"Let us move forward with boldness and not retreat back into the comforts of the past." - David March
All right stop, Collaborate and listen. Ice is back with my brand new invention.
Yep, I am going there! I can stop, I can collaborate, but the thing I am not very good at is truly listening. I know this is a flaw of mine, and it has been for a very long time. I think it is important to really look at what is going on when things are not going the way you think they should. It is easier to blame what everyone else is doing, but it seems that more often than not, when you really look at things, the problems can easily be corrected by fixing yourself.
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Most people who know me professionally know that I can get very passionate about what I believe. I do think this is a strength, but like anything too much of something can be bad. Nearly two years ago I took over the role of Instructional Technology Coordinator for my school district. Mostly this was due to being in the right place at the right time. I had a passion for technology and my district was growing a 1:1 program. It just made sense for several reasons including my math background.
To start with, I always thought of Instructional Technology as a trainer position that would simply show teachers how to use different tools. I loved tech, I loved to figure stuff out, so even though I don't know how to use everything we have, I am one of the people in my district that will spend hours figuring stuff out. So yeah, I can say I was qualified to help teachers in this way. My problem is I have this other passion, and that is learning, and researching. I blame my professor, Dr. Richard Rose from West Texas A&M for this. During my time in his Instructional Design and Technology program he lit a fire in me that I didn't know existed. So why is this a problem?
Sometimes blind ambition leads you astray despite good intentions. I have been fortunate to speak to some very strong leaders in the world of Ed Tech and Innovative education. David Jakes tried to clue me into my problem a little over two months when he said what I was wanting to do was above my title or pay grade. Of course at the time, I said, YES that is correct I shouldn't have to do this or that, but I do because nobody else is doing it. You see my problem was still there, it was ME. It was the fact that despite good intentions, I was missing the boat.
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
You see, the "chump" in the room was me. As I was figuring out my role, I was constantly trying to make sure that what we did with Ed Tech would match our Curriculum vision. I bugged people in the dept that we had to come up with a common theme of vision. Really to the point of being annoying (those that know me would be shocked I'm sure).
The mission of the Sulphur Springs Independent School District is to provide students with the skills that will prepare them to adapt and excel in a fast-changing world, enabling them to lead productive lives. The district shares with parents and the community the responsibility of promoting high standards and expectations as we provide opportunities for all students within our diverse community to attain personal growth and to become lifelong learners.
So above is our District mission statement. It has been the same since before I even came to the district, and finally one day I re-read it and decided yes, that is great (especially the underlined words) and so I set out to make sure that what we do with Instructional tech ties back into our mission statement. Sound logical thinking, right? Well my problem is that I let myself go astray again by essentially creating my own mission or "agenda." It wasn't a bad thing, not a personal agenda to go against others, or to improve myself over others, but it has altered a lot of my thinking.
If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it
For me, I had to solve the problem of ensuring that our classrooms were innovative, and our teachers were all embracing all of the stuff that I believe to be important in that regard. I spend a ridiculous amount of time researching and reading and trying to make sure that we are doing things that are sound. And in so many ways what we do is really good. But it doesn't match everything that we should be all about. Again the elephant in the room is the fact that what I think we should be all about doesn't mean squat. My job is to carry out the vision and mission of my superiors. There are many things that they would like to accomplish right now also, but they know that we cannot throw everything out at once or our people will flounder miserably.
You see there is a fine line between leading and pushing. I tend to be a pusher, despite wanting to be a leader. I have really been working hard at trying to step back and help serve people rather than try to get them to all think like me. I have felt like I was making great strides, but last night it hit me. I sat with our Superintendent and said our common vision stinks. He graciously let me state my opinion, and didn't fire me, which I appreciate. He then followed it up with a well directed statement that was the nicest way he could have said to me that my mission wasn't a common one. It wasn't in those exact words, and I am not sure he even knows the exact statement that I am referring to directly. But the reality is it finally sank in, NO we do not have a common vision for what I personally think is best, but please note that I agree with things we are doing. That is true, but it is also because my vision or mission is NOT what the district mission or vision is, because it is not where the district is at this point in time, which I must recognize.
Yes I see eye to eye on a lot of things, but where my passion lies, is not where our district needs to be right now. My superiors have a common vision. They meet and they are on the same page and have their goals. I go back to David Jakes and his kick in the pants to me. It is not MY role to come up with what our common vision should be. It is my role to make sure our district vision is met. Take initiative for things that are in my wheel house, and give input when appropriate. There are a lot of "problems" that are not mine to solve. When they are not your problems, it doesn't mean that you don't stay proactive in addressing them when found, but remember that someone else with much more information is already working on those problems. It was said to me multiple times in multiple ways and I did "get it" at the time it was said, but I really didn't listen absorb it the way I should.
It is amazing how well I can hear that music the DJ is revolving, when I just get out of my own way. While my particular story may not relate to you, I do challenge you to really look at how you handle situations and determine if you are part of the problem as well. I think when we really look at things, we will see that before we complain, we need to make sure we have our house in order first.
Part 1 in a 7 part series on navigating the 7 C's of education.
In the Knowledge Age there is one constant. Educators must embrace this constant to ensure student learning needs are met. That constant is Change.
Consider for a minute how much has changed in society since Social Media became popular.
Take a moment to wrap your mind around those facts. Before the mid 2000's nobody could have understood the impact Social Media would play on society today.
If we stop to take a moment to think about how social media has changed the news media landscape the same reality sets in. For most of our lives we relied on news media outlets to provide information about the world. Today, we can live stream with someone in a war torn country, or watch just about anything from anywhere in real time, even sitting in our car while in traffic. The news from around the world is now at our fingertips and more mobile than ever before. For our students in school today, this is the world they know. This is the world they live in. This is just one of many examples of what we need to be evaluating in regard to student learning. We must recognize where our "audience" is or we will become obsolete.
Education reforms and ideas come and go. Often times the joke is that if you wait long enough the new buzzword or trend will be replaced with another soon, and what you are being asked to do today will be forgotten. One could say that change has always been the constant in education. In many cases when you look at what students are asked to do, significant changes are incredibly slow in reality. The problem lies with the fact that in the Knowledge Era the world is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Technology has been the accelerator for these changes and graduating students today must be equipped to deal with the world they face. A world that embraces CHANGE like never before.
Once we have accepted the fact that change is our new reality, we can begin to move forward with finding the best ways to reach students, and impact learning. The importance of relationships in the learning process will remain important. These relationships will allow us to truly understand our learners' needs. What are we doing currently to ensure that we understand our audience? Are we actively engaging our students, parents, and community in setting goals for what our schools are offering? Are we doing all we can to create an environment for learning, that prepares students to learn how to deal with change?
Finally, if we recognize this need, are we doing all we can as educators to model how this looks? I often fight with myself on where and how to push people to look at new things, especially in technology. One argument is often made that there is not enough time to teach the "lesson" and still deal with all the tech issues that might come up. I fully understand this argument, but in reality what we are doing by giving up right away is showing our students that it is ok to stick with what is comfortable or safe. In turn if we can model how to work through challenges and face them head on, we are serving as an example of perhaps the greatest life skill. The skill of being able to adapt to change. Sure our content is what we get measured by on paper and must be considered. I believe strongly that students who understand how to adapt to new challenges will be absorbing enough of the content in your lessons that they will fair well on a test.
As we navigate the new 7 C's of education, each week we will look at why each is important. I hope that as educators we embrace the importance of helping our students prepare for and react to change. This life skill will serve them in many more ways than the Pythagorean Theorem. This life skill is most easily taught by modeling the behavior in our own professional learning. Are you ready to embrace change, and look to discover the buried treasures that follow? It starts with one small step, simply read this series of blog posts as you begin your journey.
I know Johnny is going to struggle with Algebra because I had a miserable time with it when I was in school.
Which side of your face do you want me to slap, or should I slap both sides?
How many times have you turned on your local news, or read in your news feed about a negative Student - Teacher interaction? For every inappropriate interaction there are thousands of positive ones ever hour across the country. The positive stuff doesn't make for a sexy news headline and won't be shared unless we intentionally do so. We must continue to tell the true story of the incredible things our teachers and students do daily.
In the latest edition from Dave Burgess Publishing, Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe discuss ways that educators can be sure that the right message is getting out about our schools. Your School Rocks is a great source of ideas for educators. This is all too important with the addition of Charter and other for-profit education entities. We have to continue to fight hard to showcase the positives.
What are you doing to share the positive experiences in your schools? Are you sure your message is getting to the intended audience? As Dave Burgess said recently, "often we use mediums that are outright useless.... We need to go where our audience is, not where we think they should be." I would love to hear your your ideas in the comments.
So are you up to the challenge? Positivity is infectious. The more we share the great things that are going on the more good we will recognize. I would like to challenge you to blog about the great things you are seeing in your schools. While I am confident this will benefit our teachers and students, I am even more confident that you will benefit most from the experience. When we focus on finding and recognizing the positive things, we naturally are happier and more positive in our daily actions.
If you begin this challenge, please share the links to your blog articles with me. I aim to gather as many great experiences as I can in several formats, so I can help spread the messages on various levels. Make that conscious effort to find great things and lets be sure that OUR message is the face of education today!
Innovation in Action was written and shared on the Vision in Practice Blog, on the request of Catherine McGuinness of Mansfield ISD.
Robotics competitions provide innovative opportunities to capture student’s curiosity. Students work individually and in teams to solve challenges that tap into Science, Math, Computer Science, and other subject area knowledge and skills. There are various contests that are held throughout the year across the state requiring different levels of skills.
One example of these contests is the TCEA Mindstorms Robotics Contest that uses Lego based robots. There are two different challenges that engage students, the arena challenge and student inventions. Each challenge requires students to tap into content skills as well as soft skills or social skills.
Ok let's start with a little disclaimer....
Now that we have that out of the way, the headline really loses some of its shock value but I always love to take the time to remind people how much I respect teachers. I think it is important, because I am also one of the first to criticize the current state of education. I am also critical of teachers that really should be in other professions. You see just like anything else, there are bad apples, and I have no use for a teacher that is going through the motions. Those types are few and far between, and I hate that they tarnish the work of so many others who bust their butt on a daily basis.
So why would I fire all teachers? The graphic above should be enough to make the point. The very simplified definition shows just how outdated things are if we are still waiting for a person who simply passes on information or skill to educate students. There will always be a need for teachers to pass on the information they know to students, but it absolutely cannot stop there.
Students no matter how tech savvy they might be, have access to information at all times. The world that our kids will enter after their time in public education does not support people that wait for someone to tell them what to do or think next. Students must be given opportunities to have a say in their learning. Learning opportunities must encourage students to process information, apply that information to the world around them, and seek solutions to new problems.
On the other hand some would say that the definition of designer isn't much different. "A person who plans how to make or change something." When combined with the word learning, a Learning Designer would be someone who plans how to make or change learning opportunities. It may be subtle, but the key is as a teacher things are centered around giving information, while as a learning designer things are centered around the student learning.
In the end it all comes down to the focus remaining on student learning. If I could, I would fire all teachers and hire back Learning Designers. It may seem like a silly conversation, but it is one simple way of reminding teachers of their true importance. I think it would also give these amazing people a title that more accurately depicts the job they do every day. Great teachers are able to guide and shape the learning despite the many differences of students. They maintain a delicate balancing act of many plates. They are not simply teachers anymore. They are designers and curators of ideas. And these ideas turn into the dreams of our learners that change the world. They are so much more than a person that passes on information.
Is public education today doing all it can to meet student needs. I am often critical of the state of our education system, but I know that teachers and administrators have the best of intentions. We can blame standardized testing and a slew of other issues, but the reality is we MUST fix whatever problems we may feel are present.
Dave and Shelley Burgess in "Teach Like a Pirate," address a topic that I have agreed with for many years. The image below sums it up better than anything I can say.
Just think about this for a few minutes. Businesses or "the real world" have to fight daily to stay alive and relevant in the marketplace. Some companies are more successful than others, and some survive despite poor practices, but the reality is they have to have a product that meets customer needs, or they will surely fail.
Despite good intentions, I think most of us would agree that education is often too slow when it comes to making meaningful changes.
Would education look different today if we approached our work with the idea that we have to EARN our customers, or students?
Can we learn from the world around us? Can we become more innovative in what we do in order to stay relevant for our students? Can we continue to adapt like Starbucks has over the years. They have had their share of controversies, but have survived by creating a brand that understands customer interests. Or will we look more like BlockBuster, a company that did a lot of things right, but in the end, just didn't read the market well enough to give customers what they wanted.
I am a big fan of the book, "The Innovators Mindset" by George Couros. If you are looking for an added spark to your thought process I would highly recommend you take a look. He does a great job of painting the picture of how simple changes in approach go a long way toward staying relevant in your pursuit of nurturing the love of learning in your students and teachers.
Changes in educational practices are often debated. The next new thing comes and goes and in the end a lot of things never really change. The reality of the matter is we are teaching students, and with that said, we must prepare students for the future they face. We must equip them with the tools to problem solve, think critically, and create. This is not some revolutionary idea that I have created, it has been debated for years, yet progress remains too slow in many ways. Teachers today have incredibly difficult jobs as they must continue to teach the core components of education, while keeping up with the world around them. How do you prepare your teachers and students for the reality they face?
As far back as the 17th Century schools in the US were centered around the 4 R's of education; Reading 'Riting, 'Rithmetic, and Religion. These early elementary schools were founded on the power of Reading literacy as an avenue for students to branch out and realize the possibilities of the world around them. Without Reading Literacy it is tough to quickly gain high levels of knowledge on many different subjects. Life is still the greatest teacher, but the ability to read provides hope and opportunity just as it did over 200 years ago, to those privileged enough to be taught to do so.
Fast forward to 2015, 239 years from our first day as a country. Reading is still the most powerful thing any person can learn to do. I would argue that digital fluency would come in a very close second. The reality is that a lot of people still survive every day with little to no technology knowledge. I know many people that live happy productive lives while their only dealings with technology revolve around what is essentially forced upon them. 239 years ago the three R's were the key to someone achieving new knowledge, but today the gateway that is opened along with digital fluency is like nothing our founders could have ever begun to imagine. When you look at the fact that the internet as we know it really didn't start to take shape until around 1995, in the last 20 years things have changed more than the previous 200+ years combined.
As teachers are pulled a million different directions and measured based on children taking standardized tests, the growth in digital fluency remains slower than students deserve. I do not blame teachers, but I do challenge all teachers, and educational leaders to fix this problem. You see as a professional educator today, it is NOT OK to simply shrug off your lack of classroom technology interaction with the idea that "you are just not good with tech." Your students deserve better, and quite frankly you deserve better.
Leaders, you must have some sense of urgency to build this digital fluency capacity in all teachers under your guidance. You must find time and make training available that allows teachers to flourish. The key for administrators is you must expect it from your teachers, and yourself. Teachers, you must let down your guard and roll up your sleeves. Don't continue to make excuses or let the fact that technology is not a big deal in your personal world negatively impact your student's future. Technology is here to stay, and you are teaching students, not a subject. Students proper use of technology should not be hindered due to your lack of understanding.
So you agree, now how do you go about building this capacity in your teachers so your classrooms run like clockwork. There are many different theories depending on who you talk to, but I firmly believe the key is to improve lessons. If you actually look at the lessons you are teaching, and ask yourself how it can be improved, I believe that you will find ways that technology tools can enhance your lesson. You see too often teachers learn about a new tool, and they want to try it, so they build a lesson for that tool. This is backwards and often unsuccessful for long term buy in. We have to think about the desired student learning goal. Then ask yourself what can you do to make sure that goal is taking place, followed by how could I step it up a notch from there. Often times this is where technology can become the avenue for lesson improvement.
The image at the top of this article is a combination of two well known 21st Century "frameworks." Using the ITL Research for the 21st Century Learning Design and Tony Wagner's Seven Survival Skills we have a mechanism in place to generate meaningful conversations with teachers. Wagner provides the reality of what the job force is looking for as they hire our students, and the ITL Design offers a way to look at a lesson and give it a rating based on the different rubrics. Neither of these pieces address specific devices that must be used from a technology perspective, but they provide the mechanism to help teachers think about how they can shape their current lessons to better match up with the skill set that students need. Once that need for change has been embraced we can begin to figure out how to work toward digital fluency.
Technology tool training is another aspect all together. If we can get teachers thinking about how to modernize their lesson, they will be better prepared to realize which tools they need to learn first. Tools change and often times the same thing can be done with any variety of tools. While there are a few core tools that can easily be introduced and used district wide, most tools are completely interchangeable. Provide the training that introduces teachers to different options, but keep the bigger picture in mind. Tool training by itself has been proven to be ineffective in making student gains. The best way to encourage meaningful change is by adjusting the mechanism to attain the desired student outcome, which is of course the lesson itself.
Until a true philosophical shift has been made by leadership and accepted by teachers as necessary, no level of tool or lesson training will make an impact. The collective whole must agree that things need to look different. When your district is ready to embrace that, the rest will start to take shape. Look for more on this process in the coming weeks, the complexity is real. Change takes time, and often will be slower than we want. If you are already behind, you cannot waste another minute.
There is no doubt that all educators want to make learning as relevant as possible. Often times our current standardized testing system makes it complicated for teachers to feel like they can teach "the stuff" that brings the real world into lessons. While we would all like to see teachers providing learning opportunities that are engaging and enriching, there is a dynamic that is difficult for classroom teachers. Sure administrators can expect certain things, but what do you do with that student that is so far behind that the lack of basic skills makes it nearly impossible to allow them to think critically and relate prior knowledge to new ideas. This challenge is very real, and with schools that have high populations of low socioeconomic students the gap that exists make the challenge even greater. This dynamic often times leads teachers to feel like "the test" makes it impossible to teach at a deeper level. With that reality, what can schools do to ensure that learning experiences are truly authentic, and relevant?
Tony Wagner has been a longtime proponent for authentic 21st century learning as this video points out. He discusses key skills that lead to innovation and success in the innovation era. If you have not listened to Tony's Ted Talk do so below.
So how can educators deal with the many challenges they face and still have time to create truly authentic learning experiences? For the Math teacher that is trying to get students up to grade level on basic skills, a cross curricular collaboration could provide huge dividends. We often talk about the importance of education reform being an elimination of high stakes testing. Let's be realistic though, there has to be some sort of testing system in place. We have to have data that ensures students are reaching levels of success as they move along the system. I understand the impact current testing has on student learning and I do not believe that elimination of all testing makes much sense. I'm all for some serious changes in the system, but I also am for schools changing current practices to ensure students are learning at deeper levels. The reality is standardized testing will not be going away entirely anytime soon, so what can we do? I firmly believe we must engage in cross curricular collaboration and learning opportunities.
In a recent conversation with a high school art teacher in my district this possibility began to take on real meaning. Let's discuss how this teacher can impact the core subject areas with what he is already doing. He is currently using a 3D printer with his art students, and they have designed smaller jewelry pieces. With sites like Bonanza, Uncommon Goods, Silkfair, MadeitMyself, DaWanda, iCraft, ArtFlock, and any other ecommerce platform available today, an authentic learning experience begins to take shape. Or tie in your school web design classes and let them build a site for you on a platform that helps ensure ecommerce safety.
Cross curricular possibilities begin to take shape. Math students could analyze pricing, sales trends by graphing data from sales, and 3D design elements that tie into lessons on volume, surface area, etc. English classes could create sales materials, write content for the Online store, and persuasive advertising pieces, touching on various writing styles. Science could look at the impact that the materials being used to create the jewelry have on the environment. Perhaps they find and make suggestions for more eco-friendly materials, or prove why these jewelry designs are better for the environment than other alternatives. Social studies classes could study cultural differences and help decide what design styles might sell best in certain cultures. Business classes of course can have a real business to study as they work to make it successful and study what mistakes may have been made and how to address those mistakes. This example could also tie into the Service Learning concepts by using profits toward a local social concern that students choose as a worthy cause.
Of course the example I mention here is just one potential idea. When teachers and students collaborate I firmly believe that they could come up with ideas that would immediately impact the world around them for the better. In my example, everyone of Wagner's 7 survival skills are addressed, and I believe that subject area essential skills could be connected at various grade levels. I believe schools must embrace these kinds of learning opportunities in order to make school relevant, and engaging for students. My district is doing a great job of getting teachers time to collaborate. Unfortunately that collaboration is mostly limited to same subject matter collaboration. And in many cases, the elective teachers that can help bring learning to life, are still not getting extra planning time.
What are your schools doing to bring cross curricular learning experiences to life. I would love to see and hear more about your examples. Authentic learning is a must for our students. Sharing ideas and working toward these kinds of lessons needs to gain momentum.
Problem and Project based learning can accomplish this as well, but I often see people discussing these trends within one subject area. If your school has adopted a project or problem based curriculum emphasis I would love to hear how you might be tying those projects together with cross curricular examples. Leave your comments here or better yet, share with us on Twitter so your ideas are shared with an audience beyond the readers of this article.
Learning can be authentic and must be considered as you look at what your school offers. We must continue to work to be relevant in a time when charter schools and other alternatives are gaining steam. Public education has to begin to look at the fact that we have to serve our communities by producing students that are ready for the real world.
Summer Vacation is a great time to get away and relax and LEARN. Watching my three children interact with our friends and total strangers reminds me of how valuable these trips really are. Sure we are getting that ever so important family time that I would hate to miss, but I'm also reminded about how much they gain from the things we expose them to. It's this exposure to life events that also helps them grow into well rounded members of society.
My children have thrived in school settings, they have had amazing teachers and for that I am grateful. We work with our kids and my wife has instilled in them a real love of reading. My children's passion for learning is fueled by the experiences they have had in life. This also points out the divide that bothers me between those that have and those that don't.
You see, the problem is that many of the students that I work with in my school district simply do not have access to a lot of things my kids and others are able to experience. I've thought a lot about how to close the gap between students of various income levels in education for years. Education and schools are the keys to saving our students raised in poverty. It is our responsibility to fight to show all students their true potential. This is not an easy task, but one we cannot ignore.
Students learn from all that they experience, both good and bad. They learn from books and other resources in school also. What we need to remember in education is that our students do not all come to us on a level playing field. We know they all have to take the same standardized tests but their backgrounds and life experiences are vastly different. This impacts them on so many levels, and we must do what we can to close the gap.
Social interaction is a large factor that relies on varied experiences to shape behavior and skills to work with others. In many classrooms students are not allowed to interact and miss out on a key method of learning because we want to be sure we guide their learning to what is important in our minds. Ignoring the benefits of students interacting with other students can be problematic on several fronts. Behavior problems cannot be addressed by muting students. It only exasperates the problems. This is an opportunity to work with students on how to properly work with others, and may be the only time our students have to learn the expected behavior in public. Us working with them in a positive manner is invaluable.
The other area I will touch on is the simple fact that learning opportunities are everywhere. If a student is not exposed they simply miss out on the things other students may be getting. This basic lack of background and connective knowledge puts students in a difficult situation. Things we take for granted and assume students know, may also be the things that cause them to feel uncomfortable or dumb around their peers. We must do what we can to make sure we work to help students close this gap.
I only touch on the basic dynamics of things here, but I hope that as we start another year with students we work to create a classroom that opens students eyes to the potential they have in the world today. I hope that we can create a spark that fuels a fire in all students to see how education can work for them. I hope educators remember that students need them as they try to figure out the world around them. This goes far beyond the standards the state says are most important. It's a difficult challenge, but are you going to take advantage of the power of the world to teach, rather than solely focusing on the textbook. I'd like to think that preparing students for the world will also get them ready for whatever test they have to take, rather than the other way around.
I know a lot more about crabs now then I did before this trip. A lot more now than I ever learned in a classroom. I wonder how I could bring that same experience back to the students in my school district? My passion and enthusiasm is probably a good starting point... good luck this year and remember to think about basic life knowledge that some of your students do not have as you shape your lessons. The extra though you put into that might be the key to opening up the world to a student. You truly do save lives.
Inspiration strikes when least expected, how do you recognize it?
Where do you find your inspiration for working with students? The challenges of teaching today are many, but yet we still see amazing things done in classrooms. How do teachers continue to do the work they do?
The answers may be varied, from the cynical view of "it's a paycheck," to the idealistic, "I do it for the kids," but no matter what is said, everything done in schools needs to be focused on the students. I am a firm believer in the fact that teachers go to work everyday because they love those "ah ha" moments that come when they are most needed. It is the carrot that is dangled in front of all educators and it is easily the greatest perk of the job.
I have the luxury to work with teachers and see them interact with students on a daily basis. The smile a teacher can put on a students face is priceless. Don't ever lose track of what a difference you can make on a child daily. Now that I am out of the classroom, I miss that power more than any other teacher superpower. Like all superpowers, great responsibility also comes with the territory, and those same words you use to inspire one student, could crush others.
I have been fighting with the idea of blogging for a long time now. I push teachers into using blogging as a class tool regularly, but have yet to really model the behavior. I often wonder why anyone would want to take time out of their day to read my thoughts. I have attempted other blogs before, and tried to center the content on the idea of offering a service like "How - To" information, but the platform doesn't make as much sense as other methods. I often read content from other blogs and learn a lot, but I wonder if the reason I get a good feeling about a blog is because of the Author or the actual written words.
I have read the book "Teach Like a Pirate," by Dave Burgess and I love the concept behind everything he discusses. If you have not read the book, stop reading this, and order a copy! The reality is teaching is a craft that requires special attention to detail. To perfect this craft, teachers monitor and adjust things regularly. I would say that it is easily one of the most fluid professions today. Through the book and the Twitter chat for #TLAP I have found the inspiration to create this blog and the Twitter Account linked here. Dave talks about keeping a notebook with him, because some of his most creative ideas come from the most random places. I couldn't agree more and I also believe that bringing the real world into play is vital for student success in all classes and beyond.
I stumbled upon three videos within the last week that sealed the deal for me to start this blog. Like Dave, I have always been a huge magic fan, and love the art of crowd control and the attention to detail required for a solid magic routine. My dream is that I will be able to make a small impact on the teachers I work with as they continue the challenge of creating lessons and learning opportunities that build skills that will help their students make a positive impact on the world around them. Shin Limm and Justin Flom have both created card trick routines that require NO words. They are both brilliant and bring to mind the concept of doing things differently. Typically card tricks center around the banter that goes with the story of the trick. As educators we must all continue to think differently as we think about how it is we are going to go about preparing students to make an impact on the world.
In a totally unrelated video, by Platinum Leadership, a Canadian company, Celplast Metallized Products discusses their corporate team building activities that have positively impacted their business. The concept behind what they did is simply to create a family style atmosphere where everyone is comfortable sharing and contributing to the greater good of the company. During the 13 minutes of the video, I just kept seeing a great classroom. As summer winds down and we prepare for the first impressions we make on students as they enter classrooms, what can you do to ensure that your culture breeds production. If we are going to build learners that are able to make a positive impact on the world, we must first make sure that all students feel comfortable enough to share and hear each other.
I do not know if I will make an impact on anyone that might read my blog, but I do know that I will continue to look high and low for inspiration as I aim to help the teachers I work with lead their students. I hope I can inspire teachers to look EveryWhere for opportunities to tie the real world into lessons as well as foster a culture that inspires students to change the world. I have no clue what that will look like, but I will be looking EVERYWHERE for things to accomplish the goal.
What are some of the things that have impacted you this summer? Will you recognize what inspires your students and foster opportunities for them to pursue that which truly inspires them?