Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One bad apple doesn't ruin the 'bunch'

We all know that person.

We all know that group.

We can predict with precision what they will say way before ever even asking the question.

We know exactly the tone that will be in their voice.

We know it doesn't matter if we are talking about students or if we are talking about adults... this type of person exists at all ages.

Do yourself a favor.

Realize and appreciate the fact that the world is full of great people. 

Great people who are not like 'that' person.

Great people who do everything in their power to not be associated with 'that' group.

Great people who will fight for what is right no matter how many of 'those' people are in the room.

Great people who don't want to be and don't deserve to be put in 'that' group.

Remember, one bad apple doesn't ruin the bunch and most definitely doesn't represent the whole lot of apples...

Monday, April 21, 2014

10 education images to inspire you this week

6 ways to avoid responding 'defensively'

You probably don't do this on purpose.

You also most likely don't even recognize what you are doing and how it's affecting those around you.

As humans, it's quite natural to do things we believe are helping to 'protect' us and insulate us from people and situations that could possibly do us harm.

It's this behavior that at times can send the wrong message and unfortunately limit our ability to see alternate perspectives and viewpoints.

Whether you are feeling attacked, threatened, or criticised, responding defensively typically only makes things worse. Yet, it happens so frequently and is commonplace in organizations and even personal families and relationships.

So, how can you be less defensive and respond more constructively?

1). Take time to actually listen before responding. (If you are thinking about your response while the other person is still talking, then you aren't really listening...)

2). Ask some follow-up questions to get more clarification about the points being made.

3). Allow yourself the opportunity to be in the other person's shoes for a moment to see where they are coming from.

4). Remember, not every person you encounter wants to steal your job and eliminate your existence.

5). Also, even if the other person is wrong and is acting inappropriately or being out-of-line, matching and mirroring their behavior will only make you look equally bad.

6). Try and view the comments being made constructively and figure out a way to apply this information/perspective to improve what is being discussed.

Irregardless of what happens, you want to start with an open-mind and end with an open-mind. Also, it's the more mature and more calm behavior that others will remember and respect when the dust settles... 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

8 things I'd like to change in schools

I'd like to see fewer walls. I think walls are limiting and confining and make it way too easy for silos to form. Information is stymied and doesn't flow well when walls prevent the information transfer. When we tear down walls, a whole new world becomes possible.

A shift away from traditional report cards and more conversations and presentations demonstrating realistic evidence of learning and mastery.

I wish we would realize that fair isn't always equal. We know that every student is different, therefore it seems rather silly and almost moronic to try and teach and assess each student the same way and call that fair.

I'd like to hear fewer bells and fewer signals that supposedly tell us when to start learning and when to stop learning. The concept that learning should stop and start like turning on or turning off a light is obsolete and we should be moving toward authentic and realistic learning.

It would also be nice if we made a conscious effort to increase physical activity and movement in the educational setting. The benefits of movement on cognitive processes and overall health are indisputable. While we are talking about health, why can't we make breakfast and lunch learning experiences where kids learn about lifelong health and the process that must occur to bring food to the proverbial table.

District and building policies can be a blessing, while at other times they can be monumental roadblocks. It would be worthy and very positive if we figured out a way to not policy ourselves to death. People get deflated and overwhelmed when they feel like policy is driving every decision they make. Remember, education is about individuals doing things for other individuals.

Zero tolerance anything should be avoided... schools shouldn't treat students and situations that happen at school in absolutism. There is very little that is black and white in education thus each situation and each student needs to be treated consistently on an individual basis.

A complete elimination of the focus being on adults. I know we adults are important, but when we make decisions based on what's best for adults, we tend to forget and miss out on what's best for kids. Keep the kids first and you can't go wrong.

Monday, April 14, 2014

We might not be as far along as I thought...

I recently sent out these three tweets and the responses I got were somewhat surprising and startling to say the least...

Now, when I say surprising and startling, I'm referring to the push back I got from these statements. I realize we are all in different places in terms of our philosophies and approaches to grading and assessment, but I didn't know there were still so many who opposed these beliefs.

If we are to move forward with these discussions in an effort to align our beliefs with our actions, I fear we are much further off than I have imagined. I fear the situation is becoming increasingly more important especially as new educators enter and leave the profession at an ever-increasing rate.

Let us sit down and actually make a list of what we believe to be the most important and critical pieces to grading and assessment. Let us then make a list of the things we actually do in our classes when it comes to grading and assessment.

Then it might be quite appropriate to get out the proverbial 'red pen' and get to work...