Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thank you Philadelphia...

Each time I leave an NAIS conference I return to school inspired.  It's not just the wonderful speakers and workshops, but the whole culmination of educators joining together.  Touching base with old colleagues, connecting with new ones, and just realizing your not the "lone fish in the pond."  I feel each time I leave a conference, I leave with a few more ideas, but also with a few more mentors and friends.

Many of us are sad to see Pat Bassett retire, however after having the opportunity to speak with his successor, John Chubb, I am excited about where NAIS will head.  NAIS has pushed me to new levels in my career.  Now I am ready to be enlightened and inspired with this new revolution under John.  

To Pat, Thank you for all you have done for all us,  To John, we are ready to go!

Thank you, Philadelphia.  I look forward to seeing what Orlando brings!

Should you be replaced by a computer???

Our students and workers are living and thinking in a 21st century, digital, interconnected world, but we’re still educating and training them for a 20th century, industrial, compartmentalized model according to Dr. Davidson.  Yet, we can change the paradigm with small changes. 

I agree with her comment that, "If we (teachers) can be replaced by a computer screen, then we should be.  The real task is for us (teachers) to fight to work hard so a computer can't replace us!

Dr. Davidson provided five things we can do to shift away from the paradigm of 19th century, Industrial Age, educational practices:
1.    Rethink liberal arts as a start up curriculum for resilient global citizens. Link the learning of the liberal arts to one another, to specialized knowledge, and to life outside of school. 
2.    Move from critical thinking to creative contribution. We should go back to be more of a “maker culture,” where we translate an idea into action.
3.    Make sure what you value is what you count. Come up with lessons that scream creativity and originality.
4.    Find creative ways to model un-learning. Help students to learn outside of themselves.
5.    Take institutional change personally.  Work together to make changes to your institution.

You can use the following resources to learn more about Cathy Davidson’s work at:
  Cathy Davidson Blog:
  Cathy Davidson on Twitter:

25 Traits of Great Teachers

From Pat Bassett’s observations of the best of the best teachers— those who are exceptional in their craft — and the traits they share.

Great teachers...

1. Love kids and mentor them.
2. Know how kids think and what motivates them to think.
3. Exude irrepressible enthusiasm for the subjects they teach, but teach students rather than subjects.
4. Advocate for their students, especially when they alone see virtue and talent hidden in a student.
5. Empathize with the most vulnerable students, and provide a safe harbor for any student caught in a personal storm.
6. Demonstrate high academic intelligence (IQ) through their intellectual curiosity and thoroughness; and demonstrate emotional intelligence (EQ) through their empathy, social judgment, and sensitive approach to difficult conversations.
7. Experiment with teaching and the emerging technologies that support it, relishing being the “fast horses” out of the gate in an effort to innovate in ways that improve their teaching and their students’ learning.
8. Become “first followers” of other teachers with good ideas.
9. Seek to stay current with the research in the field, especially as it relates to the age group they teach.
10. Adjust to the needs and abilities of kids, rather than expect all kids to squeeze into the same learning mold.
11. Network with other teachers and scholars in their school, local community, and (increasingly) the digital community.
12. Collaborate with and support their colleagues, and demonstrate deep concern for the culture of the school.
13. Assess skills on a flexible and individualized scale more so than content on a fixed scale.
14. Model the skills and values a 21st-century school would seek as student outcomes: character, creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and cosmopolitanism (cross-cultural competency).
15. Create a positive, intentional, achievement-oriented culture in their classroom rooted in an ethos of fair- ness and nurtured by the belief that every student can succeed.
16. Seek to find and leverage each student’s strengths rather than dwell on any student’s deficiencies.
17. Support school leadership, including taking initiative in solving problems rather than in creating them.
18. See their students’ academic failure as partly their own and work to reverse it.
19. Show interest in their students beyond their academics, attending their games and concerts and exhibits.
20. Love life, and show it.
21. Find a way to reveal their souls and the ethical frames by which they think, when appropriate, in the “teach- able moments” that present them- selves in school settings.
22. Love learning and model the growth mindset they imbue in their students.
23. Embrace diversity and manifest cross-cultural competency, approaching differences with curiosity rather than judgment.
24. Find ways, despite the lack of positional power, to “lead from the middle.”
25. Send “a postcard of the destination,” as Chip and Dan Heath put it in their book Switch, so students are clear about where they are going and how to get there.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tererai Trent - Wow!

Dr. Tererai Trent has a bold vision - she believes education is the main pathway out of poverty.  Dr. Trent continually used the phrase, 'Tinogona,' meaning "It is achievable". Your circumstances may seem limiting, but Dr. Tererai Trent is living proof of how you can achieve when you hold fast to your dream. 

So think big, and dream even bigger. If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that you can do it. Nothing is impossible.

Dr. Trent encouraged us all to...

Empower children!

Empower education!

It was hard not to walk away from Tererai's talk uninspired.  You can learn more at her website.

Anonymous Letters, Emails, Blogs, and More — Do You Know What to Do?

Anonymous Letters, Emails, Blogs— Do You Know What to Do?

Anonymous communications are on the rise from Facebook pages to letters to all parents. Today, Jane Hulbert and John Kowalik from The Peck School, passed on some very sound advice for the majority of these issues:

1.          Keep calm and carry on!

2.          Get help and assemble the team who will help you through this.

3.          Take an objective look at the situation (which is not very easy)

4.          Assess the situation and plan what to do.

5.          Monitor, and keep monitoring the situation

6.          Be smart about your response, and don't do it on a website!

7.          Engagement - should you do it for this situation, or shouldn't you.

Finally, remember that all of these issues eventually go away!