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While we all need a literal "holding environment" from time to time, I'm referring to the figurative "holding environment"--the working environment where one feels supported, challenged, and encouraged to seek professional growth and development. Most of the time these "holding environments" are our schools, our institutions, and our communities.
What I want to know is, can "holding environments" for allowing professional growth happen anywhere?
In her book, Leading Adult Learning, Drago-Severson argues that, “the most effective holding environments provide individuals with high support and high challenge in order to encourage growth” (p. 47).
This really made me think about what a "holding environment" really is. Does a "holding environment" have to be a physical place, or can it be a state of mind, or can it be both?
For example, in his book, Drive, Daniel Pink mentions Results Only Working Environments (ROWE) and how they are becoming more popular, and even more productive in the workplace. The idea behind ROWE is that people perform their best work when they are in a constructive place and have a constructive state of mind. In other words, "Management" as Pink explains, "isn't about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices ... it's about creating conditions for people to do their best work."
To explain ROWE a bit more, Pink refers to the idea of "home-shoring":
"For instance, while many enterprises are off-shoring work to low-cost providers overseas, some companies are reversing the trend by beginning what's known as 'home-shoring.' Instead of requiring customer service reps to report to a single large call center, they're routing the calls to the employees' homes. This cuts commuting time for staff, removes them from physical monitoring, and provides far great autonomy over how they do their jobs."
Pink was able to conclude that productivity and job satisfaction are generally higher in "home-shoring" than in conventional arrangements--in part because employees are more comfortable and less monitored at home.
Application to Education
So, how can we take this idea of a ROWE and apply it to teacher productivity? How might we think of professional development opportunities in places other than school? Might teachers participate from home? Might they participate from a coffee shop? Might they participate in a communal place other than school? Might they participate online?
My point is the fact that "holding environments" might NOT have to do as much with the physical location, as it does with the mental state of mind. If someone feels safe, supported, challenged and encouraged, does it really matter where they learn and grow professionally?
Questions I still have
Could social media tools such as Twitter be the venue or "holding environment" that leads staff in professional development?
For a learning institution, would most teachers benefit from professional development in schools, in a different location, or online?
If one had to choose, which is better? To have a physical holding environment, or to have a psychological holding environment?
- Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
- Severson, E. (2009). Leading adult learning: supporting adult development in our schools. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin ;.