Wednesday, July 29, 2015

10 Ways to Increase Parent Support for PBL


Image Source: User Geralt, Pixabay.com

First, I’m going on a tangent because I am super passionate about this. Most parents care. Most parents really care. Most parents really, really, really care (about their child’s education). One of my biggest pet peeves is when well-meaning educators blame lack of parental support for education inequality. This is one of my biggest pet peeves because blaming parents is a class issue. This accusation is usually lobbed at parents from lower socio-economic areas.

There is a brutal lie that goes something like if parents really cared, kids would do better at school. Not all parents are members of the PTO, or check writers, or emailers, or conference attendees, or classroom helpers, or you get the picture. Not all parents have the time, money, or ability to be involved in all the ways traditional school systems define parental support. This doesn’t mean parents want their kids to do bad in school. Nothing could be farther than the truth. All parents want their kids to do well in school. There are other factors to consider. Work hours. Language. Education levels. School culture. Legal status. Bad experiences with the education system.

Image Source: User Hietaparta, Pixabay.com

So when I write this piece, I firmly mean this to include ALL parents as project based learning (PBL) partners. I think there are ways to include all parents in discussions of a child’s education. You may need to get creative with how, but I think it is possible. I think it is necessary. Let’s at least start with positive assumptions :)







Project based learning (PBL) is different than traditional pedagogical approaches. PBL calls for learners to inquire, to question, to iterate, and to learn deeply. PBL gives students voice and choice. PBL is flexible, collaborative, and generative. PBL includes many different approaches to assessment. Rarely do multiple choice tests and memorized answers fulfill the demands of a successive project. Instead, students are assessed formatively and given chances to improve and iterate before a project is unveiled to an authentic audience.

In short, PBL may be a radical departure from the norm for students, and by extension, their parents. A crucial step to build support for PBL in your school or classroom is to have parent buy-in and support. Here are a few things you can do to educate, inform, and bring parents in as PBL partners.



1. Share Research

I always like to remind new teachers that our profession is exactly that, a profession. Educators study what works (and what doesn’t) in the classroom. Share your expertise with parents. Most will be impressed with your level of understanding, knowledge, and rationale. People care about the why. Post links to research on a class website, in newsletters, or through messages.

PBL research: Buck Institute, Edutopia, PBL Research Series


2. Ask Parents for Areas of Expertise

PBL is not confined to a textbook. The community plays a vital role as authentic audience members. Use a beginning of the year survey to ask parents what areas of expertise they posses. You can also ask what serious hobbies they have. Invite them into the classroom when a project corresponds with a specialty. You never know what or who someone knows.


Image Source: User GreenStar, Pixabay.com


3. Show Past Success

If you’ve been doing PBL for a number of years, show off! Display student work, presentations, or projects to parents. Parents are often amazed with the level of learning that PBL allows. If you are newer to PBL, share examples from the web. Show that other people are doing great work and communicate that you want their children to do the same. Sometimes people need to see to believe.


4. Showcase 21st Century Skills

PBL is a great way to create a 21st century classroom. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication are crucial to today’s world. Explain how PBL places an emphasis on skills students need both today and tomorrow.


5. Be Transparent and Honest

Many teachers, including myself, use PBL because they are super passionate about its ability to transform school. Don’t be afraid to share this passion with parents. If you blog, tell them. If you attend outside PDs, tell them. If you are on Twitter, tell them. Once they see the amount of work, dedication, and enthusiasm you put into each project (and your craft), they will support you.


6. Remind Parents of Their Own Education

Even if parents are a long way gone from their days as students, it is surprising to hear them recall colorful memories. Most parents share science projects, invention challenges, and hands-on activities as favorite school experiences. It makes a lot of sense that teachers want to provide the same learning opportunities for their children.


Image Source: User Taken, Pixabay.com


7. Provide Suggestions for Home Projects

Parents may feel uncomfortable with the technology used in many projects, or the lack of traditional homework and assignments. Provide examples and ideas for things families can work on at home that mirror PBL activities. Design challenges, coding tutorials, and even board games can simulate the type of learning PBL demands in the classroom. John Spencer shares some great alternative homework assignments here.


8. Rethink Field Trips

I once talked to a teacher who explained how she took her students on a field trip to the LaundryMat. She swore by the experience. She said many of her students were fascinated by the economic realities of their community. If you are able to take more frequent, perhaps shorter field trips around the community, parents may be more willing to chaperone, sponsor, or lead.


9. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

This is inherent in many of the ideas above. Communication prevents many problems and misunderstandings from occurring in the first place. Positive phone calls, personalized notes, and early/late meetings are ways to communicate with all parents. If you share the good things going on in your classroom with parents, they will be happy to support your ideas.


10. Remind Them It’s For the Students

When all else fails, remind parents that you both want what’s best for their children. This is the motivation behind all you do as an educator.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Finding 'Value' in Hidden Places


Image Source: User PublicDomainArchive, Pixabay.com

“The single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.” — Peter Thiel, Zero to One

Let’s change a few words shall we…

 “A powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful educators find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about education from first principles instead of formulas.” 

Is this true?

Image Source: User Jarmoluk, Pixabay.com

As teachers, we don’t have to look far to find value in unexpected places. Glance at the faces before us. How can we find value, worth, goodness, importance, and deservedness in each and every one of your students?

This summer, I have read countless stories about the need for socially just schools, classrooms, and teachers. Progressive educators and activists are calling for dialogue (and action) on race, inequality, and de facto segregation in our schools. To bring about the systemic change many of us want to see, teachers need to look at their own classrooms and schools.

We, teachers, must take the step of valuing ALL students. Not just the bright students, not just the compliant students, not just the honor roll students, not just the athletic students, not just the white students, not just the gifted students, not just the students who raise their hands.

Not just the students we display power over.

Instead, we can find a fundamental wisdom, goodness, and value from the bully, from the trouble-maker, from the class clown, from the angry, from the suspended, from the marginalized, from the oppressed, from the depressed, from students of color, from those who need a voice, from those who need another chance, from those who are ignored.

Each student can teach us something once we strip away our perceptions and stereotypes to listen, to become equals. I really believe that.

I write this as a reminder to myself. I NEED to be better at recognizing the basic worth and value of ALL students in ALL my words and actions.

It’s a sad thing to admit we might call this value unexpected.







*****

Thank you Ruben Brosbe for your recent piece. It provided an impetus for this post. White Educators: Do You Recognize State Trooper Encinia?

*****

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Big Questions, Big Understandings, and Big Ideas in the Classroom

Image Source: User Annegru, Pixabay.com

In his book Futurewise, David Perkins (2014) explains the concept of big questions:
Big questions address particular themes about humanity, our world, and our universe. There are also very general big questions that find significance in almost any context. The child's 'why' is prelude to the 'why' of a scientist, artist, or historian. Likewise, the child's 'how' looks toward the engineer or politician or manufacturer. The broadly exploratory question 'what's there' touches everything from the interior of cells to the interiors of black holes. (p. 74)
Big questions can be formed by the teacher, the student, or a combination of both. Big questions result from inquiry, wonder, brainstorm, previous knowledge, and sheer curiosity. Big questions are open by design and rarely have a 'correct' answer. They also provide a wonderful container and context for serious content and learning.

What do big questions look like? Perkins offers numerous examples. Some big questions are applicable across multiple disciplines.

  • "What if not?"
  • "What's the real problem?"
  • "What are the opportunities?"

Some big questions have personal meaning for the learner. Perkins (2014) calls these questions live hypotheses."Live hypotheses are possibilities a person finds genuinely at issue for himself or herself and worth engaging" (p. 83). Although these questions will differ from learner to learner, some examples may include:

  • "Is [] ethical or non-ethical?"
  • "What is really true about []?"
  • "Why does [] matter?"
Image Source: User Geralt, Pixabay.com

Other big questions may take the shape of lesson/unit essential questions. Big questions can also be more practical, more solution oriented. Big questions engage students in looking at the world with wonder, curiosity, desire, and passion. Big questions look to intrinsically motivate students to struggle, to question, and to take deep dives into content. Even though big questions seem vague and nebulous, they actually provide a rich context and relevance to learning. Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey share a similar sentiment in Make Learning Personal (2015), "It is about how we help learners develop questions about the information they read or hear, about inquiring minds that wonder, discover, question, and expand their thinking" (p. 53).

Big questions do more than (re)introduce wonder and excitement to students. The ultimate goal of big questions is for learners to develop big ideas, big answers, big understandings, and big learning. Big questions can also serve as a jumping point for further and deeper learning, the rabbit hole. "Such understandings are answers, lifeworthy answers, the largest and the most important answers we have for the lives learners are likely to live, big in insight, action, ethics, and opportunity" (Perkins, 2014, p.92).

Big questions empower teachers to embrace a pedagogy of ideas, and for learners to be empowered by their understanding of big ideas. The love of rich, big ideas is desperately needed in our schools. Seymour Papert (2000) writes, "the most neglected big idea is the very idea of bigness of ideas. I want to argue that the neglect of big ideas—or rather of the bigness of ideas—has become pervasive in the culture of School to the point where it dominates thinking about the content of what schools teach, as well as thinking about how to run them" (p. 720).

Big understandings and ideas can be applied across the curriculum and transferred to multiple disciplines. For example, look closely at Newton's famous Force = (Mass)(Acceleration) equation. For most people, this equation is limited to physics and, possibly, mathematics. Understanding of this concept could be transferred to social studies, natural sciences, and economics. Think of this big question, "Is F=MA (or rewritten as A=F/M) true in any context?" In other words, "Is F = MA a social studies equation, a technology equation, a philosophical question? The big understandings inherent in authentically investigating big questions can lead to student gains in insight, action, ethics, and opportunity (Perkins, 2014, p. 230).

Image Source: User PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay.com

Big questions appeal to my inner learner. It is the way I love to think about the world. Big questions make life interesting, personal, and fulfilling. They also motivate me to learn, to try new things, and to engage my natural curiosity. As I think about the next school year, I want to leave room (and plenty of it) for my students to engage in big questions. I want my students to wonder, to admire, and to be passionate. Whether it be through discussion, projects, or nestled within lessons, big questions have a place in the classroom. Our students deserve to engage the world in this way. I want to live in a world where any young person can create knowledge and change through big questions, big understandings, and big ideas.







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Monday, July 6, 2015

Allowing 'Failure' in the Classroom

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My mom was shocked when I revealed I was a serial cheater in high school. The fact she never thought I could cheat is a clue as to why so many people do it. We want to see the shinny prize at the end, process be damned. What matters the most are the grades, the high G.P.A, the awards, etc. We claim that we want to do this ethically, but in honesty, we don't care. Show me the honor roll, and I don't care how you did it. Results!

If we really cared about what students were learning, schools would look a lot different. There would be less standardized tests used for rankings. There would be less rote memorization. There would be more problem solving. There would be more deep learning. But as a society we don't really care. The means justify the end grades and rankings. No wonder students are afraid to fail. In any way. If you don't deliver the results, or perform at a high level, people start sounding the alarm. Colleges will run away, scholarships will be lost, you're future will be ruined! I have siblings that stayed up all night multiple times a week to complete high school assignments. They couldn't get anything less than an A. They had G.P.As well over 4.0. Wow!

What we lose sight of in our performance mania is that it is perfectly normal to fail. Humans make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. While I don't want people to be failures or get report cards full of "F's", I think we need to foster safe spaces in school where students CAN fail, preferably in temporary chunks. And then after students fail, they can try a new path, ask a bigger question, and actually learn from their mistake. Students can learn how to persevere, to overcome trials. Students can focus on learning how to learn (metacognition) rather than learning how to best cram trivial information and knowledge into their heads only to forget it in seconds.

Image Source: User Ebrahim, Pixabay.com

I played soccer in high school. We had a player on our team who made every single penalty kick in practice. During playoffs, our coach picked him as one of our shooters for a sudden death shootout. When the moment came to participate, he refused. He said he didn't want to miss. I learned a valuable lesson that day. The coach said,"If you want to succeed, you need to be prepared to fail. You can't truly succeed if there is not an opportunity to fail."

If we want young people to take appropriate academic risks and chances, we have to allow them safe spaces to fail. If we want them to think outside the box, we have to be okay with learning that takes time. If we want them to innovate, we need to remove the punishments for trying to do so. If we want them to invent new rules to the game, we have to sacrifice the sacred and rigid education regime we created. Innovation is not following a script. It is a willingness to try something bold and to look at the world differently. We claim we want these abilities in our students, but setup contradictory incentives.

This is the appeal of pedagogies like project based or inquiry based learning. As students work through real world projects, problems, and issues, answers are not found in the back of a text book. When students are integral designers of their own learning there will be hiccups. When there are multiple 'right' answers, students will need to considers a variety of options. The first road they choose may end in a detour. That is fine. Take what you learn from the first road and move to the next. Genius hours allow students to study passion projects. When students work with concepts they are deeply interested in, they are more willing to persevere, try new approaches, and work through difficulties. Embedded in many of these approaches to learning are consistent opportunities to asses, reflect, and reiterate ideas or work. This turns 'failure' on its head. If teachers work with students to formatively assess work, 'failure' becomes an exciting opening to correct assumptions and create new possibilities.

Image Source: User Geralt, Pixabay.com

There is much talk about growth vs fixed mindsets. In short, a growth mindset emphasizes effort and growth. A fixed mindset emphasizes natural intelligence and ability. The more we emphasize a fixed mindset, the less we acknowledge the power of failure and frustration. This does not benefit the learner in the long run. A growth mindset leads students to embrace challenge. Why? If someone with a growth mindset fails, it does not reveal a character flaw, it reveals a temporary road block, a road block that can be moved with effort, support, and collaboration. Growth mindsets cannot be achieved in a climate that is obsessed with perfection. A school or classroom culture emphasizing a growth mindset sends a wonderful message to students. It calls for educators to accept all students for who they are and where they are at because all students have the potential to improve.

Great administrators can support teachers who build safe spaces for children to fail. How? Administrators can model a growth climate with their staff. They encourage their staff to try new things, to share their learning, and to actually innovate. Exemplary administrators realize that mistakes occur. They also realize this is okay. These administrators set up a safe space for faculty to fail by supporting them in their own professional growth. In this way, teachers can make mistakes and learn from them. Teachers are also willing to share their learning with colleagues and ask for help. Asking for help is not seen as a weakness, but rather the mark of a proactive professional.

Each time I write a post, I know I may fail. I may make a grammar mistake, say something people disagree with, or write an unpopular post. It can be difficult and stressful to press the publish button with an attitude like this. On the other side of the coin, I have learned so much about myself, my practice, and my colleagues from each post. I continue to learn even when I misspell a word or get an unfavorable comment. I might get frustrated for a few minutes when I see low read numbers, but I carry on. Small failures are just tiny obstacles. This is an attitude we can foster with our students as well.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

To Power and Empower Up

Image Source: User SnapwireSnaps, Pixabay.com

Summer brings an unexplainable happiness and joy to most teachers, myself included. Teachers are extremely fortunate to get a period of rest, respite, and reflection each year. I would go so far to say all professions should have a 'break' like this. Extended time away balances one out and prevents us all from working our lives away. A long summer recharges the batteries and provides an opportunity to start the school year ready to rock and roll.

There is a common misconception that a teacher's job 'stops' over the summer. I don't think so. The job merely shifts. Most educators attend conferences, read books, prepare lesson plans, and game plan for a successful year. Thus, summer is important for many reasons. Summer is more than a time to recharge, its a time to regenerate, rejuvenate, and to improve.

Image Source: User Stevebidmead, Pixabay.com

I have a challenge for my fellow educators this summer. Instead of simply powering up over the summer, let's concentrate on a few things we can do to empower up this summer. What can we do over the summer to empower ourselves as professionals, leaders, and change agents for the coming year? How can we prepare ourselves to look beyond the trivial day-to-day skirmishes over recess duties, attendance procedures, email norms, and copier limits?

How can we empower ourselves to lead difficult discussions on technology, curriculum, inequality, and society? I don't have the answer, but I think we can start with an attitude shift. Accepting the challenge to start the school year as an empowered leader will guide the preparation we take on. Maybe the books we read will be different. Maybe the summer travel destinations will change. Maybe the conversations we engage will be different. Maybe we will approach summer profession development in a new way.

Image Source: User Space-X Imagery, Pixabay.com

I understand empowerment looks different to each teacher. It should. The underlying reason for approaching the summer with an empowerment focus is because teachers are models. Models in the sense that students, and other teachers, look to our attitudes and behaviors. We model the actions and perspectives of those who look to us. If we want our students to be empowered, then we need to authentically feel so ourselves. If we want other teachers to be leaders, then we need to be willing to lead. Teachers also need to exhibit their professionalism, their prestige, their importance. Many of us have advanced degrees and years of experience. We are professionals. Starting next school year, I challenge you to show others your power and empowerment. It starts now.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fighting the Urge to Have Things Figured Out


Image Source: User Keem1201, Pixabay.com

Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher (and personal hero) writes, "this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing. It is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely, or inadequate, there's been some kind of mistake or we've lost it" (p. 12).

We live with both the external and internal expectations that we should have things figured out. It starts from a young age. What do you want to be when you grow up? What college do you want to go to? What are you going to major in? Have you lined up an internship?

It continues into adulthood. When are you going to get a job? When are you going to get promoted? Is he/she the one? How many kids are you going to have?

It's perfectly normal to have a final destination, a grand plan, a motivating goal. In fact, there is an intense amount of pressure to keep moving forward, to achieve, achieve, achieve. But what happens when life doesn't follow the script we write? What happens when the script is unclear? What happens when coffee spills all over the plan? What happens when you want to be a professional baseball player and you can't hit a curve ball?

Image Source: User Skeeze, Pixabay.com

 If you're like me, you will feel frustrated, anxious, or sad. Why? I realize that I do not have things figured out and for some reason I think I should. I work hard, have high expectations, and strive for success. I generally make good decisions and consider myself proactive. I can check off many boxes on the 'most likely to achieve' list. But life throws curve balls, and I still haven't figured out how to hit them.

There is another alternative. We could smile and let out a slight chuckle with each detour. We could be empathetic, understanding, and kind to our self. We can pick ourselves up, continue to work hard, and get ready for the next off-speed pitch. We can accept the fact that we don't have things figured out. We can be okay with that. The road to success often looks a lot different than how we picture it.

Image Source: Demetri Martin, "This is a book"

We can also be supportive when other people don't have things figured out. It doesn't mean that we have to lower our standards or accept mediocrity. It isn't a blank check to be lazy and disinterested. As a teacher, I can appreciate the work my students do. I can appreciate their effort. I can appreciate their questions and passions. I can have compassion when they fall down, when they make mistakes. If I don't have it all figured out, why should they?

This summer is one of transition. I am moving out of my comfort zone (the West Coast) to teach and start a PhD program on the east coast. This wasn't part of the master plan. I will have to learn a new school district, a new community, a new university, and a new daily routine. My biggest goal is to be just fine with not having things figured out. I want to revel in the space in between what should be and what actually is. It won't be easy, but if I go the other way I may be able to slap that curve ball to right field.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Working (and Learning) With a Teacher People Gave Up On



Image Source: User Macco0514, Pixabay.com

In a recent post, “Before You Give Up On ‘Those’ Teachers”, teacher and blogger Pernille Ripp writes:
“Yet, before we give up on those teachers, before we push them out, write them off, and definitely talk behind their back, stop for just a minute. Because those teachers had a dream once. Those teachers came into this profession wanting to inspire, to change, to create. They didn’t come to be the naysayers or the ones that brought us down. They came into this profession wanting to be the very best teachers they could be…those teachers are just like us, they just got a little lost. They don’t need to be pushed out, they need to be re-found.”
I worked alongside one of ‘those’ teachers this past year. I shared a class with a teacher who others saw as brash, angry, and old-fashioned. A teacher who used to sit at her desk and bark out orders. I wasn’t quite sure our pairing would be fruitful. We were polar opposites. Flash forward to the end. It worked out, and over the year she became my partner and teammate.

Image Source: User Werner22brigitte, Pixabay.com

Where She Comes From

Mrs. Smith (pseudonym alert) is a traditional teacher. She believes in the merit of memorization, obedient behavior, beautiful handwriting, and proceeding ‘page by page’. Things better be spelled correctly, and students need to recite the Gettysburg Address line by line. Notes, review questions, and chapter tests are her norm.

Most everything is the students fault. She believes students don’t work hard enough and are often lazy. Maybe if they cared more, they would do better. Worse yet, they are disrespectful and given too many chances.

Where I Come From 

Some would call me kooky, some would call me crazy, some would call me progressive, some would call me different. I never liked school very much so I tend to push back against standard practices and doctrine. I feel grades are one of the most harmful aspects of school. I teach through projects and am ambivalent about text books, page numbers, and teacher’s guides.

I allow multiple retakes and revisions. I tend to trust kids and think they work too hard. I try to give them multiple chances and understand their unique situations and circumstances. In my opinion, ‘talking things out’ is superior to detentions, referrals, and marks. In a different context, I am one of ‘those’ teachers.

Image Source: User Riddin, Pixabay.com

The Situation Mrs. Smith started her teaching career over 25 years ago. Mrs. Smith never left the school she started at. She became a fixture in the school community, a reliable constant. She benefited from her longevity and loyalty (at least for a time). Mrs. Smith was the school vice principal for a few years, until a change in leadership and assignments, sent her back to the classroom. Mrs. Smith did not want to go back to the classroom. In all fairness, she lacked the energy and was a bit jaded.

To complicate matters, the school was changing. New leadership pushed a new vision. The staff would collaboratively teach and plan classes. The staff needed to use technology to plan and teach lessons. The staff was expected to emphasize 21st century skills. Mrs. Smith was not enamored with the changes. This was a different type of education.

I was asked to support Mrs. Smith, to work with her to teach a class. We co-taught 8th grade Social Studies. I would create unit plans and discuss opportunities for students to collaborate, create, and use technology. I shared ideas for projects and alternate assessments. We agreed to lessons, grades, and assignments after working through multiple revisions, discussions, and feedback sessions.

Image Source: User SnapWireSnaps, Pixabay.com

Unexpected Success

Somehow our situation worked out. It was never perfect, and we struggled to understand each other at the beginning. I wanted her to dive into project based learning and alternative assessments. She wanted me to be strict and tough, to lay down the law. But we stuck with it.

We knew we came at things differently, but looked to each other’s strengths (and weaknesses). For example, the whole staff collaborated on Google Drive. I asked her to do the same so we could plan remotely. No matter how I tried, she seemed to ignore my documents. One day, she came to me with a simple computer question. Although it was basic, I patiently answered her question and showed her how to do it by herself the next time. She then surprised me by asking how to use Google Drive.

 She told me she always wanted to use it, but no one had taken the time to show her. She was often up very late into the night trying to figure out Google, and other ‘new’ technology. In fact, she was often up past midnight trying to work or prepare for other classes. When many of us thought she was lazy, she was actually over working. She wanted so bad to be a great teacher, but was overwhelmed. She just needed some support.

When she figured out Google Drive, she felt empowered to make changes and contribute at higher levels to both our class and the school. She felt comfortable with email as a way to communicate with me. I unknowingly unleashed an email machine. She emailed me after each class, followed up about student needs, and shared ideas. All the sudden, we had an authentic feedback loop for our class. Our communication allowed me to reflect more on this class than any other I taught. To think people thought she didn’t care.

I relied on her ability to create deadlines and move through projects. She pushed me to create more structure and incorporate more assessment, both summative and formative, into lessons. I learned from her ability to conference with students, to meet them one on one. She was able to work with students when she didn’t feel so overwhelmed by the many demands of teaching. I marveled with her ability to try new things. When I first suggested certain technology lessons or projects she would skip them. She didn’t feel comfortable using devices or computers. By the end of the year, she routinely used technology even when she didn’t quite understand it. She became a facilitator, asking students about their intentions and ideas.

To my complete shock, I genuinely enjoyed opening her emails, teaching with her, and bouncing ideas off each other.

Image Source: User Vait_Mcright, Pixabay.com
What I Learned from Her

There are things Mrs. Smith and I will never agree on. We have radically divergent philosophies of education. Putting aside our differences, she pushed me to really think about my core beliefs about education. What did I need to defend? What could I let slide? Where could I compromise? Where could I not? Where could we collaborate? Where could we support each other?

I learned how to be vulnerable. It couldn’t have been easy to accept support from a teacher in the nascent stages of their career. Nevertheless, she was willing to learn from me. She valued my experiences, even if people did not value hers. She appreciated being listened to, she appreciated working collaboratively. She asked for help when she needed it. She shared her thoughts and opinions.

I learned that she cared deeply for the students. She pulled students aside and worked with them individually. She was an excellent listener. She called me to her desk to bring up concerns I saw right through.

Teachers are humans, too. Mrs Smith works hard, she wants to do well. She is also stressed and feels undervalued. She is overwhelmed with the changes she sees in the classroom. Mrs. Smith wants people to listen to her concerns, to help her move forward. There is still a great teacher in Mrs. Smith. She is more than one of ‘those’ teachers.

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