Monday, February 21, 2011

A question to consider...

I saw this article from motivational speaker Kelly Croy.  I thought it gave me pause as a parent to stop and think.
Here's the link

Here is some of the text from the article:

I hear parents say it a lot, but I cannot help but to question their sincerity. In my twenty years of teaching and coaching, and my travels as an inspirational speaker and artist, a common theme among parents is the importance of leadership in their child’s lives.  Or so they say.

Do you really want your child to be a leader?

My experience says no. I think most parents confuse leadership with being the star. They don’t want a leader. They want their child’s picture in the paper, the trophy on the mantle, or the name on the record board. They want to tell relatives that their daughter is the captain of the team, that their son is the president of the club, and add another title to the college entrance application. They want their child to be well liked and admired. That is what I believe most parents want.
The truth is that while leadership can often be a truly rewarding experience, it is often a lot of hard work.  Leaders have responsibilities whether their team wins or loses. They are often ridiculed, criticized, and they work well beyond ‘their fair share’ with little to show for it. Leadership is not a popularity contest and it isn’t about being the star.

Do you really want your child to be a leader?

If you are still answering yes then I must ask you what you are doing to encourage that leadership? Do you criticize public leaders in front of your children? Complain about the decisions a leader has made? Do you volunteer in leadership roles? Do you offer your child opportunities to make decisions and take leadership roles? When they do, do you support them?
If you want your child to lead you really do have to take action. It’s not going to happen on its own, and you can’t leave it up to someone else. So many parents assume their child’s school, teacher, coach, or advisor is helping their child become a leader. And while that may be true in part, it is the parent’s role as the leader of the home, to see to it, that they are passing the torch of leadership to their children.
The ingredients we mix into a bowl determines the dish we prepare. Yes or no? You don’t get cookies using spinach.  What ingredients are going in your child, and will they make a leader? What books do they read? What games do they play? What do they listen to? What movies do they watch? Who do they admire? With whom do they spend their time? These are important questions.
I want my children to be leaders because I want them to make a difference in the world. I want them to understand that their lives have purpose, and that they are here to help others accomplish great things. I understand they will be ridiculed, criticized, and beaten down.  I know the decisions they make as leaders may cause them to lose friends. And I know when the time comes they may choose not to lead, but they will be prepared if they decide to answer the call to lead.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Coffee, an insert, and some thoughts...

      An insert in the morning Gazette caught my eye and got me thinking about teaching and creating a continuous learning environment that is reflective and responsive to what our students and staff need.
The article I read has a business lens, but far reaching ideas for other areas.  It is titled, A beautiful mind. By Dave DeWitte -Taken from The Gazette, February 20, 2011, the Business 380 insert.

Highlighted Portion: In the current climate of slow or stagnant growth, Brown said, it’s tempting for companies to cut budgets for learning.  That can have long-term consequences for an organization. Eliminating learning opportunities within an organization can prompt employees who are most interested in learning to look at leaving, Brown said. “People who really want to learn are also likely to be the best employees.  You’ll be left with the people who aren’t interested in learning.”

     What made me pause here was thinking about why is there a lot of turnover in our schools?  Does this paragraph ring true in our context? Are there multiple reasons and factors for this?  In no way am I de-valuing those who have been at, and remain in, our building for an extended period of time. Those individuals are some of our best leaders of learning. It’s just that I have been thinking about how many people have come and gone from my life in the short time I have been in education.  Some of the most influential people in my life have only been around for a short time before spreading their wings and moving on for various reasons. Why?

     In this time of focusing on curriculum mapping,  21st century learning, standards, and closing achievement gaps; there has been a more muted conversation about developing and sustaining systems.  What I think about a lot is creating, maintaining, and sustaining a continuous learning organization that values and acknowledges the talent of our collective group, and maybe more importantly, one that is grown, maintained, and sustained from within. Not prescribed by others.

     The list below was also taken from the same article.  By quick glance many of these things we can say are part of our learning environment.  However, what I tried to do was go through each and give examples of what I currently see in action that is owned by those from within.  As I went through each I asked myself, who’s leading the charge, who sets the agenda, how are we assessing progress, and how are we being responsive to OUR data?

How to Build a Continuous Learning Organization
·         Encourage-Networking, internally and externally
·         Provide-Employees with “space” to learn
·         Share-best learning practices within the organization
·         Avoid-disrupting “learning networks” during budget cuts and layoffs
·         Offer-learning opportunities and/or incentives
·         Incorporate-learning into the corporate climate.

     As this is not a comprehensive list, it was a good one to get some thoughts stirred about owning and customizing continuous learning on a Sunday morning with a good cup of coffee!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just when you think...

Today our students had the opportunity to take part in the NAEP test.  Of course they were nervous, thinking they were part of this GINORMOUS national report card, and didn't want to fail anyone. :) When it was all over, they received certificates of appreciation.  What I didn't see coming was how they reacted to receiving these certificates.  I caught just enough  video footage for you to see their response to each other as they received their pieces of paper from our proctor.

Kids are amazing!  Just when you think they are ready to dismantle you, the same way a lion does a fresh kill, they totally surprise you and respond the way they did to something so simple.  They are a fantastic bunch of kids.  Definately a group to watch, as they will be making a difference in life.

After the testing was all over, we had a great conversation about persuasion.  How would NAEP use some of the questions and results to report to the world what they found. What a stimulating conversation that was very relevant to our current and future learning.

We left off our conversation before recess talking about feedback.  We have been doing a lot of learning about types of feedback and it's importance.  My kids are disappointed that they aren't able to gain access to their results on the NAEP test.  We had a discussion about how they have a voice, and now with Google Apps, they have a vehicle for their voice to travel.  They came up with the idea of e-mailing NAEP to find out if they can get feedback on their performance.  We shall see what comes of this!

What an amazing morning!  Who would have thought this was all possible from taking a NAEP test?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Conceptual Lens

Our last PL session continued to focus on Assessment for Learning.  There has been a real effort to make connections from previous PL days to future PL days.  We were focusing part of the day on concept-based learning units.

Since it is February, we have decided to view relationships with our conceptual lens in our classroom.  We are applying that lens to fractions, narrative writing, the Progressive Era, and characters we encounter while reading to self.

Another relationship we will be examining is our mind-set.  I have linked a great post from Daniel Pink that has an outstanding organizer for divergent mind-sets. .

Welcome to the world...

Last week student's in our district gained access to Blogger via their Google accounts.  It is an exciting time!  We have been looking for ways and sites that would allow us to blog without getting too lost in the great world wide spider web.  I look forward to our classroom community becoming part of a larger community.  These kids have some unbelievable things to say!  Let the blogging begin!