To help encourage conversations and dialogue about a learning-driven culture and solution-oriented approach to solving problems, our topic/question(s) of the week are: What problem do you want to solve? What do you need to learn to be able to do that? Solution-Oriented (Week of 4/28/19) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Blake's Guiding Lights
Blake's Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Reflection
Our Essential Question: How can we cultivate and curate the progression of student learning and growth?
Our Mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
After a beautiful couple of days of true spring weather mid-week, this stretch of cold damp has made me want to hunker down in front of a warm fire. With Katie having her monthly weekend of yoga teacher training, I have enjoyed some nice time with the kids - although it has only been one week since vacation, it seems like much longer since I have seen them! Well, with Owen it has been true as he returned Friday afternoon from his week at Nature’s Classroom. He had a blast and came home one ‘tired camper’ - it was great to see him and hear the stories. It is so great as a parent to hear the value of these experiences that we hope and believe as educators to be true and worthwhile.
The question itself is one that is an excellent entry point and holds implications for our work, connections with students, relationships, lesson plans, assessments, projects, and lives. It was one of those 'mirror moments' as it immediately pushed me into a place of reflection of diversity and the implications that hold true - in terms of gender, race, culture, learning, age, etc. This perspective is one I hope to meld into our day-to-day thinking for our endeavors - as I have said before, my hope is to not add 'one more thing' but to broaden our thinking so that some of this work becomes 'second nature' and part of 'how we do business'.
One example that really struck me last year was shared again - the fact that seat belts were designed for men, and as a result…
Female drivers are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash. (The World is Designed For Men - how bias is built into our daily lives by Kat Ely in Medium) This quote from this post really emphasizes the reason we need to include all perspective and give them a voice...
The impact of having such a limited set of voices in the rooms where design decisions are made has far reaching implications.
I hope that we can keep this perspective/mantra very much at the forefront of our collective thinking and work with students and one another. It ties directly to the work we have been doing regarding bias, cultural awareness, diverse learners, and meaningful systems of feedback with a focus on personalization. In an effort to bring these conversations into our day-to-day dialogue and connecting them to our work, I have jotted down a few ‘notes/mindsets/take-aways’ from #DigiGirlzMA and highlighted a couple of posts below (along with responses from the most recent Topic/Question of the Week)...
- Always go for more education
- Best thing you can do is ask questions
- Important to establish ‘Fail free zones’
- Microsoft’s Mission: ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’
- Form your views and opinions on where you want to go
- Fundamental shifts are taking place in education
- Accessibility features are what will be the ‘game changers’
Topic/Question of the Week (Week of 4/21/19): What are your hopes for the end of this school year? How do you want to grow as a learner?
Sampling of responses...
- I want to end the school year by not wishing away time to summer, but rather making the most of each day. I want to grow as a learner by applying some of the ideas I learned at DLD.
- I want to hear end-of-year perspectives of students. I also want to hear about different summer plans people have.
- I hope to continue to find a way to have students interact with my curriculum and build skills.
- My hopes are to have A’s in all my classes. I want to grow as a learner by not just learning the subjects material, but learning how to take notes, study, etc
- My hopes for the end of this school year are have the same passion for learning as I did in the beginning of the school year. I want to have more self control and really focus on my top priorities first.
- I want to do well on MCAS and have better problem solving skills.
- I want to get an A in English.
- I want to broaden my knowledge of science and history
- Find more relationships with other disciplines...or go back to some of the subject areas and re-frame some previous thoughts and ideas...for instance...maker space along with Project based learning. How I can impart some of the lessons from my painting class into the Middle School visual arts program.
- I want to become more comfortable in math
- That I am comfortable with time management
- I hope that students leave the year passionate about a subject. I hope they have fond memories that propel them into more learning. For me, I would love to grow a little bit with attending to details!
- I want to learn to make everyone happy, whatever the conditions are.
Standardisation broke education. Here's how we can fix our schools
By Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson) in Wired
Sir Ken is a ‘must follow’ as he addresses complex issues and breaks them down to the foundation and offers solution-oriented perspectives. His commitment to a creative and compassionate education and to broadening our definition of ability is one that aligns with our mission.
We are all born with fathomless capacities, but what we make of them has everything to do with education. One role of education is to help people develop their natural talents and abilities; the other is to help them make their way in the world around them. Too often, education falls short on both counts. As we face an increasingly febrile future, it’s vital to do better. For that to happen, education has to be urgently transformed. We have the resources and the expertise, but now we need the vision and commitment.
Usually, the problem is not the learners – it’s the inherent bias of education and the enforced culture of schools. For generations, formal education has been systematically biased towards narrow forms of academic ability. The result is that it largely disregards the marvellous diversity of human talents and interests.
For the past generation especially, politicians have been smothering schools in a depressing culture of standardisation. As a result, they have been marginalising the very capabilities our children need to create a more equitable and sustainable world – by which I mean creativity, compassion citizenship and collaboration.
We have an opportunity now to rethink the whole ecosystem of education. We need to reinvent schools. There’s a growing movement in alternative education...It’s about building schools that value the social dimension of learning and practical work; that place equal value on arts and sciences. They are dedicated to fostering the right conditions for people to learn; to making education more organic and less formulaic. They recognise that schools must foster young peoples’ natural appetites for learning; that schools themselves must be creative, compassionate, democratic and collaborative. And they must be more personalised and organic.
Failure and self-doubt are ‘a natural part of learning’
by Sam Tassiker in tes
Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) shared this post earlier in the week and the ‘self-doubt’ in the title drew me in. Tassiker shares her ‘mirror moment’ about how failure and self-doubt can be a natural part of learning, as she found herself experiencing them while taking swimming lessons. Her open and honest reflection spoke to me, embracing the humbling nature of teaching and learning. This honest approach will certainly help me and us towards a solution-oriented mantra.
Learning a new skill has thrown me well and truly out of my comfort zone, and I’ve made a conscious decision to try to improve. As a 34-year-old teacher with her head (pretty much) screwed on, this is a taxing situation, but imagine the strife as a teen. Not only are you being thrust into learning a new skill every hour, going from one to the next, sometimes with little to show in the way of improvement – you’re also learning new things about yourself.
A teacher can see the bigger picture: they’ve seen the journey so many times before from fairly useless to pretty competent. I’m going to try and remember during my next rant about negativity being unproductive that not only is failing a natural part of learning – so is a little doubt.
Key steps towards progress and growth begin with a shared commitment to open dialogue, questions, and listening. At the heart of our work is the belief that we can make things better and improve them for our children. Katie shared this quote from Michelle Obama - an excerpt from remarks made at the signing of the ‘Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’ in 2010 - and I found them to be wonderful, pertinent, and centering...