“Closing the Achievement Gap” is a term and movement that has been around for a while. Born out of good intentions, it’s essentially a recognition that we need to attend to students with lower grades. Fair enough. And yet I see this obsession flawed in a few ways and it once again is more about adults and accountability than caring for children.
The essence of the problem stems from the inherent flaws of our education system. We tend to focus mostly on students’ weaknesses and spend an exorbitant amount of time and money in attempting to remedy this.
When a student says, “school sucks” it might be for a number of factors but my intuition is that for the majority of them it’s because they spend time working on things they hate and an inverse proportion on things they enjoy.
I remember the first time I heard Ewan Mcintosh speak. He invited the crowd to be critical of his talk and to feel free to disagree with anything he said. That was the first time I had ever heard a person of authority, in a public setting, invite criticism in such an overt manner. I’ve since used that idea often when I talk.
Jose Vilson writes about why teachers need to see themselves as experts. This cannot be understated. Although while I understand what Jose is saying, my belief is that none of us are experts in the sense that we know it all but rather teachers are no less of an expert, and as Jose says, maybe more than those who don’t work directly with learners. I used to believe the Internet might be used to break down this hierarchy in the way I’d experienced. Through blogging, in particular, I found a space to share ideas and thoughts and positioned them in a way that was not about authority but about community. Today, it seems the vast majority of teachers who call themselves connected, live largely if not exclusively, in spaces like Twitter. They don’t see themselves as … Read the rest
When I published my first blog post over ten years ago, it was clear to me that the possibility to share and share online, had the potential for something special. This new-found ability to share at a global level has provided teachers access to content and ideas never before available and connected teachers to people who have helped to transform classrooms around the world.
I created this video five years ago that remains an important part of my philosophy and message.
Ever since I began teaching over 25 years ago, I’ve had many conversations with teachers about their reluctantly to share for fear they might be seen as braggarts. One of the benefits of sharing online was it allowed teachers working in toxic or distrustful environments to share and not worry what the colleague across the hall might think. In many ways, it was and remains a revolution that has reinvigorated many careers. Even teachers in good environments found a way to expand their networks and discover new ideas to improve learning. Online spaces like blogs and social media have been platforms for people to post ideas, lessons, tutorials and other successes.
The video I created in 2010 for the K-12 online called Sharing: The Moral Imperative remains a fairly widely used bit of content. I was proud of my efforts from a production, content and delivery perspective. Also if you want to see George Couros, before he was George Couros, have a look.
That was over six years ago. As I rewatched it, I had to ask if I feel the same today. What, if any changes would I make to this video if I were to update it?
Focusing solely on the content, I still value and believe sharing is integral to learning and our profession. My claims in the video focus mainly on efforts to share online. At the time, only a small number of educators were actively sharing content online. Blogs were beginning to take traction for some, but their value wasn’t anywhere near a universal belief. Twitter and social media opportunities were nowhere near where they are today. Twitter was seen much like Snapchat is perceived for many today.: wasteful and for posting of minutia.
My original message was to encourage and create a culture where teachers look to share their ideas, thoughts, lessons, resources … Read the rest
As educators, we are aware that our job is about children and providing them with the very best learning experience possible. However, any organization or system has those people who forget this and at times even act in ways that impede this mission. The recent shifts to focus on learning as opposed to teaching along with an increased emphasis on personal learning are welcome changes and are helping to do right by children.
However, like all good ideas and efforts, there are always subtle misuses of these sentiments and ideals. I seem to have a hyper-sensitive radar for language, and it often is no more evident than when I read pithy hashtags and quotes on Twitter. These catch phrases are often the ones most viral and need to be examined in some detail before we simply add them to the lexicon of school.
When I see something like this being shared, it concerns me.
I believe in developing a community of learners. By learners I mean everyone. Certainly, as adults and educators, our job is to provide for children. But sometimes, these types of statements are used to ignore or minimize the well-being of adults. It’s very hard to argue … Read the rest