Thursday, May 25, 2017

Coaching Myself Forward: May 2017

Yesterday I was upset over a decision related to choosing a cabinet--seems so silly, but it is relatively small matters where lack of choice and voice reign that upset me. I spend a lot of time researching and designing the learning environment, and when my research is not regarded or discussed with respect, I feel devalued.

I feel the same way when it comes to Minecraft. I know that this 3D platform is a beloved platform for students, and I also know that the ability to create and learn in 3D is essential for the modern world. I see my wealthy students using this tool regularly at home and I notice the impact it has on their learning. I also notice that students who may not have the means, at times, do not have the chance to learn in this way. I worry that this early separation of opportunity will translate to a later widening gap in achievement, interest, and ability with technology, creativity, and innovation. I'd like to integrate Minecraft into the curriculum in some ways to mitigate this, but this is not allowed at the present time.

I also feel this way about SCRATCH which I believe is an important medium for greater thinking and learning. Further, I'd like to re-look at the amount of testing we do--I think we do too much paper/pencil testing and could modify that to leave more time for meaningful hands-on exploration, projects and teamwork with regard to learning. I worry that we are losing time when it comes to innovation and growth because so much exploration is not supported in the system--exploration and innovation that is being embraced by many school systems all over the country.

I have lots of ideas about how to move teaching forward in ways that matter. I value the lead time and good discussion needed to work on issues like this, yet I haven't found the best way to forward this kind of discussion with managers who currently appear disinterested in working with me in this regard. My experience shows that transparent, inclusive, and regular communication truly supports deep and rich teaching/learning. The lack of regular communication and lead time can stymie this depth and the potential possible.

Recently I reached out to foster a conversation to lead to better collaboration, research, and development. That may be a positive step.

I don't want to continue to run on the "hamster wheel" in some spheres of efforts that go nowhere, but instead I want to utilize good advocacy and effort to move ideas, activities, and good research forward.

Areas where I would like to move my work forward include the following:
  • Inclusion of Boaler's research in the math program with greater floor-to-ceiling explorations and project work
  • Greater intersection of science and other disciplines with math to make math learning meaningful and successful. 
  • Greater inclusion of STEAM and science learning with the natural environment around us with a focus on developing positive, proactive Earth stewards.
  • The ability to integrate a greater focus on theme at the grade level in order to deepen our learning and teaching.
  • Growth of SEL efforts \by integrating those efforts into all discipline areas and effort.
I enjoy the deep think that goes along with teaching well. I also enjoy discussing that deep think with colleagues and others as we work to teach children well. I want to understand why some do not respond to ideas and questions, and why others may not support teachers' research and requests. I want to understand this well so I can work with it without stress or upset.

Many urge me to follow my path without including those who are uninterested, yet I know it takes a solid team effort to really do the good work possible, and that's why I persist. Onward.