Tag Archives: change

School… a place for learning?

Dewey Quote

From: http://missklohnsclassroom.blogspot.com.eg/2012/10/what-weve-been-up-to.html

It has been a while! Last post – beginning of July. Now, I’m in Egypt and pondering the same questions with new friends!!!

So… How do we bridge the gap between what we know is best and the constraints of the current system that we are in?

A system that is largely dictated by university/college and employer expectations and guidelines as well as parent perspectives on what education/classroom learning SHOULD look like. Is this fair? Can we change this? Is it already changing?

Then, I come across Will Ferriter’s post on a Will Richardson TEDx Talk. Both are worthwhile to spend some time digesting and reflecting on! What resonated to me is the idea that, when something happens that makes us want to learn more… we dive in deep for the sake of our own curiosity. How can we, as educators, create those events that make students want to learn more about what we are TRYING to teach?
We have talked long and often about the disconnect between what we know about how learning best occurs and how we ‘do’ learning. So, let’s work on connecting some of these concepts, within the constraints that we face, as we work on eliminating the constraints.
Here are some concepts we can immediately use to engage our students more (many of these can be hit by developing Project-Based Learning activities – see previous posts on PBL):
  • Make it fun
  • Make it with a real world application
  • Make it relevant to young lives, now
  • Make it social
  • Make it for a real audience
  • Make it challenging
  • Make it from the ideas of our students!
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3 Keys to Guiding School Culture… positively! :)

School Culture Wordle

  • Unquenchable desire to make things better;
  • Unwavering commitment to do what one must, to change;
  • Unstoppable will to try and try and try again to build a school culture that creates and sustains excellence!
(Deal, Terrence E., and Kent D. Peterson. The Principal’s Role in Shaping School Culture. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Programs for the Improvement of Practice, 1991. Print.)

Easy! Right? There’s no doubt that it takes hard work. Those three bullet-ed points boil down to staying the course with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible. Just as important (perhaps, more so!) is knowing where to focus your energy.

From Flickr user John Spooner-  https://www.flickr.com/ photos/johnspooner/2199685678/sizes/o/

From Flickr user John Spooner- https://www.flickr.com/ photos/johnspooner/2199685678/sizes/o/; License- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Begin by asking these questions:

  • Do we know who we are as a school? What is our identity? What do we stand for?
  • Do we share common  values? What are our beliefs about students, education and learning?
  • Do we face our issues head-on? Can we build unity through resolved conflicts?
  • Do we ‘walk the talk‘? Does each of us model what we expect to see in others?
  • Do we have stories that exemplify who we are, who we want to be and how to become that?
  • Do our ceremonies, symbols and traditions illustrate and reflect our identity?

Develop a clear vision of our (your) mission. Make sure we (you) have the right people ‘on the bus’, respecting those who are better suited somewhere else. Look at ourselves (yourself) honestly and resolve disputes/conflict positively. “Be the change” we (you) want to see. Become a story-teller… of stories that sustain our (your) vision. Continually reflect on who we (you) are (as a school) and whether what we (you) say and do is aligned to who we (you) are and where we (you) are headed.

From Flickr user symphony of love- https://www.flickr.com/photos /pictoquotes/14601457842/sizes/l; License- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

From Flickr user symphony of love- https://www.flickr.com/photos /pictoquotes/14601457842/sizes/l; License-
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Let’s do it!

Where learning lies…

Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

This was a long article! It was worth every minute. Take some time. Quiet time. Give yourself enough time to read this AND reflect. Then, think about how to foster those learning moments that happen naturally.

 

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: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ 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. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

 

What will you do to make the Earth better?

So, here’s a brief plug to help out Mother Earth! Do SOMETHING to help make a difference AND commit to doing that something regularly. Here’s a list of possibilities… there’s countless more everywhere you turn!

  • Take a Global selfie… (see NASA link  >>)

  • Help your city become more sustainable (visit Green Cities Campaign for more information)
  • Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs so that you are using less electricity.
  • If your heater is electric… set it to come on just a couple degrees warmer than it’s currently set.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Carpool.
  • Don’t let your car run/idle if you are just sitting in it, waiting for someone.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Bring your own bags to the market…

There’s a much longer list of suggestions at StopGlobalWarming. I’m sure there’s many things on that list you can commit to!

Happy Earth Day!

Changing Paradigms for Changing Times? Thank you!

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

“The most important aspect of digital leadership is establishing a vision and a strategic plan for increasing authentic engagement of students in the teaching and learning process”  ~ Sheninger, Jan. 2014

So… I just finished reading Eric Sheninger‘s new book – Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I also learned a new word. Heutagogical 

Here’s my conundrum: So often I feel that there’s this huge divide between those who are ‘on-board’ with digital literacy and leadership, supporting innovative education with passion and creativity, and those educators who are still pretty much stuck in the good ole days! I’m excited and honored to be connected to so many like-minded, 21st century focused educators but I feel like we often write about and promote ideas that are basically preaching to the choir. We read each others’ posts and share them/like them… It’s the educators who aren’t yet in the choir that we somehow need to connect to. How can we best do that!?

Sheninger does a great job of providing a plan for those who aren’t yet ‘connected’ to take those steps forward to become a digital leader. I have no doubt that many like-minded educators will greatly enjoy Digital Leadership. Hopefully, by reading this book, talking about this book and recommending it to others the ideas will spread.

So… the book. It provides a solid rationale for schools to start transforming into 21st century learning organizations. Sheninger lays out a very clear plan, with specific examples, for those who are just starting out to really embrace digital leadership. As Yong Zhao puts it, in the Foreword, “A framework for leading educational transformation with technology.” I was especially interested in his brief discussions of Web 3.0. Sheninger really pulls from all the current 21st century education thought leaders (Yong Zhao, Andrew Churches, Alec Couros, George Couros, Bill Ferriter and many more) as well as more traditional but still current educational leadership thought leaders like Michael Fullan and others.

There are so many wonderful points that Sheninger hits (the following are in no way a comprehensive list!):

  • The world has changed… and so must schools!
  • The array of digital tools available to schools to enhance learning, increase engagement, connect globally and communicate more effectively is enormous (Interactive White Boards. Chromebooks, Tablets, Web 2.0 apps [like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Prezi, Wikis, Animoto, etc.], Video Conferencing software, OpenCourseWare, Massive Open Online Courses, Gaming, etc.)
  • The concept of space (virtual or physical) is the entry point for instructional change… AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS ARE EMBRACING LEARNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW!
  • Support and PD for teachers is ESSENTIAL… empower, articulate the why and how focused on improving learning, build capacity, use data and share it transparently… and, acknowledge the potential roadblocks.
  • Digital leaders model the vision… once you use the technology you can become an advocate for it.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication… connected to Branding, Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations (he hits Branding/PR and Strategic Partnership building very well and often!)
  • The “Pillars of Digital Leadership”: Communication; PR; Branding; Professional growth and development; Student Engagement/Learning; Opportunity; and, Learning Environment and Spaces are all aligned to the ISTE NETS-A AND the Breaking Ranks Framework.

Here’s a couple more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Technology can engage, connect, empower, and enhance teaching, how educators learn, the work done by schools, and stakeholder relations”  p.45

…”Leaders become the epicenter of their learning and determine what, where,  and  when they want to learn… Connectedness and control of learning provides leaders with the ability to determine their own path and to differentiate to meet their diverse learning needs”. p.122

Here’s some of the many references he makes:

What I didn’t like so much: Not really addressing the issue of the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Basically, Sheninger said to not let that be an excuse to not take the steps to transform. I would agree with that but I would also like to see creative suggestions on how to deal with making the divide less pronounced. That said, within each school’s individual context there are ways to balance resources in a fair (but not equal) way that must be done with sensitivity and confidentiality. Sheninger gave the example of a laptop cart with less than a full class set of laptops that is used to supplement for those who don’t have a laptop.

Basically, there’s  a lot to like, a lot to reflect on and a lot to walk away with and immediately put to use.