6 Words to Define Me

I am taking a course with the PLP Network called “Educational Leadership in the Digital Age.” I have been through a year-long program with PLP, and I have gained so much in the way I approach my own learning and that of my students. Though I am an educator who very much enjoys the opportunity to inspire my students, the PLP program (called the Connected Learner Experience) I participated in sent my excitement for teaching into overdrive. The PLP program strives to give educators new tools to develop themselves as learners first, encouraging us to rethink our own job descriptions. Rather than become a knowledge delivery service, we search for ways to inspire our students to do more with their knowledge and abilities. As Will Richardson, a founding member of the program, says: “It’s not about what you know, but about what you do with what you know." If your school is looking for a way to take educators into the next century as connected learners, I highly suggest this program.

But now that I have marketed the heck out of the PLP program (you’re welcome), I want to speak about what I am learning right now. After just one week, the instructor has me stretching my way of thinking so that I can mold my leadership position to be one of constant learning. As a new administrator, I come to my role with many ideas, and wonderful models to reference as I build a community and empower the faculty with whom I will work. But there is a bigger, greater mission. I want everyone in the building I direct to want to do more. I want them to do greater things than they imagined. I believe it can be done. Here is a "6-Word Story” I created to describe my thought:

image

Yes, so the sentence is hijacked from the recent reboot of Star Trek. The admiral tells James Kirk, then just a farm boy from Iowa, that his father saved countless individuals in the few moments he was a ship’s captain (prior to that ship being destroyed). He dares Kirk to do better than his father.

The image is one of the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto monument, surrounded in a mist of low fog. I saw this picture, and I thought about science meeting engineering, about the known world and what potentially lies behind the fog. I see the strength of man rising above the unknown in a tower to overlook the world around her. This picture tells the story of how we built great things to overcome that which we do not know. We had to do more with the little we understood to open the next door.

As educators, we must inspire others (namely our students) to do more. But I think there is more to this. I think we need our students to know that we have NO IDEA what this challenge entails. In other words, I feel like we need to empower our students to search for what “better” really is…for each one of them. Our job as educators is not to provide them with knowledge, but discover what to do with this knowledge. We need to grant them the gift of self-discovery and possibility.

I dare you to do better.

Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration: From my buddies over at Powerful Learning Practice We’ve taken over…

I’m forwarding information regarding the best program I have been a part of in a long time. Thanks #holtthink for starting the idea to post here on Tumblr.

holtthink:

From my buddies over at Powerful Learning Practice

Powerful Learning Practice

We’ve taken over 7,500 educators through our Connected Learner Experience. They’ve transformed their teaching and learning with this unique PD opportunity that combines Web 2.0 tools with collaboration, networking, rethinking…

Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration: From my buddies over at Powerful Learning Practice We’ve taken over…

Increasing Student Connectivity

Tomorrow is a test day for my 6th graders. As I sit and watch my email as various individuals turn in review packets that they have completed online (many of them via iPad at home), I am thrilled and quite relieved at just how easy technology comes to the kids. They embrace the new way of doing things (not that they knew of an old way for this class…another advantage, I guess).

I am trying to get them to increase their math discussions online, and I would like to try to find a way to get them online and communicate more often. I use Schoology discussion boards, but I need to do this even more and with a more robust level of topic (simply “adding a post” won’t do…I need to hold them to higher expectations). 

The material is increasing in difficulty, so the students are fading away from their early, exploratory behavior. However, I think I can continue encouraging them to find ways to explore concepts within the realm of STEM components (TED talks, etc.). One of the pieces of my professional development program (Powerful Learning Practice) has shown me that listening to students and their discoveries can be more powerful than lowering my own shoulder and trying to create something myself.

As the next few weeks move on, I will try to find ways to get students to present material that they discover through various media (Glogster, Keynote on the iPad, iMove, etc.) If anyone has an idea for this kind of project, let me know!

My Lunch with Will

So I was a part of the kickoff workshop at Kinkaid this past Monday, and I have to say I was pretty floored by this whole PLP thing. That is to say I really thought I was doing well with the “connected learning” concept both in working with myself and in my classroom.

Boy, do I have a long way to go.

After realizing that the trees are really thick where I am standing right now, getting a free ticket to see the whole forest, if even for a day, was a true eye opener. Will and Sheryl, PLP’s co-founders, showed me a possibile future that the world of education could realize given the right leadership and risk-taking. Granted, Will wouldn’t see change as a risk; instead, he would see change as unavoidable and a necessary “growth spurt” to education, whether we like it or not.

I like it.

So here is the scene: I’m sitting next to Will after his keynote presentation on where he believes education is headed and how we as connected educators are going to take it there. I was a kid in a candy store the whole time. I knew I was a progressive thinker in education, but I had NO IDEA how deep the rabbit hole truly goes. But I digress; Will is talking to the table about learning in general and why our industry is he’ll-bent on failure as it stands right now because of the demand for demonstrating the memorization of fact versus the need for learning how to discover and learn according to one’s true interests.

I felt as if I agreed with this statement for the most part and was practicing it in my classroom, so I chimed in howmy iPad centered curriculum was driving this idea of individualized learning.

“Let me respectfully challenge your statement,” says Will. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to deny him…he may know a thing or two I didn’t (that is pretty thick sarcasm).

Will went on to speak to me about the dangers an iPad has in allowing teachers to build a curriculum that allows students to move at their own speed, but denies them any right to move off some over-arching path that I have created. So even if I was planned enough to give students a WHOLE UNIT worth of material to follow, their journey is still defined by that unit, and does not leave them the means to reach out and explore.

Thus the truth of my “new toy” comes out: I may have given my kids a way to individualize their learning, but I haven’t built for them a way to take what they already know and “leave the reservation.”

Needless to say, I am thinking pretty hard about this one. I don’t know if I can alter my curriculum at this point to the degree that everything is bent on self discovery…I am dealing with some externals that will prevent this from happening. But I am very confident that bit by bit, perhaps one class period at a time, I can develop ways for students to learn based on their own discovery and shared knowledge of their classmates. For this reason I love my job; learning how to ignite discovery seemed so remote from my own job description last week.

It is today that I realize that discovery IS my job description, but I had been doing it wrong. It’s time to bridge the gap.