Lessons Learned from 10 Podcasts

My new podcast (I’ve been podcasting for 10 years, just not very regularly) was born out of curiosity and the realization that there may never be a better time to do this. I’m well aware that many others are jumping on the bandwagon and that’s fine, in fact, that kind of sharing should be encouraged and applauded.

I’ve always said that if I have any strength, it’s my large network that has been built for the past 15 years. I know a lot of people, a lot of smart people. So with some extra time I decided to try and capture as many different people, places and roles around the world to share the impact of Covid19. I share with them these questions as a guide to our conversation:

1. What are you and your fellow teachers being asked to do with regards to your new duties?
2. What supports or messaging are you most grateful for?
3. What challenges are you most concerned about?
4. What does your new daily routine look like that you’re finding either delightful or odd?
5. What good are you hoping results from this crisis?

Thus far I’ve published 10 podcasts and have 3 … Read the rest

The Achievement Gap Will Grow

This post was last updated on 7 months ago at 7 months ago

I had some thoughts on it a while back but in the light of our world today and my most recent post I think it’s worth acknowledging further. While the recent post was intended to shed light on the opportunities that exist, I did address briefly the equity issue but wanted to expand a little on that idea.

I’ve never been a big fan of the term achievement when it comes to learning. It seems like a term that invokes competition and constant goal setting. Not that those can’t be useful perspectives but it makes learning sound like a mountain to climb rather than an environment to live in.

Equity has become an increasingly important conversation in education. Whether it’s economic, physical, racial, cognitive or other, education has equity problems. Physical classrooms and spaces can address some of these but now with all our students at home, the differences among our students are fully amplified. Classrooms and schools while certainly far from perfect do many things to give all students opportunities to learn and grow. Teachers in general work hard and have some influence in addressing gaps … Read the rest

Good Intentions Are Not A Free Pass

If you don’t regularly think about this, you should:

There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have to deal with this every day but I’m guessing most of us forget.

I started thinking about this more specifically after listening to the last episode of the Happiness lab and the episode on grading. In it, they talk about the way in which tracking and sharing fitness goals may have a negative effect on both yourself and others. In the sharing economy, sharing our achievements is pretty ubiquitous and as educators, we know and value sharing. I’ve spent a lot of my career advocating for it. But the discussion here suggests when you share your latest run, workout or steps, it may, in fact, impact someone in a negative way. They may feel less about themselves. They may become less motivated. But as the person sharing, that was never your intent. You likely are sharing to either encourage others (“if I can do it, so can you”) or for your own accountability. Yes, there may be some who share as a humble or not so humble brag and maybe it’s a combination of these reasons that you share. But I … Read the rest

Nine Lies About Work (and maybe school)

This post was last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 10:43 am

I’ve been using this quote fairly often in presentations because it’s a good reminder to myself and educators that embracing ideas, even ones that seem to contradict our beliefs or thinking can be joyful. As educators, modelling this might be one of the essential gifts we can share with students

I’ve been a fan of Marcus Buckingham and his work around strengths and the title of this book intrigued me. I’ve been told on a few occasions that I”m a bit of a s*&T disturber. Depending on the person or the context it’s unclear whether this is a compliment or not but under the guise of “strengths” that’s what I take it as. This book aligns well with that character trait.

The chapter titles alone might intrigue you:

The book is based on a large research sample of thousands of employees in hundreds of companies. Lie #1 hits you pretty hard. Swap out “company” for “school district” and you have a very interesting conversation. The message is pretty simple. People’s experience at work is not based on a companies values or mission but on the individual teams they … Read the rest

Stop Worry About the Achievement Gap

“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.

Scott McLeod and I just release our new book on Different Schools for a Different World. Scott shares a graph from Gallup that offers some insight.

While all three of these results are troubling, it’s’ the last, the one in red that addresses the problem. How can we live with the idea that only 20% of students feel they … Read the rest