I was a new teacher eleven years ago. But as the new school year begins, it is more apparent to me than ever, that I am a new teacher every year. As educators, we are understandably focused on all there is to teach, and yet we must also be mindful of all there is to learn. The summer has given me bit of time to reflect on my own learning during my time in education and to identify the top eleven lessons I learned in as many years and to pay homage to the wise colleagues who have been my teachers. With their inspiration, I head into the next school year and those to come with a mindset not simply of, “What am I here to teach?” but “What am I here to learn?” On behalf of our students, I encourage you to do the same.
Lesson 1 – Meet the students where they are and take them where they need to go, even if that means to another country. Travel with your students, intellectually and literally. (Mr. Casolaro) Continue reading Eleven in Eleven
This morning I participated in a Twitter chat (#satchat – every Saturday at 7:30 AM). The topic was “Innovation in the Classroom.” It is a great topic, and it was a great conversation. I am thankful to be able to learn from so many other inspiring educators. If you have never tried a Twitter chat, I encourage you to try it. If you need help on how to, just ask me (@DeanofAcademics or Mr.Burke@hermits.com). I would be happy to help get you started.
As I was reading the comments in the chat, I remembered a breakfast conversation that I had over 5 years ago. I was in my second year of administration and was lucky to have the ear and voice of an experienced Head of School sitting across the table. My breakfast companion had been in education for over 40 years and was then the Head of School at a similar all-boys independent school. In the moment, I did not realize how fortunate I was to have been able to pick his brain for an hour. I could have asked so many more poignant questions than I did. Still, I took a lot away from our meeting, and there is one particular comment that I will never forget. I asked a generic question about effective teacher observations, but his response was profound: Continue reading Duck! The Pendulum is Swinging Again
I can’t wait for our in-service; I always learn so much! (Said no teacher… ever.)
Planning professional development (PD) days that suit ALL of our teachers is difficult. As the husband of an elementary school art teacher, an amazing elementary school art teacher, I hear often about the lack of relevance offered to her during in-service days. My wife loves her students and works hard to inspire them each day. Unfortunately though, as an art teacher she rarely grows as an educator during all-school PD days. Why? Because they’re geared toward “important” subjects like science and math? Because they focus on tested areas of the curriculum? For a variety of reasons she, like many other teachers, is expected to sit through sessions that offer very little to help her grow as an educator. For teachers, all teachers, there has to be a better way. Continue reading 4 out of 5 Educators Choose Root Canal Over PD
Lunch was over. My stomach was full. My eyes were straining to stay open, and I was going to need a cup (or an IV drip) of coffee to make it through the looming afternoon session of professional development. You know exactly what I mean— you’ve been there. My mind wandered from the PD session. The presenter then asked something that we all, educators or not, have likely been asked more than once in our adult lives. Who are your teaching heroes? Quick Kevin, think of an eloquent and engaging answer about the people in your life who cared for you, who made a difference, who pushed you to be your best…
Wow, it’s a long list.
I began to identify those who impacted me, but this time, for whatever reason, I focused on the why. In this moment, I suddenly realized how this question could help me to be the teacher that I needed when I was younger and how it could help me now to be that teacher for my students. Continue reading An IV Drip, A Brick Wall, and a Dead Man Walking
Continued from Reflections on a Sleepless Year and Being the Educator Our Students Need post.
Consistency is the first of the two essential components of student engagement. Seems simple enough, and for some teachers, it is. The classroom is a haven where all of their outside problems wait at the door. Their moods are unaffected by parking tickets or root canal work. For others however, it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, not to bring their personal struggles into the classroom, and these difficulties manifest as unpredictable moods. Happy on Monday, inflexible on Tuesday, bitingly sarcastic on Wednesday. . . I get it. It is hard. I wrestle with this, and I assume many educators and administrators do too. Sometimes I wonder if consistently crazy is good enough. The inability to not bring personal challenges into the classroom however, creates a disconcerting inconsistency for students. Continue reading Is Consistently Crazy Good Enough?
We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey, Educational Theorist
As an extrovert, I rely on others, especially in the midst of struggle. My reflections and thoughts become most constructive when I share them. For me, this is never more evident than at work, and this latest challenge proved to me the importance, not just of relying on others, but the importance of relying on the right others. As I wrote yesterday, I believe that having a steadfast circle to count on is essential to successful school leadership. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 3 of 3)
I recently found myself in the midst of a major struggle. I will share the phases of this struggle in my next three posts over the next three days, starting with this one.
As a problem-solving, advice-giving, “It’s all in your perspective. Just reframe!” guy, this is hard for me to admit to myself and harder still to admit in a blog post. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 1 of 3)
If you want to know what a student thinks, just ask him.
Last week, our students completed yearly surveys about their current courses and teachers. I believe that students’ candid feedback is the greatest resource administrators and teachers have to identify areas of concern and facilitate improvements, both in our classrooms and on our campus.
Educators must always be searching for and creating venues to capture reliable data; it helps us to understand the effectiveness of teachers, curricula, and programs. And while I am not diminishing the value of traditional academic data and analysis, I am promoting the value of insight from students. Continue reading Take the Time to Ask