Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrate the Right Outcomes

We need to pay attention to what we celebrate. We must first decide what we want our outcomes to be. For example, I have a goal to read 100 books that will help me be a better leader. The outcome I want is to be a better leader. The 100 books is just a means. If I only celebrate completing the 100 books I miss entirely whether I am a better leader or not.

The outcome for students we desire is to be better learners and better people. If we only measure and celebrate when students complete classroom and/or homework assignments, we may miss whether they are learning or not. The assignments may help achieve the ultimate goal but it's important to never take the focus off the ultimate goal.

Effective Teaching --Individual Child

Richard Allington: Our current “scientific method” focuses almost exclusively on identifying what works best “generally”…children differ. Therein lies what worries me about “evidence based” policy making in education. Good teaching, effective teaching, is not just about using whatever science says “usually” works best. It is all about finding out what works best for the individual child and the group of children in front of you.
Allington, R. L. (2005). Ideology is still trumping evidence. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(6), 462.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Digesting Some Books

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."--Sir Francis Bacon
It would definitely be wise to have some books that warrant many rereadings. As we reread them and digest them they will become part of who we are. Reading a few books in this manner rather than reading many books that we just taste will have a greater influence on us.

The Strength of "Weak Ties"

I've been reading the thought provoking book, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. In the chapter, "The Law of the Few," he discusses the reason that "weak ties" are always more important that strong ties. Weak ties are our acquaintances while strong ties are our friends and family members. Our family and friends occupy the same world that we do--knowing pretty much what we know-- so they aren't a great resource for discovering new information and new ideas. Acquaintances, on the other hand, live in a different world. Therefore, the more acquaintances we have the greater is our ability to tap into some new ideas and information that can benefit a project we are pursuing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Staying Focused on Goals

Starting a group, even if only 2 people, that meets weekly can help us to stay focused on our goals. At these weekly meetings we can ask each other the following two questions:
  1. What will you do next?
  2. By when will you do it?


Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
---Emily Dickinson
Hope is not only something we as educators always want to keep perched in our own souls but it is also something we want to help instill in our students. We want to help them see that it is hope that will help them overcome any adversity or obstacle that confronts them. In fact, hope sings its sweetest song during a "storm."
Note: There is a 2008 Newbery Honor Book, Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson that uses this poem as its them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What To Do While Waiting

When things aren't happening as fast as we would like, it would be a good idea to write ponderings on the following questions:
  • What more do I have to learn?
  • What is the lesson here for me?
  • What is the waiting teaching me?
  • If not this, then what?
  • What else can I do to get the same results?

These thoughts come from the book Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser.