Bad PD is Sometimes Your Own Fault

Pro tip: If you want to make a group of teachers laugh, show them this image:

You can even change “staff meeting” to “PD session” and get the same results. Professional Development/Learning is to teachers what school is for many students. Ask a random group of students what they think of school and you’re sure to get answers related to boring or worse. it’s almost cliche. It’s also kinda cool to say school sucks.

While it may be cool to suggest that PD sucks and yes, it sometimes does, I think the difference between how students experience school and how teachers experience PD is different at least in 2 ways. First, as teachers, we chose our profession. Secondly, it is our job to model and be good learners.

Maryellen Weimer offers 7 characteristics of what makes someone a good learner. Along with being curious, and open-minded, I’d add they are willing to embrace some dissonance. The best learners can learn something from almost any experience. That’s partly what makes them a good learner.

There has certainly been an awakening in teaching that suggests teachers ought to be master learners, learners first and other statements which shifts education from … Read the rest

Who Pushes Your Thinking?

Speaking in generalities and platitudes is easy. But living out the hard things in life is rare. Believe me, I’m guilty as the next person and am working on my own ignorance and faults.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dkuropatwa/8972853954/sizes/o/

An ever-growing passion of mine is to seek out people that I disagree with and yet can have productive conversations. Even if a conversation is not possible, at least reading/watching/listening to those ideas and beliefs can be fruitful. My premise is that the many of the people I see online would like to believe they are open-minded and yet are so easily offended that they rarely if ever seek opinions and ideas that would contradict their own. We know the echo chamber exists and it’s not always a bad thing, in fact, it’s important to surround yourself with those who support and encourage you. At the same time finding a few folks who will push you, challenge you and straight up disagree with you is the sign of a mature, healthy learner; the kind of learner that educators ought to ascribe to.

via GIPHY

As I said, I’m sceptical. Easy to talk about being open to new ideas, harder to seek them out. As I … Read the rest

What Do You Do With All Your Photos?

 

I’m always curious about what people do with their photos either personally or professionally.  Abundance doesn’t always translate to usefulness. Which is what prompted my question and specifically to go beyond posting to Twitter, which is great but had me wondering about other ideas.

I had a number of great responses. While folks could find them by searching my feed, I like being able to collect them and share them better. Storify used to be a great tool but it died. Twitter moments is a nice option but recently found out about Wakelet which does tweets but like Storify allows you to add content from other sources. At any rate, here are the ideas shared.

 

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What’s the Deal with Your Pants?

Preamble: I need to write more. Sometimes I need a push so I asked for suggestions on Twitter.

Let’s talk about pants.

When I present I typically wear some kind of wacky coloured pants. It began when my wife got tired of me buying infinite pairs of khaki pants. So she bought me a pair of salmon/orange pants. (This specific colour of these has been the source of controversy as well as a “check-in” point) I figured I’d try them and it seemed to get some reaction, mostly in the form of good-natured ridicule.

And then things just progressed.

Today I have around 8 different pairs that pretty much span the colour wheel. In many of my presentations, I share this tweet

I’m not really trying to change the world but have decided if I’m going to talk about joy, I oughta look as joyful as I can. … Read the rest

Finding and Developing the Willing

The idea of student empowerment over engagement is a growing conversation and trend in education. Rightly so. Many emerging ideas such as genius hour, project-based learning and others are designed to empower students. As we examine and reflect on any implementation of these ideas, we typically hear some reference to “motivated students”. If students are seen as motivated, any kind of independent learning is more likely to work. Conversely, people’s resistance to giving students more ownership and autonomy is often because they don’t feel their students are motivated.

I had a chance to visit Thames Valley School District this week in London, Ontario. I had been to the district before and seen some of the innovative work they are doing. They have a long-standing art program at one of their high schools that embodies so many of the principles of empowered learning. In addition, they recently have developed a “school within a school” concept. Essentially they are working with  grade 9 teachers who were asked one question: “What if there were no subjects?” From there the district outlined the “bumpers” (must still address curricular needs, no major additional funds, must work in teams) and now nearly 20 cohorts have been … Read the rest