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
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
What are the #deanies? Simple. They are a prestigious award designed to recognize the very best in education. Or maybe not.
As with much of my goofiness on twitter, this started on an impulse. I’m not 100% sure what triggered it but I think I was reading my stream and someone posting about an award they won. There is lots of controversy out there about the need and purpose of awards. Frankly, I’m not that invested in the conversation. However, I think, for the most part, they don’t mean a lot other than someone thinks you deserve some recognition, which is a good thing. But the reality is, most awards are given by small groups of people with little or no authority. Again, that’s not a big deal but then I wondered, what’s stopping me from giving out awards? And the first #deanie was born.
Since then, I’ve given out more than 100 #deanies. You can view them here or here or even here (be sure to filter by twitter). My criteria follow strict guidelines of whim … Read the rest
I often ask people what they believe about learning. I suggest many people view learning and schools synonymously which while they aren’t, I think many schools inadvertently send a message that learning is like Buckley’s cough syrup: “It tastes awful but it works.” Learning isn’t supposed to be easy. Or is it?
As I explore the way we characterize learning I continually see how much we value words like: “hard, challenging, rigor, and difficult” In my efforts to make school more engaging and joyful, these ideas, while maybe not opposing, are certainly seen in a hierarchy. Think of all the teachers, particularly high school and higher ed teachers who take pride in knowing how hard their course is. The classic statement: “Look to your left and look to your right, only one of you will pass this course” shows learning as elitist and rooted in ranking and grades. Knowing they have challenged students is the goal. “If everyone gets an A, how hard can it be?” Learning is supposed to be hard. Or is it?
Frank Smith reminds me how much school has impacted what we believe about learning.
“Effortless” vs “hard work.” In his book, Smith … Read the rest
Those that follow me on twitter, instagram or have heard me speak, might know about my jumping photos. Today someone asked me about its origins.
As a family we were about to take a family vacation about 8 years ago. My wife had read an article online about adding some pizazz to your family photos. So we decided to give it a try and it quickly became a family favorite.
We continued to jump,usually on vacation but not always and now we’ve printed out many of them and put them up on a feature wall in our house. Now it has become a staple in our travels. Often times before we leave we talk about where we should jump. It’s always a bit of a challenge finding strangers willing to not only take our photo but be patient with the fact it may take them several tries. (Although using burst mode has solved this issue)
I’m certainly not the first person to do this and in fact, someone shared this recently.
“Starting in the early 1950s I asked every famous or important person I photographed to jump for me. I was motivated by a genuine curiosity. After all, life
… Read the rest