Thursday, July 24, 2014

SuperDuck...You are my Hero!

So - I created this little gem last year and shared it with staff during staff appreciation week. Hopefully when you click on it, it will let you watch it on YouTube. Pretty simplistic and after today's lesson - I have a ton of ideas on how to make it better, should I ever do something similar and I'm sure I will!!

First a little history... After my son's 4th birthday last summer with an Avenger's theme, I was inspired to have a Super Hero theme for the school year.

During pre-service week I gave each staff member one of these:

I encouraged them to find their inner super hero and to remember that every day they are literally saving lives!!  I am from Colorado where ducks don't have quite the same connotation that they have here... So I also shared some of my dad's duck wisdom: 
  1. Let it (whatever it is) roll of your back
  2. On the surface stay calm and serene, but under the water, paddle like crazy
ANYWAY - throughout the year we would do little things connecting to super heroes.  And like I said I sent them the YouTube video for Teacher/Staff Appreciation week and gave every staff member a t-shirt with the McKinley Mountain Lion dressed as a super hero and the quote: "I'm an educator.  What's your super power?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the awesome ideas presented by really smart folks like Sir Ken or Daniel Pink and how much is really dependent on huge systemic, cultural and societal change.  However in one of my conversations with a classmate today I was reminded of the environmental bumper sticker / slogan "Think Globally Act Locally"
Some day there might exist these awesome ideas we talked about today... such as community schools open from early morning to late evening, individualizing education and literally unwrapping each child's gifts and talents, coaching them towards a life of success, professional and personal fulfillment and happiness.  However, this type of change in education may not be tomorrow, next week or even in my educational career.  One of classmates brought up the point that sometimes we are our own worst enemies, we are the system, like our superintendent likes to say: we are the district!  There is no us and them, we are them, they are us! There are many obstacles, to be sure, as described by a colleague trying to support an after school program in his building.  These red tape roadblocks can be frustrating and overwhelming especially in light that some are self-created and self-propelling!  That's when it is important to remember that we can take small actionable steps that move us toward the ideal.  Little changes within our locus of control while still keeping in mind the BIG PICTURE!! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Even before being assigned Brain Rules to read before our Admin Institute, my school, McKinley, began exploring brain research and the:
We want kids to know how their brain works and that they can grow it and flex it - just like a muscle.
We plan on reading this book as a school, much like the One Book One School model.  Plans still in progress… 

Google SEARCH - it may seem like a small thing but D. Bundy said, if we walked away with just one thing it was a-okay!

I found the following images doing a google search filtering for only those labeled for reuse (who knows how many copy rights I have broken over the years!!).  I am contemplating using may use them in some of my pre-service presentations to staff.

A beautiful mind....
My brain does this so often!!

Remember those commercials...
This is your brain on drugs?
Well, this is my brain on technology!
I've tried this strategy at
Principal's Meetings...
It hasn't worked yet!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reflections from 7/21/14

One of the things that really struck me today was the fact that it seems we, in eduction, are constantly fighting systems.  Systems that are bigger than us, as educators, bigger than our respective districts and bigger even than ODE!!

These systems box us in.  We are publicly judged and sentenced by them.  In the video Learning to Change - Changing to Learn, Yong Zhao talked about NCLB fading away... however, it seems that no matter which way we turn there are always new systems to take their places: the New State Report Card and rating system, the new and required teacher evaluation system, Smarter Balanced and so on.  Just under new names and with new acronyms!

Life in educational leadership can feel a lot like a salmon swimming upstream - there are always new systems that box us into old and familiar ways of doing things, even though we know that trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity!

Also in the video Learning to Change - Changing to Learn, I loved the quote: "the death of education and the dawn of learning." Which is a perfect segue into the following two videos we saw today.  In his TED talk, Sir Ken talked about the need for a revolution rather than the continuous drudgery of trying to fix something that is, in reality, broken.  Again we are swimming against things which are larger than us - a shift in how society views and honors success.  The idea that someone who aspires to be a fireman isn't as good as someone who wants to go to college.  Image a world full of the academic types - a whole lot of thinking would happen but not a lot of doing!  We need doers and thinkers and a whole lot in between.

Although there is much much more to be pondered upon from Sugata Mitra's research, the key thing that stuck out to me was the collaborative nature of learning and how much more was retained when it was student driven, interactive and collaborative!  If you take Sir Ken's idea about a revolution, I think Sugata's SOLE concept is one worthy of some consideration.... talk about flipping the learning environment on it's head!  Anther potential from Sugata's SOLE model is the idea of creating internationally minded learners.  His learners were crossing cultural and linguistic barriers left and right!!