Will Your Parachute Open Every Time?

Teaching Less (2)

Wait a minute!  Teaching less is a good thing?

Let’s be careful in what is actually being said here.  Teaching is an EXCELLENT thing to do.  If we didn’t teach adequately our students would not learn sufficiently.  But, what Grant Wiggins is trying to stress is that FEEDBACK is one of the strongest correlates to student success.  And not just a letter grade or percentage, but critical feedback that helps the student learn from their mistakes so that they can focus on personal improvement.

Nobody gets better by just seeing a ‘B’ on their paper, lab report or report card.  What makes us improve our learning is the opportunity to understand what we didn’t fully succeed at, be given an opportunity to refine our learning and perhaps demonstrate our mastery of the topic again.

I remember sitting in a meeting where we were talking about feedback, student mastery of material and grading.  The speaker asked us to step out from our ‘classroom comfort zone’ and think about … parachute packing.

OK.  Why not?

Continue reading

The DO-OVER : An Educational Necessity

Do-Overs — Every September!

It’s what makes education so much fun.

If something didn’t quite work out this school year there’s always next year.  Our profession is kind of unique that way.  I’ve always liked the fact that we get to press ‘reset’.  As teachers, administrators and support staff we get do-overs all the time.

We also have an education system that supports repeat opportunities for students.  I’d like to take a close look at WHY we should remember to have that mindset of providing do-overs for our students.

Believing in children (2)School is a safe place —  as educators we take enormous pride in creating spaces that are emotionally safe for everyone regardless of their story or history.  For some of our students the stark reality is that we may be the ONLY place in their world where they feel the most connected to an adult.  A place where some may form their only trusting, compassionate relationships with a caring adult.

Continue reading

Happy New (School) Year – It’s More Than “It’s a Living”

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope that your summer was glorious.  As the calendar turned to August my mind turned to the year ahead.  I wondered about what to write for my first blog of the new year.  Then one day while having a conversation with my mom I was reminded about something funny at the movies … many, many, MANY years ago.

The story goes something like this …

movie theatre

Going to the Movies with Mom

When I was a young boy of about 5 or 6 I went to the movies with my mom.  As we were waiting for the movie to start we both noticed another little boy moving between the aisles focused entirely on picking up litter.  We were impressed and my mom told him what a good thing he was doing.  He shrugged his shoulders, “It’s a Living”.

It was hard not to laugh and if I’m truthful I probably did — I don’t actually remember.  I do remember that he was very serious about his job — it was important work.  He was making a difference.  It was his work.

PADS

Dogs Make a Big Difference in the Lives of Others

As we recalled this story it actually caused me to reflect a bit about my own work in education.  As I am now in my 50s — certainly now with more of my career behind me than in front of me — I sometimes stop and wonder about the impact I’ve had on people in our schools and at the board office:

  • Have I made a difference?  A really positive difference?
  • Have I taken some chances?  Taken enough risks?
  • Will I have any regrets when I do retire?

Continue reading