Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Mar 7, 2011
Comments Off on Professional Development Un-Conference – The Conversation starts…

Professional Development Un-Conference – The Conversation starts…

The best professional development I’ve ever had involves conversations.  It is sitting down with a colleague and discussing, debating, and dissecting pedagogy, something we read, our experiences, an assignment.  It’s when I get to float my ideas out and they are supported, questioned, prodded and challenged.

In these conversations, nothing is taken personally.  We have a mutual agreement that the ideas we set forth are just that, ideas.  They are not tied to our professionalism.  We are willing to talk in radical measures.  We encourage each other to be risk takers, challenge the norm.

This is true professional development.

And thus why I suggest a day of professional conversation.  I’d like to arrange a group of friends, colleagues, teachers and other educational revolutionaries to join together in an un-conference in Southwestern Ontario. Through crowd-sourcing we’ll set the agenda.  Maybe four – six topics.  Rather than presentations, we’ll nominate facilitators.

Together we will create the professional development we want.

I’m thinking a Saturday or Sunday in May or June.  This gives us time to organize a keynote to start our day.

Please fill out this form if you are interested in joining us: Professional Development Un-Conference

Any questions, ask away…

Mar 7, 2011
Comments Off on The Lowest Common Denominator

The Lowest Common Denominator

Too often I find myself defending my choices against the argument of the lowest common denominator.

We shouldn’t open up the firewall because students will be distracted.  We shouldn’t try something new because parents might complain.  We shouldn’t give students too much control because they might waste their time.  Giving teachers control over their own professional development will lead to wasted time.  We need standardized testing because we need to make sure teachers are doing their job. All arguments of the lowest common denominator.

When will we give the benefit of the doubt?

It is time to look to the greatest potential to try something.  No more looking down.

It is a cultural thing.  If we set the culture in the classroom, the profession, the public that schools, teachers and students will be great, they will be.  No more risk aversion for fear of the lowest common denominator.

I know I’ll be told, “In the real world” all the times people disappoint, they fall on the bar that is set so low.  But I refuse to believe that is reason enough to build our culture around such low expectations.

I set the bar high.

I expect more from my students and my colleagues.  I expect more from myself.

It is time.

No more lowest common denominator arguments.  When I expect people to be great, they seem to rise to the occasion.

 

Jan 31, 2011

A new format for a new semester…

This counts as my first post at my new blog site.  This will be cross-posted on my Tumblr site, strictly to allow all my Tumblr followers a chance to keep following me, although it will be eventually phased out.

From the research I’ve done, this will provide a little more substance and will allow for more personalization.  We’ll see about that.

A new post is coming with some reflections on Semester 1, educational leadership, and my goals for Semester 2 and specifcally news about the Futures Forum Project.

I will post that one soon.

Thanks for reading and being part of the ongoing dialogue concerning the Radical Tactical Shift in Education.

Jan 29, 2011
Comments Off on Some tough, thoughtful and engaging questions that need to be asked and reflected on.  I think these questions get at the root of what we are trying to do, yet we are still missing the boat.  We need to get away from the shiny tools phase of technology integration and get into the conceptual phase of technology.In education, we are not there yet.  We are moving forward, too slowly.

Some tough, thoughtful and engaging questions that need to be asked and reflected on.  I think these questions get at the root of what we are trying to do, yet we are still missing the boat.  We need to get away from the shiny tools phase of technology integration and get into the conceptual phase of technology.In education, we are not there yet.  We are moving forward, too slowly.

Some big questions for educators (and parents and policymakers) | Dangerously Irrelevant

Jan 27, 2011
Comments Off on Conversations.

Conversations.

As per our informal routine, I got together the other day with a teacher friend of mine. We had another conversation about education. The revolution of education.

I’ve got another conversation planned for tomorrow with another teacher friend. He is new to teaching, the conversation is different, yet important. We talk pedagogy, commitment, competition and of course, revolution.

In Steven Johnson’s great book, Where Good Ideas Come From, he cites the example of “Benjamin Franklin who, along with twelve friends, formed a club for mutual improvement that met weekly for forty years.”

I’ve been listening and reading more than participating the last few weeks, trying to decide if I’m just another voice in the wind in this online conversation about education. To a certain extent, I am.

There are multiple voices, from the experienced, wise veterans to the newbies. The bold and the reflective. I’m not sure where I fit. I’m not sure if my voice is needed.

That said, the importance of the conversation is non-negotiable. We don’t have the conversation enough.

Sure, we talk. We talk about students, strategies, and contracts. But we don’t really converse.

I’ve started to shy away from these conversations face to face because teachers take a question of the practice or a challenge of the system as a personal condemnation.

In some of the conversations I’ve had with other teachers, any criticism / constructive feedback / ideas for improvement / challenging questions have been met with personal defensiveness.

Why are these conversations so challenging for teachers to have?

One colleague said, “Because it’s a personal profession. We put alot of ourselves into the job.” I agree. Although, I put alot of myself into this job. And yet, I can’t imagine not having these conversations. What do we miss if we don’t?

This blog post doesn’t have a coherent message possibly, but it defines a struggle I continue to have. I want to talk, in passionate terms, about improvement, about growth, and about learning as a professional.

The conversation is not personal, it’s bigger than you and me.

Jan 24, 2011
Comments Off on Be Prepared.

Be Prepared.

Being prepared ain’t what it used to be.  Walking into a classroom with worksheets photocopied, lecture notes printed and the test for the next day completed seems to be inefficient and ineffective in today’s change culture.

What does it mean to be a prepared teacher?

How can we be prepared for a class when we haven’t met the students yet?

As change speeds up and the tools we use to perform certain tasks flip from one thing to the next, how can we keep up? 

Ultimately, as we approach another semester, another group of students and another set of expectations, how can we be prepared to meet the challenge of tomorrow while we are fighting to stay relevant today? 

We must be prepared to see our jobs, our roles, our position, our control, change.

Are we ready?

Jan 16, 2011
Comments Off on A thought provoking video that asks many questions we don’t have the answers to and we are see

A thought provoking video that asks many questions we don’t have the answers to and we are see

A thought provoking video that asks many questions we don’t have the answers to and we are seemingly nowhere near answering.

It is these questions that we must keep asking of ourselves, colleagues, administrators, trustees, parents and students. It is not just one of our problems, changes, attitudes and understandings, it is our collective vision of our role in society that must be questioned.

From attendance, standards, measurement, assessment, schedule, pedagogy, we should formulate an ethic of critical questioning. This video is a start.

Jan 16, 2011
Comments Off on Unknown The day when we put learning before assessment, politics and other arbitrary means of measurement we will all be directed towards the true reason for education.

Unknown The day when we put learning before assessment, politics and other arbitrary means of measurement we will all be directed towards the true reason for education.

One day I’d like to hear “what did you learn in that class?”, rather than, “what did you get in that class?

Jan 11, 2011
Comments Off on Unknown

Unknown

Are we preparing students for a life full of tests, or for the tests of life?

Jan 11, 2011
Comments Off on Slogging it out…

Slogging it out…

The end of the semester always finds itself here too soon for many, too late for others and too full of work to enjoy for most. Students who are stressed out as they are given summative assignments all due within the same couple weeks, asking to prove their worth and counting on their energy reserves.

We are all caught slogging it out.

When did learning and education come to this? Is this what learning has become?

The arbitrary timeline of achievement and success says that you better be in lock-step unless you want to be left behind. You better be rolling at the same speed as everyone or you just might be rolled over.

Watching students walk through the hallways with their bags filled to capacity, their eyes with bags under them, only builds my apprehension for this time of year. Let the real farce begin.

Students have been told, “There’s no chance for you.” The calculation of the numbers leave them with nothing, but a feeling of failure, a confirmation of their self-worth.

Dragging themselves across the finish line can not be what we want for our students. A reminder that we don’t understand the nature of being a learner, about the time and peace that is required to engage thoroughly in material that challenges us.

It happens every year and it doesn’t make sense. Why do we want our students slogging it out, rather than positively passing on to another focus?

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