For those students who applied for our this year’s Design a Better Future scholarship program, we are pleased to announce that we have selected 10 finalists.
These outstanding students have been emailed some follow-up questions about future potential iterations of their project, as well as how they might continue local impact post graduation. Please check your email inboxes ASAP to respond to our questions so that we can make our decision on our final 5 awardees. We plan to make that announcement next week on Monday, May 20th!
Thank you to everyone for your participation. We are extremely impressed at the efforts and passion we have seen in this year’s group.
I just had to share this beautiful video in anticipation of Mother’s Day this weekend.
What exactly is the role of the teacher? SO much more than the conveyor of knowledge.
All of these roles are assumed by both parents as well, but it is tender to consider and qualify the many roles of a mother, especially since these efforts are usually upaid and uncounted. Teachers often face similar undervaluation. See Melinda Gates’ excellent recent piece entitled, “The massive, hidden costs of women’s unpaid work.” She writes,
“To care is human — and caring for children or aging parents should be an expression of love. It can offer us some of the most meaningful moments of our lives. But if it’s assumed that women will do all these tasks, then caring that should be joyful becomes a burden, and work that should be shared becomes isolating.”
Let us count these roles, these efforts, this love. It is beautiful, powerful work, and becomes more so when we really see one another for what we are providing for the world’s rising generation.
My daughter and I got chatting about health yesterday. I told her that it’s important to care for our health, but that it can be a problem when we are constantly worrying about our health. I asked her:
“Can you think of an example of what it might look like when a person focuses on caring for their health verses worrying about their health?”
I was surprised by her response.
Thoughtfully, she replied, “I think exercise could be an example. Like, if you take care of yourself, you love yourself and want to help your body by exercising. But if you are just worried all the time, you might keep exercising way too much and get sick.”
Profound words for a 9 year-old. We agreed that if our primary motivation for anything is love — love for ourselves, love for others — we’ll probably be just fine.
This kind of thinking is fundamental to quality of life. Exercise is a positive concept, but when approached with fear/worry vs. love/care, the results (and the impact on our overall health) can be dramatically different. The same goes for relationships, food choices, and yes, even learning.
Helping our students get to the root of what’s powering their motivation each day is important. It is a self-regulatory shift with boundless possibilities for them to see their own worth — that they deserve to have a good education and that they can take intentional steps to move themselves forward.
This approach, of course, especially thrives in classrooms where teachers, too, are permitted the kind of ownership that fosters love/care over fear/worry.
Back to the exercise, I think it’s interesting to note that it’s easier to approach it in a positive way when we make it less of a burden. Specifically for me, this happens by embedding it into our transportation by walking or biking to our destinations (most of which are within 2 miles). Riding a bicycle is exercise that does not feel like exercise (it feels like fun), so it’s a wonderful way to foster joy.
How might we help our students see learning as a more joyful experience rather than a burdensome duty? What are ways we might initiate this discussion with our students? How might we cultivate a healthy approach to personal learning? Why does ownership make a difference?
Now that I’ve completed the series of provocations for the Sustainable Development Goals, I am moving on to a new mini series! This time will be the 4 C’s of 21st century education:
The National Education Association started out with more like 18 standards for 21st century learning in a longer framework, but they quickly realized that it was too complicated. In their words,
“To resolve this issue, we interviewed leaders of all kinds to determine which of the 21st century skills were the most important for K-12 education. There was near unanimity that four specific skills were the most important. They became known as the “Four Cs.””
I just wanted to write a quick post to share that I’ve (finally) created a page where one can find all the book recommendations on this website. With how much I enjoy writing book round-ups, I’m surprised I did not do this sooner!
While you’ve stopped by, here are a few more reads we have enjoyed lately. I was surprised to realize when I made the above page how few nonfiction round-ups I’ve written, so here are our recent favorites from that genre:
Round byJoyce Sidman, Taeeun Yoo. Beautiful illustrations that get us thinking about what is round and why. An excellent inquiry text.
Birthdays From Around the World by Margriet Ruurs, Ashley Barron. Great text for helping kids comprehend similarities and differences across the globe.
Where’s the Baby: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup. Really cute rhymes and even cuter illustrations. All of my kids (ages 2-8) delighted over finding the babies.
Living Things & Non-Living Things: A Compare & Contrast Book by Kevin Kurtz. Most accessibly nuanced approach to living vs. non-living that I’ve ever seen. “Not even scientists have a perfect answer.”
Power Up by Seth Fishman & Isabel Greenberg. My 8 year-old can’t stop musing about the power of her pinky ever since reading this illuminating book. Fascinating introduction to energy.
I’ve written several such provocations before. (here, here, here, & here). But I can never get enough of them. Here’s a fresh list to rekindle your shared sense of humanity. With all the demands on our busy classroom schedules, how might we integrate these resources in meaningful ways for our students?
By the way, if you have been following my series of provocations for the Sustainable Development Goals, I’m happy to share that they are now complete! What kind of provocations would you like to see next?
Resource #1: All That We Share by Power of Positivity & V2
Resource #2: The Pinata King by Triopod City
Resource #3: Arno Michaelis & Pardeep Kaleka Find Forgiveness After Hate
Resource #4: We are NationSwell
Resource #5: One Earth One World
Resource #6: Birthdays Around the World by Margriet Ruurs & Ashley Barron
Resource #7: All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon & Marla Frazee
My precise timeline for returning to the classroom has been unknown for some time. I am pleased to share that a clearer plan has lately emerged: I intend to resume teaching in the fall of 2020. Not only will this coincide nicely for school schedules for all my kids, but it will allow me to spend additional time building momentum for local Safe Routes to School efforts.
This plan has me realizing that this time next year, I will be submitting resumes and interviewing for jobs. After 5 years, I’m feeling a little nervous, but as I’ve learned time and again, the best remedy for that is reflecting and blogging.
What “aha” moments have I had during 5 years of researching, PLN-building, and writing what is now 456 posts? What would I most want a future administrator to understand about what I have learned? How has all of this built on my previous 4 years of teaching fifth grade, and what will this mean for my future classroom approach?
I’m digging through old posts today to try and find answers to these questions.
This was the first time I wrote plainly about my personal learning since I had left the classroom. Until then, I’d often felt like an impostor for writing about teaching, worried I would be “found out” for not being in the classroom. This was when I first began to understand the way my edu-blogging was helping me grow as a professional, and that that mattered more than any other outcome. Interestingly, it turns out that this mindset shift has also been pivotal for my approach to student learning. Personal meaning & growth > appearances.
Key takeaway in this post: the need for students to clearly own and understand what they have mastered, and for them to be given opportunities to convey that to their caregivers. (See also “Inquiry Into Owning My Own Learning“).
I realized that though my classroom career has been on pause, by no means has my professional learning has been stagnant! Particularly helpful in that journey was the epiphany that I could structure my writing schedule so I could really “write what I know.”
Powerful connection happens when we learn to truly put ourselves in the learning arena alongside our students. How can we possibly expect our students to truly be vulnerable and take risks to grow in their learning if they feel like their teachers are sitting on the sidelines? Brene Brown’s emphasis on Theodore Roosevelt’s quote has settled deep into my teacher soul here:
My inspiring former student referenced here has profoundly impacted my resolve to truly make building meaning a priority. “After witnessing the way learning can truly transform & empower & matter, I can never go back.” This particular student will be graduating high school this year, and I had the privilege to watch him perform at the State Poetry Out Loud Competition, and to win a scholarship competition with his piece, Cross Stitch. Once our students find their voice, we have no idea what will come next.
The idea of building self-regulation skills has been eye-opening to me in the way I approach student ownership and classroom management. I am learning to understand how a child’s choices often reflect more than might meet the eye.
I look forward seeing additional learning unfolds during this last year!