This past weekend, I worked with Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 at an educational conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
In the car on the way to the conference recently, Steve and I were discussing the “institution” of school and the “system” of school. The largest part of our conversation centered around the fact that we have, collectively as a nation, created a massive operation for educating children that does not work.
The “institution” is the bureaucratic, policy side of public education that demands that “each get some.” The “system” is the mechanism for delivering the “some” to all. The good ideas that created the system and thus the institution around it are lost in the shuffle. Doing what’s best for kids and doing what’s fair for all have each become a separate megalopolis each on a separate continent.
Education has become so institutionalized that the act of “doing” something equates to readiness for the next checked off item on the “to do” list of instructional practice. (read more…)
This following post is an adapted version of Tim Kanold’s 2013 commencement address at Loyola University Chicago.
It’s May. You are wrapping up one season of your professional life. And, to paraphrase Robert Quinn, you are “building your legacy bridge as you walk on it.” Before you know it, you are six, 11 or 18 seasons into establishing the foundation and impact of your life’s work.
And then there comes this strange day when you do not get to open up your boxes for another season. The cycle of seasons for you will be over. The boxes will stay closed. There will be no going back. No rewind button. You reflect and ask, “How did I do? What have I given those who are staying to remember me by? Does my work, my career even matter?”
I suggest four high-impact pursuits — every season, every day, for the rest of your career. (read more…)
I’m not a big fan of Seek & Finds. You know, the simple puzzles where you look at a word bank and then circle the word in a jumble of random letters and whatnot. It’s not that I don’t find them fun; it’s just that they’re pretty mindless. While I would agree that mindless activity may be necessary from time to time, we activate the lowest part of our cognitive being to complete these puzzles, focusing more on simple letter identification and pattern recognition than meaning and deep processing. Contrast that with crossword puzzles or logic exercises where we can almost feel our synapses firing and neurons carrying signals throughout our brains.
After spending some time over the last few weeks involved in scoring leader training for New York’s state tests, I started to wonder why our kids are approaching reading like a Seek & Find as opposed to a logic puzzle. (read more…)
I love witnessing miraculous things, and I love it even more when it’s kids performing the miracles.
I attended a conference last weekend called EdJEWcon in Jacksonville, Fla., where I attended a “Speed Geeking” session designed and presented by fourth- and fifth-grade students. In the session, participants were engaged in a speed dating model but with technology. Each of the seven students prepared a five-minute presentation around a technology they cared about and shared with the participants how it impacted their learning. Students shared a variety of technologies including blogging, iMovie, Frames, and more.
The whole model reminded me of a discussion I had several weeks ago at EdCamp Buffalo about student S.W.A.T. teams: Students Who Assist with Technology. These are students who help each other and their teachers learn new software and hardware tools.
This is EXACTLY the kind of student-centered authenticity that schools need more of. In fact, I would love to see much much more of this going on in schools, particularly in faculty meetings. (read more…)
Great teaching can change a child’s life. That kind of teaching is a remarkable combination of things: art, science, inspiration, talent, gift, and — always — incredibly hard work. It requires relationship building, subject expertise and a deep understanding of the craft. Our celebrated athletes and performers have nothing on our best teachers.
But, in honoring teachers, I think Teacher Appreciation Week needs an update. Don’t get me wrong — teachers have earned every bagel breakfast, celebratory bulletin board, gift card and thank-you note. Given the importance of their work and the challenges they face, teachers absolutely deserve every form of appreciation their communities can muster.
But we need to do something a bit more substantive and lasting than the bagel breakfast, too.
Complex as teaching has been over the years, it’s more so now — in part because of reforms my administration has promoted. The reasons for these changes are clear. (read more…)