This Is The Time

This post was last updated on 6 months ago at 6 months ago

The spread of the Coronavirus is one of the most challenging things to happen to us as a society in a few generations, but it very well could turn out to be the best thing to happen to education in 100 years. While that’s a very difficult idea to process at the moment, looking ahead this could be a true turning point in education.

If you look back at education over the past 20, 30 or even 50 years there doesn’t seem to be any substantive shifts in the overall structures of learning, however, significant pressures on the system have become apparent: the pressures and ineffectiveness of standardized testing, the lack of relevance and boredom of students, the constraints of time, systemic inequities that negatively impact marginalized populations.  All of these things are being exposed today and recognized as major problems with our system. We’re constantly looking for examples that buck these trends and trying desperately in many cases to change education en mass. While to the greater public this is a relatively new discussion, I’ve been on this journey my whole life.

My life in education … Read the rest

I Don’t Read Educational Books

My good friend George Couros gives me a hard time about this. He gives me a hard time about a lot of things. I like that. The truth is, it’s been a long time since I’ve read an educational book and in particular an educational book written in the last 5 years.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and yet I hadn’t been able to fully articulate my own thinking on this until a recent conversation with Kristina Ishmael. (Disclaimer: We didn’t actually jump after we talked but we should have)

It’s not likely that it is because of a single reason so I’ll list a few. I’m not writing this to convince anyone of anything but perhaps this might alleviate some guilt folks about who for their own reasons, don’t find educational books particularly compelling. Keep in mind, I wrote a book and am grateful for those that have read it.

  1. I’m immersed in this work. Particularly in the last 10-15 years I’ve spent my work life not just as an educator, which I had for the previous 15 years, but immersed in conversation and thought around the topic. Unlike a classroom teacher, I’ve had the luxury
Read the rest

Bad PD is Sometimes Your Own Fault

Pro tip: If you want to make a group of teachers laugh, show them this image:

You can even change “staff meeting” to “PD session” and get the same results. Professional Development/Learning is to teachers what school is for many students. Ask a random group of students what they think of school and you’re sure to get answers related to boring or worse. it’s almost cliche. It’s also kinda cool to say school sucks.

While it may be cool to suggest that PD sucks and yes, it sometimes does, I think the difference between how students experience school and how teachers experience PD is different at least in 2 ways. First, as teachers, we chose our profession. Secondly, it is our job to model and be good learners.

Maryellen Weimer offers 7 characteristics of what makes someone a good learner. Along with being curious, and open-minded, I’d add they are willing to embrace some dissonance. The best learners can learn something from almost any experience. That’s partly what makes them a good learner.

There has certainly been an awakening in teaching that suggests teachers ought to be master learners, learners first and other statements which shifts education from … Read the rest

Lessons From 70+ Ignites

Over the past 18 months, I’ve hosted 8 Ignite Events as part of my role as Community Manager for Discovery Education. If you’re not familiar with these events, here’s a brief invitation I created for our upcoming event in Vancouver.

I’ve heard superintendents, principals, teachers, community members and students share over 70 of these talks. Mostly hosted in pubs or restaurants, there are several factors that make this one of the best networking/learning events I’ve been a part of.

  • Location: The fact we hold them in a pub is important. It’s purposely not in a school and not just because people can drink, although that can helpful. 😉 An offsite location immediately relaxes people, let’s them know this isn’t necessarily work related as well it represents a neutral meeting space. In addition, the less fancy, the better. Each location has had its challenges in terms of viewing screens and hearing speakers but those constraints actually make people work harder to support one another.
  • Social first, learning second: The order is important. In most professional learning environments, social is at best acknowledged, at worst ignored. Our focus is on the networking. We create time and space to have conversations. For many
Read the rest

Professional Learning is Messy

Many people say learning is messy. But is professional learning messy?

There seems to be an ongoing search by districts and teachers for the best kind of professional learning. That’s a bit like searching for the best kind of food. I appreciate the need to provide better learning opportunities but like food, there is a wide range of learning that is essential or preferred depending on the learning and the learner.

When it comes to student learning, we often hear, “hands-on” or active learning is the best. If we’re talking about professional learning, it’s similar but now we might hear about job-embedded learning as being a preferred or optimal type. Job-embedded learning is associated with results. Results are important but they aren’t the only outcomes we should be seeking in our learning. Or at least, we shouldn’t ignore that many kinds of learning occurs before results might ever be considered.

This recent  quote from Will Richardson about learning makes me think:

if learning is measured by a desire to learn more, to continue learning, then the focus is on creating the conditions for that to happen

30843914_13af62fbab
Those conditions are created in a variety of ways and indeed the new role … Read the rest