Whats Your Passion? #IMMOOC

I have a daughter (Alanna) and she is in 3rd grade.  Her first week of state testing starts tomorrow – what is her life in school going to be like?  I live in the district where I grew up and I can tell you that I was not taught to be a life long learner, nor did  I discover my passions however I did learn to be good at school.  Frankly, I am concerned that my daughter will have similar feelings towards her life in school as I do.  George introduced my to this is a valedictorian speech by Erica Goldson in 2010:

“I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.”

How powerful is this?  I have read it multiple times.  What she says is beautiful, real, but also so sad.  How many other students feel like this as they graduate?  Our college grad rates are disappointing to say the least, especially when you think about the cost of post-secondary education.

“We must develop LEARNERS who explore their PASSIONS and their TALENTS” – George Couros

Reading that valedictorian speech should be a wake up call for all in education.  We need to find ways to empower our youth in their learning and these things (learning, passion, talents) will begin to occur and be discovered naturally.  Let’s also empower our teachers to take risks, try new things, and explore the unknown.  Too many districts are still operating like “they always have” and have the mindset of “we have always done it this way”. (Insert vomit emoji face)

I will not wait for others to drive the bus.  My goal is to step up and work to help my daughter find her passions in life.  I am not going to sit by and wait for my school, her teachers to do it.  I believe that passions are things that drive ALL of us.  They aid in keeping us from taking unnecessary risks, drinking at young ages, and drug use.  My passions, as I mentioned before have always been sports, being a leader, and family.  I lost those for a period of time while in college because I was no longer at home, playing 4 sports, and did not take advantage of ways to be a leader.  I was leading, but in the wrong ways, therefore, I lost track of my passions.  I have rediscovered them and I am back ,and stronger than ever.  I want to avoid that with my children.  I want them to discover things that they are passionate about so that they learn how to learn, they find a passion for learning, and they find passions in things that can last a life time.  This, I believe, is a major key in them growing up to be successful.

 

#IMMOOC Week 4 – Be the Teacher You Dreamed to Be

Look in the mirror and ask yourself this question: “Are you the teacher that you dreamed of being when you are 8, 12,16?”

If your answer is “Yes!” then high five to you and I would LOVE it if you add some comments to this post as to why you feel this way and what you have done to completely fulfill your dreams!

On the other side, I am going to speculate here but, I am imagining that most of us will say “No” but please do not let that ruin your day!  The beauty is that we still have tomorrow like I talk about in a previous post.  We have a chance to reflect, analyze, and start fresh each day.  Now it is time to get to the bottom of why you feel this way.  In the Innovators Mindset George highlights several quotes that may help us get to the bottom of this, I am going to focus on 3.

Wow isn’t this true!  How many of you have looked at it this way before?  I certainly learned a lot from my teachers growing up!   Some good, some bad.  Think about this, “How many of you, as you have grown up, had picked up parenting styles, personality traits from your parents that you are not particularly fond of?”

I believe that most of us will say yes the previous question which leads me to the next quote from George.  We need to embrace our experiences and find ways to learn and make the experiences of our students/children better.  George talks about how “simple” some innovations can be where you take one experience, tweak it, and then boom!  Think about this, “What can we do in our professional learning that will enable us to learn and be better leaders for our students/children?”

When I think back to my time as a teacher one of the first things that I made a mistake doing was looking to the the authority in the room.  I learned quickly that there are more than one way to be the “authority”.  The 3rd and final quote was HUGE to me because we HAVE TO CHECK EGO AT THE DOOR.  Step back, embrace the process, and be co-learners with your kids and the amount of things you will get done will be inspiring.

Taking bold stances, being strong willed, egotistic can work BUT it is not the only solution.  What kind of relationship will you have with your students if you take this route?  Is this the teacher that you dreamed of being when you are 8, 12,16?!  I would assume not because you can be SO MUCH MORE than that.

Reflecting back, as I shared, I definitely fell into each of these traps.  I remember asking my self something similar to “Are you the teacher that you dreamed of being when you are 8, 12,16?”  That was the day that I started to flip my class on its head, change the culture, and walk on a new path.  Mr. McKean’s path.  This path allowed me to be empathetic, listen to my students, let them into aspects of my personal life, rule with a loving heart, relate to them, empower them, and model for them the behavior that I wanted in return.  This in turn changed my outlook on teaching and allowed me to impact and teach my kids on levels I had only dreamed about.

One of my students highlights life with me as she joined me for my first podcast for Perspectives in Education.  In the podcast our goal is to evangelize education and share amazing stories to celebrate it’s greatness.  We want to interview students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, researchers, change agents, and the whole gambit of education!  Each of us has a story to share, a perspective on education, and we all deserve a voice! 

 

“Don’t leave anything to chance. Educate everyday like it is your last chance to shape the future.”

Short Introduction: This post is dedicated to my Aunt.  It brings  a story on religion and connects it to education.  I do not wish to push my beliefs on anyone.  The story is sad, speaks about death, but out of tragedy I believe we can always pull out something positive.  The goal of this post is to do just that.

I recently introduced to a story about death that touched me personally and as an educator.  Personally: I recently made a trip to Atlanta to say goodbye to my dear Aunt Chickie (Louise) as she was given a terminal illness so this story made me reflect and hope that she feels that she has lived a fulfilled life.  As an educator it made me reflect on my time in the classroom and how I am going to impact education moving forward.  Here is the story (it can be found under number 8):

John Wesley was once asked, “If you knew that you would die at twelve o’clock tomorrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?” “Why,” was the answer, “just as I intend to spend it. I would preach tonight at Gloucester and again tomorrow morning. After that I would ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon and meet the society in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martin’s house, as he expects me; converse, pray with the family, retire to my room at ten o’clock, commend myself to my Heavenly Father, lie down to sleep and wake up in glory.”

Most of us would pull out our bucket list, have a party, go to church (maybe even if you have never been), go skydiving, etc.  The interesting thing about John Wesley’s response was that he would not change a thing.  He would go about his life as he always did, present himself to God, and be satisfied with his life, his mission, and what he had accomplished.

Do you take advantage of every day, every lesson, every chance to learn, every chance to make an impact?  I am no longer in the classroom and I instantly started to think about how I felt about this question.  I integrated technology, used innovative practices, built relationships with kids that to this date have withstood the test of time, and I feel really good about how I utilized my time BUT I can’t help but feel like I left somethings on the table.  Maybe I could have done more?

How do you feel?  It is my hope that you feel like you great about what you have done but if you have not, the beauty of my question is that it isn’t real!  You do have tomorrow and the next day, month, year, decade depending on where you are in your career.  Take advantage of the moment and seize the opportunity.  One thing that the Innovators Mindset has shown me it is never too late.  Forget about what do not do well and focus on your strengths as an educator and design ways to impact students everyday.

“When we build on our strengths and daily successes-instead of focusing on failures-we simply learn more.” – Tom Rath

Take what you have learned (in this book, career, recent PD, whatever) and apply it.  Don’t get stuck in a holding pattern where you are worried about how taking risks will impact your students.  Kids are resilient, more resilient than adults in many ways.  Explain to them your vision, dreams, and why you are doing what you are doing and if solid relationships are established, they will stand by you.  If you have not established solid relationships then use your willingness to try new things to build them!

Take advantage of today, teach with no regrets, and mold the future into one with life-long learners who are empowered, innovative, and ready to take on the world.

The #1 Leadership Trait

Great leaders see the value in relationships, innovation, taking risks, supporting others, accountability, honesty, communication, the list goes on.   These traits can be debated over and over again but when you look at each trait, I feel that there is a larger trait that connects them all, humility.

“Humility is the number 1 trait that all leaders should strive to achieve.”

Think of a leader that you work(ed) with that was humble.  Answer these questions about that person (I’ll do the same):

  1. Were they trustworthy? (Me-yes)
  2. Were they good at building relationships? (Me-yes)
  3. Were they empathetic? (Me-yes)
  4. Were they open to others opinions? (Me-yes)
  5. Were they able to reflect? (Me-yes)
  6. Were they micro-managers? (Me-no)

This is an ideal leader!  If one is humble; they are empathetic, honest, and open-minded while also able to reflect, let people do their jobs, and accept ambiguity.  Who doesn’t want to work for a humble leader who:

  • Supports you in taking risks
  • Trusts your judgement
  • Accepts when you make mistakes
  • Admits when they make mistates
  • Listens and shows empathy
  • Encourages you to grow
  • Inspires you through modeling all of these

Not me!  Give me a leader who is humble all day because I know that they are that and more!

 

 

Paradigm Shift: Learner-Centered Paradigm & Networked Age

Education Reimagined is discussing a new paradigm shift in education to a learner-centered paradigm.  “personalized” here means that you co-create learning pathways with the child sitting in front of you while you value their interests, passions, culture, etc.  It is the shift from school-centric to learner centric.  Empowerment feeds engagement and what better way than to give your students a TRUE voice.  If we can get our kids to own what they are doing in the classroom then they will feel empowered and that will automatically engage them.

Amber Teamann discusses here (42 min in) “Tylepher”.  Tyler and Christopher were student advocates for her that were always ready to try new things and even teach other kids.   The beauty of this is that these 2 students where 100% empowered by Amber and her willingness to let them help.  Innovation takes time, effort, and relationships so empower your students with choices that will aid you in making your innovation dreams a reality.  If only a couple of kids buy in the first time, don’t be discouraged, 4-5 will the next.  If you look at each stage as your floor then the sky is the limit!

P.S. Don’t forget to share & look for feedback!

Featured image is borrowed from Education Reimagined

 

Competitive Collaboration: Breaking the Culture of “NO”

Anyone out there hate to lose like me!?  My grandmother shows no mercy in her card game! 500 rummy, Skip Bo, Mexican Train, Go Fish, doesn’t matter!  I find myself in the same loop with my girls while we play games but I have thrown a game here and there!  (Maybe!)  I feel that it is healthy for people to learn how to deal with disappointment while also fostering a healthy desire to win.  It brings out the best in us when our goal is to strive for excellence.  As an adult, it isn’t always about “winning” but rather being the best I can be.

Teacher efficacy is crucial to their success and the success of their students.  I LOVE the idea of competitive collaboration!  What better way to learn, become stronger, while also help others!?  Not only will be become better educators but we will also become better people/employees under this model.  Fear will slowly disappear, relationships will be built, fear will be replaced with trust, and then turn to confidence as you foster a “culture of yes.  Everyone will have a voice, chance to share, and in the end, there are no “winners” because we all WIN!