Happy Anniversary to Me

10 years ago today I wrote this. Brilliant. Not really but I continue to believe and advocate this kind of a space both as a way to reflect, but to collect. My enthusiasm for this medium early on was a result of discovering what it was to connect and learn from strangers. I spent a great deal of time over the next 5 years in particular trying to get others to share in my zeal.  I assumed everyone would jump in and see the same value I did. I managed to get many teachers and students to create a blog, but few stuck with it.  The last 5 years I’ve had my students create them and have had a slightly better success rate. I don’t consider myself the most resilient person in the world but I did stick with it. It wasn’t because I had a huge audience or popularity. There are lots of things within the web that I’ve started and stopped but blogging has stuck.

It has been the single most important space in my professional development.

 

This is still true today.

What I will tell you is that I need to blog more. Not for … Read the rest

The Problem with Exemplars

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/4902924091

Years ago while working on new curriculum, I spent a great deal of time with colleagues collecting and identifying exemplary work. Usually attached to rubric, these artifacts were intended to showcase the highest quality of work and present students with something to aim for. We often would reference these with students to the point where these became more than guides but the ultimate goal. It’s one the problems with rubrics. But it’s not just within curriculum where exemplars can be an issue, it happens all the time.

There’s no question that exemplars can be useful and even motivating. But often they are unattainable or perhaps not even desirable.

Let me share a few examples.

In Curriculum:

While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.

In my pre-service … Read the rest

Reflection Trumps Connection

This month is Connected Educator month. That’s a good thing. I think we need to continue to support the notion that teachers need each other. We now have a myriad of ways to stay in touch with the brightest and best around the world. We can form groups as easily as a click of the mouse. In one might be considered the most challenging time to be an educator, we need each other and often times “each other” doesn’t mean the person across the hall.

Being a connected educator is important but I think being a reflective educator trumps that.  As has often been the case in the past several years, people like Bud Hunt and Tom Whitby, two of the smartest people I know, sparked this post.

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When I think about my transforming or growth as an educator it came primarily because I started blogging almost 10 years ago. The act of writing down ideas, playing with concepts and clarifying my thinking had a direct impact on my work as an educator. Combined with the idea that my writing allowed me to connect with other people made it a home run for me. Blogging continues to dwindle … Read the rest

And Another Reason Why You Don’t Blog

…and by you, I mean me.

…and by blog, I mean reflect.

I have written recently about why you can’t click publish. Certainly it’s a thing for many folks. But then there are a bunch of you who say, “I have nothing to write about”. I get it. I haven’t written anything for a month. For me, that’s not good. Mr. Mega Blogger himself, George Couros recognized a slump he was in and talked about his lack of consumption. He’s right. When I first began blogging, I recall Will Richardson say that blogging was mostly about reading. The reason you blog is not just that you have something to say but mostly that you have something to respond to. The past month for me has been pretty full of presenting and traveling and teaching which often means a lack of opportunity to reflect. It’s really not a great excuse because I think, like exercise, you need to figure out ways to make time. If indeed we think reflecting is important, if we want our kids to be reflective, we better start modeling it. My students are asked to reflect and it’s been over a month since I have done … Read the rest

“I Couldn’t Agree More” is Meh.

First off, if you rarely read the comments in a blog, you ignore the fact that some of the best learning comes from those who respond and contribute additional ideas, perspectives and insights. Grant it, many spaces, like news sites and youtube are often places where civil discourse is difficult to find. But many blogs, particularly educational blogs offer some of the best places for conversation. Blogs are by nature conversational. Posts are meant to be reviewed, discusses and challenged in the same spaces.

agreeYet, perhaps it’s the overly kind nature of many educators or a fear to engage in meaningful debate, it’s amazing how often I read a blog with some interesting ideas and the comments are filled with replies beginning with “I couldn’t agree more.” Now certainly there are many times when that’s exactly how you feel and so you post with enthusiasm the joy of finding a kindred spirit, I’m not here to criticize you if you’ve ever began a comment like that. Well, maybe a little criticism. 😉

I’m here to suggest that if you only leave those kind of comments then maybe you aren’t putting yourself in a position to think critically or maybe you … Read the rest