Dear Parents, Be Less Involved

Okay, there’s a title to raise some eyebrows, but hear me out.

As a kid, I never really thought about my parent’s involvement in my education. Like most parents, no news was good news. Neither of my parents had a high school diploma and like many parents of that era, teachers were more educated and placed in relatively high regard as experts and professionals in the community. As more people become college educated and society, in general, became less compliant towards authority, schools and teachers were now more accountable for their actions. That was certainly an important and useful change.

As a teacher, I soon was able to see categorize the levels of involvement of parents. As a first-grade teacher, parents generally were fairly involved and interested in their child’s education. Particularly if this was their first child, they were anxious to know if their child was having success as a reader and learner, if they were developing social skills and if they were enjoying school. Most parents already knew the answer to these questions but appreciated affirmation. Yet while this was generally true depiction, there were some differences among parents. A small percentage of parents never showed up for … Read the rest

Deep Learning and the Curriculum Disconnect

Disclaimer: I write this knowing I may be off or am missing some perspectives. In other words, it’s why I blog. That’s why comments are open.

Tweeting is easy:

Backing up what you tweet is harder. But tossing out a statement like this I realized that was only right to clarify and expand the thought. The genesis of the tweet comes after seeing many tweets referencing deep learning or similar concepts, I immediately saw the disconnect between devotion to the curriculum and the actualization of deep learning.

The term “deep learning” is rooted in problem-solving, connected learning and personal relevance. I’m not sure if it was coined by Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn but they are certainly the most prominent names around the term. The New Pedagogies for Deep Learning movement has been around for a few years. The purpose is to change teaching and learning by shifting from … Read the rest

“Whatever it Takes” I’m not sure…

This post was born out of a conversation I had with teachers a few weeks ago. I was sitting in a computer lab with about a dozen top-notch educators who had either been using Discovery Education’s Science Techbook or were just being introduced to it. After exploring it for an hour or so and having lots of dialogue one teacher said something to the effect of, “I don’t see why any teacher wouldn’t use this. It’s got everything you need, aligned to the new curriculum. Not only is it an amazing resource, but it’s also a real time saver.” To which another teacher replied. “It is a time saver but in order to get there, you likely need a couple of days of PD or just time.”

I suddenly had an image in my cost benefit analysis scale.

It occurred to me that this is essentially … Read the rest

Stop Being Bad with Names

Stop Being Bad with Names

“I’m terrible with names.” It seems like a very common statement. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. I’ve always prided myself with knowing people’s names and yet I’ve never been as intentional as I ought to be.  There have been 3 sources that I’ve found recently that have addressed this theme to the degree that it’s now become a personal mission of mine to pay better attention to people’s names. 

The first is a reading of a classic book by Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” The book, while focused on business, offers some simple, timeless truths about relationships. Most of it seems like common sense but the depth and specifics stated in the book are great reminders not only for business folks but anyone who works with people. 
Specifically the chapter on names. Here are a few quotes:

“Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy.”

Of course, I could go into a whole diatribe about busy. But I’m also … Read the rest

Are All Voices Equal?

“Voice and Choice” “Equity” “Student Voice” These are words that dominate the educational change conversation today. They are important ideas but like so many words, they can lose their meaning and specificity as they permeate the lexicon. 

The short answer to the question “Are all voices equal?”  is “No”.

The better answer is “It’s complicated”. 

Without going down too many rabbit holes I’d want to explore a few elements. First the student/ child to teacher/adult relationship and more broadly the idea of expertise.

The Question of Student Voice

We certainly are doing well to provide students with more say, more choice and more power to own their own learning. For too long, they have been relative pawns in education where adults made all the decisions about when what, where and how they learned.  We’ve now entered a more enlightened time where things are beginning to shift. In some places, this shift is well underway and in other places, much work is left to be done but there are few places where this isn’t a conversation. 

But providing increased say and power to students shouldn’t negate the knowledge, wisdom and dare I say, the authority of adults who provide the structure … Read the rest