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Showing posts from April, 2015

Ideas and Action (after the Anger)

I have been reflecting about the power I have to drive positive change in my school board - the ‘action’ part of the #makeschooldifferent conversation. I enjoyed reading @Dunlop_Sue’s ‘So Now What?’ post that addresses this issue, and thought that I should write explicitly about what I can do to address some of the issues I raised in my original #makeschooldifferent post. Although I am one person, my central role gives me the potential to reach a large number of teachers and students, and I want to make sure I am carrying out my work with purpose.
The following is a list of four things that have become important to me in my work with teachers this year. These are things that I have grown passionate about. These are things that I love to discuss and debate with my colleagues. These are the things that I read about in my spare time. These are the things that I want to focus on in the months to come.

Professional Learning for the Love of It! One of the frustrations I have voiced this year i…

#MakeSchoolDifferent: Is it OK for anger to drive change?

I have enjoyed following the #makeschooldifferent discussion on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Scott McLeod (who initiated this conversation) has been working hard to compile responses to the ‘5 things to stop pretending in education’ prompt in this document. Take a minute and read through some of the list right now if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about. (Then come back here, please.)
When I took the challenge to add my voice to the #makeschooldifferent conversation it felt really good to speak honestly about some of my current areas of concern in my work with teachers. A few days after that post I was reading some other teachers’ posts when I became concerned about the tone of some of them. I revisited my own post and realized that it could be interpreted as being very negative.
After some reflection I decided to stop worrying about how my tone might be interpreted. Passionate opinions are required to drive positive change. I was reminded of this TED talk. In the talk, Nobel Laur…

Let Students Help Drive Change

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our efforts to consult with students to plan a large event as part of our board’s commitment to the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning global partnership. A group of 40 students from 13different schools ranging from grade 4 to grade 12 gathered in a sunny library to discuss the meaning of deep learning and work on some guided inquiry projects while their parents, teachers, and administrators met elsewhere in the building.
As facilitators we did not know what to expect from these students. We did not know the majority of them personally and did not know what skills they were bringing to the table. We were not sure how much guidance they would need to use the computers and iPads, perform research, or create presentations to share their learning. We were not sure whether they would come to the event with inquiry mindsets, collaboration skills, or curiosity. Faced with so many unknowns our planning was uncomfortably open-ended; there were more question mar…

Make School Different: Five Things to Stop Pretending

#MakeSchoolDifferent

Thanks to Louise for laying down this challenge for me, and thanks to my sister Beth; I read her '5' (my first) just last night.

When it comes to education...

1. ...we have to stop pretending that it is OK to avoid uncomfortable discussions about improving assessment practices. Yes, these conversations can be tension-filled. They will certainly challenge some firmly-held beliefs. Embrace the awkwardness. Relish the confusion. Accept that there is room for improvement.

2. ...we have to stop pretending that preparing students for standardized tests should ever take priority over student learning and well-being. As classroom teachers our job is to mentor, nurture, and inspire our students. Supporting their learning and well-being cannot take a back seat to test prep. Ever.

3. ...we have to stop pretending that students don't have a role to play in driving innovation in education. They are probably more open-minded about solutions than we are. At the very least…