Too Big for Your Britches

I've always felt this and certainly have experienced it, but as I've had the privilege of seeing a lot more schools and school districts up close, it's become evident to me that size is a real enemy to innovation. Change is difficult for any organization and education is particularly difficult because of its systematic problems and tensions as a public sector institution. But there is an inverse relationship between the layers of bureaucracy and the ability to innovate and change. I won't pretend that's a particularly profound or new realization but when I look at those pockets of change, it seems that it's often a result of fewer hoops to jump. 

I was fortunate to work for many years in a relatively small school district. All teachers had pretty easy access to superintendents and directors and even board members. Trust was easier to build. Certainly it doesn't guarantee a trusting environment but it's much easy to build. Convincing 2 people is easier than convincing 10. That's basic math. For example, back in 2007 I had a teacher email me asking if there might be a way for her students to use their cellphones in the classroom. This was way before Read the rest

Pursuing Intentional Serendipity

I think the phrase I'm looking for is intentional serendipity. I think it's Peter Skillen's term but there may be others using a similar concept.  In a world where play and wonder should really be considered essential dispositions, our education rarely values learning that isn't somehow tied to a chosen standard or outcome.

Unlike a classroom where a teacher controls the lecture, the organic communities that emerge through collectives produce meaningful learning because the inquiry that arises comes from the collective itself.
https://kindle.amazon.com/work/new-culture-learning-cultivating-ebook/B004S72WOS/B004RZH0BG

 

Integral to this idea is giving yourself opportunities to experience and facilitate serendipitous learning. Currently there really isn't a better way to make this happen than twitter.

Here's the story.

Yesterday I'm attending a full day workshop (workshop is a loose term, it was really a 5 hour lecture) with Dr. Larry Bendtro, researcher and founder of the Circle of Courage Institute which focuses on reclaiming at risk students. Dr. Bendtro is a good speaker and while a 5 hour lecture isn't an ideal way to learn, there were lots of nuggets of learning I took away.

Sitting in the auditorium made up of educators and community people, I did see several ipads out Read the rest

Well this is Embarrassing

Cross posted at TechLearning

Global education, diversity and multi-cultural appreciation are ideas that I believe are essential for our student's success. I also believe as educators we need to model this for them.  So when I used this tool to see where the folks that I follow reside, it was a little embarrassing.

Twitter friends

A little North American centric ya think? While this tool only allows a sampling of 100 of your followers, (I currently follow about 700) it's likely a pretty reasonable indicator of who's got my attention.  Ewan's concerned about this as well. He blames time zones and short attention spans and he's got a point. Christian Long argues:

 

 

And perhaps — no matter how much Friedman and well-intentioned educators may want — the world defaults to hyper-local (scaled accordingly) rather than global when it comes to conversation over time.

While that offers some explanation I can't quite take myself off the hook. Add to the fact that a number of those outside North American are ex-pats I have to hang my head in shame. Clarence Fisher is doing wonderful things to help his students experience a global education all the way from northern Manitoba. … Read the rest

In search of the Reflective Practitioner

Blogging AgainI began teaching in 1988. It was a tough job and thinking about getting better was superseded by survival instincts. Early on in my career, there were several documents that the province produced in support of improved professional development. I didn't pay much attention to these but one phrase I saw in those documents some 20 years ago stuck with me. Reflective Practitioner.  I sort of understood the concept but other than simply thinking about what you did in the classroom, I wasn't at all sure what to do with this term.

When I discovered blogs almost 5 years ago, I soon figured out what that term meant. Since that occasion I have sat down to write close to 1,000 pieces of reflection. While not all would be considered deep, most take me anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to craft. While it may not always look like it, these are generally borne out of the times I spent observing, thinking and working in classrooms. The reflective writing has been valuable but definitely the nearly 4,000 comments have been even more of a learning experience. As it's been said many times, this is the single best professional development experience … Read the rest

Telling the New Story Year 4

A month ago I had the privilege of presenting the “Telling the New Story:Live” with Darren, Clarence and Kathy at the IT Summit.

We’ve been meeting for 3 years talking about teaching and learning and how their classrooms are evolving.  There story continues to inspire and encourage others in their making learning better for students.

Here are the slides and the audio is below: