Day 2 of Reflection

These next 3 questions are posed in Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  If you are a teacher, this should be your next read, if you don’t own it already.  If you are on Twitter, you must follow #tlap for inspiration to do the hard work of teaching!  These are my attempts to understand myself better as a teacher and person.

Content Passion 

“Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?”  

I am thinking back to my years teaching mathematics, and sadly, I can’t identify what I was most passionate about teaching in this content area.  While teaching most concepts, I thought to myself, “When will all these students use this information? ”  Many times the only clear answer I had was in the next math class.  I know now I did not do the best job I could with designing lessons that helped students identify problems and then solve them.  I was a follower of the standards, and I used standards documents as a checklist.  I bet my students were bored 😦

I did serve as instructional math coach for a few years, and I can say for certain that I was most passionate about helping elementary teachers connect procedural knowledge to conceptual knowledge of mathematics.  Probably not many other people get excited about figuring out why division works the way it does or why a fraction divided by a fraction is the same as multiplying by the reciprocal.  The time I spent designing and then implementing professional development for elementary math teachers was exciting and fun!

Professional Passion

“Within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?” 

I am most passionate about connecting students to their own passions and interests.  I hope to always center my work around connecting students to experiences that either help them figure out what they enjoy doing or even help them figure out what they definitely hope to never do again.  Being new to a leadership position, I am still figuring out how to support this work best with classroom teachers.

Personal Passion

“Completely outside of your profession, what are you passionate about?”

Yoga.  Definitely yoga.  If I lost my job tomorrow, I would complete my yoga teacher certification and do yoga EVERY DAY!  It is challenging, calming and just darn fun.   Even when I stink at it and I have lots of room for improvement, I feel accomplished after practice, so much stronger and attuned to myself.

 

These questions were harder to answer than you would think.  Take a moment to reflect on your answers!  I would love to see your responses.

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Day 1 of Reflection

“The changes that are needed in schools will take root more readily if local and national policies actually support them.”  – Ken Robinson, Creative Schools

 

calm

Seriously, we should not wait around for local and national policies to catch up to the innovative strategies/ideas that our schools need and our students deserve.

Here are some things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately; things I believe our schools need and our students deserve!

  1. Opportunities for students to learn what they want   I think the term of the day for this is “Passion-Based Learning.”    Once students have a keen sense of their interests (see point 3 below), students could create a learning schedule that is guided by professional educators.  These learnings could then be shared to a larger community of peers, educators or other stakeholders.  If done this way, imagine how many unique experiences and ideas could be shared within a school community?
  2. Opportunities for teachers to learn from each other and from students  With knowledge literally at our fingertips, it would be great to see all educators roll up their sleeves with students and learn how to use this ever-increasing pool of knowledge to find problems, solve problems and create solutions.  We all know that teachers are not the only sources of informational knowledge, but many times our classrooms still look like the students do not have access to Youtube, wikipedia, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if students and teachers had more opportunities to use these additional resources to make sense of and evaluate information?   Wouldn’t it be even better if students and teachers were expected to identify problems through analysis/synthesis of these informational resources rather than just solve problems identified by a textbook publisher?
  3. Opportunities for students to explore passions and interests during the school day This one seems like a repeat of #1, but it recognizes that many students have never had the chance to figure out what they enjoy.  Some students figure it out coincidentally, while so many others graduate without a clue!   This type of learning looks messy and would require a lot of trust in students.  We could not expect that all students complete the same homework assignment on the same night.   We could not expect that students move from classroom to classroom in neat 42-minute chunks.
  4. Opportunities for students to NOT learn particular subjects    Now this idea will get some fired up, but I am not referring to basic proficiencies of reading and writing.  However, we continue giving the one-size-fits all curriculum to students in most subjects, and all students are expected to master all standards.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if students had more say in what they learned (within reason, of course)?  Why is it that all students are held to the same graduation requirements?  Wouldn’t we inspire so many more learners if we created graduation requirements that better mirrored their passions/interests?