One thing most people can agree on is that we want kids to be life long learners. We are not really teaching them content, right? We are teaching them HOW TO LEARN content. Gone are the days of teachers being the keepers of knowledge, the school teachers who know more than the kids and the community at large, the life where our job is simply to disperse knowledge.
Everyone has the ability to find out anything they want to know in a matter of seconds now, of course. We have successfully mastered the realm of information as human beings! Anyone, anywhere, at any time, can find out a fact that we used to commit to memory. (Bonus points if you know your best friend's phone number by heart right now!) We have reached the pinnacle! Nothing left to do here, right?
Of course not. Now the problem is that we are losing the abilities to THINK, to consider, to speculate, to analyze, to imagine, to create.
So if we want our students to keep learning (and by learning, I don't mean asking Siri or Google to look up a random fact), we have to not only model this but also be facilitators of it. What have WE learned about what we do in schools, specifically about teaching from a distance? Elearning is not new to KV but it is certainly not old hat just yet. For many of us, it isn't even comfortable. What have we seen that works for kids? More importantly, what do we KNOW does not work? Are we learning from our mistakes?
With a planned ELearning day coming up, we have a perfect opportunity to self assess and make some adjustments. Did your kids skip a lot of the work from your last ELearning lesson? Why did that happen? Is there something more than just laziness at play here? Is there some way we could find out what went wrong - or at least guess - and fix this next time? Is there anything we can do Thursday to make it more likely that learning will take place Friday?
I ask you as I have asked before, to think about what you can actually control. There are so many factors we have only limited control over: parents' involvement, students' attitudes, motivation levels to name just a few. But what are you personally able to do that might change this ELearning day from the last one? Can you say or do something differently that didn't work before? What have you learned from ELearning?
As Bob Dylan said, "the times they are a-changin'." How can we change with them?
Life has taught me a lesson many times this year but I only learned it yesterday. I have been in charge of more things on a school-wide level this year than ever and I panic a bit before each one and assess myself a lot afterward. Yesterday I learned that trying to do everything myself is not only bad for me but also bad for others! There are a few people I could have worked with (prior to having everyone sign up for Khan Academy) that would have made things go more smoothly. Coordinating with others would have saved ME a lot of prep work and all of YOU some confusion. Looking back on the year thus far, I see many instances in which LIFE was trying to teach me this lesson.
But I'm stubborn. And can be slow to catch on.
Thank you LIFE for the lesson that finally sunk in. I will do better next time for certain.
This is HUGE realization for me personally, but also as an educational observation. I cannot begin to list the number of times that my experiences have offered me the chance to learn this lesson. I have been taught it over and over! Why didn't I learn it? I was not in a place where I was ready I suppose.
It's sort of like reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I did it in probably 9th grade and did the work associated with it. I got the A's. I answered the questions, blah, blah, blah. But not until I re-read it as an adult did it click! This story was incredible!
I had not been ready to learn.
Makes me wonder how many lessons I have taught kids that they maybe learned later, after they left my room. It's a good reflection for teaching: How can we get as many students as possible ready to learn what we are about to teach them. I am in no way saying this is an EASY thing to do, but I better understand today than I did yesterday, how important that is!
Hope you all have a good weekend!
When I was a new teacher, a very wise coworker heard me screaming at a child in the hallway. Her name was Jeanette (the child, not the coworker) and she was a mean girl: she picked on other kids; she rolled her eyes all the time; she sighed incessantly; she complained about everything. So I pulled her into the hallway to put her back in her place.
I was 23. Jeanette was 15.
I'm sure that she had sassed me and turned my face red in anger. She was a fan of mocking my clothing choices regularly so that probably played a role as well. In any case, I was letting Jeanette have it --the meanest things I could get away with saying to a kid most likely. Man, was I gonna teach HER! I felt powerful. Vindicated. In charge.
Then my coworker asked me about it. I bragged about what I had said and how I had laid into her. I felt certain I was the on the road to becoming a strong teacher.
I was 23. Michelle was 45. And she knew better.
Michelle told me that once I raised my voice, the student had won. Jeanette was trying to get me fired up; she wanted to see me lose it; she found it entertaining. Most importantly, I had not really "taught her" anything other than that her plan had worked. Michelle showed me that in my job and in my life, I needed to teach people, not control them. Demanding submission was not going to get me anywhere except in a power struggle that none of us would ever win.
I can't tell you what happened after that. But I DO know I sure didn't light the world on fire that year! I was struggling with finding my power, believing in myself as a teacher and as a human being, and I was confusing kindness with weakness. I was asserting myself through the control I thought I should have. I was learning to be in charge of students without losing who I was. I learned from Michelle though.
Kind people are not weak, at least not any more than mean people are strong.
Think about that for a minute. Who are the mean people who come to mind? Students? Parents? Coworkers? Public leaders? They are harsh and intimidating, trying to bend others' minds and actions to their will.
But do they have real power?
Kind people are not weak, at least not any more than mean people are strong.
I think we forget that sometimes. We get down on ourselves for being "too nice" and feel the power and vindication of putting someone "in their place." We seek revenge and punishment. We wonder why we have to have the same battles over and over and over again. We question why things never change and our solutions don't work.
Kind people can be very strong. In fact, I'm sure we can think of many times when it takes much more strength to be nice! Kind people don't have to be weenies who let others walk on them. They just need to not allow the Jeanettes of the world to steal their power by making them lose control.
Patience is powerful. Self control is powerful. Kindness is powerful.
I hope this will help carry us all through to a long, peaceful winter break!
I remember getting yelled at by my "mean old" neighbor - who was actually neither mean nor old! - to quit picking up the phone when she was using the party line. I remember my friends asking to use our phone to call home and say they were running late and reminding them to dial 9 to get an outside line.
It was such a big deal to be old enough to answer the phone and learn to say, "Hello, King residence." And to drag the phone into the bathroom, closing the chord in the door so I could have a private conversation with my boyfriend, my sisters knocking on the door and giggling.
In those days, I really wanted to talk.
8th grade Science. First D ever on a report card.
Me: "Mrs. Peregrine, why do I have a D?"
(Of course I had no way to have looked at the teacher's grade book online to know this answer.)
Mrs. Peregrine: "Well, Susie, your mouth has not stopped moving since you came into this room in August. What did you THINK was going to happen?"
I returned to my seat in shock. Embarrassment. Confusion.
But she was right. I really liked to talk!
These days, I'm trying to listen more. (I really am! I SEE some of you out there laughing!) I am trying to listen to those who just need to be heard. I want to understand and represent their voice when I can. I want to know where their emotions are coming from. I know that connections come from listening to each other and that is what I need in my life, personally and professionally.
I know I still interrupt people (sorry Chet!) and I may speak when there is nothing that really needs to be said. I am a work in progress. But that is what life is all about.
Also, if you're still reading, please click on the survey below so I can see how many people are out there.
This is a question I have been trying to answer since I was offered this position in May, both for others and for myself, and quite frankly, it is not an easy question. In my PLC group at Wabash Valley Education Center, where I get to meet with other instructional coaches from the area, I am learning that we all have some pretty varied roles.
The main goals of the position, though, remain steady and are shown nicely in the picture over there <--- and in the article here.
In essence, my job is like that of any coach - to "assist people in developing to their full potential." According to Topend Sports, "the role of the coach is to create the right conditions for learning to happen and to find ways of motivating the athletes." It seems to me that my job is much the same and I always wanted to be a coach, so....
(Just kidding. I never saw myself as a coach, as evidenced by my complete lack of a competitive nature.)
I do not presume nor pretend to have all the answers, but I do hope I can help us discover some! I hope to ask questions that can lead to solutions and create situations that will allow us to learn from one another. I hope you'll join me.
And after we win the Superbowl, we can say "I'm going to Disney World!"
There are people on this staff who are mountain climbers. They see a mountain of a challenge and bounce a few times on the balls of their feet, then spring into action. They seem to scramble almost effortlessly to the top. I am not a mountain climber. I see that mountain, feel the weight of it looming over me and decide taking a nap at its base is a much better idea. :)
But when I wake up, I realize the mountain is still there. And I must tackle it. So today as I'm talking to myself possibly more than to anyone reading this, I'm thinking about baby steps. Awkward, staggering, funny little steps that we know will grow stronger but sure do feel silly right now.
Mountains currently in my path include NWEA testing, Data teams, homework issues, an array of acronyms (MTSS, LRE, RTI, PBIS. DOK), a cat who thinks breakfast is at 2:00 a.m. and a cut on my finger that hurt so badly it made me vomit. I want to fix every one of these issues right now. (Mostly the finger because it is hard to type with a Band aid.) I want to be on the mountaintop, arms raised in victory, feeling the breeze on my skin.
But I'm just here. I must remember to take some awkward, drunken-looking baby steps. I feel like I have taken a whole bunch of those already and I should be loping over things like a gazelle, but the world is reminding me that things take time.
So, I'm forging ahead with baby steps. See you at the top!
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”
I don't think I'm alone in noticing an awful lot of frustration around school lately. Yes, there is always frustration at work, but things are almost tangible right now, yes?
In my new role as instructional coach, I have felt a lot of frustration in my responsibilities, but I chose that. I expected it.
What I am troubled by is what I feel around me from teachers that I KNOW are very good and extremely dedicated to what they do. I have seen furrowed brows, clenched jaws and tears this week. I have seen hands thrown up in surrender and heard sighs of defeat. This is truly not who we are as a school. I've been around here long enough to know.
I do not claim to have all the answers but I would like to share with you my plan for coping. It is no surprise that it is in bright yellow up above: Focus on what you can control.
In education especially, there are so many dictates that determine what we do, from when we can use the bathroom to how to administer tests. We cannot control most of this. It exists. Period. We have some level of control through our roles in committees and our political choices but those things impact slow-moving change.
What can we control right now? What can we do at this moment to take charge of our day? There is a short list above, and yes, some of you may roll your eyes at it, but it is true. If we can focus on those things that we can make an immediate impact on, things will get a little bit better. Let's stop wearing ourselves out over things we cannot change and focus on things we can.
Below there are some links to ways to set a good tone for your day, either personally or educationally. If you get 3 minutes to yourself (and you don't need them to go to the bathroom!) maybe click one and have a look. Maybe there will be one little nugget that will change the day - or at least the next moment.
PS - I am building a page about homework at KV. I'm trying to gather strategies that work for people HERE, not in some research world far away. If you have things to add, email me or invite me to come visit; I'd love to see you!