Monday, February 29, 2016

Trailer for Our MACUL 2016 Session - The Way of the Google Drive

I'm teaming up with my friends Clark and Jake again to deliver the best session of MACUL 2016! (We're aiming for nothing less!)

I've trained and worked with hundreds of teachers around the state in the past year and I'm convinced of this: Teachers will be transformed and recharged when: 

  • They see what's possible.
  • And they remember why they decided to teach.

We do not need more "how-to" tech training. We need to rediscover our why and blow the ceiling off our idea of what it means to teach.

So our presentation will be packed full of practical tips and tools for learning and creating like never before as well as some big ideas for staying inspired.

Check out our short trailers to get a glimpse of what's in store!

Gonna be there? Please give us a SHOUT-OUT on Twitter!
Tweet: I'll be at The Way of the Google Drive on 3/10 at #MACUL16! Check it out here: #miched

This trailer focuses on the inspiration - Remembering the dream, seeing the possibilities:

This one is a summary of some examples we'll share:

See this recent blog post for more information.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Checklists Versus Possibilities

When I taught high school math I often noticed students who had, for lack of a better term, a "just enough" approach to their education. 

They'd ask what grade they needed on the exam to pass the class, for example. They'd tell me how their parents would ground them if they had an E, so they'd do enough to at least stay in that D- range.

Their motto was, "What's the least I can do to get the lowest results I can live with?"

I see the same thing now when I lead adults in professional development activities. Some are only take care to meet the bare minimum requirements. There's not intent to actually learn something.

It's like a checklist mentality. 
  • Showed up on time...check! 
  • Sat in the morning PD session....check! 
  • Filled out the evaluation...check!
But I don't want to pick on just "that person". The reality is all of us can slip into this checklist thinking when the job gets stressful. Do I have a warm-up for first hour? Did I pick out some exercises for Algebra? Did I put those test grades in the grade book? 

Obviously there are tasks to complete and it doesn't hurt to list them, but we can go too far. We can start to see the vitally important task of education to a series of tasks to complete. 

Checklists are great when you're learning. They're good for productivity or high pressure situations. But they're the enemy of art.

We need to leave room for the good kind of unexpected. Let the students explore and discover. Give them a chance to create different end products with many right answers.

In short, blow away the finite checklist with an infinite abundance of possibilities.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Way of the Google Drive - MACUL 2016

Hey, Michigan Teachers!
Fun from miGoogle 2015
My friends Jake Gentry, Clark Rodeffer and I are bringing The Way of the Google Drive to the MACUL ed-tech conference on March 10! It all starts at 1:00 in the Pearl Room at the Amway Hotel. 

You can see the session in the conference app here.

It's subtitled "big ideas and simple tools to create engaging learning experiences", but what exactly can you expect if you attend the session?
  • Live music to kick things off
  • Fun giveaways
  • Practical examples of exciting ways we use tech for learning and creating like never before
  • A challenging reminder of what we can accomplish for our students
  • A framework for using tech to AMAZE and INSPIRE
And everyone will leave with loads of resources too! We'll share a link to our website where we house everything we talk about in the session and more.

Follow me, Clark and Jake on Twitter to keep up with announcements as the date approaches.

If you want a bit more of a preview, here are some blog posts leading up to our session at miGoogle in November, 2015.
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Eyes to See

Image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões - 
There’s a shift that has to take place when you’re first learning to make art. It happened when I started drawing. I remember it when I got serious about being a musician. At some point the new artist has to quit looking at the paper or concentrating on the fret board. His attention must turn fully to the subject. He has to see it fresh with new eyes or truly hear it with new ears.

My mother is a painter and she’s the first one who pointed this out to me. She said her students would often exclaim how painting helped them see the world around them differently.

It wasn’t just a stop sign or a bench on the way to work anymore. It was light splashing on metal and wood, leaving subtle shades and dark shapes most people never notice.

Taking this truth to the classroom, what does the skilled teacher see that everyone else might miss? I’m sure there are many things, but I’ll suggest one that made school come alive for me.

The light I finally noticed or the music I began to truly hear in school is possibility

Possibilities pulse around us in the classroom maybe more than most other places because we are dealing with young lives. They are bursting with potential. The promise of what could be can be nearly overwhelming when we stop to take it in.

A typical class of 25 elementary students is packed with some 1,500 years of life remaining, if all the students live into their seventies. That’s 15 centuries! Have you considered that before?

Imagine the good things that could fill those days and hours, many of them due in part to the slow, steady sculpting and shaping you apply to minds and hearts through your time together.

Imagine the lives they will touch in turn.

And consider the possibilities in the short term too. Maybe every day won’t be filled with miracles, but what is possible every week in your class? Do you still get excited thinking about what could be?

Students can discover their passions.

   They might experience for the joy of learning like never before.

      They can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing a dream come true.

And that tough student you have this year? Couldn’t he be part of your most powerful story one day? And couldn’t you be part of his?

If we, the leaders of our classrooms and hallways, don’t see these possibilities, how will the students?

And seeing them is a necessary step in any of them becoming reality.

There is a force in school that would reduce every amazing possibility to an A through E, every life to an adjective. From fear of disappointment or fear of hard work, far too many have stopped looking for more.

When they only talk only of good days, bad days, losers and A-students, train your heart to notice what could be. Pray you won’t miss it and that you won’t give up.

Find the excitement in those possibilities most teachers won’t see.

     Keep work hard to bring them to life.

         Share the stories so others will see them too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Effectiveness on the Job - How we really differ from each other

Regular readers know I greatly enjoy helping people to learn and to reach their potential. As we all know, though, not everyone chooses to grow. It takes work and many people find other things to pour their energy into.

I'm sure all of us, no matter where we work and what we do, know colleagues who are effective and some who are...less effective. I had some thoughts about recently while planning professional development activities. 

First off, I had to admit I don't see teachers who knowingly cut corners and try to game the system. In other words, the differences in results are not due so much to intentional laziness. There are probably people out there like this, but no one I know would put up with the stress of teaching and consciously try to be ineffective.

Yet we obviously differ in effectiveness. So I tried to zoom in and list some specific, underlying ways in which we do differ. These differences in turn lead to poor decisions and less than effective practices.

I hope this list can be useful for self-reflection exercises and some important discussions with leaders and staff. 

We differ in:
  • What we are passionate about
  • Teaching skills
  • Learning skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to self-assess
  • Problem solving skills
  • Confidence in our current abilities
  • Satisfaction with our current abilities.
  • What we know is possible
  • What we believe is possible
  • What we hope is possible
  • How much we fear failure
  • How much we care
  • Commitment to a shared purpose
  • What we want out of work...and out of life
  • Our ideas of what makes a good teacher
  • How much we think we should do
  • How much we think people can change
  • What we take comfort in 
  • How willing we are to be uncomfortable
What would you add to the list?

How can a list like this lead to meaningful conversation?

photo credit: 07162013- AD in Minneapolis, Minnesota Events via photopin (license)