Reflection: Is the “Why” of a school administrator the same “Why” as a teacher?

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use

I have been fortunate to have spent the entire school day in several elementary, middle and high school classrooms in the past month. Why do I think this is fortunate?

Because, the fact is, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a wide variety of teachers and students, in the classroom learning environment, for extended periods… and, it’s incredibly valuable!

I firmly believe that school administrators SHOULD spend as much time in classrooms as is practically possible. It can really help us concretely connect to the WHY of our jobs, it helps us connect to students, it helps us witness exemplary teaching (and, sometimes, not so

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at Under CC license

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at Under CC license

exemplary teaching)… in short, it gives us meaningful material to reflect on as we consider what we want our learners to achieve, how we know they are (or, aren’t) achieving that and what we need to do to ensure their success.

We all see with different lenses. This can be one of the greatest strengths for a learning community that is focused on the same questions and issues… as long as we truly consider the entire range of observations that come from our community.

Trust flows from a respect for each other’s ideas and the more we share our learning experiences and ideas with each other the more we can tackle the questions that answer why we are here, why we are educators… it is the same why. We just may have different ways of moving forward on supporting our learners.

A Cause Greater than Yourself…

Book Cover

Here’s a book on global citizenship!

I was led to that book from watching a video interview by Katie Couric that really gave me something positive to reflect on… service to others and the difference it makes. Not only does it feel good to know you’re helping others… you can actually make a real difference.

Educators make a difference in the lives of their students on a regular basis. How can we get our kids to take that and ‘pay it forward’. I’m convinced that we can combine helping opportunities with encouraging stories (like the one above) to really build global citizenship.

AND! We benefit by helping others! It’s a win-win! There’s plenty of evidence that shows that giving of ourselves is good for us, so let’s get out there and give what we can!

From Therese Borchard’s article: “How Giving Makes Us Happy”.

Did the 4 Cs replace the 3 Rs?

3Rs vs 4CsSometimes, it seems like it’s simply hyperbole… Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. Is that really so different than Reading and Writing (Communication)? If you really engage in Arithmetic and learn how to Read and Write well aren’t you also tapping into Creativity and Critical Thinking?

It is not the same.

There’s no doubt that teachers, some teachers, great teachers, have taught the 4Cs for a long time. However, if we use the 3 Rs as the basis for our educational paradigm, students may or may not learn the 4 Cs. If we move beyond the basics and embrace the 4 Cs as the essential skills that all learners must become proficient with then we have begun to shift our goals for education to providing complex learning environments that match the complex, real-world problems that we all have to deal with.

Of course, Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic (aka literacy and numeracy) are still foundational skills. Critics often ask how we can possibly focus on ‘higher order’ skills when so many struggle with basic skills. Of course learners struggle in an increasingly irrelevant model of education (the 19th Century factory model). Learning them in an environment that often lacks real-world context can be challenging. So, why not embed them in complex problems that require learners to think critically and creatively and collaborate with others? One of the great values of modern technology in the classroom is that it allows students to become masters of their own learning. Learners can engage in the curriculum in ways that are more

From: The Southeast Technology Network CIC Grant Project

personally meaningful for them AND that hold more relevance to the real world. Learners can direct their own learning, while meeting curricular goals.

Here’s some related articles/links:

Are there really 6 Cs?…. The 6 C’s of Education for the 21st Century

6 Cs Infographic

How can I be a catalyst for changing education from a 19th Century factory model to a 21st Century model focused on developing globally aware learning and thinking skills?

QUICKPOST: 7-Step Prep: Make a Weekly Plan for YOU!

7-Step Prep: Make a Weekly Plan for YOU!

I know I’ve been posting “QuickPost”s more than more reflective and individualized posts but… it’s still summer (barely)! This one really reminded me that I need to visit Edutopia more often. It really is choc full of very practical, immediately applicable resources.

This one is simply good advice for getting and staying organized.

7-Step Prep: Make a Weekly Plan for YOU!.

QUCK POST: “The Hard Part”

If we can keep honoring teaching perhaps the US will finally develop a culture that values professional educators the way many other countries (with great student learning results) do…

From: peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

From: peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

The metaphor from this article really jumped out at me:

Teaching is like painting a huge Victorian mansion. And you don’t actually have enough paint. And when you get to some sections of the house it turns out the wood is a little rotten or not ready for the paint. And about every hour some supervisor comes around and asks you to get down off the ladder and explain why you aren’t making faster progress. And some days the weather is terrible. So it takes all your art and skill and experience to do a job where the house still ends up looking good.

Read it… it’s good.