Yesterday, I Wasn’t My Best

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

“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

We’ve Got a Communication Problem

This week a story emerged out of British Columbia about a school that was banning students in Kindergarten from touching each other. Like many, I tweeted it

The usual banter online occurred where most people shook their heads in disgust about a school’s over reaction to a problem that might better handled without resorting to such extremes. After wanting to learn more about the fallout I did some searching today and found this video

After hearing the side of the school district I realized a few things:

-If it sounds absurd there’s probably more to the story. This is where I felt a little shameful for tweeting the story. While I did manage to keep my mouth shut for the most part on this one, I too assumed the district was nuts. In reality, they handled  the situation very well as their spokesman shares. They aren’t banning touching but rather teaching these students, beginning from scratch. I should know better.

-Some people take advantage of the media. In this case, the parents, instead of expressing their concerns to the … Read the rest

It Takes All Kinds: Collaboration

This is the second in a four part series. Part one is here.

Teamwork

This idea has been rummaging around is based on the ideas Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  There are many aspects of this book worth discussing but the one that I think is most interesting for our classrooms is the way we deal with and think about this idea of collaboration. It’s a buzz word that is included in every new document that includes the “21st Century Learning” jargon and you won’t hear many educational talks today that don’t include the word. I believe that it’s the internet and the affordance of technology that makes us want to apply these principles to our classroom. The problem is, collaboration online is not the saem as collaboration in physical spaces. This is an issue.

We failed to realize that what makes sense for the asynchronous, relatively anonymous interactions of the Internet might not work as well inside the face-to-face, politically charged, acoustically noisy confines of an open-plan office.

While Cain is writing about offices, the notion of collaboration in schools often means kids working tables instead of desks. I … Read the rest

Always Read the Comments

You maybe already know this but I needed to be reminded.

The good stuff is often in the comments.

I admit that I’m largely a reactionary blogger. Many of my posts are done in a spur-of-the-moment-I-think-this-is-interesting-or-I’m-ticked kind of way. I do have the odd reflective post that has been mulled over for a few days.  My recent pointing to Clay’s post was the former.  Sometimes that’s okay but other times it bites you in the you-know-where.


I went back to Clay’s post and moved past the regular, “great post”, “I agree” stuff (not that’s all bad but just less interesting) to some challenging thought provoking writing. Jennifer Jones, who is easily the most prolific commenter I know,  writes a wonderful, challenging comment that made me both hang my head in shame (for I was as guilty as Clay for not reading the study) but also shed light on a bigger issue. Brilliance. D’Arcy Norman, less prolific, more of a “cut to the chase” commenter, adds the pertinent information. Clay then respectfully admits errors, pushes back slightly but appears to be learning right in front of us and adds an Update at the top of his post alerted new … Read the rest