I’ve been at Teaching Channel as its Chief Academic Officer and then as CEO for the last 4 years and I am just preparing to step down-so wanted to reflect and say a rousing Thank YOU to all of our community!
Lots has happened in the past 4 years. When I arrived we had 500 teachers in our online community. Very soon, we will top over 800,000 registered users. Then we had 400 unique visitors every month; now we have over 500,000 unique monthly visitors. We had 400 videos in our library; now we have over 1000+ with lots more in the works. I hired our first stellar laureate, Sarah Brown Wessling. We now have a fabulous team of ten laureates who are helping our community think about how all teachers, no matter how long they’ve been teaching, get better together.
A week ago, on a trip to visit colleges with our son, we stayed at a school converted into a hotel. It was cleverly renovated — the cafeteria now a restaurant, the detention room a bar, classrooms now guestrooms, and the auditorium an intimate movie theatre.
The school smell is long gone, but the “sounds” of school persist. The hotel halls echo and bang like school corridors despite their new purpose. Adorned with photos of former students, teachers, and PTA presidents, the hallway walls leak stories to guests walking from room to room. The sound of learning continues with evening lectures and discussions, and showcases of local artists. In each guest room, walls are still lined with chalkboards and chalk so guests can resurrect those iconic sounds.
As an educator, my hope is to develop joyful, self-directed, engaged learners. Learners who are curious about the world around them, who are excited to take on challenges, who are willing to take risks, and who are resilient and flexible in the face of failure. In sum, learners who have a growth mindset.
I’ve found that building a classroom culture of growth mindset changes how students approach their learning, and is transformational in helping them build the habits of mind to be successful within and beyond the classroom. As one of my kindergartners explains, “If you don’t know how to do something, you can try it again and again and fix your mistakes, and if you don’t give up, you really showed growth mindset.”
The following are three key tips that can support the development of a community of growth mindset learners in your classroom.
This is part two of a three-part series by Sean on reforming feedback. This post focuses on balancing time and quality while giving students a direction for growth. Read part one, Hacking Feedback: The Bookends.
So much of teaching is living in tension: giving more support vs. letting a student productively struggle. Following your own judgement vs. following the curriculum. Praise for good work vs. pushing for better.
And one tension I think about often is giving students my best vs. having more to give to future students. Burnout is a real risk in this profession. We have to find ways to do the job well and in a way that let’s us make it a career. As a teacher of high school English students and a father of a toddler, I feel this tension acutely. Fortunately, I’ve found some strategies to help make feedback more time-effective, without sacrificing the support and direction students need for their growth.
This is the second in a six-part series titled Making in Schools.
The core of what attracts us to maker-centered learning at Lighthouse is that it develops student agency and ownership of learning. The Agency by Design (AbD) framework, which we discussed in our last post, “What Is Making?” guides our work with learners in becoming more aware of the design of the world around us by taking a closer look at objects and systems.
As students become more aware of the design of the world around them, they begin to see themselves as people who can affect that design and are also empowered to actually do the work — to tinker, hack, and improve design. This newfound awareness isn’t limited to objects, but can move into the core curriculum as well, through discussion of the design of governmental systems, cell structure, or a poem.
I’ve just returned from a trip to our nation’s capital, where I was with Seattle educator Jessica Levine working on a new Tch initiative. The initiative, in partnership with several highly respected science and professional development organizations — NSTA, Achieve, Making Sense of Science, American Museum of Natural History – centers around the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The idea is to pull together video resources to help teachers navigate the shift to 21st century standards.
Why share this now if the project is still at the formative stages? Because we need your input. Teaching Channel has made, and continues to make, a significant investment in many different aspects of science teaching practice. Just one click away are 140 science videos covering a variety of topics (including my own, To the Moon!). And recently, Teaching Channel released four videos that show two teachers as they begin — and continue — to move their practice towards helping their students meet the goals of NGSS.
This is part one of a three-part series by Sean on reforming feedback. This post focuses on structures for making students’ perception of their work, and reception of feedback, visible.
I have a love-hate relationship with giving feedback. I love how potent a tool it is to help students move their learning forward. I love the occasions when I can get the feedback to students “just for them, just in time, and just helping nudge forward” as John Hattie said, and see their skills blossom. I hate when I see an intimidating pile of student work. I hate when I feel I don’t have time to give ideal feedback. And I hate when I commit time to giving feedback, but it doesn’t help students.
So, I’m spending some time this year re-thinking feedback.
As a social studies teacher, other than the daily worry about particular students, I felt the most anxiety about my practice the day after an atrocity. How do I teach students about these events and not terrify or discourage them from engaging in the world?
I felt paralyzed in having to face them, ready to answer the why question, or ready to exude certainty that this event was surely an anomaly. Adding to the challenge for teachers today is that students sit in our classrooms full of vivid images of the events from popular media, which fuels the fire of helplessness and doom. Because the world of late has given us so much to explain and reassure them about, this anxiety is hard to shake.
And yet, teachers influence the way students make sense of a catastrophic event likely more than anyone. As teachers we know that the real power in experiences is in the sense-making — in the stories we tell in the aftermath, and how these stories direct how we live.
One of the things I love most about being a teacher is how intellectually stimulating my job is. What makes it so stimulating — and challenging! — is the range of diverse students I have in each of my classes every day.
How do I support A. to meet seventh grade standards when she’s reading at a second grade level? How do I ensure that O., who has scored far above grade level on numerous assessments, is challenged and engaged at his level? What will help B. orally share her ideas in class more often? How do I ensure that J. has the language supports he needs to grow as a writer in English, his second language? How do I best meet students where they are?
This is part of Kristin Gray’s Getting Better Together series, Establishing a Culture of Collaborative Learning. Kristin and all the Teaching Channel Laureates are going public with their practice and seeking support in getting better from colleagues and the Tch community.
This year, our Positive Behavior Support (PBS) committee restructured the way we look at our school-wide behavior system. We moved from having leveled, colored, clip charts to a beautiful new model centered around Growth Mindset. This new model can be seen in every classroom, every hallway, and most importantly, heard in our conversations with students.
When I first saw this model, I knew it fit perfectly with my work on Establishing a Culture of Learning, and it fully supported the introduction of Learning Labs as our new PLC structure.
Now, after creating our norms and completing our very first Learning Lab cycle — a process in which teachers and I plan, teach, and reflect upon a lesson together — I don’t think there could be a more perfect framework to reflect on this experience. Throughout every stage of the cycle, my colleagues and I found ourselves in various places around this circle. While the image paints a pretty picture of what learning together looks like, the reality is a messy mix of mistakes, lessons learned, and the opportunity to see ways we can make the learning experience so much better.