messy + free-flowing= to know is not enough

Summer Reflections 2012

on August 25, 2012

As I wait with baited breath for another school year to begin, perfecting on attending to the nuts and bolts in my classroom—I cannot help but ask myself: “So what’s going to be different this year?” Really, year after year of teaching first graders how to read and write and trying to sow the seeds of being lifelong readers and writers, also, teaching graduate students who want a doze of this and some of that—what’s new and exciting?  A summer spent on many worthwhile personal professional development ventures, I have some jot notes that I have taken away.

Being part of a yearlong action research project and probing the use of 21st century tools effectively in my classroom has been very liberating for me. I can’t stress it enough, but my brain seemed to have lost all capacities to embrace technology (never had any to begin with) or so I used to think. Spending time with my team, brought me face-to-face with other members who are also not as comfortable with the speed of enlightenment that we find ourselves surrounded by these days.  Yet again, I met other practitioners who are part of this new era of learning.  So at last, I admitted to myself (always knew it but never quite said it before), that I have a FEAR for new technologies—it may be, as simple as a TV remote to a slightly sophisticated washing machine.  But if I am to remain in my vocation, thrive, and enjoy it I need to come to terms with 21st century tools—they are here to stay, so I need to sleep well with them.  My AR team helped me to identify this trait in me.

Then came the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP), in the month of July.  What an exhilarating experience, and I highly recommend it to all teacher educator’s out there.  Under the guidance of a creative innovator BC, and joined by 10 fascinating and brilliant teachers from across the state—I spent 160 hours reading, writing, collaborating and learning to have FUN with words, to take risks and be a supportive audience.

This week, I just finished our mandatory summer read: Creating innovators: The making of young people who will change the world, by Tony Wagner.  An easy and enjoyable read (eager to hear him as he comes to speak to us next week), my summer enhancements now seem to make a lot more sense.  The central question I ask myself each year is: How do I go back with a song in my heart?   I am the singer, what’s my new song for my new audience going to be and how will I sing it?

It all goes back to the singer, if you think of it.  Wagner’s book and an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Katherine Mangan have a few ideas in common—some recent thinkings on how we all can keep abreast with changing times, despite self-doubt. They are play, passion, purpose. And this applies to people of all ages.

  • Play: we should encourage and be immersed with things we can explore (that appeal to us)
  • Passion: simply knowing is not enough–so to know more and learn from our students, colleagues, parents, family members and the community-at-large.
  • Purpose: why are we doing what we’re doing.
  • Creativity: making new knowledge for our consumers and us in more palatable ways.

Other strands are intricately woven with these 3 main ideals. For example, resilience (belief in oneself), self-regulation (focusing on key goals), focus (not multi-tasking), grit (dogged determination), and conscientiousness (organized and responsible). Of course, I remind myself these are all good personal tenets to nourish no matter the number of years one has been teaching and some great thoughts to begin our respective journeys again….  Some nuggets that have sprung at me are:

“If we think of the teaching profession as a profession, it is absolutely necessary that we live in a sharing environment, not a competitive one” (Dr. Brad Huff, ‘Comment of the Day,’ Education Week)

“What happens to a lot of people is that they get totally caught up in trivia, and later they complain they were asked to do too much of this or that. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to regulate yourself and decide what’s important  and what isn’t.” (Robert Sternberg)

“If you look at the profile of someone who’s realized creative success, they can’t be conventional.” (Brent Rogers of the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign)

“If you’re really cutting edge, you’re going to be bucking the system, and people are going to fight you” (Gregory Feist)



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