Partnering Change-Makers through a Love of Chocolate!
I have always dreamed of traveling the world for education. I figured researching the most authentic learning environments would be my path. After working on this project for the most perfect Innovative class, I realize that connecting students across the globe as change-makers would be pretty fabulous!
Partnering Change-Makers through a Love of Chocolate!
A Need for Innovation
When considering an innovative approach, an open mind and open ears seem most necessary. Moving beyond the curriculum and viewing education from each student's perspective allows the development of abilities, intelligences and talents much greater than one teacher can dictate (Couros, 2015). Learners today face individual responsibilities and global concerns beyond those of past generations. Their aptitude in identifying a problem, communicating appropriate methods and navigating toward a solution will only materialize when permitted to practice these skills often. Holding too tight to the objectives of a curriculum and the restraints of an isolated classroom, limit the potential each learner can offer society.
Engaging in Innovation
Students are natural information seekers. They ask questions, wonder about the world and inspire others to do the same. When they are passionate and excited about the content, the possibilities of what they can accomplish are endless. In a flipped classroom, for example, the lectures and rote memorization are completed at home and collaboration and interaction happen in the classroom. During this time, a teacher can pose questions for further consideration and clarify confusion, as necessary (Clark, 2015). The learning environment becomes dynamic and alive. The focus shifts to problem-solving, teamwork and critical thinking - skills necessary for solving any problem presented, not just the ones lining a worksheet. Engagement and empowerment fill an innovative classroom, as students' voices are heard and valued.
The admission that learning cannot look or feel the same for every student in every classroom is innovative. Foundational knowledge, metaknowledge and humanistic knowledge must all be pursued to ensure well-rounded, successful thinkers (Kereluik et.al., 2013). One area cannot trumpet another and a variation of methods and experiences will expose students to it all. Educators assess their students consistently, ready to rely on the learner to inspire the direction of instruction. Putting this authority and respect back into the profession, places an emphasis on personalization, rather than standardization (Eaude, 2011). When students pave the way, in competency-based settings, for example, the learning is meaningful. The teacher trusts in her students' abilities and encourages them to progress along their educational journey. Releasing everyone from the stress of "at risk" or "below proficiency" definitions.
Innovation, for those who are not ready, is a scary idea. The loss of control and the risk of failure are possibilities many educators are unwilling to experience. But, as explained by Couros (2015) innovation is not transformation and does not require a whole new system. Small changes have huge effects. If you were advising a colleague to make small changes towards innovative practices, where would you have them begin?
Clark, K.R. (2015). The effects of the flipped model of instruction on student engagement and performance in the secondary mathematics classroomLinks to an external site.. Journal Of Educators Online, 12(1), 91-115.
Couros, G. (2015). Innovator’s mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. Dave Burgess Consulting.
Eaude, T. (2011). Compliance or innovation? Enhanced professionalism as the route to improving learning and teaching. Education Review, 24(1), 49-57.
Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learningLinks to an external site.. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education (International Society for Technology in Education), 29(4), 127-140.
Oyugi, J.L. (2015). Rational and challenges of competency-based education and training: The "wickedness" of the problem. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(14), 74-78.
How is it that the last time we posted here, we were knee-deep in Covid learning - remote setups, masks and uncertain times. Amazing that we are 3 years away from that unbelievable time and coming very quickly to 2024! As the new year begins, we are forever grateful that education continues to evolve and open doors to so many innovators. It is exciting to consider the strategies being applied for learning loss (still from Covid) and diverse needs of our students. As I continue taking classes towards my PhD. in Education, I am excited to introduce my students to even more learner-centered experiences and technological opportunities. There is always growth in the world of education! I am ALWAYS ready!
On March 13, 2020, the routine we have known for 5+ years at the center, suddenly came to a halt. We said good night to our "homework help" kids, our students, teachers, and closed the door, turned off the lights - never realizing the good night would actually be a 4 month goodbye. We are still relying significantly on virtual sessions, as the governor of New Jersey has not yet opened small businesses. It has been a strange 90+ days in "quarantine."
Meditation and writing have always been my breath, peace in times of craziness. But also the first two things to be dropped in times of busyness and stress. With stay-at-home orders allowing a deep "slow down," I have been blessed with the time for daily reflection, through both quiet and words.
Canceled ceremonies, postponed standardized tests, rescheduled assignments...
Everyone loves to be recognized for the work they have done, the successes they have met. But what happens when our children are "waiting" for the prize FOR learning, instead of recognizing the learning IS the trophy. When my oldest was 5, she entered a public school Kindergarten class with the nature of a philosopher. She asked questions, she wondered, she observed. She was driven by her own ideas, her own ponderings.
The teachers were amazing.
An experience I am thankful for.
It was the same district that I received my entire public school education.
An experience I am thankful for.
It was a five minute drive to the public school I taught at for five years.
An experience I am thankful for.
But within a few months, my tiny philosopher stopped asking questions about the moon or the Italian word or the animal habitat. Instead, she wondered what "theme day" would be on Friday, which sticker was atop her writing piece, or whether her homework was neat enough. The learning wasn't enough anymore. My 5 year old had quickly adopted this language of education. It wasn't about what she learned or her ideas on the topic. No. Now she wanted to know what she would get for finishing her homework. What kind of party would she have at the end of the school year? Could she get a toy if her teacher gave her a good grade?! We started homeschooling my 5 year old in first grade. We were on a journey to be learners. Not to get the learning "done."
I am saddened for the students that feel like the Corona-Virus stole something from them. They may not have their graduation ceremony or may not have that final A plastered across a report card. Many feel as though they have completed remote learning "for nothing." When learning loses its power of being the award, learning loses its magic. It loses its worth. The Corona-Virus did not steal the experience. It did not steal the journey. The pandemic did not steal the knowledge that WAS meant to be the goal.
These past 13 weeks have changed so much. I pray that the value of learning will change too. Maybe the loss of the ceremonies and the grades and the stickers will allow our students to recognize the gift that is knowledge alone. Pandemics, Unemployment, and Racial Tension may just force a reevaluation.
What has happened since April, 2013 that I have not written anything on this blog?? A baby, a business move, and 5 million other things, I am sure!!!
My sister emailed this amazing article today concerning the decrease in play time being positively correlated to the increase in mental illness in our children. Mental Illness!!!?? The amount of play that our children are exposed to on a daily basis may effect their mental health for the rest of their lives??!! Dramatic...??? My experience has been that a child with mental illness turns into an adult with mental illness, and usually with even greater severity. Are we honestly willing to take the chance that more of our children turn into broken adults?? What do we fear in playtime - disorder? curiosity? imagination?
My 4 children have been sick with a long-lasting stomach virus. Today they wrote for about 10 minutes, read for maybe 5, and visited the library for a bit. Afterwards, I wanted nothing more than to get them outside breathing the crisp Autumn air and to crunch leaves and play! I fear we are wasting something beautiful by waiting for the calendar to read summer vacation! 2 months will never make up for the 10 months of ignored childhood!
Monday morning....played legos, built a tent, read some books.....Monday afternoon.....lassoed eachother (yes - around the neck...agghhh), went swinging, drove some trucks, built a Mayan pyramid, had a picnic, played tag (mama was IT).....Monday evening....more swinging, more lassoing, a lot more running, some reading....ahhhh....sleep!!
Imagine trying to contain all that energy for 6 hours within 4 walls....NEVER!!
But some people try and the results are detrimental! Read this article about children being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. Learning issue or suppressed energy?...I have my theories....
I love my Wednesdays! You may think it is crazy, but I love my Wednesday for the long commute. My normal every day drive is 5 minutes (in traffic). On Wednesdays, I drive for over a half hour and it is one of the only times during my week that I can "think." I mean really think - minus rapid fire questions from 3 very curious kids. So on my commute today, I was beating myself up - worried about how little time I spent reading with my 6 year old, how quickly I flew out the door at the sight of my babysitter, and worried that maybe, just maybe, the rushing isn't worth it!
My story was different on the way home! To see the look on that little boy's face today when I told him what a great reader he is - that's worth it. To receive not one, but two hugs from Mommies who are frustrated with their school system - that is worth it. To know that I may one day be a part of something so much bigger than a small center in a tiny town - that has to be worth it! On the Wednesday commute home, I reaffirmed that CHANGE is definitely worth my time. The conversation cannot end - join Your Village - continue the conversation!
View A Race to Nowhere - February 19, 7:00 pm - Tutor's Link Learning Center.
Call to reserve your spot!
As Valentine's Day quickly approaches, I cannot stop thinking of our reason for homeschooling. I have always wanted my children to LOVE learning, not be forced to do it. I want them to LOVE discovering something new, LOVE the feeling of hard work paying off, and LOVE where learning takes them. One day my children will LOVE their jobs, not work at something they were supposed to be good at!
It is a scary time when A's mean more than happiness! You must read this one, too!
- learning to tie your shoes
- meeting friends
- learning to share
- writing your name
- experiencing art and music and centers
- voicing your opinion clearly
Those days are over. Welcome to the life of 6 year olds stuck in the professional world! You must read this article. Share your own experiences with your children and kindergarten.
As a tutor, no longer the TEACHER, I still make myself part of the team - teacher, parent, child, and ME! I speak with my team members often, seeing what I can do better and how they can support my efforts. After a brief phone conversation concerning a 1st grade student, the teacher told me that my "hands-on activities in the home may be making it even harder for the student to sit quietly in the classroom." Uhhhh.....!!!! I am sorry??!! Do you not get enough hours each day to force a VERY active, VERY inquisitive little boy into silence? May I allow him to experience learning as learning should be experienced? May I allow him to laugh and sing and be silly? Just for 1 hour....then I swear he will sit quietly and finish the 2 hours of homework you sent home.
Let us not forget what being a student is about - a true student of learning!
My mind is flooded with all the topics in education and thought a blog may help getting the information out to our clients. As an elementary/special education teacher, Literacy Specialist, and mama of 4 young children, I never stop learning! My students are always my teachers.