You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one.
Feeling exhilarated, bungling, practiced, ineffectual, poised, uncertain
And finally thinking I was on the cusp of moving beyond the tensions, the dualities I found inherent in the role of community leader—
One year later—perhaps a little wiser
Just a touch more widely read—
Privileged to be mentored by Sheryl and learning from her brilliant expertise and exceptional, sophisticated understanding of online communities of practice-
Each unique, with its own politics, personalities, passions and focus-
Yet sharing the common ground of a exigent learning journey-
Arrogant in suggesting a year ago that the “perhaps less need for me to make those difficult choices” as the community evolved-- of what, and when and how to nudge, to cajole and to be silent—
Yet right spot on in predicting “special” learning journeys--
Finding that wayfinding, despite the markers with which Sheryl lights the way, always is infinite and never-ending—
Finding that wayfinding, always is fraught with tensions and dualities – jumping in, sitting on my hands, nudging, holding back, encouraging—
Finding that wayfinding continues to invoke inexplicable, disparate feelings – joy, insecurity, fervor, doubt, excitement, indecision, zeal, awe —
Learning, forever learning-- reveling in the messiness, the tensions, and the day to day need for nuanced silence or responses—
Now a bit more certain, in any emergent, evolving community, as a community leader, finding my way never will be less difficult or demanding, never less exciting or invigorating—
Absolutely loving the ambiguity and the complexity--
Truly hoping that each community member sees their personal wayfinding in the same light—
And is able to share, as I will, wayfinding one year hence--
"Let's make school a place where we meet students in their mind's eye, where we encourage the square pegs to stand atop the round holes, to build not a standardized future but a wildly innovative and creative future, beyond anything even the best drillers of round holes could have imagined." -- ASCD Inservice
Seriously and thus this subsequent post--
Prompted by a gnawing emptiness— missing opportunities to have windows on the classrooms of two accomplished teachers and their students through their blogs.
Finding real value in returning here to think “out loud”— to create some record of my continued journey into learning— continuing attempts at articulating a lifelong passion for learning and education--
As Anne Davis and Darren Kuropatwa found new directions in their lives, I celebrated with them; and selfishly regretted the loss of the opportunity to connect and develop relationships with their students. And just as great the loss of their transparency in their practice surrounding blogging which was and continues to be a beacon -shining on the potential for making student thinking transparent, for building communities of learners and bloggers, for enabling student ownership of learning, for extending learning through audience participation , for collaborating and reflecting, and for promoting learning in which mistakes become avenues for continued learning.
On Darren’s class blogs, student authors composed daily scribe posts and expert voices projects which not only made their understanding of the concepts of the day transparent but also helped deepen their learning as they taught others through their blogging. Classmates helped with understanding by noting and suggesting in the comments. Excellence was expected; mistakes were viewed as a part of learning. I shall forever be eternally grateful to Darren for accepting me as a mentor for a number of years, trusting me to comment to his students. His transparency in describing his ever evolving and ever more accomplished practice was a source of great joy and learning for me.
As well, the years that I had the enormous privilege to be a commenter for Anne’s 5th graders and learn from Anne and her students profoundly touched me. I learned so much more about joy in learning --particularly blogging, and reflecting. Anne’s process of developing an understanding of blogging for her students seems to me to be exemplary as they examine and explore the concept of blogging framed by the traits of writing plus linking and gradually move from commenting on other blogs to designing and writing their very own posts. Anne always recognized the importance of audience for student voices and consequently Harley and I were delighted to become 2 of many who were contacted in advance and invited to become a part of the group of commenters. Posts were never reviewed by her prior to publishing; commenters often provided pointers for improvement. Anne often asked them to “bump” their writing later in the year by going back to a post and revising and she developed a process for proof revising with podcasting which was very effective. Her kids truly enjoyed collaborating and connecting with Darren’s high school and Clarence’s middle school students. I’m really looking forward to the chapter publication of her work on building a community of bloggers that describes the complexities and nuances of blogging with young people.
Involved as a mentor with Darren’s students and as a commenter with Anne’s, I had the sense that something pretty special was occurring. Now, upon lots of reflection and collecting all these resources (and I’m missing many) I’m wondering if they don’t they point to pedagogies that epitomize the potential of and the reasons for blogging? What keeps us from offering such incredible opportunities for joyous, authentic, collaborative, student owned learning for all our students? Don’t all our children deserve these kinds of opportunities?
"...what America needs is an education system that cultivates a diversity of talents and develops “unique niche talents” that are not available at a cheaper price elsewhere in the world or that cannot be replaced by machines." --source
Sees American education at a crossroads—
Zhao’s perspective truly resonates with me both on his blog and in his recent book, Catching Up or Leading the Way
On national standards and NCLB--
As a result of adopting national standards, schools will produce a homogenous group of individuals with the same abilities, skills, and knowledge. Such a result will be disastrous to America and Americans because as globalization and technology continue to change the world,
America needs a citizenry of creative individuals with a wide range of talents to sustain its tradition of innovation. Americans need talents and abilities that are not available at a lower price elsewhere on earth. American education, despite its many problems, has at least the basics that support the production of a more diverse pool of talents. However these basics are being discarded by NCLB and similarly spirited reform efforts.
In a way, the reforms that aim to save America are actually putting America in danger. NCLB is sending American education into deeper crisis because it is likely to lead increasing distrust of educators, disregard of students’ individual interests, destruction of local autonomy and capacity for innovation, and disrespect for human values. --source
On our country failing to compete with other countries, particularly in math and science--
Last week, a comprehensive study based on analysis of major longitudinal datasets found “U.S. colleges and universities are graduating as many scientists and engineers as ever before.” The study was conducted by a group of researchers at Georgetown University, Rutgers University, and the Urban Institute. “Our findings indicate that STEM retention along the pipeline shows strong and even increasing rates of retention from the 1970s to the late 1990s,” says the report. However, not all STEM graduates enter the STEM field. They are attracted to other areas. --source
From Education Week Curriculum Matters on the need for niche talents, and passionate people:
"The American education system now is driven ... to push us toward standardization, centralization, and embodying test scores, which actually I think is moving American education away from the future," he says in the video, produced by the Mobile Learning Institute and sponsored by the Pearson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the publishing giant. "The global economy requires niche talents, requires people to become artists, become creators, become musicians, become innovators, become people who are passionate about their work."
From Teacher Magazine Living in Dialogue on testing and monolithic thinking--
Zhao makes a strong case that uniform tests result in monolithic thinking. In the modern global economy, the passion that results when people are allowed to develop along diverse paths is far more precious than the large scale mediocrity that results from national standards and a test-centered (or "data-driven") school culture.
Most pointedly, he questions the contradiction between President Obama's condemnation of the emphasis on tests, and his embrace of "tougher, clearer standards" as the key to reform.
From his book—on the strengths of American education and suggested changes--
The traditional strengths of American education—respect for individual talents and differences, a broad curriculum oriented to educating the whole child, and a decentralized system that embraces diversity—should be further expanded. Page 182
Offering suggested changes--
expand the definition of success, personalize education and view schools as global enterprises. P 182
And in his book, he concludes--
American education is at a crossroads. Two paths lie in front of us: one in which we destroy our strengths in order to catch up with others on test scores and one in which we build on our strengths so we can keep the lead in innovation and creativity. The current push for more standardization, centralization, high stakes testing, and test-based accountability is rushing us down the first path, while what will keep America truly strong and American prosperous should be the latter, the one that cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity. As we enter a new world rapidly changed by globalization and technology, we need to change course. Instead of instilling fear in the public about the rise of other countries, bureaucratizing education with bean-counting policies, demoralizing educators through dubious accountability measures, homogenizing school curriculum, and turning children into test takers, we should inform the public about the possibilities brought about by globalization, encourage education innovations, inspire educators with genuine support, diversify and decentralize curriculum, and educate children as confident, unique, and well-rounded human beings. From page 198 also quoted here
So much more in his book, documented— with suggestions for global and digital competencies-
Isn’t this powerful, good thinking? How can we persuade policymakers to read and listen?
By folks who feel it’s in the best interests of students and our country—
But is it?
Lots of articulate folks adding to the discussion-- with reason and some with more passion--
Tom Hoffman’s 10 Reasons you should care about the Common Core State Standards Initiative's Draft English Language Arts Standards-
- “Your state has probably already committed to using them.
- The federal Department of Education is exerting heavy pressure on states to adopt the Common Standards.
- An impressive and powerful list of partners and supporters are backing the Common Standards initiative.
- These "college- and career-ready" standards, if implemented, will become the basis of all subsequent K-12 English Language Arts standards.
- These standards, if implemented, will become the basis of all subsequent K-12 English Language Arts curriculum and assessments.
- The results of those assessments will, if implemented, be used to evaluate not just schools and students, but the performance of individual teachers.
- The creation of data systems to attach test scores to individual teachers is a basic requirement for federal Race to the Top grants and a top priority for the federal Department of Education and other powerful interests.
- The Common Core State Standards Initiative English Language Arts Standards are not actually English Language Arts standards.
- The Common Standards for English Language Arts are narrower, lower, and shallower than the Language Arts standards of high performing countries.
- We are inviting testing companies to determine the future of our schools with virtually no accountability or public input.”
Deborah Meier’s Standards and Passing on the Idea of Democracy
“On standardized standards: I'm a fan of disagreements and messiness—and maybe that's beyond the call of Reason. But here's a try.
If we all agreed on everything, or even came close, democracy would be an inefficient and cumbersome business and a luxury we could ill afford in tough times. Yet getting agreement is no easy matter. Democracy was "invented" to do that—when needed.
My default position: leave it to those most affected to settle it.”
Chris Lehman’s Core Standards Sound Bites and Standardization
“There are plenty of reasons to question this movement, but here's the scariest part for me. This Core Standards movement should scare everyone who believes that meaning and learning is still most powerfully made in the spaces that students and teachers share.
This is about how students are taught that information, how they are assessed on that information, and on the role of big business in teaching and assessing them.”
Karl Fisch’s What’s Core? summarizes and extends many of the points in all the conversations.
“I would strongly suggest that you take some time to review the standards and some of the thoughtful posts about them, and then provide your feedback. Particularly if you’re a Language Arts teacher, but even if you’re not because, as Tom points out, as they are currently worded all teachers will be responsible – and held accountable – for students meeting these standards. And, as he points out in another post, it appears as though the end goal just might be high school graduation requirements.”
As Karl notes:
“Where can you provide some feedback? NCTE has issued a statement and is soliciting feedback, and you can provide feedback directly to the validation committee by October 21st. If you’re a member of NEA or AFT, you might also consider letting them know what you like or dislike about these draft standards.”
Isn’t this a time to raise your voice and comment?
"21st century skills are, in short, an operating system for the mind.
They constitute the processes and capacities that make it possible for people to navigate a fact-filled landscape, a way to see, understand and acquire those facts in such a way as to be relevant and useful, and in the end, to be self-contained and autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions and directing their own lives, rather than people who need to learn ever larger piles of 'facts' in order to do even the most basic tasks."
Apprehensive yet confident—
Never really knowing the ending, yet perceiving an exciting journey--
Always upbeat and hopeful—
From kindergarten through 35 years in education, more than 55 years (oh my goodness), always the delight and thrill of a new beginning—the first day of school!
And still, those same feelings -- and an additional sense of urgency-- to get to the work that I passionately believe can result in a more accomplished global practice, a practice that seizes the potential of collective action to make this world a better place.
This beginning is really very special.
One of my first posts shared my story of finding the power of silence in knowledge construction at Earlham--
Thinking even more about Earlham lately, its influence on my worldview and my being, even some 40 years hence—
A worldview that compelled my last post--- listening, civil discourse, and moving away from “us and them” –
And today in the US mail a letter from the college president that spoke to the college community’s principles and practice, “a document that does not make detailed prescriptions about what people should say or do but rather helps them learn about how to speak and act responsibly in a community in which we accord unreserved respect to each individual.
I’m wondering if the Principles and Practices of this community can’t be helpful in guiding our country’s leaders, families, teachers and children as we strive to move forward.
In an introductory section, the use of the word “we” is discussed:
“We recognize that this is not a homogenous “we.” …We are a changing group of diverse persons, bringing to this institution a variety of racial, ethnic, sexual, and other identities, as well as a great range of personal and cultural values, experiences, and perspectives. We welcome this diversity, and the strength and transformations it makes possible.”
The principles, their practice and queries:
I’m wondering again what our nation and our schools might look and sound like were the principles of respect for persons, integrity and consensus governance to underlie all our actions.
Me--- I’m going to return to this post, to the principles, practices and queries, to check myself when the wars of words rage, and emotions and vitriol run rampant—and attempt to live a better life that in some small way may help to make this world a better place. Join me??
From the very beginning, fiercely engaging in protecting perceived freedoms--
From a variety of life experiences, yet unable to welcome diversity and newcomers--
A people often at war with each other, unaware of the perspectives of others in distant cities and rural towns--
Always us and them--
“The United States is a fragile nation. Always has been.” Ira Socol
Now participatory web-based technologies and with them grand opportunities to listen, engage in conversation and come to understand each other—for all voices to be lifted and heard
With no norms, no expectations for civil discourse, no voluntary compliance to listen, to reason— these very technologies seem to amplify vitriol, unleashed passions and incivility.
Sadly, it is the President’s speech to students on Tuesday at noon which has been met with great resistance by some and embraced by others that compels this writing because tragically, the language around this issue has again highlighted the inability of our diverse populace to engage in civil discourse with seemingly few exceptions.
Even as Will Richardson eloquently and with great civility reflects upon the possible lost opportunity for a “teachable moment”, at least one of his readers touched the fringes of “us and them” oratory.
It brings me to wonder--
What if we took the lead--
What if we made a concerted effort--
And made use of these participatory technologies to model -- really listening to another’s perspective, and then engaging in civil discourse without the “us and them language” that polarizes and separates us all even more. Not just in online educational communities (although it seems to me there is need here also) but face to face in faculty meetings, classrooms, board of education meetings, meetings with parents –and online in response to news postings in our local area and beyond. What if videos illustrating the potential and power of civil discourse were posted by students or educators and went viral.
Don’t we live in a new age in which we can converse with others easily through the affordances of web technologies? Can’t this be a time when what’s always been is no longer good enough? Can’t we stop lamenting our situation and resolve to make an effort? Can’t we be about eradicating “us and them” mentality? Can’t we each, individually and through collective action, work to bring our nation’s people to a new and better place?
What if we did-- imagine the possibilities--
Aspirations of walking, exercising -- unfulfilled—
Days with many hours of daylight, awaking early to sunshine streaming in the window --- now so much shorter—
Conversations with my soul mate, time just spent together-- almost nonexistent
A summer, two precious months, lost or was it?
Now that I’ve finally reclaimed my life from a project that so totally stripped the summer away and I’ve had time to breathe again away from the pressure and frustration, shades on a window of realization have been lifted. Not only has what I sensed I knew been amplified and reinforced, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany--- at this age---
Passion-- passion for learning, passion for projects --- This summer there was no passion. I learned lots about RtI for which I have no passion. I know, RtI is big today --absolutely no passion. I fondly remember my years in the classroom—no universal screeners, no probes, no progress monitoring, no graphs, no decision rules— lacking all of these I knew my students’ strengths, their weaknesses, and how they were progressing. And so it was a project of drudgery, frustration, wanting to be finished. Recalling those times of synergy and learning and comparing -- thoughts of youngsters doing worksheets, being tested, wanting to be out of school. How can we not recognize and honor the need for passion based, interest based learning for our students?
Connecting and Collaboration- A member of a team, yet working in isolation on my designated duties, reminiscent of the isolation of the summers during my career in the classroom, soaking up as much as I could from professional journals. Finally this summer, project completed-- logging in to bloglines and twitter accounts after weeks away, wondering all that I had missed, realizing and appreciating even more the connections and collaborations that have taken my learning to a new level. And then thinking back to my students as we collaborated with other classes from other countries—their excitement and anticipation of learning to come—How can we not develop collaborative, connected learning experiences for our students?
Learning— This project, self paced online learning so opposed to my beliefs about learning. The paths I’ve traveled learning, learning about learning-- from my early years in teacher centered classrooms attempting to give my teachers what they required --to my participation in MOOM where I experienced the joys, fears and exhilaration of inquiry based learning -- to CCK08 where I discovered more fully the power and potential of networked connected learning— How can we help educators move to networked connected learning for students? How can we not recognize the need for job embedded collaborative learning for teachers?
The epiphany—I’m not what I’ve called myself for the past 5 years. I’m not an instructional designer. I am a learner. I retired from the classroom, and wanting to continue to contribute to education, learned that Ohio was beginning to develop online courses for teachers. I was interested in learning and online learning and upon inquiry, the folks at what was then Ohio Schoolnet felt that I’d fill the role of what they called instructional designer. I’ve used that label since. No formal instruction in design, as a member of a team, I helped to design and develop online courses for Ohio teachers within a learning management system. I’ve learned that I don’t have the skills of an instructional designer and I have no passion to acquire them. I know what CSS are; I have no idea or desire to learn how to create them. I don’t know applications that produce canned learning within an LMS nor do I want to learn them. I have a sense of what looks good to me but I know no rules for design. I am a learner on a journey, a learning journey with lots of sidetrips and hours of wayfinding-- for the love of the journey— not desirous of a particular destination-- And again, I’m reading, I’m writing, and I’m learning with a passion--- And I’m wondering do we really think that the current trend in education invites our youngsters to embark on incredible learning journeys with expansive landscapes beyond imagination for the love of the journey? With an invitation to such a learning journey, wouldn’t possibilities abound?
Hmmm, maybe the summer wasn’t lost at all—it was me that was lost for just a while--
LeVar Burton’s engaging stories, activities and laughter—
Smiling, joyous youngsters regaling young readers and old with wonderful reasons to make their book a favorite---
26 years of encouraging a love of and passion for reading—
Gone because—“the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration … which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.”
But you don’t have to take my word for it-- Reading Rainbow Reaches Its Final Chapter
“Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it's in a book — Reading Rainbow ...”
Last week—an early morning reading of the New York Times led me to “Next Test: Value of $125,000-a-Year Teachers”
-- An article about the new teachers for The Equity Project Charter School that also asked:
“Is a collection of superb teachers enough to make a great school? Are six-figure salaries the way to get them? And just what makes a teacher great?”
Unsettling, not sitting right with me, wondering what learning theory underpins the decisions, wondering about the organizer, about the premise that top money equates with quality educators and about the standards they employ in evaluating great teachers, about the pedagogical beliefs they seek--
“Expert Subject-Area Knowledge demonstrated through
· undergraduate and/or graduate coursework and excellent grades in the relevant subject area
· an original piece of writing on any topic in the subject-area
· a written analysis of a pedagogical issue related to the subject area
Teaching Expertise and Experience demonstrated through
· the submission of TWO of the following three items
· an unedited video clip of a lesson, accompanied by a written narrative that analyzes and reflects upon the teaching and learning that occurs in the lesson
· a portfolio of student work that demonstrates the progress of 2 specific students, accompanied by a written narrative that analyzes the progress that each student demonstrates
· assessment data for at least one entire class of students accompanied by a written narrative that provides background on the assessments and analyzes the data
· the submission of one additional piece of evidence of any form demonstrating student learning
· an essay describing personal pedagogical beliefs and approach
· a day-long teaching audition (either in the candidate’s classroom or in a TEP classroom)
Strong Curriculum Development Ability demonstrated through
· one originally developed and refined curricular tool of any form (e.g. written materials, instructional methodology, technological innovation)
Outstanding Verbal Ability demonstrated through
· the quality of the written work submitted in the application
· communication skills demonstrated in the day-long teaching audition”
My initial reaction-- similar to National Board Certification but-- where are the standards? My personal experience-- those standards explicitly stated a belief in social learning, respect for diversity, and a student centered pedagogy that was expected to be evident in each of the four areas that TEP and research acknowledge are attributes of teacher quality.
For some reason, perhaps this lack of standards and what I believe is a questionable premise for the creation of a school, seemingly missing the point of learning, I couldn’t let this go and looked farther. I wonder how these bits and pieces strike you?
“The school’s founder, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, 32, a Yale graduate who founded a test prep company” --source
Zeke M. Vanderhoek at Zoominfo Under education-- no mention of Yale, just Columbia Teachers College
“Mr. Vanderhoek spent three years teaching at Intermediate School 90 in Washington Heights through Teach for America, which places recent college graduates in challenging schools. He started tutoring to supplement his salary and created a test preparation company called Manhattan GMAT in 2000.” -- source
Teacher selection process:
“There will be telephone and in-person interviews, and applicants will have to submit multiple forms of evidence attesting to their students’ achievement and their own prowess; only those scoring at the 90th percentile in the verbal section of the GRE, GMAT or similar tests need apply. The process will culminate in three live teaching auditions.” --source (emphasis is mine)
TEP, Summer Institute, Sabbatical
“The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School believes that teacher quality is the most important factor in achieving educational equity for low income students.” --source
“Summer institute of 6 weeks teaching challenge: One example of a Teaching Challenge & Tangible Deliverable is as follows: How can technology be maximized to collect student data that informs and improves teaching? Deliverable: Create or identify an exemplary piece of data-collection technology and integrate it into the TEP student and teacher experience.” --source
“Required sabbatical: In addition, TEP teacher sabbaticals are not “sabbaticals” in the usual sense of the word, since they will typically occur every fifth or sixth year, instead of every seventh year. TEP believes that the intensity of the teaching profession mandates a shorter duration between sabbaticals. TEP teachers are expected to begin researching sabbatical opportunities at least one year in advance of their sabbatical year. Teachers may use their sabbatical year for employment (e.g. a position at a think tank), education (e.g. a one-year art-history masters program), or travel (e.g. a travel fellowship). Teachers are not paid by TEP during their sabbatical years; however, TEP attempts to assist teachers in securing funding for their sabbatical-year project.” --source
“All culture making requires a choice, conscious or unconscious, to take our place in a cultural tradition. We cannot make culture without culture. And this means creation begins with cultivation—taking care of the good things that culture has already handed on to us.”Finding it not only far more difficult but also requiring far more weeding, far more nurturing than I had imagined -- now realizing so much more fully the need, more than that how vital such a culture is to learning in our connected, networked world -- thinking these few perspectives and pieces would have been of great value—- wanting to pass them forward to Jackie and any whose passion for cultivating a community classroom culture draws them here—
“One who cultivates tries to create the most fertile conditions for good things to survive and thrive. Cultivating also requires weeding—sorting out what does and does not belong, what will bear fruit and what will choke it out.”--from educationinnovation quoting Andy Crouch
First, it seems to me that personal beliefs regarding learning directly correlate to the culture of a classroom. When Jackie and I learned together, my evolving pedagogy had reached the constructivist stage and I prided myself as being a guide on the side, an expert learner who sometimes attempted to model and demonstrate and at other times created opportunities for discovery and exploration. Perhaps more appropriate for this connected, networked world in which we now live and more aligned with my current connectivist approach is the perspective of teacher as “meddler in the middle” (my sincerest thanks to Keith for introducing me to the work of Erica McWilliam; I love the term “meddler” when thinking about learning).
"Meddler-in-the middle" positions the teacher and student as mutually involved in assembling and dis-assembling cultural products. It re-positions teacher and student as co-directors and co-editors of their social world. "Meddler-in-the-middle" challenges more long-term notions of "good" teaching in a number of ways. Specifically, it means: (1) less time giving instructions and more time spent being a usefully ignorant co-worker in the thick of the action; (2) less time spent being a custodial risk minimiser and more time spent being an experimenter and risk-taker; (3) less time spent being a forensic classroom auditor and more time spent being a designer, editor and assembler; (4) less time spent being a counsellor and "best buddy" and more time spent being a collaborative critic and authentic evaluator."--–source ERICFrom Keith’s post:
“In her discussion of the teacher as meddler in the middle, Erica identified three sets of 21st Century Skills:academic functional, aesthetic digital and dynamic interactive.Imagine the learning! I’d love to be a meddler—a “meddler” cultivating community and a growth mindset.
She suggested that intellectual clout was needed in this work to become ‘usefully ignorant’ as the meddler in the middle. We must be pedagogical experts but not knowledge experts. The 21st century classroom will need to be: Seriously playful, Epistemologically agile, and Low threat high challenge.
Erica explored the skill set of the meddler and her fascination with design, disassembly and rediscovery. She illustrated her point with the story of her as a young child cutting up a tennis ball to find the bounce in(side) the ball. The meddler’s classroom is: Respect rich, Structure rich, Conversation rich, Information rich, Challenge rich.The classroom is in design mode: what is the idea good for; what does it do and fail to do; does it have a future; how could it be improved; what is the value add? The design classroom is characterised by: Knowledge more than facts, Deeply understand what is being built upon, Social processes.
In the design mode disassembly creates space for thinking. It welcomes error, strategy, instructive complication, and interesting ideas. Meddlers accept and create space for co-designing and are clear about looking for ideas and when error is welcomed. The classroom celebrates wonder, imagination, and step outside held views.”
Second, Mary Ann Downey’s (Decision Bridges) suggestions for building community truly resonate with me; they take me back to my days at Earlham which profoundly influenced my world view. A few snippets:
“The perception students get from too many professors across disciplines from kindergarten to graduate school is that education is not about real discovery and continuing exploration, but is rather a game of ‘let’s see if you can say what the teacher wants you to say’.Envision “Learning as a cooperative, exciting and creative joint venture.” What a classroom culture! One whose potential for engaging students is unbridled, I would think, if also teamed with the cultivation of a growth mindset , as Carol Dweck describes in more detail here.
Building community in the classroom requires that we create a “laboratory for personal disarmament”, described by Scott Peck, (1985: 69), instead of the guarded, competitive contributions we often encourage by our leadership.
If we are intentional about building community in the classroom, we must learn how to reward cooperation, rather than competition. This means engaging every student in full participation so that their life experience becomes a resource to us and to their peers. As we offer our subject matter expertise, we also need to demonstrate the truth of the saying, “If you would be a teacher, by your students you’ll be taught”. Our challenge is to model and facilitate learning as a cooperative, exciting and creative joint venture.
I’ve identified four key skills that are needed for a group to use the consensus process effectively. These are the same skills that foster true community and that develop each student’s ability and willingness to:
- Speak truth as they see it; learning to appreciate the value of their life experience
- Listen with respect to the truth of others
- Develop an appreciative understanding of differences
- Integrate differences to make new discoveries”
"...people's self-theories about intelligence have a profound influence on their motivation to learn. Students who hold a "fixed" theory are mainly concerned with how smart they are—they prefer tasks they can already do well and avoid ones on which they may make mistakes and not look smart. In contrast, she said, people who believe in an "expandable" or "growth" theory of intelligence want to challenge themselves to increase their abilities, even if they fail at first."I'm thinking that too many students who "play the game of school" well have a fixed mindset and respond poorly when faced with challenges of connected, networked learning. Nurturing and cultivating a growth mindset in the clasroom, recognizing effort, can be an important component in growing a community for learning.
Meddling, nurturing and cultivation are good, hard work that never ends, that sometimes are exhausting, that sometimes take more time than we would like, that when successful illuminate our very souls– With kind nurturing and cultivation, won’t our youngsters have the opportunity to become all that they can be? And won’t we, our students and our world be the better for it? Or not?
Today’s similar but --- Unique, unlikely, and compelling collaborations—
It’s safe to believe it’s not just a fluke---
At my feet lies Harley, an aging, wise, and loving 90 pound German Shepherd. Rescued from abuse and neglect some 6 years ago, this handsome guy has become an integral family member.. His love of life—in the past chasing deer, treeing wild turkeys, and stalking rabbits -- is still evident as his heart, his loyalty, and his love shine through despite his increasing deafness and weakened hindquarters.
And now a seasoned blogger who appears to bring love, and laughter, and learning to his audience and collaborators—those youngsters who still believe and want to believe and join in the fun as this canine speaks to them.
In 2007, I was amazed, yet thrilled by the connections, the learning and the pleasure inspired by Harley’s posts. I feared though the time spent with the Blogicians that year might have been a fluke—just a group of students who happened to like dogs. Yet I hoped – as Harley’s blog seemed to deal with an issue that had saddened me as I sensed since my retirement that the joy of learning and going to school had continued to decline. Steven Wolk addressed those same concerns in an article in Educational Leadership in the fall of 2008 when he wrote:
“from John Dewey's Experience and Education (1938): "What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win the ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his own soul?" (p. 49). If the experience of "doing school" destroys children's spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?”
I said out loud as I read his article on the Joy of Learning and pledged that Harley would continue to blog as long his audience appreciated his posts and he and they learned from each other. To this day in 2009, Harley’s posts do encourage a sense of wonder and a willingness to care for each other as he communicates and learns through connections on his blog. And happiness and learning are evidenced this year by recent posts from Reflective Voices (5th graders in Georgia, another of Anne’s projects) who looked back on the year commenting to and hearing from Harley. Harley thanked them here and linked to each student’s post; Filemon’s is particularly revealing.
Isn’t the addition of the term “compelling” appropriate here? How is it that a shepherd can encourage multiple comments from Graciela well into the evenings? Aren’t these youngster’s reactions to Harley’s blog telling us something?
Could it be that a voice that is unique, that is joyful and thankful, that radiates love and concern for all , that shows a genuine interest in his reader’s learning can truly model and generate engaged learning in which youngsters’ eyes sparkle, in which questions abound and answers are eagerly sought, and from which a lifelong love of learning arises?
And if that is so, when might your “Harley” enter the blogosphere to contribute an additional unique perspective bringing even more joy and wonder to learning?
Sheryl and I are excited to announce the inaugural Powerful Learning Practice Visioning Boot Camp for Educational Leaders to be held at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia this summer. You can get all of the details here, but the bottom line is we’ve put together a three-day event for a limited number (25) of participants that we think will help school principals and superintendents get a deep understanding of how the world is shifting, identify and articulate the challenges that we face, begin some serious conversations about long term change in personal and classroom practice, and create a foundation for long range planning.
We’re really pleased that Chris Lehmann will be our host for the three days and that he will be among a group of forward thinking leaders who will share their experiences and expertise with us. We hope you (or your school leader) will join us!
An emphasis on understanding leads to one of the primary characteristics of the new science of learning: its focus on the processes of knowing (e.g., Piaget, 1978; Vygotsky, 1978). 10Adapting new theories of learning are even more challenging yet needed.
Asking which teaching technique is best is analogous to asking which tool is best—a hammer, a screwdriver, a knife, or pliers. In teaching as in carpentry, the selection of tools depends on the task at hand and the materials one is working with
If, instead, the point of departure is a core set of learning principles, then the selection of teaching strategies (mediated, of course, by subject matter, grade level, and desired outcome) can be purposeful. The many possibilities then become a rich set of opportunities from which a teacher constructs an instructional program rather than a chaos of competing alternatives. 23
Learning is influenced in fundamental ways by the context in which it takes place. A community-centered approach requires the development of norms for the classroom and school, as well as connections to the outside world, that support core learning values.
Teachers must attend to designing classroom activities and helping students organize their work in ways that promote the kind of intellectual camaraderie and the attitudes toward learning that build a sense of community. In such a community, students might help one another solve problems by building on each other’s knowledge, asking questions to clarify explanations, and suggesting avenues that would move the group toward its goal (Brown and Campione, 1994). Both cooperation in problem solving (Evans, 1989; Newstead and Evans, 1995) and argumentation (Goldman, 1994; Habermas, 1990; Kuhn, 1991; Moshman, 1995a, 1995b; Salmon and Zeitz, 1995; Youniss and Damon, 1992) among students in such an intellectual community enhance cognitive development.
Teachers must be enabled and encouraged to establish a community of learners among themselves (Lave and Wegner, 1991). These communities can build a sense of comfort with questioning rather than knowing the answer and can develop a model of creating new ideas that build on the contributions of individual members. They can engender a sense of the excitement of learning that is then transferred to the classroom, conferring a sense of ownership of new ideas as they apply to theory and practice. 25
We are growing in our understanding of learning. Research in neuroscience, theories of social-based learning, and developments in learning psychology create new understanding of the act, and process, of learning.My journey, my evolving practice and changing beliefs about learning-- from behaviorism with task based learning, to cognitivism with clear objectives and problem solving, to constructivism with social learning and knowledge construction by each learner, to conectivism with complex, open, autonomous, distributed learning -- was long, was arduous, was essential. I’d like to think that evolution reflects my ever increasing understanding of the new science of learning and the recognition of the new opportunities for learning afforded by today’s emerging technologies. Yet, today there is more urgency, a greater need to make a great leap to connected networked learning -- to provide appropriate learning experiences for our children in today's world.
As Downes (2006) stated,
Learning…occurs in communities, where the practice of learning is the participation in the community. A learning activity is, in essence, a conversation undertaken between the learner and other members of the community. This conversation, in the web 2.0 era, consists not only of words but of images, video, multimedia and more. This conversation forms a rich tapestry of resources, dynamic and interconnected, created not only by experts but by all members of the community, including learners.
Of most importance is that educators are reflecting on how learning has changed and the accompanying implications of how we design the spaces and structures of learning today.
of Sheryl’s generosity in sharing all she knows-Never meeting, a virtual relationship, a friendship, as real as any possible—
of her brilliance in creating sustainable models for professional learning-
of her expertise in 21st century learning and building communities of practice-
of her gift for sharing her passions-
of her love for children-
to watch her in action urging a group of educators to move to 21st century learning and to collective action-And in that instance as her eyes radiated with the depth of her passion, with her desire to make the world a far better place -- something fine and spiritual passed between two friends—a true moment worth living— one for which I’ll always be grateful--
to actually talk and share in the same space, the same time—
to look into her eyes-
Northeastern Ohio -- Southwestern OhioHumbled and honored by Lynn’s invitation to co present at the eTech Ohio Conference on February 4.
At home and working-- Busy at HCESC --(scroll down to Lynn Ochs)
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." --Confucius
"The real world is about distances keeping people apart. The Web is about shared interests bringing people together. Now, if connecting and caring are what make us into human people, then the Web - built out of hyperlinks and energized by peoples interests and passions - is a place where we can be better at being people." --David Weinberger
"The most important part of PLNs, in my opinion, is how they can help us connect to other humans, to help us better understand the world, to negotiate knowledge and meaning, and of course, to help us to learn."Start small. Add an additional step, perhaps each month. Go as fast or as slow as you choose. You'll find that, as Alec says, it is all about connecting-- to people and their ideas, then adding yours to the mix-- toward an accomplished global practice in the best interests of all students.
“Many of us are afraid of the unknown, afraid we aren't adequately prepared, afraid we won't be respected or supported...afraid that if we do change, our expertise will no longer be valued...WE will no longer be valued. Furthermore, we're afraid to be imperfect and to embrace the "messiness" of it all, because quite honestly, we are held to perfect standards by administrators and other leaders who expect too much too soon and exact consequences when perfect doesn't happen within the space of five minutes.”We need to look these fears in the face, and know that within this cohort, in our private space they are ungrounded. We need to grab each others’ hands, envelop in warm bear hugs those who need the additional support, and together take that leap into “we” and community, and growing for a higher purpose— We need to truly see ourselves as co learners in the quest of a practice so accomplished that every one of our children flourish--
"President Obama's inauguration is not a beginning, but the continuation of a glorious history that is hallmarked by the American people's desire to be one. Our Constitution demands it. And it forces us to a life much greater than the Founding Fathers could have possibly imagined."
"Yes, our greatness as a nation has depended on individual initiative, on a belief in the free market. But it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, of mutual responsibility. The idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we're all in it together and everybody's got a shot at opportunity. Americans know this. We know that government can't solve all our problems - and we don't want it to. But we also know that there are some things we can't do on our own. We know that there are some things we do better together."
"We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors....but they all exist very nicely in the same box."
"We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders."
"We will continue to flourish because our diverse American society has the strength, hardiness, and resilience of the hybrid plant we are."
Colin Powell -My American Journey
"There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change -- and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future."
"You cannot empower learners and encourage them to seize hold of their own learning experiences while at the same time controlling what they learn, how they interact, who they listen to, the networks they form, the way they are exposed to the information, and the time frame in which they are expected to learn it." --Tech Ticker
"As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able." --M. Wesch
“What if you .. asked to meet with the IT folks and had an honest open dialog? You all do your research and have proactive solutions for each complaint (don't just make it a whining session). Build a relationship with the IT folks and see if collectively all of you can start to move policy in a direction that supports 21st Century teaching and learning.”A meaningful project for students, an opportunity for problem based learning—but I’m without at this point in my career. Yet, I’m feeling compelled, remembering my students, to not let this go.