Tag Archives: belief

Do You Have Time?

We all have time.  But how much?

And how will we spend it?

As an educator, I struggle with doing too much.

As a teacher, I packaged content endlessly, provided feedback on everything, read tirelessy, reflected on everything.  It consumed me. It consumes many.  Balance, alignment, living a rich life away from school – all of these things can be hard when there are no “hours of work” or boundaries of work.  There is always more that can be done.

Many of us work really hard – too hard perhaps.  But the passion for what we do, for changing life trajectories, is hard for others to understand at times.

It takes intention to stop and rethink the effectiveness of the effort and the purpose in how we spend our most valuable resource – time.

RULER
John Sills and Ben Kelly share the career of Jim Fry, NWO Regional Director, MNRF June 2016. Photo by Kira Fry.

Recently, two dear friends spoke at my husband’s retirement celebration.  They shared a timeline of his outstanding career in protecting Ontario’s natural resources.  Then they focused on what is left in the timeline, and how we need to be intentional about how that time is used.

LEO
Leo Suazo shares his understanding about the value of time. June 2106. Image by Kira Fry.

 

Retired US Fish and Game Officer Leo Suazo spoke eloquently about the value of time, and how after retirement, we have the opportunity to choose how we will share our gift of time.  What life trajectories will we impact? What changes will we enable?

How will we use our time to support those doing good in the world?

Kira Chloe retirement
Kira and Chloé. Image by Jake Avery.
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Shannon and Kyle with Jim. Image by Kira Fry

 

So then, how does this help us decide how to spend that precious time? Perhaps a recent commencement address by Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan helps us think this through.

 

Dr. Ryan proposes five good questions we can ask in all that we do.

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From Five Good Questions by Dr. James Ryan http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/16/05/good-questions

The last question?

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Late Fragments, by Raymond Carver http://allpoetry.com/Late-Fragment

 

From Dr. James Ryan:

My claim is that if you regularly ask: wait, what, I wonder, couldn’t we at least, how can I help, and what really matters, when it comes time to ask yourself “And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so,” your answer will be “I did.”

 

How will you use your gift of time?

Featured image of Diane Corbett, Ian Anderson, Doug Hyde and Jim Fry (Ontario Provincial Peer Support Program) by Kira Fry, June 2016.

This post is dedicated to my father, Melville Charles Miller, who would have been 81 years old today, on this Fathers’ Day 2016.

His dedication to the natural resources of this province inspired many of the people who have continued that legacy.

References:

Good Questions

 

 

donna jim
Image by Kira Fry, June 2016

Where is Your Blog?

If you are an educator, you need a blog.

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It’s 2015.

Where are you creating your digital identity?

Where do you share resources with other educators?

Where do you reflect on your practice?

Where are you having conversations about learning and teaching?

Where do you model the learning we want to see in every classroom?

How do you demonstrate the Standards of Practice of the profession?

Where do you maintain a professional portfolio?

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Thank you to Dean Shareski (@shareski) for sharing this slide. The image links to the source on slideshare.

 

Last evening we had a rich conversation in the #OSSEMOOC open mic around why educators are not blogging.

1. Not enough time.

Educators are the hardest working people I know, hands down.  No contest.  They would NEVER think of not preparing for classes or not providing feedback on student work.

Isn’t blogging and sharing and reflecting just as important? How long does it take to share a few thoughts online?  How long does it take to upload a file to share?

 

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2. Fear of judgment.

Creating a safe environment for risk-taking is a classroom priority. Why do we make it hard for our colleagues to share their practice? Do our students feel they will be judged when we ask them to share? How do we model to our students that learning and sharing and growing together is a valuable use of our time?

3. Don’t know how.

Get started here:

Start connecting here: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-1/

Why you need to make thinking visible through blogging here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-22-making-thinking-visible-through-blogging/

Why you need to start your own blog here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-23-yes-its-time-to-start-your-own-blog/

How to start your blog here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-24-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-blog/

How others use their blogs (modelling) here: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-25-you-have-a-blog-now-what/

How to turn your blog into a professional portfolio here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-26-your-blog-as-your-portfolio/

Making your blog YOUR online space for sharing:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-27-more-blog-considerations/

4. It’s not really valued.

You are right.  It isn’t. At least not yet.

Until we teach in the B.Ed. program that open reflective practice and demonstration of the Standards of Practice of the profession is a necessity, we won’t see it.

Until we ask to see a blog with every job application, be it teacher, principal or system leader, we won’t value it.

Until every PQP and SOQP course makes open sharing, connecting, collaborating, reflecting and learning important, we won’t insist on it.

 

But let’s not wait!

The value in reflecting, sharing, conversing, connecting and honouring our amazing work in schools is obvious.

Let’s tell our own stories of the learning happening in our classrooms and schools.  The stories are powerful.

Share them widely.

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Special thanks to @timrobinsonj for sharing pixabay.com

 

 

Thoughts: Labour Day 2014

I wanted to tell a funny story on this Labour Day.

I will share this entertaining piece instead: Teachers Don’t Sleep on Labour Day by  @albertfong

I have plenty of my own crazy tales, of course, having spent nearly 30 years of Labour Days ignoring my family in spite of it being my daughter’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, a stressful time for my kids heading back to school…

Even though today is the first Labour Day in 25 years where nobody in our household is heading off to school, I don’t feel like being funny.  I have a very heavy heart as I think of the teachers in British Columbia and the conflict they are embroiled in.

I think of the passionate educators that do so much for students in B.C. – educators like Karen Lirenman,  David Truss, and Bryan Jackson.   How do I know what they are doing?  Because they share.

They openly invite everyone to see how they think, what they struggle with, how they learn, and what they are working on.  They do this through blogging, through Twitter (and other social media), and through face-to-face presentations throughout the year.

I know they love what they do, because they openly demonstrate this all year long.

As we once again see teachers as a political target, it is important to ask ourselves why this profession is so often attacked by politicians. Take a moment to read this very thought-provoking essay on the Future of Schooling in Canada by Stephen Murgatroyd.

Here is a short excerpt:

“Teachers need to “take back” their schools, supported by mindful school leaders, if they are not to become the new laboratories for corporate greed….

…The final challenge relates to the conditions of practice which teachers and school leaders face. There is a growing distortion around the importance of class size and composition – classes of 30-35 with up to six students with special needs are seen as “manageable” (they are not) with a single teacher and little if any access to other supports. Custodial services are seen as being only required before and after school – not during the school day, leaving teachers to clean up after sick children or some accident in the chemistry lab. We are neglecting the basic conditions in the name of economy. Attempts to challenge the creeping Fordism which such class sizes force on school systems are seen as “teacher whining”, yet parents and citizens should be appalled at some of the conditions under which we are asking teachers to produce the next generation of imagineers, artists, scientists, engineers and trades persons.”

 

If we really believe that our children are our greatest resource, and if we really believe that teaching is the most important profession for our future, then we need to tell our stories to the world.

“Teaching in isolation is no longer consistent with professionalism.”(Catherine Montreuil, August 2014).

This year, don’t just do great things for kids.

Tell your story.

Tell it loudly, and openly, and show the world what you do every day.

Show the world that every single day, teachers are making a positive difference in the lives of our children.

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Photo credit: venspired via Compfight cc

The Loneliness of the First Follower

It’s harder to follow than it is to lead.

Timber and Bailey, June 2014
Image by Kira Fry, used with permission.

 

Leaders have passion for what they do.  They have practiced sticking out their necks, taking risks, trying new things, and failing.

For leaders, being the lone dancer in the crowd is their norm.

Dancing to the music is the right thing to do, even if it is all alone.

But first followers…  Life is very different for them.

Followers are straddling two worlds.  While one foot is firmly planted in their peer group, their team, their home position, they have suddenly taken a step out of their comfort zone.

Perhaps it is because they have heard music they can dance to for the first time.  Perhaps the song has finally come along that they have waited all night for.  Or perhaps they have been dancing with the door closed for a long time.

But first followers have the most to lose.

The leader might sit down again, leaving the follower all alone, dancing to a different tune than everyone else on the hill.

The leader might keep right on dancing to a different tune, ignoring the new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might tell the first follower that he is no longer welcome to sit with them.  He should go off and just keep dancing with his new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might grab the first follower’s legs and try to pull him back down.  They are afraid to try to keep up, and he is making them look slow.

But it is the first follower that other followers emulate.

First followers are critical to the movement.

First followers are catalysts for change.

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Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

As a school or system leader, how will you nurture your first followers this school year?

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(Shared here by Stacey Wallwin @wallwins http://swallwin.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/are-you-nuts-maybe-just-a-little/)

“It takes guts to be a first follower.  You stand out…”

“Being a first follower is an unappreciated form of leadership.”

…for Susan

 

EdCampWR (part 2) – Everyone Has Something IMPORTANT to Share

This past week, I have been explaining the concept of “EdCamp” to a lot of people.  It’s on a Saturday, it’s free, it’s open to anyone wanting to learn, and “everyone has something to share”.  The program is driven by the learning needs of the people in attendance, and the smartest person in the room is the room.

What I love most is the “hunger to learn”.

Recently I attended #Educon in Philadelphia.  While sessions are determined in advance, it does rest on the principle that “everyone has something IMPORTANT to share”.  This is captured very clearly in this video.

A few of my favourite quotes that capture some of the thinking from #Educon:

David Jakes: “The first step in redesigning a classroom is discarding the notion that it has to be a classroom.” (2:36)

Chris Lehman: “What schools can become, are the places where we come together to learn…” (4:14)

Jose Vilson: “Trying to get education to be more about what kids can do instead of what they can’t do…” (5:30)

Ayla Gavins: “..I would eliminate ACCESS as the reason for not choosing to use technology.” (6:23)

Diana Laufenberg: “The one thing that teachers can do proactively is to share, everywhere possible, the positive things that are happening with our kids…” (7:14)

What is #Educon?  It’s a global tribe of support – 24/7.

It’s what EdCamps can be too.  Passion, learning, sharing, bringing hope for positive change to make our schools places where we support communities of learning.

Should Kids Hate School?

I don’t know anyone who would answer “yes” to this question.  So why is the myth that “kids hate school” so pervasive?

Last week, buses were cancelled in Muskoka (yes, there is only one Muskoka!), and the television announcers made a huge deal out of how happy kids would be because they didn’t have to go to school.

If kids shouldn’t hate school, why would they be so happy to miss it?

We need to shift away from the norm of “hating school”.  There are probably reasons why people hated school in the past (perhaps being in the “Bluebird” reading group?).

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But why joke about this with kids today?  It’s outdated thinking.  Kids should never hate going to school.

Let Me Play

School is a place where students go to learn, to collaborate, to be healthy. It should be an optimum environment to promote growth, not something that they hate.

 

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And if they can’t get to the building, there is no reason* why kids (in Ontario) can’t be learning at home.  Blended learning and e-Learning are available in all publicly funded Ontario schools.  A cancelled school bus means kids connect with their classroom digitally and there is no interruption in learning.

“If we took seriously the need for kids to feel known and cared about, our discussions about the distinguishing features of a “good school” would sound very different. Likewise, our view of discipline and classroom management would be turned inside-out, seeing as how the primary goals of most such strategies are obedience and order, often with the result that kids feel less cared about — or even bullied — by adults.”

http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/duh.htm

As adults, we sometimes forget to question “norms” from times gone by.

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Let’s be mindful of our sphere of influence.  Showing that we hated school can have a powerful influence on those hearing the message.  And if a child doesn’t want to go to school, it’s not okay.  Find out why.

 

 

Further reading:

“That so few children seem to take pleasure from what they’re doing on a given weekday morning, that the default emotional state in classrooms seems to alternate between anxiety and boredom, doesn’t even alarm us. Worse: Happiness in schools is something for which educators may feel obliged to apologize when it does make an appearance. After all, they wouldn’t want to be accused of offering a “feel-good” education.”
http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/feelbad.htm

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/07/in-digital-age-schools-that-succeed-are-schools-that-connect/

Why do we need to write papers in every course? http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2013/12/college_papers_students_hate_writing_them_professors_hate_grading_them_let.html

*We are not doing an adequate job of ensuring internet access to all learners.  Many remote and not-so-remote areas have sub-standard or no access to the internet (or public libraries).