Monday, August 26, 2013

The Trap

There is a trap set each school year in about the third week of school. It is the trap that catches you and tells you to resist change, follow the path of least resistance, and move to a safer space. No matter how many times you have told yourself that you plan to do things differently, this is the window of time when new and different collide with hard.  You have allies. You have support. Let your connected colleagues assist you through this trap that says that yesterday's success is good enough to today's kids. September is the perfect time to try something new, grow as a connected and digital learner, and build the student-centered classroom that maximizes learning and engagement.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Who lives in your bathtub?

I just finished watching Beasts of the Southern Wild, an interesting movie, about a community of folks that find happiness in the depths of poverty. It led me to ask, "Who in our schools lives in our bathtub?" The Bathtub in this movie was a low lying swampy area populated by a mixed bag of folks on the other side of the levee. This is the other side of the other side of the tracks. All of our schools have kids that live in The Bathtub, and it is easy to point to the ways that living this way is hard, but I think that it is important for us to remember that all humans find happiness, a time to smile, and rest even in the face of the pressures of poverty. All of our kids know those emotions and long for more of them. We don't have to teach our kids that live in poverty what joy feels like, but we do have to help them feel comfortable so the natural joy of the human spirit has a chance to rise more moments than ever before.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Speed of Cultural Change

After three days at Leyden's Summer Symposium, I've been brought back to an idea that it is important to focus on as leaders of learning. Change can happen quickly. We see this around us all of the time. Music and media change the world everyday. They are able to shape public opinion through storytelling, common language, and passion for the topic. Schools often feel that change is a long process that can't be accelerated because of the massive amount of persuasion that has to take place among the adults in the system. This thinking is inhibiting innovation, and opportunities to be nimble enough to seize real-time opportunities. Schools must move fast on the road to being different. It can be done and is being done by courageous leaders throughout the country. It is a rarity that a school system can move this fast, but it's schools can and must if they are meeting their moral obligation to serve all students in a way that meets the needs of today's learner. Thanks to Leyden for reminding us all that change can happen quickly when courage, trust, and determination are all in the recipe.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Caring Too Much about Kids

Are we approaching a time in education when we care too much about kids? At some point, we have to think a bit more about ourselves, our happiness, and our families. There just isn't enough time in the day to care this much about kids. It is tiring. It is exhausting, and we aren't being supported by families, the community or our democracy. 

Maybe we can pull back 10-15%. Spend all of that time on a new hobby, relax or binge another show on Netflix. Pulling back the amount that we care about kids would be healthy for me, my family, and my larger ecosystem. 

If I pulled back a bit further, I may have time to write that book that has been in my head for a decade or more. It would give me time to decompress and leave work at work. It would also allow me some distance from my kids to gain some greater perspective, stop making emotion-driven decisions, and hit the reset button. 

It is easy to care too much. You get sucked in, and you don't even know it. Twenty years later no one will reward you for caring about other people's kids, but a large section of your life will be lost. It truly does make sense to pull back, way back, and rethink whether or not we can do this education thing in a more high tech way without the high touch piece that is destroying people and robbing them of the balance that everyone needs. 

It is clearly time to care a little less about kids, and leave this education thing to those that are deranged enough to care.