I feel so lucky to be part of a school district that embraces innovation and continuously sends the message that education can be messy and that we have to give ourselves permission to fail.
I spent the afternoon at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the McVey Innovative Learning Center. As I sat outside in front of a building that only one year ago was the Central Office building for our school district, I realized that over the past year I have witnessed innovation in the making. I watched the building transform from office space and cubicles to an unbelievable building where students take classes like Mandarin Chinese via Skype, business students share their products with authentic audiences, rock band classes record music in a real studio, participants can take virtual fitness classes on demand and much more! To think that only a few years ago this ILC was only an idea, gives me hope that even the biggest ideas can be made into reality when the right people work together.
Hilliard City Schools, however, is quick to acknowledge that innovation does not and will not only take place in the ILC. The ILC is to be an incubator for ideas that should expand out into all of our schools. Now THIS leads me to begin to think about how I can embrace the ILC philosophy and in doing so can help teachers embrace the philosophy, as well.
In their book The Connected Educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall write that "schools have habitually prepared students for life by making them dependent on others to teach them, rather than placing power over learning into the learner's hands." They go on to challenge educators to "prepare students for their futures, not ours."
My challenge for myself and the challenge that I hope all educators will embrace is to find ways to empower students to be in charge of their learning. To do this Nussbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) explain that we as educators have a lot to unlearn. They state that we must unlearn that:
1. learning only occurs at school and is limited by space and time
2. learning is individual
3. we have to be experts in our classrooms
4. leading is only for those with titles
Here's what I am working on unlearning and relearning:
1. I'm unlearning that professional development needs to take place during traditional staff meetings and relearning how to provide and participate in quality, authentic professional development.
2. I'm unlearning that we as educators need to steer clear of social media and relearning how to use social media as professional development, as a way to tell our story and as a way to connect students to authentic learning experiences.
3. I'm relearning about collaboration and rethinking what collaboration REALLY means.
4. I'm unlearning that the quality of a school is defined by tests scores and relearning that the quality of a school is defined by the experiences that occur within and outside of it.
Who do you want to be as an educator? What do you need to unlearn and relearn?
Thank you Hilliard City Schools Innovative Learning Center and The Connected Educator for inspiring me to think big, unlearn, relearn and grow.
Nussbaum-Beach, S. and Ritter Hall, L. (2012). The Connected Educator: Learning and
Leading in a Digital Age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
While the end of summer brings many exciting new possibilities and opportunities, it also gives me time to reflect and think about how I've learned and grown as an educator. It's a time for a fresh start, a time to begin again! How many people can honestly say they work in a profession where they get to start over every year! I can't help but think about how lucky I am to be an educator.
I take my job seriously. I know that in order to get better at what I do I must continue to learn. This summer I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone by reading books and attending workshops that would really stretch my thinking. I have spent 8
years of my 13 year teaching career as a literacy coach, it would have been very easy for me to continue to explore best practices related to the teaching of reading and writing, but instead I decided to look for opportunities that made me slightly uncomfortable because I knew deep down that these experiences would help me learn the most. So, I began by reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, followed that up by reading Yong Zhao's World Class Learners, took a brief reprieve back into my comfort zone as I read Pathway's to the Common Core for a second time and finished up my summer
reading with The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall. But that's not all, I attended the Innovative Learning Environments Conference and spent a full day learning how to get connected and build my PLN using Twitter! As I began to explore the Twitterverse I became more and more humbled by the vastness of knowledge around me, by the endless ideas and possibilities, and by all that I did not know.
To say the least, this summer I learned more than ever by finding out
that there is so much that I still need to learn.
My hope for this school year is that I can inspire the educators around me to join me on a learning journey so that together we can engage, inspire and empower our
students. I want to make every day count!
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.