I often start my weekly shares with my colleagues with, ” I found this on Twitter” or “I heard about this from so-and-so’s (most recently, “so-and-so” is often Alice Keeler, George Couros, or Eric Curts) post on Twitter.” I say that because at any given moment, one can learn so much so easily and without a lot of effort. Don’t get me wrong, when I say “without a lot of effort” I don’t mean that it is effort-less, I just mean that if you know what hashtags to look at (or even if you don’t and just do a search for a subject), who to follow, and then take some time to scroll through and look, you will most definitely find something new and interesting and with relative ease.
There is a quote by Steven Johnson from his TED talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From” that says, “Chance favors the connected mind.” This is one quote that I always come back to time and again and that I have written about before. I can honestly say that connecting with others via Twitter has been life changing for me as far as my professional life is concerned. Many of the books I read, things that I do with my students, and ways that I share are directly influenced by those I follow on Twitter.
In his book, Couros made a statement, “isolation is a choice educators make.” That is one decision I choose not to make.
The last few weeks I have been a bit slow in sharing out my thoughts. To be fair, I was heading into and then out of an election and my evenings have been full. And then they were not and I was honestly just tired. But I am steadfast in my commitment to complete the book and share the highlights with those who have either read it, and can agree with me how thought-provoking and motivating it is; or who have not read it, and from these highlights will want to pick up their own copy and get reading.
Part III is no less full of quotables than Parts I and II. In fact, I had to be frugal so that there would be text left unhighlighted. With that said, the beginning of Part III is about seeing others’ strengths and dovetails nicely with the Positive Education that we are implementing here at my school. In fact I have recently watched Lea Waters TEDx talk on strengths-based parenting which speaks to parents as well as teachers about utilizing their children’s strengths and building on them as a way to maximize their potential (and moves away from a deficit model). As you read the highlights below, you will see the connection! It also addresses empowering learners (and, as you will read, we are all learners- teachers included), focusing on doing more with what you already have, and being open to sharing and learning with and from others.
Part III: Unleashing Talent
Chapter 8: Strengths-Based Leadership
- What if we stopped operating on a deficit model that focuses on a learner’s weaknesses and started operating on a strengths-based model that builds on the learner’s strengths?
- If we are going to empower our students, we must help them find what they love and create learning experiences that encourage them to develop their strengths.
- Giving people license to take risks by tapping into their abilities helps create a space where innovative ideas and learning flourish.
- By focusing on strengths first and building from there, as opposed to working from a deficit model that focuses only on where we need improvements, we create an environment where people feel they have a purpose in their classrooms and for the entire school.
- Do we really think someone will be innovative in an area they hate?
Chapter 9: Powerful Learning First, Tech Second
- Technology invites us to move from engaged to empowered.
- Many technology departments, led by obsolete tech directors, are inadvertently inhibiting learning. The mantra of “lock it and block it” no longer works in a 21st-century digital learning environment.
- What is best for kids?
- How does this improve learning?
- How often do we look at the possible reward associated with doing something?
- Is this serving the few or the majority? This question is essential when we make any policies
- Any time a new policy or procedure is presented for an entire school, we must ensure it does not punish everyone for the mistakes of the few. Innovative environments should be built on trust, not the lack of it.
- Learners are the driver; technology is the accelerator.
- In education, we are all learners.
Chapter 10: Less Is More
- When educators and organizations feel overwhelmed by the number of requirements they have to meet, the focus in classrooms tends to be on covering curriculum, rather than focusing on the learning and exploring concepts in depth.
- Living in a world with so much choice can make us miserable
- In all aspects of education, what we learn is not as important as what we create from what we learn.
- In education, understanding the community we serve is critical and necessary for innovation to flourish in each of our unique communities.
- The basics are crucial, but they cannot be the only things we teach our students/
- “‘Reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling'” ~Yong Zhao
- As a school or system, when we limit our initiatives, tools, or techniques, we give ourselves time to discover what deep learning can really look and feel like.
Chapter 11: Embracing an Open Culture
- Today, isolation is a choice educators make
- It isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know.
- How do we make great learning go viral?
- Social media is not meant to be another form of email, but, as my brother would say more like dipping your cup into a stream of information.
- What really pushes our thinking is not consuming information, but reflecting, creating, and sharing our ideas with the understanding that others will read it.
- Our world today is participatory; sharing should not be the exception in education but the rule.
Chapter 12: Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences for Educators
- We often create what we experience, which means that to change what happens in schools, the experiences we create in our professional learning must first change.
- How many of us purposefully and explicitly model the learning process for our children? ~Scott McLeod
- How many of us purposefully and explicitly show our students what it means to struggle with learning, overcome obstacles, and emerge on the other side more skilled and more knowledgeable than we were before? ~Scott McLeod
- Understanding the learning opportunities that we would like to create for our students begins by immersing ourselves in similar learning experiences.
- “‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.'” ~Simon Sinek
- If schools are ever to be truly innovative, leadership must be open to having people question, even challenge, current practices.
- Challenge the notion of “we have always done it this way” by starting with the prompt, “why do we . . .?”
- “‘Does the process of school impede deep learning?'”
photo credit: ShellyS IMG_6668 via photopin (license)