Blog Archives


Posts Tagged ‘lifelong learning’


Take a coffee break….

Posted by: in Central West, North West

Writing a weekly blog is an ongoing challenge for me; coming up with creative ideas, words of wisdom and witt to share with my readers.  I am easily distracted when I work from home when I feel it is time for a coffee break. So this time, I headed off to my local coffee shop for inspiration and a large lactose free latte.

Did you know that most of the world problems are solved around a table with a cup a coffee. Like clockwork (you can set your watch by it) people gather at their local coffee shop and sit around the same table, sit in the same chair with the same people, for some the tradition has occurred for over 35 years. Every person at the table has an opinion regarding politics or religion and some may go as far as contributing to local gossip.

There is value in “coffee shop talk”, as it is all about building relationships. In many cases those relationships have been fostered and nurtured by something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee. To know more about how you can make your coffee break better visit

So this week I have chosen to highlight relationship building, in order to better understand the self assessment competencies in the online A.S.K. Assessment ( I have to admit this is my the strongest skill area.

Relationship Building

A relationship is a connection between individuals or groups of people based on mutual understanding or a common bond. Relationships are strengthened when there is accountability to each other and a desire to work through difficult situations. Every relationship needs to be fostered and nurture. The 6 key areas are:

  • Collaboration and Team Development: The ability to teach team members collaboration skills like teamwork, loyalty, accountability, and mutual respect.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: The ability to consider diverse points of view when making decisions and taking action. The ability to be sensitive to different cultures.
  • Influencing and Advocacy: The ability to be an advocate for the organization and its members, and influence decisions that will support the organizational values and priorities.
  • Interpersonal Communication: The ability to encourage and use a broad range of communication skills, such as active listening and effectively giving and receiving feedback.
  • Dispute Resolution, Facilitation and Negotiation: The ability to understand the causes of conflict in the organization.  The
    ability to suggest alternative solutions to conflict so that everyone wins.  The ability to use various facilitation and negotiation skills to solve problems.
  • Community Engagement: To collaborate with the community to address issues that may affect the organization’s ability to accomplish its goals.

My friend Donna (NE Region) commented that “sometimes taking a simpler approach when completing the Assessment provides the clearest insight into your leadership skills”.

So, as you go through and fill out the A.S.K. Assessment, read the statements carefully,  and assess your self honestly.  The assessment can leave you feeling good about yourself, while at the same time help you with your learning plan (Thanks again Donna for the words of wisdom)

Always remember to take a coffee break, lifelong learning comes in many forms.

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Heading Towards the Launch….

Posted by: in North West

Putting the puzzle pieces of KnowledgeConnector together is no easy task, but that is our mission as Regional Capacity Coordinators. My piece of the puzzle is  working within the NW region of Alberta.

Tomorrow is the start of  the northern trek of  5 day North West  Regional journey, where I will be visiting a variety of communities along the way and putting major miles on my little car. With all the driving I am doing lately, I have grown quite attached to my little Honda civic (I named my car Betty). We have quite the conversations (a little one-sided mind you). I do my best thinking while driving in solitude while singing to 80’s music.  Then there are those  moments of clarity when everything makes sense, and then there are those times “Betty” allows me to vent and rant. That being said, all with the mission in mind of building community capacity to allow KnowledgeConnector to move forward to “launch day” which is coming very soon…!

So the pieces of the puzzle are coming together: we are making connections with our communities, doing presentations, collecting data, identifying learning opportunities, and identifying learning providers linking all this back to

Here is where you can get involved.

KnowledgeConnector is looking for human interest piece(s) that involve you and our project, to be included in launch (Coming September 19th, 2011) material and other communications materials. Would you like free exposure of your organization ?

o   If so, then can you share how KnowledgeConnector has/will benefit you and your organization?

o   What makes KnowledgeConnector different from other programs you have come across?

o   How has KnowledgeConnector motivated you to be a stronger leader?

I would love to hear from you, email your feedback or you have a question or require further information.


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Grow A Community Garden…

Posted by: in North West

This is the season when things grow and flourish. So how do you make a community garden grow? You start with good soil, then till the rows, plant a variety of seeds, water and watch it grow. A good gardener will nurture the garden along by maintaining a schedule of watering, fertilizing and weeding, hoping for the right combination of rain and sunshine for the seeds to take root and grow.

Where am I going with this you ask….follow along.

Not only is it a season of growth but the opportunity for many communities to host outdoor festivals, jamborees, rodeos, farmers markets, baseball tournaments and concerts. Yup. And most of them are run by a group of community volunteers (successfully I might add). I also realized that it isn’t just my community (Grande Cache) where the same ten people (STP’s I like to call them) volunteer for everything, it’s throughout the north-west. For the past two months I have visited a variety of rural communities throughout North West Alberta and there is one reoccurring theme: how do we recruit and retain volunteers?

This got me to thinking: what is it that KnowledgeConnector is trying to achieve?

To put things in simpler terms, I am comparing KnowlegeConnector to a community gardener.

We know that people (the soil) are the most important valuable resource to our community organizations (our garden).  Community sustainability and growth relies on knowledgable volunteers and building leadership skills, creating that passion for learning.

Every good gardener will use a fertilizer to enhance growth. This is where Knowledgeconnector fits in, our role is to help rural Alberta nonprofits/volunteer organizations grow and flourish by linking volunteers to learning opportunities (fertilizer). By empowering  volunteers with knowledge and skills (nurturing the garden) leads to a better organization and a stronger community. So what knowledge is the right knowledge? Where do you start?

Getting started is easy, as the NW Regional Capacity Coordinator is my role to work with rural nonprofits and volunteer organizations (FREE of charge might I add)  to determine your individual or organizational learning priorities and to link them to learning resources in your community or region.

Goes back to the question… so how do we recruit and retain volunteers? Plant the seed – provide your volunteers with accessible, affordable learning opportunities in line with their specific interests and needs and watch your community garden grow!!

If you are interested in participating in a workshop or need further information, contact me your NW Regional Capacity Coordinator



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Lunch and Learns: Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck

Posted by: in Central East

We have all been to a lunch and learn at one point in time. The question is – have you been able to reap all of the benefits you could have?

I know from experience that I will attend a lunch and learn simply because the topic has caught my interest and do not always apply the learning. For example, I attended a session related to public speaking a couple of weeks ago. It was incredibly informative and while I was in attendance I was extremely motivated to take back what I had learned into my professional life. The first short presentation I gave after the session included all of the great tips I had learned. The second presentation, that occurred two weeks later, I failed to include one thing I had learned! Have you ever had a similar experience?

It is funny how so many lunch and learns we attend can be so beneficial yet so underutilized. Last week, I held a second A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop in Wetaskiwin. We called this workshop a lunch and learn because we it ran from noon to three and we enjoyed a nice lunch while going through the competency framework to discover our learning priorities to help us better meet each of our organization’s mission. It definitely seemed to me that those in attendance, myself included, benefited from the networking and information learned. The questions are: will the participants and myself, keep in touch with each other and fill our identified learning gaps?  I would most definitely like to believe we will do both of these things. Unfortunately, all good intentions aside, life happens and our memories let good intentions slide. So, the question is how can you get the best bang for your buck when attending an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Workshop or attending a workshop/seminar/course to fill your identified learning gaps after a workshop?

Here are some tips:
  • Make an organized follow-up plan. For example, if you have taken an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Workshop go straight to to find match your learning gaps with learning priorities and register for a course! If you cannot find one that interests you contact me or your local RCC and we will find one for you.
  • Follow up with networks as soon as you have time so you do not forget and invite them to have a one-on-one to discuss future work partnership or even friendships.
  • After six months, redo the Leaders Assessment Questionnaire and create a new plan and give yourself a pat on the back. Remember this is about continuous learning – it never stops and is always enlightening. Life would be pretty boring if we already knew everything.
  • Stick to the plan! Mark a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget.

If you would like help finding learning opportunities in your area that match your need or would like to hold an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop in your area contact me:

Victoria Poschadel | P: 780.945.6134 | E:

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Rural Alberta Development Fund Volunteer Alberta
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