Place to Ponder

A place to sort, think, create and connect.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer Thinking in "Free Flow".


It is summer time and although my thinking doesn't slow down, it is not as focused as it is during the days of classes and program implementation and the myriad of other school details. It is now an opportuntity to experience time differently.

During this thought "free flow" guided by who I am, and what I think I know and what I believe in, directions that grow in importance to me and the things I would like to accomplish, I have come up with a few questions.
What happens to us, educators, as we grow up in our careers?
Do we stand by our philosophy and our learning?
Do we keep our minds open?
Do we intentionally allow for new thinking and new directions and new strategies?
Do we keep track of what is happening in the community and the world and continue to innovate in our practice to assist students in readiness for the changes?

Summer gives me the opportunity to spend "free flow" time with family members. Looking at my 18 month old grandchild, and watching her learn, experiment with everything and become increasingly independent, I wonder, in a few years, when this little girl enters school (in whatever form school is at that time), will she be able to learn in her way, experiment, take risks, create and become increasingly skilled and independent? Will she keep her free flow excitement and enthusiasm and try everything?

I sure hope so.

Some of my free flow thinking, during this summer time, will be to ponder ways to develop strategies for and with the school team to help us all create the kind of place for all participants to engage, experiment, learn and develop skills in diverse ways with enthusiasm.

And to think about the next swim with a special person or two.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Shifting Delivery Methods


This past Friday, four colleagues and I presented at an educational conference in Winnipeg. We shared information which had a focus on the importance of student voice, trust, creating a flexible learning environment and taking the steps to develop facilitation skills in order to move away from uniform content delivery. A few student created a video for us to use at this event. 

These students, in two days, developed a story board, shot the video, edited it and handed it to us. The message contained in the video was exactly what we wanted/needed for our presentation. 
To me, the picture stops right there. STUDENTS demonstrated the skills to complete the interviews, and edit a video, together, which represented the message the adults wanted to articulate. They are listening. They know the message. As an aside, the students met with their ELA teachers after and presented the finished video and clarified, with their teacher to  check off which outcomes they personally met while involved in this two day project. 
I can articulate the message. I am not able to produce or edit video in two day in the quality the students demonstrated. 
We have heard often that our educational system was based in industrialization (Agrarian  model fitting with the times) and the traditional delivery is for all students to master a set of prescribed skills in a prescribed order. Teachers were seen as experts in all fields and were expected to "fill those blank slates". 
As professionals we are motivated by the many, many professional development sessions encouraging us to facilitate, to innovate, to see that the needs of our global population are changing. We watch; we share with "elbow partners" and we come back taking very little time to reflect or adjust our practises in meaningful ways. We are stuck. 
Looking at my grandchildren (and noting their similarities to their mothers, with sheer personal enjoyment), I am personally and professionally motivated to make a difference in meaningful educational delivery. 
Most educators turn to technology and either try out some "new things" or say the technology is a problem, and because of it, students are distracted from the worksheets/rote learning/expert delivery of content. This cry creates systems limiting a tool that meets the needs of students in so many ways. 
Technology is a wonderful communication, production, networking tool. The complexity and innovation of technology is growing as people learn "what ever we imagine, we can create". What a powerful way to grow up. Limitless. 
What a disconnect with what is happening in many classrooms! We focus on the importance of engagement. Many of us enjoy the PD on increasing student engagement and then come back to classrooms and teach the same ways.....because that is what we know; grew up with; understand.  Limits. 
Time to change professional development. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Family and Educational Ideas


I have planned start a blog for a while now. One reason, I think, for me to start a blog is to try how a blog works. The other reason is to use this forum to sort thoughts. 
I have become a "collector of tweets" that interest me in the area of educational change, using other people's ideas and wishing I had said it first as sometimes I had already thought in a similar way. 
Intertwined with my ideas and the implementation steps I have taken on the continuum of educational change in my career, are my learnings from my family and my experiences with them. Both of these very large areas can take a great deal of pondering, and are inexplicably connected. 
So, this blog will be a place for me to sort; to bring clarity to pondering. 
For me, change has been held off, somewhat, by a clear image in my mind of how things should look. I have spent a great deal of think time on how that image became so stuck there. Much energy has been spent in my life trying to reach that image. 
Over the last number of years, (is it age; experience?) things have shifted for me. Or I have learned. It is not the image as the goal at all, but the process along the way that matters. 
As a naive, idealistic 22 year old, newly married and beginning a teaching career, my partner and I decided to adopt. Simply, there were children who were in need of a good, loving home. In my mind at that time, there was no discussion needed about nature or nurture; an excellent environment provided for a child would result in optimum growth and potential.
There is a long story (or many chapters of many stories) here, that will be inserted at another time. The result was, though, we adopted, over a period of 12 years, six children. Learning was central to this time in my life. Right along with surviving. The love was the foundation. 
In my mid 30's, I lost the debate with myself. Nature won. 

It had become clear that my six children were their own idividual selves and there was a lot of individuality happening every day.