Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Track 3: Changes

I just spent the last month observing and working with some incredibly talented educators.  In each case, they were innovative practitioners using a wide variety of strategies to engage students.  I was fortunate to be  a speaker for the Achievement Gap Task Force presentation in San Diego.  We had a number of great speakers and presenters at the conference who were amazing.    I was especially inspired by the keynote speech presented by George Couros.  If you have not have heard of the Innovator's Mindset, I highly encourage you check it out.  It's chockfull of ideas that will stretch your ideas around teaching, learning, and leadership.  One nugget of wisdom that I took from Couros' presentation was his conversation piece around the topic of change.  It seems as though the field of education has not done a great job keeping up with the sweeping changes of progress.  Public education has remained largely the same since its early inception in the US.  George went on to tell us about students having more choices than ever for their education (charters, homeschooling, etc.).   We need to provide a more robust teaching experience for our students.  Mark Twain once quipped: "Don't let school get in the way of your education."  Twain's sarcasm speaks to the challenge of relevancy.  What I appreciated most of George's message was a simple call to action to make learning a joyful process.  I love this video that he shared of what true discovery learning resembles.

I wish every moment for students could resemble this little girl's experience with rain, but we can at least strive to provide our students with opportunities to construct their own learning experiences and projects.  One way to do this is to unleash creativity.  I enjoy reading Matt Miller's Blog about technology and Teach Like a Pirate's Dave Burgess' approaches to bring innovation to teaching. Check them out!

The big question about education by students will always be, How can I use this?  I think it's our job to look at education from the perspective of the user and always construct our lessons so that this question guides us.  How can we add rigor and relevance so that our students see the need for a strong educational experience.  I have heard that the goal of education should be to provide students with powerful learning experiences that prompts students to see their world in a number of different ways. I think Couros, Miller and Burgess' conversation about innovation can be a strong discussion point about creating these powerful learning experiences.   James Brown had a unique (albeit a little bit melodramatic) view about education in his funky jam, "Don't be a Dropout."

As we reflect on the state of education, I always think about music and how it consistently changes and reinvents itself.  As I am old school to the core,  I laugh at how I sometimes judge the kids' music today.  I give them such a hard time.  It is like that for many people.  We get attached to what we know.  So, let's embrace what David Bowie says in "Changes" and pass the baton to tomorrow's creative opportunities.  Like music, we as educators need to adapt and appreciate the new sound even if it does not match up to what we think "good music" should be.  Okay... I do have to admit that rap from the late 80s and early 90s is still the best.  That is all.

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