Sunday, July 26, 2015

Solving the Grand Challenges in Education... My Annual Reading Assignment Focused on #EduIcons and Progress

What do you believe are the "Grand Challenges" in Education?

The target moves, we shoot. It moves again. We shoot again. It feels like this continually moving target, that we all get caught up in trying to hit, and may likely never be hit. So let's stop shooting at others' targets and start defining our own. When you think of what you want your students to leave your class with, are there keys? Do we even know the right questions to define our targets?

What questions do you believe we need to help set up our targets for success? I'll be adding three books to my reading list specifically focused on expanding my perspective over the next year in an effort to dive deep into thinking about the targets that will help the way I teach. One is Alfie Kohn's School Beyond Measure. I've always admired Alfie Kohn's contrarian look at things and agree with him on some (but not all) perspectives. Another book from one of the people I consider an "Education Icon" (#EduIcon) is John Seely Brown's The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. I love the concept of "small moves" that can lead to bigger change. Next on my list of reading is another #EduIcon, Dr. Howard Gardner. His book The Unschooled Mind, a book that's been out there for some time but seems to have slipped past me until now, is focused on merging cognitive science with the education agenda.

I'm looking forward to continuing to challenge myself to rethink what type of education I'm providing for my students. I do this because I want every teacher my son has to do the same. Join me in reading. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these books.

Thanks for visiting the blog and I hope you'll consider following me as I share more over this next year.  You may also want to check out the Bedley Brothers Edchat Podcast where we highlight many of the leaders in the world of education.

Optional Reading: I just finished Ron Clark's new book Move Your Bus and was hoping the book would help me better define my targets or help to identify questions to improve education and learning. An interesting book (Please don't get mad Ron Clark followers), but I found it a bit disappointing for a title that says it is "An Extraordinary" insight at "Accelerating Success." Ok Amanda Ripley... I hope your book The Smartest Kids in the World lives up to the hype because you're up next.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5 Things We Have To Stop Pretending

Well it happened. I was challenged to give my list of 5 things we have to stop pretending in education by an amazing educator Jeanne Reed (@jeannereed1 on the Twitters). 

As I’ve read other posts on this blog post challenge topic, it’s been interesting to get an insight into the thinking of connected educators nationwide.  I would love to see how this topic would turn out if it was posed at every staff meeting at the end of the school year and... at the beginning of the school year. The reason I’d like those contrasting times, is the emotions are far different.  Getting the pulse of connected educators, at this time of the school year, while being entrenched in massively expensive (financial and work hours) standardized tests, open house events, and even closing out the year can be filled with higher levels of stress and anxiety. Here are the 5 I selected from my thoughts.

5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending:

  • that the “Keeping Up with the Joneses” mentality doesn’t happen in education.
  • that educational time spent on strengthening weakness is more important than time spent on identifying and enhancing strengths and talents (of children and educators).
  • that there are not deep divides in the "education world" on the topic of “Best Ways to Educate Children.”
  • that standardization is the way to improve education and that most educators like it.
  • that we can close the “Achievement Gap” without closing the “Opportunity Gap” (AKA - poverty - Read my upcoming post on Closing the Opportunity Gap).

Note: I didn’t number these opinions because to me no one is more important than another. They each carry weight. I hope, we as a connected education community, can work to resolve these things but allow for a diversity of solutions without being overly critical of efforts to provide the best possible education we can imagine for our children.

I’d like to invite about 100 people to join in this... but to follow the pattern I select Genein Letford, Oliver Schinkten, Timothy Bedley, Jon Samuelson and Christina Luce to share their thoughts. I have a tremendous amount of respect for each of these friends and educators because of the fact that they are action based.

Optional Reading… My other opinions on this topic that we have to stop pretending: That Standards Are Focusing on developing Critical Thinkers Vs Consumers; That We Aren’t Thinking to Highly of Tech Tools as Solutions; That Strategies and Pedagogy Are the Means to Improvement in In-Class Teaching (relationship is to me); That Kids Don’t Like Mindless Worksheets sometimes; That More Work/Assignments/Projects Get’s Better Learning Results; That Education’s Bottom Line is Student Learning and Not Money; That the Correct Policy or Set Of Standards Will Make Education Better; That Assigning Reading At Home (Reading Logs) Means All Kids Are Really Reading At Home; That Homework is Actually an Effective Means to Improve Student Performance.

Share your thoughts on this topic even if I didn't challenge you... We need to keep the conversations going to progress as an education community!