When I first began offering On Course Workshops in 1996, I was in for a pleasant surprise. During the very first workshop, someone spontaneously announced, “I just had the most amazing Aha!” And she went on to enthrall us all with her sudden insight.
In future workshops, I started encouraging Aha’s. “An Aha can change your life,” I explained. “So, when you have an Aha during the workshop, please share it. I can’t wait to hear the discoveries you make.” Encouraging learners to have and share Aha’s, I’ve found, is one of the best ways to increase their occurrence.
For the next couple of years, I lamented being unable to remember all the inspiring “Aha’s” that participants shared. Then I had my own Aha. What if I asked participants to record their insights in a journal book? I’ve now been collecting Aha’s for over 20 years.
Towards the beginning of each workshop, I hold up the Aha journal, explain what’s in it, and read a few examples. I put the book on a table and invite participants to read past Aha’s and, most importantly, add their own.
For some learners, the Aha journal is the highlight of the workshop. That’s why I urge you to start an Aha Journal with your own students. When people act on an Aha, it can change their outcomes and experience dramatically.
In my experience, Aha’s generally come in two flavors: academic and personal. Here are a few academic ones from the On Course Workshop Aha Journal:
- An engaged student is a learning student. I need to get my students to engage more in their education.
- I spend too much time teaching to my preferred ways of knowing, assuming all my students enjoy what I enjoy and learn the way I learn. I will now consider the needs of [other kinds of learners] in the class. And that’s a commitment I will keep.
- In working in schools for a number of years I’ve realized that the teachers are working extremely hard-but it is really the students who must do the work. I love that On Course activities require the students to do the work!
And here are a few personal Aha’s:
- I finally realized that I am my own biggest obstacle and worst critic, but I have the power to become a creator and achieve greatness. Our journey to success begins within.
- This semester, a friend asked me to edit her thesis and if I didn’t finish in one week, she would not get her M.A. The activity was urgent and important for her but not for me. I realize that I need to work on a balance between compassion and assertiveness, or I won’t achieve my own goals.
- I realized I want so many things out of life and the only barrier that is stopping me is my own fear! … I now feel more competent and capable of breaking those barriers and creating the life I have always wanted, one step at a time.
So, encourage your students to have, share and record Aha’s. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the profound and potentially life-changing learning you’ll inspire in your students.