Monday, May 31, 2010

Teams and Metacognition

I've been side tracked by facebook and twitter for the last year. I've posted short updates on my life and my opinions which have mainly been directed at my peers. (And I play there because I like being able top comment on their posts.) But I find that I am censoring myself. The truth is that I have been trying to have a conversation on FB that is probably most suited for a blog. Here I am not limited to 147 characters and I am not worried about straining relationships because of my perspective. So, I hesitate to say, you may be hearing more from me here and I may begin to explore my personal struggle with my new surroundings.

You see I have moved to a different part of the country and my social network has expanded to include people that are much different then back on the east coast. This is compounded by the fact that I now live in a boarder state and I find myself confused with the way people have come to their conclusions. You see, I'd like to say that I approach the issues of the border with logic and reason but I completely lack the experience in the region. Don't get me wrong, as a Latino immigration has been ever-present in my life but I have a starkly different perspective than the locals.

Immigration is, directly or indirectly, a daily topic here in the SW. The issue surrounds the people in this community differently than in any other part of the country and I find there is a common rhetoric that is predominant in my new set of friends. It is a privileged and homogeneous group and they tend to be unaware of how nice they've had it. There is less diversity amongst my new friends and they all tell the same story. To be honest, I haven't come to terms with the difference and I really struggle with the fact that my perspectives are so different. Maybe I feel intellectually alone...Gasp. This isn't meant to be a self reflection, but there are a few stories in this place that keep coming up again and again. Because I spend most of my time at work, its not a surprise that it happens there.

I work for a state entity. It is a government job but it is also Higher Ed. So when coming to work here, I expected a particular level of intellectual rigor. Either I haven't found it or the intellectual process has taken place around a topic that I wasn't prepared or willing to engage. All the political drama aside, I am part of a young diverse team. Most of us are under represented minorities or from other parts of the world. We all have very different approaches and our story has been mainly about building. Our organization has been going through a lot of change and we keep hearing about building this team and getting to know each other more. The truth is, the efforts have been half hearted and mediocre at best. Either way, the issue of team building has been approached in terms of learning each other's styles and preferences so that we can communicate better. This is where metcognition comes into play.

Metacognition is awareness of one's cognitive processes, as well as an ability to develop a plan for achieving a goal and evaluating one's effectiveness of reaching that goal. ( This seems to be a really important strategy in pedagogy. Conceptually it makes sense too. It is important to teach children to develop an understanding their own learning process so that they are able to formulate plans and evaluate their own progress. I hypothesize that this is what is missing on my team. We are all asked to share our personal styles but it's suggested that we do so so that we can learn how to communicate with others. In reality we should be asked to understand how we learn as individuals so that we can learn how to adapt to meet the team's needs more effectively.

So, to the purpose of my post. Is it important to engage in a metacognitive analysis when building teams? I can tell you all day long that I am visual learner and somehow that makes it ok for me to continue to ask for visually presented information. But is the true role of metcognitive analysis to force team members to self assess in order to find ways to change or "flex" to different styles? How effective has this been in your experience? Your thoughts please.

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