Remembering the human (in teachers, too)

You teach a resistant teacher the same way you teach a resistant and disinterested and disengaged student. By engaging them, by challenging them, by making sure they have fun, and giving them ownership of their own learning will bring back even a hardened student to the class.

Eric Pollack wrote this, as a comment to an article on coaching teachers by Elena Aguilar in Education Week.

This is something I truly believe. Even so, it can be easy at times to be frustrated with what seem to be ‘resistant’ teachers.

I fight for the rights of so-called resistant students yet am frustrated with so-called resistant teachers. There is a misalignment there. I must realign.

I must seek to understand before being understood.

I must remember the human, always.

Flipping videos all over the place aka what is a true flip?

Does flipped learning, flipped classroom, flipped ________, have to always be about replacing content with video? Because, let me tell you, that’s what I seem to be seeing and it is driving me CRAZY that I am constantly being referred to video.

I like to learn via text. Via lists. Poetry. Words. I like to read.

Replacing content with a video is not reforming education. It is wrapping it with a different bow.

What excites me about learning, what I find novel, inspiring, and full of hope has to do with the spark of relationship between teachers and students. Between different members of a school community. Once there is caring – true caring for our students as learners, as people, magic can and does happen.

(Now, that’s a flip.)

Just replacing content with a video version of it doesn’t.

Adults monopolizing conversations about youth

We keep youth off to the side while the adults talk and talk about how to improve the world. To youth, it is a lot of talk and little change. It’s ironic and sad that youth, with the biggest stake in the future, are so often seen and not heard. Think of all the areas where adults are monopolizing a conversation in which youth have the largest stake.

I just read this on Huff Post Impact Canada, in an article coauthored by Angela Maiers and Saul Kaplan.

That last sentence is key.

Think of all the areas where adults are monopolizing a conversation in which youth have the largest stake.

I think of this from the perspective of adult education, where the ‘adults’ (teachers and professionals) monopolize the conversations about youth (and some not youth – adult education students in Quebec range from 16 to whatever).

How wonderful it could be to involve students in professional development. In evaluation design. In program and instructional design.

Teacher as container

I remember reading an article some years back called Consultant as Container***, or something like that. It spoke about how an organizational consultant can play a role in ‘holding’ the emotion in the room during periods of change and that this act of holding can assist in allowing the change to continue.

A teacher’s work is very much like this. So is that of a consultant who works with teachers. During the school year, I am generally exhausted by the end of a day and never any more so than during exam periods (man, do I hate exam periods. They are too often taken way too seriously by everyone (but mainly educators…) and result in way too much stress).

I find myself interacting with nervous students (and teachers) and definitely gathering in their emotion so as to let them focus on getting through. It’s like all of a sudden we delve into an alternate universe where all that matters is getting that paper done, finishing that exam. Of course, and especially in adult education, that isn’t all that matters. Students exist outside of their papers and exams. They have families, jobs, and who knows what else to have to manage on top of the difficult emotions surrounding schooling and exams.

It generally takes me two weeks after the end of any given school year to feel rested. I know I am not alone in that. Emotion is exhausting. It is also such an important part of what we do when we work with our students, our colleagues, our school communities.

* A side note — wouldn’t it be a good idea if, instead of having to deal with the intense emotion surrounding examination periods we found a different way to examine?

** In looking through my blog, I realize this is not the first time I write about this…. See Holding Emotion.

*** In case you are interested, I found that article I referred to at the start:
Consultant as Container: Assisting organizational rebirth in Mandela’s South Africa by Smith, Miller, and Kaminstein in Journal of Applied Behavioral Science June 2003 vol. 39 no. 2 145-168

A culture of reading (+ technology)

I have had a series of conversations with different teachers and other educators about reading. Invariably the notion of a culture of reading comes up and just as invariably it is pitted against ‘technology’, as if it is something we need to save from the onslaught of technology.

Reading programs at schools and centres often want to focus on book reading, as if that is the only reading worthy of being part of the culture. I met with some educators who had implemented a ‘drop everything and read’ kind of program at their adult education centre and asked them about reading on devices – mainly phones and tablets. They proudly said, Oh no. This is a break from electronics – no devices allowed.

I have a difficult time seeing reading as something separate from technology. Of course, it is something that I used to do before I had a computer or ereader or tablet or smart phone but now I see those things as deepening the culture, widening it.

Yesterday, I wrote an article at one of my other blogs about how a culture of reading exists in my house that included a review of a phonics and vocabulary app called Endless ABC. Reading is an important part of my life and I share this with my two year old. I can’t imagine telling him that some reading is better than other reading. That some formats are better than others.

What do you think about a culture of reading and how it is fostered in schools, classrooms, homes?