Monday, March 28, 2016

Project Based Learning

In looking at this quote, I am intrigued by the opportunities we can provide for our students as we continue to re-examine our roles in education as teachers and learners. The article, 8 Switches To Update Project-Based Learning In The 21st Century, the author makes us really examine where we are as educators and how we have opportunities to recreate a more meaningful learning experience. I believe we have to leverage these opportunities if we are going to impact our students in a new and meaningful way.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Have you noticed...

Today, I was in class doing an observation, and I saw a student struggling. As I began to review some of the key concepts, the thing that occurred to me was the student did not know how to articulate where he was having problems.  He had a fairly decent grasp on the majority of the concepts, but his frustration came from his inability to ask a proper question. He was so focused with giving me the "correct answer" that he missed what the overall goal of the lesson was.  I believe this confusion comes from our system that is driven to find the one correct answer because our society is so focused on improving test scores.  Unfortunately, the unintended message is the process of getting to the answer is unimportant.  Of course, this is not the case at all.  We, as educators, must do a better job teaching our students how to investigate problems for themselves and generate questions that can help clarify things for themselves.  If we do not have them practice this skill, they will never get better at it....The end result will be frustrated students who will give up or drop out of school because they do not even know where to begin.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A wonderful reminder that can help all of our students

After watching this video, I am reminded why I entered the teaching profession twenty years ago.  I wanted to be an advocate for children who struggling to make it in our educational system. Many of the items discussed in the video I still see in classrooms today.  We create artificial goals that do not allow for the student's unique needs. What is even worse, we expect all our students to sit quietly and learn the same.Then, when the student begins to struggle, we we teach the same item exactly the same except louder thinking that will make a difference.  Although this is video specifically addresses our students with disabilities, all of our students can benefit from the advice these students share.

Friday, October 2, 2015

I couldn't agree more.....

I recently read an article from the Conversation.  In the article, they shared the picture I have above regarding PowerPoint.  At one point in time, this was a great way to deliver information in a new and animated way.  The displays were interesting and the transitions livened things up quite a bit.  Now today, I feel the way she looks in the picture.  How many of our students feel the same way?  I would have to believe most, if not all, of our students are bored to tears.   We as educators have to remember that technology can be a blessing or a curse, just like worksheet used to be in our classes.  If we use the same method of delivery every single day, our students will begin to tune us out.  We have to remember that is why we hire teachers. We want them to bring their creativity and personality to the classrooms....otherwise, our district curriculum specialists could crank out boiler plate lessons that we would mandate everyone should use.  In my opinion, it is time to move beyond simple substitution of technology in our old lesson plans and truly embed the fun back into our classrooms.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The power of I don't know

I think "the power of I don't know" is critically important for our students today because in our assessment driven world, students are mislead into a false belief that every problem has a specific answer.  This is a misconception that educators have to fight on a daily basis.  We as educators know the real learning comes when students are given the freedom to ask questions no one has thought of before. When they begin to ask those questions, unique solutions begin to appear.  In this learning environment, teachers can truly make a lasting impact because they can model the approach to tackling difficult problems that do not have black and white answers.  We can show our students that adults have to ask for help from time to time on things that are out of their area of expertise.  As a result, it lets students know that even teachers do not have all the answers all the time, and that is okay.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Growth Mindset

Each year I return from summer break, I am refreshed and eager to tackle the challenges our students will face this year.  I know there will be difficult challenges, but I know my team will be able to come up with some creative solutions to these very unique problems we face every year.  Unfortunately, many of our students do not start the year with the same feeling. Each year their perceived personal failures at home and school start their years off in a very negative way.  They do not see any hope for themselves personally or academically.  They often see themselves as victims with no personal accountability for the decisions in their lives.  This fixed mindset is one the the first things we try to address when students start the year.  Every day we as a staff try to model the "grit" our students need to become successful and productive citizens in the future.  When our students start to feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or want to give up, we immediately try to intervene to keep them moving forward.  We do not allow them to give up on the assignment or themselves.  This piktochart is an great example of what we hope to achieve every single day both personally and with our students.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Leaders

As I watched this video, I was reminded of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  At the bottom of his needs pyramid are Physiological and Safety.  He reminds us that students must have these needs filled in order for them to move up the pyramid and eventually learn.  If the student's brains are constantly in the fight or flight mode, they are more likely to experience PTSD symptoms.  When this happens, students can become stuck at that level; and as a result, not be able to learn and apply complex concepts to new practical problems they will see in their own lives.

As teacher leaders, are we fostering a classroom environment that lends itself to feeling safe in the classroom? We need to have a relationship where our students know we have their backs.  We need them to feel safe.  We can not make them "feel" safe. This will only happen if they can trust us. If our students do not feel safe to take risks, can we really expect them to learn?  Through our classrooms, we can show them what leadership is and how to inspire them to achieve more than they thought was possible.