Monthly Archives: July 2013

Building a car/building connections

There’s a lot to love here. This story really highlights how important it is to have a real-world context for what can be very abstract concepts (math, science, writing, etc.). The learning becomes more urgent when it’s not just on a page, but in your garage .

Not all learning has to take place within the structure of school (and we do our students a disservice if we send the message that learning only happens in school); we need to make it easy for students to bring outside interests in and apply it to what they’re learning–or to take what they’re learning and apply it to outside interests. Those interests can also be the driving force behind connections to a broader community of learners and experts–communities that we should encourage our students to contribute their own experience and expertise to.

Learning as we teach

I have two posts saved from Seth Godin’s blog that speak to how to apply someone else’s ideas or experiences to a new situation.

The first, Exactly the same vs. exactly different is something I’m glad to now be able to pull out whenever I hear someone at a conference or other PD event say, “Well, that wouldn’t work at my school because I have more/fewer students, we have/don’t have block scheduling, my teachers wouldn’t be interested, etc.”

And I want to say, of course that project won’t work the same way at your school–you work at a different school. And you’re a different person. But if you like the idea there is likely something you could take and adapt and make work you and your unique situation. You take what you’ve learned about your students, your colleagues, your school, and yourself and see where this new idea fits. Yes, it would sometimes be nice to have a step-by-step formula to follow, but teaching is as much (or more) art as it is science.

Hidden under the insistence of “that wouldn’t work in my situation” is, for many, the underlying fear that if it doesn’t work, you’ve “failed.” And the first time you try something it might not go well. It might be a disaster. But you can take what didn’t work and fix it, and take what did work and make it better. And the next time it will go better. And even better the time after that. Sure, it’s messy. Learning often is.

By saying to ourselves “it has to go perfectly the first time I try it or it was a waste of time” we end up modeling terrible learning behaviors for our students.

When I Run the School

I regularly find and bookmark articles, videos, and ideas about education that inspire me and shape my thinking about the future of education. Usually, when I find such things I think, “When I run the school. . .”

I don’t know if I’ll ever run a school, but as I look towards the next phase of my career as an educator, I wanted a way to gather and share the articles, videos, and conversations that will be important when I think about the kind of school I want to work at, and the kind of educator I want to be.

We all carry ideas with us that inspire us and shape how we think about and interact with the world; this blog is my way of collecting and sharing the ideas that inspire me–and hopefully hearing from people about what inspires them.

What would I have written if I encountered that wall?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

What would you have written? What words inspire you?