Sharing, Bragging, Selling and Self Promoting

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.

So what’s the problem?

Maybe there isn’t one … Read the rest

What Would You Teach?

Here’s an interesting question:

Think about that one for a while. Your answer will say a lot about what you really believe about learning and education.

I know many would respond with some form or empowering students to make those decisions. In general, this is a good sign, indicating an important shift in what teachers are attempting to do today. However, as much as I personally believe this is a much-needed change, I continue to caution teachers not to abdicate their own responsibility to be a wise and caring adult that at times directs the learning.

Like parenting, schools should be a gradual release of responsibility. The don’t know what they don’t know our experience and understanding of the world, needs to be valued and even shared explicitly at times. I often share with teachers about the move from sage on the stage to guide on the side but always refer to a third position which Erica McWilliams calls “meddler in the middle“. Whenever I share this I’m careful to suggest that this is not a … Read the rest

I Don’t Know What You Mean By “Failure”

Among the current trends in education is a romanticized view of failure. Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

Embrace Failure
FAIL First Attempt in Learning
Failure is Essential to Learning

Shifting from an education system that prized compliance and success over questioning and failure, is an important conversation to provoke. We need to have frank discussions about the role of failure in learning and our schools. I have two problems with this new found love of failure. First, I don’t really know what you mean by failure and second, what happens when failure is inevitable?

The word failure is being used to talk about everything from students struggling to make a circuit light up, getting a failing grade, making an error on a spelling test, design setbacks on projects and not getting into your first college choice. The range of the word use has diluted its meaning. I had a conversation with my friend John Spencer who talked about the difference between mistakes, imperfections, and failures. It seems many lump these all together. There is a big difference between someone making a mistake on a test on a driver’s test and not getting … Read the rest

Reminding Myself to Keep My Mouth Shut

I believe strongly in debate and civil discourse. I’ve gone so far as to design a course that explores what this looks like particularly online. I’ve not hesitated to critique language and ideas I think may be harmful. 

That disposition always needs to be tempered with an understanding of the world we live in. Social media means the newest app, trend or idea often gets positioned as revolutionary and then immediately bashed by naysayers. Neither are right. 


Pokemon Go arrives and soon folks go from downloading to playing to seeing potential for learning. As quickly as that’s shared, they take a beating. I was one who downloaded the game and before I could play was immersed in the hype and sniffed the “game changer” claims. 

But before I hit the snark button I better step back. Just because someone thinks something has potential and gets a bit excited doesn’t mean we attack. This happens too often to anyone suggesting something might have educational value. I’ve been guilty of this myself. What I need to remind myself is to keep quiet and let people play. 

In the classroom I remember introducing my kids to new technologies. Dating myself, I recall handing … Read the rest

Hour of Code is Good Enough

Whenever a new idea is introduced to education, expect a flood of criticisms. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, we need naysayers and critics to challenge all our ideas. It’s what makes a democratic society function and it’s important for our ideas to be challenged in order to improve them.

Photo by Kevin Jarrett
Photo by Kevin Jarrett

Hour of Code is one of those burgeoning ideas that is getting a lot of up take in schools. Proponents love it as an easy way to introduce the coding and computer science to students with little or no background needed from either the teacher or the student. Critics argue that it’s not enough and it dumbs down what is a critical and important skill.

We are doing a disservice to kids by assuming that they can’t grasp industry-standard languages, complex computer science topics, and applications. By limiting them, we undermine their capabilities and stifle their creative and inventive potential.

 

The promise of K-12 education has always been to provide children with a broad liberal arts experience that prepares them for life. While some chose a greater focus on college and career, this still suggests that we offer students a wide range of … Read the rest