Two Things are True Part 2

My ongoing exploration and interest in better understanding the intersection of acknowledging the current fatigue factor in our schools and the need or desire to learn and grow as humans and professionals continues.

Every time I interact with educators I ask them about this question and get their perspectives. My anecdotal data would suggest things are relatively constant: Teachers are tired and struggling. One conversation I had with a superintendent suggested that one of the things that are causing fatigue is the lack of automation in our day. Duties and routines that were previously automatic are now taking a cognitive effort to execute. Things like getting kids to work in groups, scheduling meetings used to be about the content and task and now are about how to ensure safety and comfort. I recently listened to an episode of This American Life where the opening segment showed how much work it is to communicate given masking, ventilators and distance. That once natural exchange requires an added effort that is surprisingly tiring. The piling on of these daily challenges naturally makes us more tired. This isn’t the only thing that is adding to our fatigue but seems to be something that is … Read the rest

Two Things Are True

This is essentially what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past 18 months

The real truth is I’ve been trying to figure that out for the past 20 years, ever since I shifted from teaching children to teaching adults. As much as we try to model the classroom experience to adult learning, I realize that pedagogy and andragogy are different. This is true not only in terms of capacity and perspective but also the environment. Classrooms have the advantage of a daily connection. In lower elementary, it means you’re spending hours each day with each other. You have time to connect and build relationships which we know is essential. We also have learners whose primary job is to go to school to learn. When it comes to professional learning, it’s above and beyond their main job. Even when time during school is given, it’s extra, let alone the time it would take to prepare for a … Read the rest

Understanding How Communities Work

Having held the title of “Community Manager” and been directly involved in this work for a decade, you’d think I’d know more about the topic. The truth is I’ve been searching for a framework, structure or maybe a magic bullet the whole time. By many accounts and metrics, I’ve had success in this role. I can think of all the events, relationships and connections that I’ve made and fostered and feel pretty good. And yet, I still struggle with how to articulate what community really is and how it can be created, designed and how to grow and nurture it.

I suppose it’s much like teaching. Yes, there are many frameworks and strategies that can be useful ways to think about teaching but the reality is, teaching in schools is really about connecting with humans and that is something that comes with uncertainty and variables that are very difficult to control.

My current role with ALP includes a continued pursuit of building and creating community. It’s always a challenge to explain this to those inside the education world, let alone those outside it. I continually reflect on things that have worked for me and others. When I engage others in … Read the rest

On A New Team

Team sports have always been appealing to me. Playing hockey, baseball, football and basketball, I relished in what can be accomplished together but also being part of something outside of the competition. As a hockey and basketball player, I took as much pleasure in making a great pass as I did n scoring. Finishing is fun and scoring usually garners more praise and attention and I enjoyed that part but they beauty of two or more people acheiving success is special. Even as a spectator, individual performances are great but when you see people working together that’s beautiful.

Having spent nearly 8 years working around North America and beyond with Discovery Education, I had the privilege of working together with so many great people. I had a great deal of autonomy and did a lot on my own but always felt part of a team working towards a bigger goal. I supported many different people and many people supported me.

When I left Discovery Education in the fall of 2019, I had some decisions to make. I had a number of colleagues who were working as independent consultants and speakers. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that but also … Read the rest

Delight 3: Kaleb Rashad and his Icebreaker

Part of the new series on delight.

Many people, including myself, have an aversion to the icebreaker. Too often it’s a somewhat disingenuous activity assuming that random people have a desire to connect with other strangers in a confined space when in reality they had no intention of doing anything other than listening to a presentation or at most working with people they already know.

You’ve probably been in that room where it’s just awkward. If you lean towards introversion, these experiences can be painful. If the speaker engages in a long setup of the activity, you either get up to use the restroom or pretend you have an urgent phone call and leave the room. (Confession, I’ve done both)

But when one of the goals of a meeting or gathering is to build community, then it can actually make sense and if done well provide purpose and context to the upcoming work or learning. At this point, it’s not an icebreaker but a learning activity.

I’m currently involved in coaching 4 school divisions in Virginia as a part of a larger initiative called VaLIN or Virginia is for Learners Innovation Network. This is year 2 and we kicked … Read the rest