Eight years ago I wrote this. Starting today, I’ll be on to something different as my time with Discovery Education comes to a close.
I recall eight years ago people questioning if I should leave a great job in a school district to give up a pension to work for a for-profit company that is certainly much less secure. I don’t regret it for a minute. It has been eight years full of joy and learning and so much more.
My duties were many and varied. I hated being asked “what do you do” as it didn’t fit in any box. When I said I helped build community, it usually required lengthy follow-up and context. The easiest thing to explain to people was that I did a lot of speaking. My rough estimates would suggest I presented at over 120 conferences and events to well over 50,000 people. But beyond that, I spent time in districts and classrooms supporting them in their daily work. I helped create content and even helped with sales. All these experiences have helped me understand the complexities and challenges of running a business as well as running a school district. I spent time with … Read the rest
Ask any teacher what is one thing they wish they had that would make their job better. For most the answer is time.
The solutions to this problem are complex and in many cases outside the purview of educators but there is one increasingly growing aspect that no one seems to be talking much about. Time spent looking for stuff.
“Stuff” is more or less content. While many jurisdictions are understanding that content may not be as important as developing skills, content is still important and necessary for learning even if your focus is on skills.
The most progressive curriculum I know is in British Columbia. Teachers are free to focus on big ideas and core competencies and student agency is the goal. Yet as excited as educators are to embrace this, many I’ve worked with and spoken to are struggling to find content. The curriculum is less concerned with content and yet without something to build upon, analyze, create with, the efforts to develop skills and competencies fail.
School Has a Content Problem. It doesn’t seem to want any. ….But try as we might to think of reading or mathing as a skill, we cannot divorce any of it
I’m often reminded that I have one of the best jobs in the world. Getting to work with districts around the world, I continue to value and appreciate the high quality of people who have dedicated themselves to helping young people. Being able to spend time with these people and hear their stories, encourage them and connect them to others represents a fairly large part of my work. Building and growing community in a variety of ways is pure joy.
Another of the great privileges I have as part of my work at Discovery Education is to pursue my passions. One of those passions is storytelling and videography. Much like my writing and speaking, I recognize I have some ability but also recognize how much I have to learn. Last year I shot and edited 8 videos from educators in Canada, the UK and the US. I had filmed another in April but for a variety of reasons, was not able to get it edited and produced until today.
This past week was Discovery Education‘s annual summer institute affectionately known as DENSI. 150 educators from all over the world spend 5 days together at what really can’t be described as a conference or professional development. It’s something different. The affection I feel for the people I just spent the last number of days with is hard to articulate. Just watching people learn and play and laugh is intoxicating. It’s particularly amazing to see folks from other countries cross-cultural barriers to simply connect as educators and humans.
The theme for this year’s event was joy. In education words like “joy” and “love” are often reluctantly used. We have historically left those ideas for other institutions to manage. Learning can happen without them but when you include them, the idea of “community” takes on a whole new meaning and learning goes to another level.
Yesterday for our final celebration event folks came dressed in whatever outfit/costume brought them joy. A group of community members decided to dress in colored pants and a Canadian t-shirt as a tribute to me. I was humbled and slightly embarrassed at this gesture. Sheila organized it all and represents the quality of people in … Read the rest
First of all, I’m fully aware I have one of, if not the, best job in the world. Most days I acknowledge this fact and work passionately to fulfill our goal to build and foster community. But occasionally, like all of us, I have a day or moment when I don’t give my best.
As part of Discovery Education’s Summer Institute, we host a unique event for principals. What a great group of enthusiastic leaders who are give up 3 days of their summer to further their learning. Yesterday I gave a presentation I had done once before called “No More Boring Presentations”. While I don’t think it was boring, I also don’t think it was very good. It certainly wasn’t my best. The first time I gave it, it was for a different audience. Instead of taking the time to rework the content for a different audience, I tried to adapt on the fly. I ended up with a disjointed session with hopefully a few takeaways but a largely unsatisfying experience. In short, I sucked.
People are too kind. This image was created during my session and I’m guessing many walked away with an idea or … Read the rest