12-25 year-old. Functions like logical, forward thinking and impulse control don’t perform as well as they will in adulthood. I devote several sections of my book to this remodeling process and what we can do about it.

    Continue reading on Examiner.com: Interview with the author of The Teen Age: 40 Reflections on Relating With Teens – Los Angeles Parenting Teens | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/parenting-teens-in-los-angeles/relating-with-teens-interview-with-the-author-of-the-teen-age-40-reflections-o#ixzz1ES7JQOHz

      Newsletter for November 2009: The Third Element of Effective Structure

      November 3rd, 2009

      The Synthesis Fugue

      What kind of music do you enjoy? If you’re like me you appreciate a broad spectrum. So far today I’ve listened to Bach, Radiohead, Ryan Adams, and The Rolling Stones. The music I’m drawn to tends to result from synthesis: the combining of multiple, different parts into a complex whole. Attend the symphony and you’ll experience the splendid coalescence of myriad, unique aural expressions.

      Synthesis, the third step in our learning structure, is when we collaborate with our audience to reassemble the elements explored during the process phase into a new coherent whole. Imagine you are the conductor. The orchestra is your audience. Together you are working to shape something resonant and memorable.

      A powerful shift happens as you progress from Introduction through Process and into Synthesis. The topic you present in the Introduction, though helpful for the purposes of orienting your audience, is as yet abstract to everyone but you. Imagine if you told me, “Today we’re going to talk about native vegetation.” I would know what we’re discussing, but I wouldn’t have any relationship to the topic. It remains intangible to me. Process allows me to explore the content and make it my own. I can ask questions, deepen my understanding, and at least begin to satisfy my curiosity. Through synthesis we can then create a new form, or composition, that has personal meaning and relevance to each individual.

      Too often, because we bypass the process phase, synthesis becomes merely a reiteration of what was stated in the introduction. For example, an introduction may be, “Smoking cigarettes is harmful to your health.” The “synthesis” that follows falls flatly as, “Furthermore, don’t smoke. It’s bad for you.” This prevents the message from taking root and yielding change because the topic remains distant and impersonal to the audience.

      Synthesis offers the opportunity to make meaning of process. The presenter or educator can facilitate synthesis by bundling together comments from the audience into likenesses, then reframing the main message after integrating input. This is a far cry from traditional approaches wherein we state the message in our terms, irrespective of participants’ voices.

      In summary, a solid Introduction promotes productive, divergent Process, which in turn allows for constructive Synthesis. Keep in mind that all of these elements apply to both formal and informal presentations. What applies to teaching a workshop will also be relevant in a dialogue with your coworkers or children. Fidelity to each element will enhance the potency of all our interactions.

      It’s great to be working with you to promote meaningful, lasting change.


      Questions? Send me an email.