Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Saturday, February 23, 2013
If there is to be true Educational 'Reform' at all, it must begin with a paradigm shift of seismic proportions: one that reorients our compass from student's minds to their hearts-to WHO they are not what they THINK. This necessitates an internal shift within us as well. We need to open ourselves up as well so we meet our students halfway. Students will always remember how we made them feel, not necessarily what we made them think.
When students trust a teacher they are more apt to listen and learn from them. Trust is not built by teaching facts.
“Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.” ― Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
Sunday, August 5, 2012
|photo Andrew T. Garcia|
|Butterfly by Aidan William Garcia, age 6|
|photo Andrew T. Garcia|
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
|(original photo by Michael Nagle, Getty Images)|
One thing stands out right away, however, as I lead workshops on the read/write web and social networking for educators: teachers who have the most immediate success adopting and applying web-based technology to their situation are those that are not afraid to click hyerlinks.
As a member of my school district's technology committee, I am in the process of identifying what teacher's technology proficiencies should be. Questions being considered are: What tech skills are indispensible going forward? Is it OK that teachers are at varying levels with regard to technology use? What do we do about this fact? What separates those that 'know and can do' and those that do not (or won't)?
With regard to the last question, I think it really comes down to basic curiosity which is the precursor to learning anything. Curiosity + critical thinking (knowing what resources have value) + risk taking= learning and transformation. The risk taking in question with regard to web-based technology use is the aforementioned click factor. Either one clicks a link (and risks) finding a shoddy site or a gold mine of information and/or connections to others that can feed an entire teaching unit or full curriculum, or one sits and stares at one site (and gains and learns very little).
Based on these observations, I believe what we really need to be building into professional development these days is the 'capacity to click' in our teachers. Clearly, it is necessary to teach specific tech-based skill sets (uploading, downloading, sharing, bookmarking, subscribing, etc...) but if teachers would use crictical thinking to do targeted searches and then not be afraid to click with abandon, they will be able to learn much on their own.
It is how I learned. But I was unafraid to click (to find out). I was interested to 'know' about things. This drive to learn is alive in me every day. I know I am not alone. Every single person I am connected to in my personal learning networks shares this trait with me. Why are we like this? Was it learned? What life experiences differentiate clickers from non-clickers? And how do we build that capacity (curiosity) in others?
Be not afraid of the hyperlink. You just might learn something.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
"Knowing how to make use of online tools without being overloaded with too much information is, like it or not, an essential ingredient to personal success in the twenty-first century." -Howard Rheingold (in Net Smart)
"I would challenge each of you to truly analyze how you are using the technologies that you are using." -Nick SauersNick Sauers has an interesting post citing the results of an Educational Researcher article that analyzed how wikis are being used in schools. He is essentially asking us to reflect on why we are using the technologies we are using. While it is OK to use tech tools for efficiency purposes or for the "fun factor", we need to ask more and more whether the technologies we are adopting have value in terms of student learning. That should always be the bottom line.
The Digital Native argument is getting tired. If you haven't heard, the digital native argument goes something like this: Kids are immersed in technology. Kids seem to intuitively understand how computers and mobile devices work without having to read a manual. They "communicate" and "collaborate" with each other with these technologies despite us (teachers). Let me be as clear in this as I can be: It is not a strong enough argument. Anymore.
Principal Eric Sheninger's post, "Education Should Reflect Real Life" is short and to the point. As always he makes good points, such as:
He then shares a video by Power on Texas which ends well but made me cringe at first because, once again, the digital native paradigm is raised. Ultimately in the video, teachers are interviewed and they cite real evidence that students have become more engaged in their learning and test scores have risen as a result of the technologies that have been adopted in the classroom.
This is where we should focus now: finding real, evidence-based reasons to adopt technology in schools. We need to reflect on our goals and employ technology use as a tool for increased student engagement and learning. Thankfully, evidence is being gathered and shared. It is up to us to mine through the available (digital) information and collect the data to support the use of technology as a tool that improves student learning-and to continue to do Action Research studies on our own uses of technology with students.
Data doesn't lie. And 'digital native' is just a term. Some (economically privileged) students have and employ technology to their educational benefit but many need to be shown smart ways to learn in digital realms without being overloaded with too much information. We then to need to assess their use and determine if the technology was truly helpful to learn pre-existing curricular learning objectives. My bet is that the technology is helpful when used mindfully but we shouldn't justify our future technology purposes just because students text each other. A lot.
Friday, March 2, 2012
A few days (weeks, months) ago, you were at the (Massachusetts Music Educator's Professional Development) Conference. You were energized, psyched, stoked, jacked! You came in contact with inspirational people, ideas, students and programs which you thought at the time you would like to emulate in some way. You were full of hope and renewed vigor and a revived sense of purpose.
In his talk, Dr. Gordon reminded you of the deep, enduring value of music to humans. He also reminded you that if you want music to endure in schools, that is critically important to teach well. Mr. Butera cautioned that you should be proactive in your support for music in schools. He reminded you that, unfortunately, not everyone who runs schools has music education as a priority.
The many sessions you attended provided concrete examples of HOW to teach well. You took notes and you jotted down sites that could serve as resources for you. You planted the seeds of change and transformation in the sessions. You vowed in those moments- in those sessions- that you would teach different next week. You vowed to review all this stuff when you got home. You dared yourself to 'be the change you want to see in the world.'
You did. So where are the notes? Do yourself a favor, post-conference self. Find yourself alone with those notes and reflect on those little, silent promises you made to yourself. Make a simple list of 5 things you will follow up on and implement them. You can do it. You can. Because you are worth it and because your students deserve this empowered, transformed you. And so does the profession. Do it for Music if nothing else.
And next year? Lead a session on your Newfound Skills.
Monday, October 24, 2011
“You don't know what you don’t know.”
There are two ways to grapple with the truth of the above quote
- Embrace this fact. And: Get curious about what it is you don’t know (that could potentially and immeasurably improve your knowledge base, skills, instruction).
- Be an Ostrich: Stick you head in the sand and pretend that there’s nothing more to learn.
Twitter, for many teachers, represents a vast landscape of knowledge that they have yet to tap into. On a certain level, that makes sense. Twitter seems, on the surface, to be a shallow stream of self-centered ‘reports’ about what’s going in in one’s life. And, yeah, it could be this. But, for the majority of teachers who have twitter accounts and use it daily, it is far from this.
Twitter for teachers who have gotten curious is now (as some have called it) a ‘professional development superhighway’. And it is. The learning potential is literally endless. The collective knowledge represented there is awesome in scope. The isolation so often cited as a problem in Education vanishes when there is sudden and immediate access to other teachers grappling with the same problems and questions you are.
Stop worrying how to use Twitter and other “Tech tools”. Just make an account and Get Curious.
Check out Twitter4Teachers and Tweepml to find teachers to follow. Lurk for awhile and see how these teachers use Twitter. Click out to their blogs. Subscribe to their blog feeds. Eventually, join in on some #edchats.
Get to know what you don't know. Get curious and don't turn back. Create a Twitter account today.