I have long been skeptical of the “One Word” promises made at the turn of the new year.
On one hand, I totally get it; it’s an efficient way to stay focused on personal improvement. And like any goal setting, focus is essential to success; we often try to do too much with our goals — personally and professionally. In that respect, I see the value. However, the scope of one word seems, in some ways, too focused. I’ve struggled to see how a one-word focus would truly help me become a better me, a better teacher. But with this said, I also had no suggestion for a different approach.
So, as 2017 faded into the cold and dreary new year backdrop of 2018, I sat down to do my usual new year reflection and goal setting, resigning myself to this seemingly too-narrow approach for lack of a more effective strategy. It was while I scribbled in my writer’s notebook, jotting down key words and phrases that captured elements of my personal and professional growth that I hope to see improve in 2018, when the music in the background, which is always playing when I write, shuffled to a different song, grabbing my attention in a way it never had before. Having heard this song well over 100 times already, I couldn’t believe the way it was now inspiring my goal setting.
When teachers solve problems, they inspire their students to solve problems, too. How can teachers use their best strategies as a launching pad for deeper learning and professional growth? And how can curiosity, co-creation, and collaboration before a lesson idea is formed be a game-changer for classroom practice?
On this episode of Tch Talks, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, Instructional Specialist and Deeper Learning Coach for Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky and 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, joins us to talk about her work with School Startup. This pilot program is where three cohorts of Teacher-Founders are engaged in the design process to rethink and redesign deeper learning in their classrooms and professional learning communities.
She also shares her recent adventures as founder and CEO of Curio Learning, an app that helps teachers discover new ideas and curate them in a personalized way. The app also facilitates collaboration with other educators in order for them to grow as professionals and find the ways to best help their students.
Ashley believes that if every teacher woke up to the awesome influence he or she has, there would be a drastic overhaul of the system and that — bottom line — it takes a teacher to transform learning.
To Dan Ryder and Amy Burval, critical creativity is “students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content.” It’s a portmanteau of sorts, which has the potential to turn ideas into action and push your students toward deeper learning and meaningful understanding.
Dan and Amy believe that, “When students make connections, transform knowledge, and articulate the reasons behind their creative choices, learning becomes more sticky, meaningful, and authentic.” Articulation of creative reasoning is key, because as students learn the power of explanation, rationale, and intentionality, they shift from passive pupils along for the ride to active drivers of their own learning. And the best part of this shift is that it occurs in the midst of purposeful play.
Each year, Teaching Channel has the pleasure of publishing great ideas, thoughtful reflections, and helpful advice from our community of educators in our Tchers’ Voice blog. This year was no exception! We published posts from writers across the country, covering topics from classroom management to the solar eclipse. In case you missed any of these amazing posts, here’s a wrap up of our top reads.
TchLaureate Geneviève Debose Akinnagbe teaches ELA at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (BSSWA) in New York City, a secondary school where teachers refer to their students as “Scholar-Activists.” She’s developed a unit on Scholar Activism for her middle school students so they have a better idea of what that title means and the honor it carries.
So far, we’ve explored the following questions:
What, exactly, is “scholar activism,” and why is it important to teach our students about scholar activism in the classroom?
In this post, Geneviève shares what she calls one of the coolest projects she’s ever done with students, when they engaged with a community organization called Citizens Committee for New York City to actively improve their school community in the Bronx.
Let’s learn a little more about the Beauty of the Bronx:
The daily craziness of being a teacher can make it hard to stay organized. Just when you’ve got your desk cleared off, stacks of papers come flying in. Or right after you spent time tidying up, in come students to mess everything up again.
This summer, you won’t have students in your classroom. You won’t even be in your classroom! But that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about how to make classroom organization go more smoothly next year. In fact, taking a step back and planning systems that work can be more productive than acting reactively to every pile of papers.
If you’re looking to get better at organization, these resources can help!
Editor’s Note: Hear more about this program from Executive Director Basma Rayess in our #anewkindofPD podcast episode found on iTunes and Stitcher.
Michael had suffered for years as the result of his mother’s alcoholism. A teacher encouraged Michael to participate in a program where students could write about their experiences with violence. Michael wrote a powerful poem describing the disappointment, anger, and fear he felt with the situation, but he had no intention of having his mother read it. However, he needed a parental signature so he showed it to his mother with great trepidation. When she read it, she was silent, but something tremendous happened. The poem helped his mother make a commitment to get sober and she has been so ever since. Read more
There’s just something about teachers — I don’t know if it’s nature, nurture, or some combination of the two, but teachers are clever. If you need a problem solved in a way that is practical, economical, innovative, and immediate, your best bet is to find a teacher and present your problem as a challenge.
Teachers also know the value of iteration. They understand that we learn from our first attempts that fail, and they’re cool with it. Add to this mix a willingness to learn from the iterations of others and a strong bias against reinventing the wheel, and you can see why teachers are among the most resourceful, ingenious, and inspired individuals. Teachers are hackers, no doubt!
Though we may be problem solvers at heart, the classroom is unpredictable and perfection is a pipe dream. We march forward with good intent, but there always seems to be that one thing that didn’t work out quite like we planned. The more complex the puzzle, the harder we work to devise a solution. Read more
TEDYouth conference at the Brooklyn Museum. November, 2015. Photo by Ryan Lash for TED via Flickr
It was outstanding. Under the soft glow of the mighty brass chandeliers of the Beaux Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum, learning stations — many decorated with a splash of iconic TED red — were scattered about the restored glass tile floor like a handful of strategically tossed jacks. As I bounced about the room, I watched 400 students smile with delight, scrambling to engage, create, and collect the vast knowledge available in the room. They vibrated with energy and I knew in an instant that this conference would be extraordinary.