Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Nov 22, 2010
Comments Off on So Happy.

So Happy.

Today I was asked, “Why are you so happy all the time?” I kind of chuckled and said, “Why not?” and the student got real serious, “No really Mr. Kemp, how can you always be so happy, even when we are chatting instead of getting our work done, or when we have so many questions for you, or even when someone shows up late, you are always so glad to see them. Really, how can you still be happy?”

I tell him, “I’m happy because I choose to be. I’m happy because I get to learn today and I get to help people learn today. When you talk it is because learning is social. Sometimes, you want to learn something other then what I’m teaching. I get it. Why am I happy you showed up late? Well, I’m not. But what is getting angry and frustrated and kicking and screaming going to get me. You’ll still be late. Instead, I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad I get to be here to help you learn. The bottom line, I’m happy because learning is my passion.”

The students giggled a little, realizing that I’m a bit nerdy and cheesy, but then they quieted down and got to work. They hopefully realized no matter what they do, I won’t take it personally. Instead, they know that every day I make a decision to be in that room, to be happy.

Now, I’m not saying I’m great and anyone who has a bad day isn’t. I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days. I do, although they are rare. I’m just saying, every day we can make a choice. I want to facilitate a learning environment that is positive, that is conducive to asking questions. I want a learning environment that is happy. That said, what’s the alternative?

Nov 22, 2010
Comments Off on Reform That is Needed.

Reform That is Needed.

In the hallways, classrooms, cafeteria, I hear students begging for change. They don’t express it in pithy slogans, they don’t YouTube it like some edubloggers think, instead they check out. They ‘disengage’. They call school “boring.” They shoot for 50% in a course. They skip class. These are teenagers asking for reform, for change, for a chance to escape the confines of forced servitude.

These are the students who can’t figure a way to fit into our student model. The student who sits, listens, completes, celebrates, in incredibly linear terms.

I agree with Sir Ken Robinson when he states that “reform is not enough.” The change that is necessary is major. The change that is needed is a “revolution.”

The revolution is systemic, no doubt about it. We need to change the structure of our entire understanding of school. It needs to be complete and utterly transformative. But it doesn’t start with the trustees or the superintendents.

It starts with teachers and students. It starts with open conversations between colleagues, it starts with open conversations with students. We need to remove the blindfold of expectations, curriculum, assessment, and learning. We need to re-focus what school is for: not to prepare someone for university or college, but to prepare them for a life as a learner.

Today, on the Day of Blogging for Real Education Reform, I will not only write to the wind and send this out to people who read blogs, who consider reform necessary, but I’ll start and continue those conversations. I’ll keep conversing with my students. I’ll remember that today is yet another day of learning, exploration and inquiry.

Today is a day when the revolution continues to move.

Nov 21, 2010
Comments Off on Refusal to Adopt.

Refusal to Adopt.

Kevin Kelly writes, “Often we refuse to adopt technology because of how the avoidance reinforces or shapes our identity.” To this point, I think teachers are afraid to adopt technology because with it becomes a need to redefine what we do.

With technology in the classroom, we can no longer be the smartest ones in the room. We can no longer be the ones of moral high ground. In fact, we can no longer be the disseminators of information. We can no longer be teachers. We must be learners, sherpas, facilitators, instigators, motivators, and harbingers of learning.

To be a teacher with technology in the room, one must be fallible. One must be unknowing. One must be questioned. One must be challenged. One must be irrational. One must be out of control.

Teachers continue to refuse Facebook and other techonlogy because they haven’t been shown the “educational benefits”. The thing they aren’t seeing is the choice isn’t up to them. They can’t choose a different option. The students have chosen. They’ll probably even change their mind in a few years.

As Sheryl Nausbaum-Beach said, “We are the last generation of educators with the prerogative of choosing to change.” Educators must allow themselves to be redefined. We must stop fearing what our new definition will be. A refusal to adopt is not an option.

Nov 20, 2010
Comments Off on Seth Godin My question, “When are you going to start taking a risk and do something about it?” Join me.

Seth Godin My question, “When are you going to start taking a risk and do something about it?” Join me.

It is one thing to hear about it. It is another thing to do something about it.

Nov 19, 2010
Comments Off on Now I know. | The Principal’s Posts

Now I know. | The Principal’s Posts

Now I know. | The Principal’s Posts

Nov 18, 2010
Comments Off on Comrades in Arms.

Comrades in Arms.

Somedays it can be lonely. Isolating. When searching through the throngs of students and teachers to find someone who is “on your side”.

Students don’t know any better. They are reactionaries. They rarely will be the ones to ask for change. They act for change. They act out for change.

Teachers on the other hand. They know better, or at least they should know better. So, somedays when it seems like I’m hitting wall after wall. Finding land mine after land mine, it is nice to find the comrades.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all undercover. Not wanting to make too many waves, don’t let too many people know what you are doing to put students in the middle. Pushing the agenda. Most do it in their classrooms and don’t venture out for fear of vitirol, or worse another wall. They just do it.

I’m trying to find my comrades and get them vocal.

Today, I found another. He has nestled a place of true collaboration, creativity, and flexibility in his classroom. I didn’t know about it until I heard some students talking about it, about him. They were saying things like, “He gives you the choice.” “Just ask him, he’ll consider anything.” “He isn’t just about doing what you’re told, he’s about following hunches.”

I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. But I will. I’m going to tell him I know his secret. That it’s safe with me. I’m going to let him know that we are comrades in arms.

Let the revolution continue!

Nov 17, 2010
Comments Off on Scott Kemp

Scott Kemp

I wait for the day where students ask, “What have you learned?” and not “What did you get?

Nov 17, 2010
Comments Off on This is the eBook that my Gr. 11 class put together. It is an exploration of what it means to be successful in today’s culture. This is the first thing that many of these students has had anyone read beyond their teachers. Comments are VERY welcome! I would love an authentic audience to contribute to the process.

This is the eBook that my Gr. 11 class put together. It is an exploration of what it means to be successful in today’s culture. This is the first thing that many of these students has had anyone read beyond their teachers. Comments are VERY welcome! I would love an authentic audience to contribute to the process.

What is true success?

Nov 15, 2010

Conrad Wolfram — TedGlobal 2010 http://www.ted.com/talks/conrad_wolfram_teaching_kids_real_math_with_computers.html

Just because paper was invented before computers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you get more to the basics of the subject by using paper.

Nov 15, 2010
Comments Off on Taking a Risk on Video.

Taking a Risk on Video.

Teachers are afraid of taking risks. Whether it is the notion that we are constantly judging and therefore we will be judged, or whether we don’t want to reveal the lack of expertise we perceive ourselves to have, we don’t like to take risks. On top of that, other teachers who do take risks, as I expressed in my previous posts, are often looked at with hesitation and disgruntlement. That is for most teachers, anyway.

I am taking a risk. I have gathered a small, yet impressive group of colleagues who will join me in this risk. I have purchased a video camera and will be taping one of my classes. A real class, real students, no orchestration. After the filming, I am going to gather with my colleagues (from across schools) and watch the video and break down what we see. What am I doing well? Where are the areas of my improvement? I am throwing myself to the wolves.

I don’t know what to expect, except feedback, opportunity for reflection and a professional learning community who will help me continue my revolution.

If you are interested in being part of this process, please let me know.

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