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Adult Invasion Equals Change of Hangout?

I remember seeing one adult skating around then another and before I knew it, every time we went to the bowling/skating rink, adults were there in full force.

We soon found a new hangout and that pizza parlor held up for the remainder of my youth. In fact, I have some of my fondest memories at that pizza joint but it would have only taken a few adults to force us somewhere else.

You see, I don’t think it was so much the place but that the place was our own. It was a place where adolescents could be adolescents but also adults by way of being the oldest there.

Now, don’t jump off this post just yet. This isn’t a trip down memory lane, I promise.

I bring this up because of the latest Facebook trends that show  adults have not only entered the building, they have entered in great force according to Inside Facebook: “45% of Facebook’s US audience is now 26 years old or older and the fastest growing segment in the US: Women over 55, up 175.3% in the last 120 days.”

What does this mean for teens and college students? Will they flee for “a place they can call their own”? Should we as adults invade this place, this sanctuary?

These are questions to ponder especially for teachers who I’m hearing, often as I cringe, about connecting with their students via Facebook as some sort of course learning space.  While I find it wonderful that educators are looking to leverage social networking and seeking new ways to connect with their students, I wonder how many have really talked to their students about how much they want adults, specifically their teachers, connecting with them on Facebook. In my conversations with students, the overwhelmingly majority state that they don’t want their teachers using Facebook educationally.

And can we blame them? This is their skating rink, their mall, their arcade, their pizza parlor.

And, Facebook is still their place as the overall numbers show:

But, as the aforemention trends show, this is changing.

So, how long will they tolerate this adult invasion?

After all, the past, virtual or not, tells us that we can invade their space all we want. They will just find a new and even better one that we can flock to in a few more years once we accept it as valuable long after they have.

Images come from Inside Facebook

[Tags] insidefacebook, facebook, socialnetworking [/Tags]

My Heart is Pure

This past week was really rough.

For the first time in my professional career, I questioned the basic values that define me: why do I share, why do I protect, why do I go 24/7, why do I believe team over everything, and why do I care. You see, I saw with clear eyes for the first time selfishness, ingratitude, truth massaged, cut-throat, and “out for me” mentality that crushes hope and success.

This brought me to an all time emotional low professionally, a low that I could hide from 98% of my colleagues but not from two. And, it is these two that I’m eternally grateful because they painted the picture that needed to be painted:

1. Never Break Who You Are

Surely, this is a lesson that goes back to kindergarten but it is something that didn’t make a lot of sense until recently.  And this week, I questioned whether I should be what I see others being. The look of stunned shock on a colleague that I trust so much was enough to make me sick that it even crossed my mind. As my colleague said in so many words, now isn’t the time to move away from who you are; now is the time to show them who you are.

2. Keep Growing, Keep Going
Everything is a lesson and everything is an opportunity for growth. When the values and ideals that made you remain, these moments that are disappointing and frustrating lead to something greater because the goal is something greater. In other words, I fear failure because I want so much for education, for my teachers, for my team, and for my students. It isn’t about me and those have been the values that have made me who I am today.

And with many words of wisdom, this quote arrived strategically: “’Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They’re what make the instrument stretch-what make you go beyond the norm.‘ The question is how will this challenge define you?”

Not really a question if your heart is pure, if you are a true leader.

Thank you! You both know who you are.


Discussing Institute Days

I am of the belief that the best institute days are not so much about learning, as much as a commitment to it. They are not about moments of community but a continued commitment to it. They aren’t so much about the day but what the days ahead will bring.

Those are the things I value when deciding upon and designing our institute days as was the case with our 2nd Annual Teachers Teaching Teachers Mini-Conference on March 2nd where we again tapped the shoulders of professionals in the classroom to give them a greater responsibility and a stronger voice to encourage the personalization of learning opportunities designed as a community.

Key Elements of the Day
Best Practices in Professional Development: The key to designing this day was a focus on best practices in professional development and adult learning as a microcosm for a coherent, well-designed approach to sustained, ongoing learning for all in a transparent culture of innovation and change:

•    Choice
•    Collaborative
•    Application and collective inquiry time
•    Connected to practice
•    Art and science of teaching
•    Teacher Driven
•    Diverse
•    Learning not Training
•    Transparent
•    Informal and Formal
•    Modeling
•    Networking
•    Intensive, Challenging, and Thought-Provoking
•    Aligned
•    Internal
•    External

Establishing Tone: The notion of an institute day for many brings about negative feelings and frustration over wasted time. Thus, it was critical to set a tone that this was more than just another  institute day. This is why a conference approach was selected for its ease of creating an atmosphere of celebration, community, and change. Not to mention, it allowed for the selection of a keynote speaker to establish and set the tone for the day for which David Warlick did exceptionally well.


Stakeholder Involvement: It is critical that these days are not created in isolation but include the voices of those in which the day serves: teachers, administrators, and students. However, this does not mean merely a the setup of a committee. It is about that committee gathering insights, concerns, and ideas from their colleagues and sharing these together so that all voices are included. In many ways, it is about a transparent process and design.

The Next Approach: For me, I’m thinking in terms of the next 100 days: how we will extend the learning in breadth and depth, implement the proof of concepts in a systemic way, support the collaborative investigations with just-in time movements, sustain the energy to push forward for new heights during the Dip, and adjust the sails of our learning community in order to maintain a culture of change and innovation without restriction.

The Symbolic Nature of the Day
This day was important for what it represented symbolically .   In fact, the value in this day was the coming together in a celebratory way as a community reflecting upon where we were, showcasing how far we’ve come, and taking first steps towards where we are going.

Does learning occur on this day? Absolutely!  But the day is a celebration of community, a celebration of life long learning, and a celebration of change.

This is a strategic approach where each step is designed to reenergize batteries, assess and evaluate who we are as a learning community,  and coming together in the spirit of a continued belief in growing, stretching and pushing.

Our institute day was designed with those pieces in mind, with the driving question always on how do we encapsulate the spirit of community and the celebration of change and growth past, present, and future.

This day laid out how we want to approach professional development and adult learning. But, the true test of how successful these approaches are does not come from the day but how we live up to the day: create energy, address concerns, foster risk-taking, encourage creativity, push the boundaries of innovation, promote collaboration and sharing, offer just-in time learning, focus on methodology, drive change, and stoke the passion of these professionals on a day to day basis!

Next year, we will come together again in the spirit of celebration as a community, life-long learners, and change agents in a change culture.  By coming together in celebration, we will better understand where we’ve come from again: evolution of presentation to a greater degree of breadth and depth, diversified offerings, presentations exploring new heights, new innovations, and new discoveries in the spirit of teaching and learning in the 21st Century, enhancing our methodology in the spirit of best practice, and more and more voices behind heard.

What are we, as building leaders, doing to create this culture? What are we doing to avoid the “wasn’t that day great” mentality that paralyzes the community, culture, and learning if left at just that? How are we leveraging the wealth of information in NSDC’s Professional Learning in the Learning Profession report? How are we making sure our approach is not espoused theory but theory in use?

These are elements that drive our approaches.

When you look at your formal learning days or institute days, what are these meant to accomplish? What are the goals for the day and how do these build upon or lay a foundation for the daily professional development work that shapes teaching and learning? Are these days painting a picture that says this is it or does it create a sense of celebration and continuation of something much greater?

As Lao-tzu stated, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and institute days should be about those single steps and the celebration of the many steps along the miles and miles of the journey. What about your institute days?

Reference

Darling-Hammond, L., R. Chung Wei, et al. (2009).Professional Learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. National Staff Development Council.

Logo designed by Matt C., a Glenbrook North High School student
Photo of NetGen area by Rafael B. Iriarte

A big thank you to all the presenters and the GBN technology advisors, teachers, Art 4 students, instructional technology department, and administrative team for all their work on this microcosm!

[Tags] gbconf09, professionaldevleopment, adultlearning, institutedays [/Tags]

Writing in the Digital Age

With the digital age upon us, participatory media shifts traditionally held concepts of communication and collaboration. Today, publishing is ubiquitous, but when should writing become public? When should it be exposed to engagement, critique, and connections? The very notion of writing needs to expand to include digital, connective experiences that evoke 21st Century Literacies in ways not possible with traditional means of writing. As well, writing needs to be collaborative and independent of time, space, and place.

When washing your car, there is a need to evaluate current practices to determine what remains, what evolves, and what is removed. This is especially true if the notion of connectivism is to be deemed a legitimate learning theory whereby networking is not only encouraged but fostered. What does this do to writers when their networks continue to expand and diversify in depth and breadth? How does convergent media and connective technologies challenge the notion of what it means to be a writer and the notion of writing as a secular act for amateur writers?

The notion of writing is at a tipping point. In fact, just this past week, NCTE released a Call to Support 21st Century Writing stating “this is a call to action, a call to research and articulate new composition, a call to help our students compose often, compose, well, and through these composings, become the citizen writers of our country, the citizen writers of the world”. This represents a new day in the world of writing making conversations surrounding writing even more intriguing. How will we evolve? How will we accept or reject NCTE’s position?


Bud Hunt
says, “Writing in a technological world means that we, as writers and teachers of writing, need to be aware of these choices and how we can best utilize them to have the intended effect on our various audiences”.

But is awareness enough?

NCTE says, “It’s time for us to join the future and support all forms of 21st Century Literacies, inside school and outside school” and that is the direction all teachers of writing need to begin taking today.

[Tags] writing, participatorymedia, web2.0 [/Tags]

I'm A Doodler… deal with it!

I had a hard time keeping focus in school from the time I can remember. As soon as junior high came, teachers started getting all over me about my “lack of attention to my education”. I was a hands-on dreamer: drawing, writing, tapping, sharpening pencils, throwing things away, and, yes, searching for any excuse to get in the hallway — the place of freedom.

Sadly, teachers would often take my notebooks away from me and get angered by my inability to live up to my abilities.

The habit never went away no matter what the teachers said or did, so I was happy to see a recent article in Wired Magazine, A Sketchy Brain Booster, saying this sort of doodling might help people to concentrate.

Thought for the day: Maybe we are just too focused on the image of the student we were instead of understanding that learners are unique and manage the learning environment differently. What else are we telling students to stop doing, put away, and turn off all in the name of “focusing on the class”, which might be better said as focusing on the teacher? How many students are we turning off to education because it doesn’t fit our limited model of how students should act? How many things do we frown upon because we just don’t understand?

Today, I still hide my doodling but now it is in meetings instead of just saying, “Hey, I’m a doodler. Deal with it!”

Devil Worshipping, Brain-Damaged Gamer and Social Networker

Social Network sites can damage the brains of children? This is what I stared at while watching Fox News yesterday and I felt like I was launched back into the 80s when Heavy Metal was going to make me a devil worshipper or maybe it was the 90s when video games were going to rot my brain.

Sadly, this is 2009 and we are publishing articles about this very topic like Social Websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist.

By reading this title, you would assume that some startling findings would be presented that would show just how dangerous social networking sites are to children. Let us review those <gag> startling findings with my bold and italics being added to really note the outstanding presentation of facts and findings:

  • Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, believes repeated exposure could effectively ‘rewire’ the brain.
  • My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.’
  • Then she argued that exposure to computer games, instant messaging, chat rooms and social networking sites could leave a generation with poor attention spans.
  • I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues…”

Now, I’m by no means saying I’m more intelligent than a neuroscientist but I just can’t help but wonder how editors allow this to be written, especially the title, as if this is a conclusive finding about social networking and children’s brains.

As for the startling findings, there simply aren’t any that I see. There are simply a person’s opinions, albeit a highly intellgient person no doubt, and a person’s concerns about a world they may (can I state it as fact that Neuroscientist Fail to Grasp Net Geners’ Brains and then state my beliefs?) just have watched pass by.

In all seriousness, I don’t doubt there will be startling studies about this connected world that is much like the ocean, a world just waiting to be explore at great and greater depths. I just hope along the way we are all open and aware enough to recognize legitimate studies from pure opinion rooted in fear.

[Tags] socialnetwork, neuroscience [/Tags]

Obama and the Purpose of Education

Many discussions about educational reform lead to the inevitable debate about the purpose of education. Listenting to President Obama this evening, it seems that the end goal of K-12 education is to prepare students to enter post-high school education in order to be globally competitive, educated citizens:

But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Obama seems to be dangling this out there as the goal of education (maybe I’m reading a bit much into it) by stating it in this formal address. I’ve long been an advocate of pushing the limits of students so at least they have the option to attend college if they so choose instead of placing them into a track before their talents and potential is even identified.

What does this mean for education? What direction will this shift the classroom?

Regardless, it should be a very interesting to see where this takes education though I’m not sure more Charter schools is exactly the answer.

[Tags] education, obama, charter [/Tags]

Don't Forget the Symbols

Driving down the expressway this morning, I saw a sign that pulled me right out of that winter slump.

That’s right! Baseball is right around the corner and this baseball fanatic is renewed with such early signs.

However, I can’t help but shake my head at this year’s Cub ad campaign. It is obviously done from a symbolic frame so what is that saying to Cub fans?

Who cares about the game – call in sick and go frolic in a park fit for Heaven. Who cares about what the Cubs do – take that vacation and get a tan. Who cares that they’ve won 2 straight division titles, there has been huge disappointment in the playoffs, and the fans have huge expectations for a team that has mentally killed so many — get crazy and wild in the park without worry of someone knowing.

Maybe I’m just a little angry about the past 100+ years and that I expected intensity and I expected some thunder in the campaign, but it frustrating that the focus is on everything but the team.

However, I’ll say this about the campaign: it has me thinking about decisions that I make as an administrator. How many decisions do I make from a structural or human resource frame (the two I tend to focus on most) without taking into account the political and the symbolic (Bolman and Deal)?

When I look at the symbolic implications of that campaign, it shows the power of the symbolic frame and just how important it is to think about what people will interpret in decisions. For example, what can be interpreted from the design and creation of our March 2nd Mini-Conference? the student designed image? the sessions? the structure of the day? What is it saying to our educators?

Regardless of position, what do your decisions day symbolically? What do the images, banners, and other design factors say to your students when they enter your classroom? How about the structure of the room? What does it say? How about your office? Your door?

Sometimes we say a whole lot without saying much at all.

[Tags] bolmandeal, chicagocubs, gbconf09 [/Tags]

Get It Done? No! Keep it Going.

It is amazing what can be done when leaders tap the shoulders of professionals in the classroom to give them a greater responsibility and a stronger voice to encourage the personalization of learning opportunities designed as a community.

logo design by GBN student Matt C.

On March 2nd, this very thing, this empowerment is celebrated when our learning community engages in our 2nd Annual Teachers Teaching Teachers Mini-Conference, a day designed with elements of andragogy and professional development best practices*.

  • Choice
  • Collaborative
  • Application and collective inquiry time
  • Connected to practice and pedagogy
  • Art and science of teaching
  • Teacher Driven
  • Diverse
  • Learning not training focused
  • Transparent
  • Informal and formal
  • Modeling
  • Networking
  • Intensive, Challenging, and Thought-Provoking
  • Aligned
  • Internal

As stated in Professional Learning in the Learning Profession, by the National Staff Development Council, “when well-designed, professional learning helps teachers master content, hone teaching skills, evaluate their own and their students’ performance, and address changes needed in teaching and learning in their school”.

I believe that is exactly what our teachers have done with this day.

However, these days are only successful if the community avoids making them fragmented moment in time and instead makes them a microcosm for a coherent, well-designed approach to sustained, ongoing learning for all in a transparent culture of innovation and change. And that really is the point of this post. What are we, as building leaders, doing to create this culture? What are we doing to avoid the “wasn’t that day great” mentality that paralyzes the community, culture, and learning? How are we leveraging the wealth of information in NSDC‘s Professional Learning in the Learning Profession report? How are we making sure our approach is not espoused theory but theory in use?

Sadly, professional development is often too much about getting it done NOT implementing, adjusting, changing, and sustaining. When it is looked at as certain days of the year and staff developers looked at those days as things to get done, we are failing to create the type of culture that can fundamentally shift teaching and learning.

As James Hunt states, “I know of no better way to transform the outmoded factory model of school organization and the egg-crate isolation of teachers than to give teachers the tools and support they need and greater responsibility over what happens in their buildings to ensure that all students achieve”. This questions drives my thinking in terms of how can I make what James Hunt said a reality for our teachers and our students because that is what they need, what they deserve

Thus, as I look to the arrival of this day, I’m not thinking about it being done, a moment checked off my to do list.  I’m thinking about the effort of so many that went into designing this day. I’m thinking about the celebration that this day represents. I’m thinking about the energy and excitment that this day hopefully brings. But, most of all, I’m thinking in terms of the next 100 days and how we will extend the learning in breadth and depth, implement the proof of concepts in a systemic way, support the collaborative investigations with just-in time movements, sustain the energy to push forward for new heights during the Dip, and adjust the sails of our learning community in order to maintain a culture of change and innovation without restriction.

A big thank you to the technology advisors, teachers, Art 4 students, instructional technology department, and administrative team for all their work on this microcosm!

References

Hunt, J. (2009). Professional Learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. National Staff Development Council.

Hammond-Darling, L., R. Chung Wei, et al. (2009).Professional Learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. National Staff Development Council.

Image designed by Matt C., a Glenbrook North High School student, for the mini-conference.

*okay, maybe some are my own hypotheses that I hope my doctoral research will come to be known someday as best practices.

[Tags] professionaldevelopment, gbconf09 [/Tags]

The Good Life

It has been nearly three years since I last took a vacation. As an educator and a net gen., I tend to mix work with play and see little separation between the two.

This year, my family said I needed a vacation to “just disconnect a bit” so they plotted a course for Marco Island.

Reluctantly, I agreed.

So, here I am at Marco Island with my beautiful family…

…sick!

Yes, sick. It isn’t bad and I’m doing everything that I would have done if I was healthy — just a little less energy. But, it surely is a sign. When I finally get a chance to disconnect and just live, my body shows just how worn down I was over the past few months not to mention I literally made myself sick about taking two days off work.

The bottom line is that I wonder how much better life would be if people like me did disconnect a bit more? How much more productive would we be if we did see separation and sought balance?

For as much as I thought I was living the good life, I wonder if I have any clue of what that really means:

What does it really mean to live the good life and am I living it? It is a question I think I’ll find myself pondering a lot more.

[/Tags] goodlife, marcoisland [/Tags]