#C4C15: #WhyTeach: Our Chance to Push Back | Young Teachers Collective

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I love teaching and teachers. This movement for young educators is one of my favorite things.

I love what you have started here. I began teaching in 2004 at the age of 21, and even then there was so much negativity towards going into teaching. For me, though, it was all I had ever wanted to do. Anyone trying to talk me out of it or disparage the process of teaching and learning held no place in my discourse. But I think it was partially for this reason that I began connecting with others on the web, initially through blogs, but then with Twitter and later Google+. These were the tools that I used to fight back against the anti-teachers and reform efforts that were targeting the de-professionalization of teaching.

It is my sincere hope that this movement of yours continues to grow and becomes the dominant narrative for young teachers. I will do anything I can to help, but more than anything I will continue to encourage those passionate and driven children from our schools to go into teaching and to prize learning and inquiry. Again, thank you for your direction and your vision.

via #WhyTeach: Our Chance to Push Back | Young Teachers Collective.

#C4C15: Prehistoric PD | Adjusting Course

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Accountability in professional learning isn’t about requiring things. It is about making sure the learning is owned by the professional (the teachers, the leaders, etc.).

I really appreciate this approach to Personalized PD from a school leader perspective. This is something that we are starting to work on as an approach for our whole district, to varying levels of success. The one thing that caught my attention more than anything else was the idea that by making PD “optional”, you were actually increasing accountability rather than lowering it. I find this idea fascinating as it is entirely contrary to the narrative that is being created around most professional learning opportunities.

The traditional narrative is that in order to set high expectations for teachers, you have to require the PD that supports those expectations. You are offering up that because you are making PD optional, you are setting the expectations higher for yourselves as leaders of the professional learning experiences and higher for teachers who can make their own choices for how to achieve the goals that you have set for them. I believe you are also encouraging growth and reflection conversations much more frequently because the teachers have to make choices that are in their own best interest. They cannot blame anyone else if they do not achieve what they hoped for.

via Prehistoric PD | Adjusting Course.

#C4C15: Confessions of an OG: Superlative Disease

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Sometimes, in our rush to provide everyone with a better learning experience, we gloss over the opportunities that currently exist for great learning that can happen both because of and in spite of current learning environments.

I am somewhat divided on the topic of AP classes, as the ones I took in English and Calculus were the ones I most enjoyed and remembered in all of high school. The teachers were supportive and made the courses about learning and not the test. However, my AP credits let me skip an entire year of college and start teaching even sooner. That was my goal, but I enjoyed every minute of the journey in getting there.

Now, I think that it is pretty likely that I enjoyed these courses because I was really good at playing the game of school. I could write an essay without trouble and I could study for a few hours and do well on tests. I do not believe that the ability to do those things should determine whether or not you have a great learning experience. I believe that opening up many other opportunities for kids to learn is the right approach. However, I do not begrudge those who enjoy the challenge of an AP-style curriculum. It isn’t for everyone, and we shouldn’t push everyone to do it. But, I don’t think we need to remove it as an option either.

Confessions of an OG: Superlative Disease.

#C4C15: The Joy of PD | BOO YAH Education

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The Stephen Johnson work I am describing is partly here. I believe deeply in expanding what is possible for our own learning and the learning of others.

This is the entire point for me: conferences can “give me the time and space to try new things and to discuss new ideas.” The way you are articulating this here is potent, and I do believe that until you have had some of these hallway or session moments, you don’t see professional learning (at conferences or anywhere else) for what it can be: transformational.

I believe in what Stephen Johnson talks about with “the adjacent possible”. Essentially, he says that new things are only possible because of what the last set of innovations has opened up. I think that effective PD is much the same way. While we might not immediately see the direct effect of attending a session or having an engaging conversation with a colleague, we should trust that new outcomes are now possible because they are now adjacent to our thinking. It is the “time and space” that allows us to expand what is adjacent to us.

via The Joy of PD | BOO YAH Education.

#C4C15: Edu Change & Advocacy: New Tech, New Standards, New Everything….Won’t Matter Unless We Change Old Mindsets

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A principal that is making some really great moves:

This post is brilliant. You are providing so much in the way of student ownership for learning and I really respect the way in which you have laid out the priorities for schools. The one thing that resonated with me most, however, was this statement:

“As a principal, I had to non-reelect several teachers over the years. None of them were released because of lack of proficiency in technology, standards, assessment, or curriculum, but rather because they ultimately could not connect with students.”

I believe that it is this connection that we are striving for each day, and without which, students will not learn. It is the re-imagined role of the student that is somehow elusive in the conversations about standards or technology integration. And yet, it cannot be written off. It is the whole of what we are trying to build.

So, let’s connect with our kids and let’s make those connections authentic enough to support them through some really difficult and important learning tasks. If you are doing these things at your school, you are doing right by your students. I thank you for it.

via Edu Change & Advocacy: New Tech, New Standards, New Everything….Won’t Matter Unless We Change Old Mindsets.

#C4C15: creativeStir: The Myth of the Superstar Superintendent… really?

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I like this dissection of what makes a great superintendent, but I think the team is just as important as the single person at the helm:

I love that you have based this upon research and empathy interviews. I believe that you have looked at many different facets of leadership and you have done it by asking the people most affected by that leadership.

In my role within a large urban school district, I have seen the power of a strong superintendent to move a large system forward. However, I only believe that this works when you have a distributed leadership, where the many layers below the superintendent feel empowered to move the district as well. It doesn’t work if every decision has to be pushed back to the executive leadership team in order to change something.

The real question for me is, “How can we create superstars where there are none?” I do believe that any district team must be collectively a “superstar” and that it isn’t enough to have a single person at the helm doing this. We must get to a place where there is a system and a structure of leadership that can do the things you mentioned. If it is left up to a single individual, the whole things falls apart when they leave.

via creativeStir: The Myth of the Superstar Superintendent… really?.

#C4C15: Shanahan on Literacy: Teaching Visual Literacy Makes a Big Difference

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How can we recognize more biases of our teaching practice:

Recognizing your bias against images as text is wonderful and will serve as an important point of reflection. While I too struggle with media as text, I believe that there are so many new types of media that blur the lines and make for a much richer world of analysis than only choosing to look at what can have it etymology dissected.

The rich texts being created in video form are no longer simply off the cuff video blogs. Rather, many are carefully written and shot and can be analyzed as such. Even the texts of Animated Gifs and/or Memes are ripe for discussion. These moving images are combined with words to make meaning. While these are not the great american novel, they do hold a place in our discourse and should hold a place in our classrooms.

Thank you for providing your perspective on this important topic, and especially for being introspective and calling out a specific bias.

Shanahan on Literacy: Teaching Visual Literacy Makes a Big Difference.

#C4C15: Stop teaching on-demand writing, make writers instead | Metawriting

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The way that we make writers is to make writing more authentic:

I love the way in which you have mixed memes into your writing and brought out the most salient points for others to take and share. I agree with you that we should stop the artificiality of on-demand writing, but as I think about my own writing, I am struck that much of it is on-demand.

When I reply to an email, it is on-demand. When I write up a new document explaining something we are working on, it is on-demand. When someone asks a question and I feel compelled to write a blog post in response, this is on-demand. I don’t think the way we create a community of writers is to deny that on-demand writing can be valuable, but rather that on-demand writing must be authentic (a real audience and a real purpose) for it to make an impact.

The writing ritual itself is fairly on-demand, but this demand of writing is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling ones I know.

via Stop teaching on-demand writing, make writers instead | Metawriting.