To help encourage conversations and dialogue about reframing one's thinking, opening up, and asking questions, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What question will you ask this week? Please see link to Google Form to share your responses: Reframing One's Learning (Week of 10/30/16) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
It is hard to believe that October has come to a close along with #projectoldschool (Blake's Pacman Halloween festivities!) as we welcome the beginning of November! This past weekend we went out to dinner on Friday evening as a family and enjoyed a very low-key night by the fire afterwards - as much as I would love for the warm weather to stay, I do enjoy reading and sitting by a nice warm fire! We then had some chilly soccer games for the boys Saturday morning and got in the festive spirit of Halloween at our friends' Spooky Trail potluck party. On Sunday afternoon we carved pumpkins and finalized the work on costumes for the kids!
Each year October is designated as Connected Educator Month and I have been fortunate this year to have had multiple opportunities to learn, connect, and be stretched by colleagues. This past week was one full of 'connections and learning' for me - Michael Thompson's presentations to students, staff, and parents; Standards Based Reporting focus group with Blake parents; our Administrative Leadership team meeting; meeting with Blake's content specialists; job-alike meeting with middle school principals; #MedfieldPS chat; and then ending the week by attending a workshop with Jon Saphier on 'Making Student Thinking Visible'. Each of these connections - some at Blake and within the Medfield community, some virtual, and some outside of the 'Medfield realm' - provided a forum and opportunity for me to have my routine interrupted, ask questions, reframe my thinking, and open up to new ideas. As I write these thoughts, it is striking me that those ideas (interrupting routines, asking questions, reframing thinking, and opening up to new ideas) are at the heart of the learning process. It is through this process that the learning takes place. And, this is exactly what we want for our students. I recognize that my schedule can allow me to have some of these connections easier than that of the teachers, counselors, and staff. That said I want to continue thinking about how we can incorporate and invite these ideas into our day-to-day work with students and one another.
Below are some bullet points/notes/mindsets from Saphier's workshop last Friday. I am looking forward to sharing the principles of the workshop in the coming weeks. As Maura Batts shared with me last week, I have been incredibly fortunate to be in the presence of 'Academic Royalty' (my words) this month - Pasi Sahlberg, Diane Ravitch, Howard Gardner, and Jon Saphier!
Making Student Thinking Visible
- ‘I teach mathematics, but I teach thinking…’
- What does engagement look like?
- What prompts foster conversation?
- Are students asking each other about their thinking?
- Absence of judgmental language is important
- Persevere and return (keep at it and come back to the student or learner)
- Physical arrangements - open invitation to talk
- How are we explicitly teaching social skills?
- Justify why you think this...why?
- Collaboration Teachers Model
- Note a discrepancy and make the thinking visible
- It’s how you handle day-to-day situations that defines the culture of a classroom and school
- Assume competency
- Change the attitudes towards errors
- Language of thinking helps to define/outline what is important
This week I am sharing thee posts that may not necessarily flow into one another, but the common thread for me is that they all helped me to pause, reflect, ask questions, and open up - I hope they can do the same for you as well.
The Simplest Questions Lead to the Biggest Insights
by Mike Figliuolo at ThoughtLeaders, LLC
This post outlines the concept/framework for asking the 5 Whys - asking Why 5 times. This framework/approach helps me to remember how important it is to model thinking and keep asking questions.
One of the shortest words in the English language can generate tremendous insights if you simply keep repeating it. Asking “why” can help you get to root causes and create ideas for fixing the biggest issues you face.
When we keep asking why and peeling the issue back, we can identify what that true root cause is. Then we can solve it. Then we can have an impact on the organization. The fifth why is where that real insight resides.
Your Child's Job Probably Doesn't Exist Yet
by Alison Kay
Kay's post, sent to me by one of our Blake parents, underlines the importance of focusing on the skills our students, and we, will need in the ever-changing world.
How am I – how are any of us – supposed to prepare our children for a future that is so unpredictable? Every day I see the realities of disruption: we are on the cusp of a technology revolution that will change our world as much as the industrial revolution transformed the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...The greater speed and “connectedness” of the future will change how our children interact, how they learn, how they live and what jobs they hold.
Other than encouraging them to interact with technology – and to think about the creation side of it, not just consumption – I think the best we can do as parents is support qualities that will help them to deal with and work through uncertainty. For me, the most important qualities are a willingness to take risks, resilience and self belief...So have faith in your children. Build their risk taking, resilience and self belief. Because they can do it. And the future is coming, whether we’re ready or not. Let’s make the most of it.
by Will Richardson (@willrich45)
Will Richardson is a forward-thinking, 'must follow' educator. He pushes my own thinking and challenges the status quo. This brief post highlights a principal's reflection on change - as one who can feel the 'pain from change' myself, I know it is important that we embrace the messiness, disagreements, and simply embrace it.
“I don’t think you can do this without feeling a lot of pain,” she says. “A lot.” Pain as in confusion and pushback and anger and failure. “I know if we’re not feeling it, we’re not changing. But it’s hard to see it through sometimes.”
I wonder how many people in school leadership are embracing the pain. I wonder how many of them, are instead trying to mitigate the pain, to not confront it. To appease those causing it instead of leading them through it. And I wonder how many of them really believe in what they’re doing enough to see it through.
Connections are important for all of us, students and adults alike, and I want to make sure we are finding ways to foster them both socially and academically. We also need to find ways to productively pause, reflect, and break up the routine. Each of the posts above, coupled with Saphier's workshop, begs the following questions for me...What do we need to keep in place? Are we refining the art of questioning? What helps me to reframe my own thoughts? How can I help influence others? Is the environment safe for students, staff, and parents to share their thoughts? I will be looking for ways to explore these questions (and many more) as we look to deepen the connections that are currently in place.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
Please click here for Blake Updates.
Please click here for Thursday Packet Information.