Sometimes I’m not Very Bright

Depending on who you ask “Sometimes” is a very loaded word.

As someone who has been pretty vocal about the limitations of Twitter, I should know better.

I’ve railed against the use of pithy tweets and so only moments after I send this baby out did I realize that:

  1. I was guilty of breaking my own rule.
  2. I had started a small fire storm.

Immediately the retweets and likes started flooding in. I hopped on a plane and landed to see the error of my ways. This tweet, in particular, reminded me of what I had done.

They’re right. It was a rather insulting tone and that was the moment of regret. I wanted to start a conversation but the awkward tone, lack of nuance, and labelling teachers  with such a volatile topic polarized the tweet rather … Read the rest

What about Contentment?

Well-being is a critical movement led by the province of Ontario that is essentially a response to the ever-increasing mental health issues of our students. While this is a complex issue with many factors, the one factor that we do control is the messages we send to students. Again this is tricky. On the one hand, it is our duty and privilege to empower students. We want them to realize their potential and see things that may not even know exists. We want them to feel as if they can change the(ir) world. On the other hand, this message often turns into a high-pressure environment where unreachable, unattainable goals and achievements have students consumed with stress.  So how do we provide both messages?

How do we empower students but at the same time protect and build their mental health?

I think a missing conversation is about contentment. Contentment is defined as being satisfied and not wanting more. The idea of being content can be seen as anti-innovation. Contentment is not very inspirational. It doesn’t do well on in a pretty image quotation. For some, it’s almost a downer or even a step backwards. Innovation is the buzzword of the day … Read the rest

Sandlots and Outdoor Rinks

I played a lot of sports as a kid growing up in southern Manitoba. Hockey in the winter, baseball in the spring, golf in the summer and football in the fall. In all cases, I played in leagues but I also played them without adult supervision or organization.

In Canada, outdoor neigbourhood rinks are as prevalent as sandlots and baseball fields. I remember being about 7 years old and taking my skates and stick to the local outdoor rink, tieing my skates in the heated shack and heading out on the ice. There were kids, teenagers, and adults. Everyone played. You tossed your sticks in the centre of the rink and divided them up. Then you played. If the teams seemed uneven, you’d make a quick adjustment but mostly you just played. You learned to play with kids who were way better than you and kids who were worse. Some kids certainly had the puck more than others but you just played. While you did keep score, it mattered little as the next day you showed up and totally different teams were formed and usually a slightly different crowd.

In the summer, a similar experience happened on baseball diamonds and … Read the rest

Stop Worry About the Achievement Gap

“Closing the Achievement Gap” is a term and movement that has been around for a while. Born out of good intentions, it’s essentially a recognition that we need to attend to students with lower grades. Fair enough. And yet I see this obsession flawed in a few ways and it once again is more about adults and accountability than caring for children.

The essence of the problem stems from the inherent flaws of our education system. We tend to focus mostly on students’ weaknesses and spend an exorbitant amount of time and money in attempting to remedy this.

When a student says, “school sucks” it might be for a number of factors but my intuition is that for the majority of them it’s because they spend time working on things they hate and an inverse proportion on things they enjoy.

Scott McLeod and I just release our new book on Different Schools for a Different World. Scott shares a graph from Gallup that offers some insight.

While all three of these results are troubling, it’s’ the last, the one in red that addresses the problem. How can we live with the idea that only 20% of students feel they … Read the rest

The One Word Leaders Rarely Use

The great privilege I have is working with leaders and districts all over Canada and the US and seeing what it takes to create cultures of joy. Joy is the word I use and have begun to see more and more educators use this to describe their classrooms, schools, and districts.

I was humbled to help kick of Royse City Independent School District‘s year. They’ve adopted the theme of joy for this school year. The students opened the morning’s festivities, and then they shared this video.

 

The inclusion of the school board, mayor and other community members spoke volumes of the importance of public education in this region.

Six teachers were asked to share what joy meant to them. Each told a compelling story of what it’s like to teach in Royse City ISD. I wasn’t sure anyone needed to hear my message to add to what was already an uplifting, joyful celebration of learning. After I shared, Superindent Kevin Worthy ended the morning by giving every employee a $1000 that was funded by a surplus of funds. Kevin is someone whom I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over the past year or so and … Read the rest