Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning - Part #2


I often use many of my fathers quotes while teaching, and thought of one of his sayings while putting together this post. Dad used to say "No man is an island". I feel that his sentiment and instructions can be taken alongside a speech given by the character Jack in the now completed LOST series which aired on ABC.

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The "Live Together Die Alone" comment that sets the premise for the series LOST is easily carried over to PLN and collaboration. How so? In that every person touches another through their life. People do not fully realize the impact that their life has on other individuals, nor the comments and suggestions they may make to others.

If we fully realized this concept could you imagine how much could be accomplished by everyone working together to achieve a common result? Take this thought a step further. Is this not what education is all about? If we as educators are attempting to achieve the same results with our students, then why do we battle over new or different ideas, concepts, and strategies?

I had the wonderful opportunity earlier this month to conduct a workshop in my district. It was the first time in a number of years that I have had a chance to lead and introduce material, concepts, and technology. Our overall theme for this workshop was T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More). The initial focus was on how even a small number of individuals can impact the learning environment through working together and collaboration for achievement.

This T.E.A.M. concept was an effort to explore and examine the needs of our students, Internet best practices, and individualized instruction methods utilizing technology. I was appreciative of the thoughts, comments, ideas, and input of the wonderful colleagues I am able to work with.

Furthermore, I was thankful many of you took the time to answer the 3 Simple Questions in our GoogleDoc. (Feel free to continue to add more as we will keep it open through September). This real world collaboration demonstrated so much more for the workshop participants through the real time collaboration than I could ever have attempted to explain.

I am learning how effective collaboration can be, particularly when the ideas are shared by the entire team. I am also learning to be patient as the PLN, PLC, & PLT ideas need to be developed to be effective. As stated so well on twitter by Andrew, a.k.a. @crudbasher.

Wisdom in a Tweet! Thanks for the simple but profound statement. It is so true, particularly as I look to focus on collaboration this upcoming school year as a way to increase student achievement. A big thank you to all who have helped me see the power of working together.

Learning - Part #1

Coaching -

I spent a number of years coaching at the varsity level and walked away from the sidelines of the game I love almost three years ago. I was realizing how fast time goes by and the importance of family over work. Little did I realize that I would be called to return to the sidelines and facing an entirely new challenge, youth soccer at the U6 level.

This time however, I would have the opportunity to being coaching a team my son plays on. This would not be the challenge to create a learning opportunity, the challenges would come from the five-year-old perspective of fun and the game.

My new goals would not be to win a Section VI title, but rather to instill a love for the game into the heart of each player. This was more challenging than I could have imagined. My competitive drive pushed me to focus too much on poor performance and was overshadowing the joy they were receiving from being on the field.

Their first GOAL was a groundbreaking event. It was followed by a chorus of cheers, "high fives", group hugs, and more joy than you could imagine.

The learning I received from this experience was immense. I had to learn to focus on small rewards that brought tremendous intrinsic value. I found out that accomplishments and achievement can come in many different ways. My sense of purpose had changed from just coaching in a way that promoted my perception of achievement to coaching in a way that brought brought personal levels of achievement and happiness to those who were participating in the sport.

Thank you RYS for the opportunity to learn new ways to love the game.


Monday, July 19, 2010

reNEWable sources

Burned Out or Dried Up?

What's the difference?

It took some personal discouragement and a campfire to initiate the following thoughts.
Watching a fire slowly go to ashes I couldn't help but question how many times the phrase "burned out" had been used in the educational field to describe an educator. Not that I know the answer specifically, but needless to say I am sure too many.

I have been questioning some of my own energy levels in recent weeks and began to focus on the energy release taking place while the wood was burning down. In the initial stage the fire was hot and beautiful, but that quickly dispersed with very little to remain at the end. Taking the personal perspective of the wood, I began to question myself. Was I consumed with little left to offer but ashes? I contemplated if there could be a better way to describe and identify my emotional state.

It came to me later while looking for a cleaning tool. I saw an old sponge. It lay crusty and hard on the bottom on the drawer, but quickly regained life once it was applied to water.

It struck me then. I could be the sponge. Not burned out with nothing left to offer, but dried up and in need of a NEW soaking.

We all on one occasion or another have felt dejected, discouraged, and probably down. But in what condition would you place yourself at this juncture? Burned Out? or Dried Up?

The key would appear to be finding a way to become exhilarated again and feel reNEWed.
To prevent further drying one must immerse themselves into a source of reNEWal.

For me it was to begin learning again...