I’ve just spent the day at Collegiate School in Richmond, working with teachers on inquiry learning. I came away knowing the students at Collegiate are in good hands. Good hands.
And that’s such a good feeling. As I watch twitter, read blogs, and browse news headlines, it’s easy to get discouraged. About kids, teaching, school. Life. But today I was able to work with teachers who are digging deep to find ways to reach kids. It’s not so hard, is it? We know what matters. And it’s not the tests we give at the end of the year.
We spent some time talking about questions…and this popped up in my reader today:
“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein
Yes, the questions.
I had a good session with one of my writing students yesterday. We’ve been discussing the difference between writing a summary and writing a persuasive essay. He’d recently watched Becket in history class, assigned to complement their study of the middle ages. We worked on a summary of the movie before moving onto “taking a stand,” something he’s asked to do in DBQ’s (data-based questions).
I decided to help explain the difference in the two using The Voice, a quirky television show I’ve become somewhat addicted to. I asked him to summarize the purpose of the show, and then to explain which team is the strongest, using details from the show to back up his opinion.
He hadn’t been watching The Voice, so he found it difficult.
“What shows do you watch?” I asked, thinking we could switch gears.
His face lit up. “The Walking Dead!” he said, starting to summarize the show. “It’s about…..”
Well, you get it. The exercise worked well, and I learned more about zombies than I want to know.
Brene Brown speaks to me. She opens her mouth, and I nod. Sigh. Smile.
I’ve read all her books, and I’ve downloaded her recent Daring Greatly to my kindle. She makes her research approachable, inviting, and meaningful.
This interview with Jonathan Fields from The GoodLife Project touches on so many important ideas: vulnerability, writing, parenting, teaching, and what makes a good life. It’s worth watching.
I spend a lot of time staring at the ocean, too.
That might seem wasteful or self-indulgent, but to me, it’s time well spent. Some of my best thinking happens at the beach. The regular pounding of the surf lulls me into a kind of meditative state where my mind is clear.
Even the simple routines of anchoring the boat on the salt pond and then carrying lunch, books, and chairs across the barrier beach provide a way of grounding me. I step onto the hot sand, leaving my rubber flip flops at the end of the path. Block Island sits straight ahead on a clear day. Quonochontaug to the left and Weekapaug to the right flank the long stretch of shoreline.
Settling in, I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity to connect with the sand, surf, and familiar sights again.
Edited: I discovered a lovely wordfor this: Uitwaaien
If we want our students to grow, we must do that ourselves. This weekend we believe differently. All of us have a stake in the game. Solutions must include us (and our students). We cannot solve problems by doing things TO students.
This morning, as I bumped into the quote again, I was reminded of a teacher I met this past weekend. We were discussing change and what kind of “change agents” we want to be. He paused, turned his head slightly, eyes widening: “I just realized,” he said. “I ask my students to take risks all the time….and yet I don’t put myself out there at all.”
He was referring to sharing and working online, being willing to reach out to others to learn and grow. He’d been satisfied, thus far, to be the director who told his students what to do without doing the work himself. He looked as if he had walked into a strange, new place with no idea how he had arrived.
I smiled. I’ve seen that look before. And it can be both scary and exciting.
During our session, this teacher had shared some amazing insights, and I was eager to find his
space place online to learn more.
“I don’t have a space online,” he’d said. “But I guess that needs to change.”
We must model the kind of learning we want from our students. And we must also be willing to learn from them as they explore their interests and passions.
First, we must believe in the change. And then we live the belief.
This seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
Here’s hoping we all manage to sleep well in years to come. I do worry about our kids who sleep with their phones, squashing any chance of a solid night’s sleep.