Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Can you teach creativity and innovation? #EdChat

I random thought went through my head the other day and I shared it on Twitter. Here is the tweet.

There have been some great responses to the thought and I was very curious about what other people think about this.

For me, I do believe all people have the capacity to be creative and innovative. What that creativity or innovation looks like will be different for all people.  I just do not think you can "make" someone creative or innovative. You can create an environment where their natural creativity can flourish. Teaching skills like painting, drawing, pottery, etc, are create skills, but that's not teaching creativity. It's teaching people how to express their creativity. Exposing people to different ideas, cultures, experiences, etc. can enhance their creative minds, but it doesn't create creativity from nothing.

It is very likely that I'm wrong about all of this, but I would love to hear from other people on this. Feel free to leave a comment below and share far and wide. I'm open to having my mind changed on this.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Back to School Blues #EdChat

I wanted to take a moment and let the teachers of the world that are feeling guilty about the small amount of dread they are feeling about going back to school know that it is ok to have that feeling and you should NOT feel guilty about it. 

This does not make you a bad teacher or a horrible person. It does not mean you are ready to leave the classroom and retire. It means you love spending time with your family. You love having the time to take care of yourself and spend time on things you love. As teachers, we do not get this time throughout the year and we relish the time we get in the Summer. 

That small twinge you feel in your gut doesn't mean you hate your students, it means you love your family. Do not let reading tweets about how everyone is so excited about be back to school and how they can't wait to dive in and make the most amazing bulletin boards. It's cook if that is what they are excited about for the new year. Take your time and get in the zone in the way that works for you. 

I'm excited and nervous to start the school year. New students and new responsibilities await me and that can make my butterflies flutter in the belly. One thing that makes dealing with these bits of anxiety is my crew of friends that I can text or call to help me talk through the feelings. I suggest you do the same if you can. 

I know once the school year starts, you will be happy to be there and the students will love seeing your smiling face as they walk into the classroom on the first day. Don't let the small feeling of tread overtake your overall amazingness. You got this. 

Let's make 2019-2020 amazing for all of our students and ourselves. 

Hugs and High-fives,


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Don't Forget the Introverts #EdChat

I've been seeing lots of tweets flood EduTwitter about reaching out to the shy students and engaging every single child because they just need that one teacher to be the one to save them from their silence. The savior complex is just gross at this point.

What I'm about to say is not revolutionary, but I guess it needs to be said again,

It's ok to leave the silent students alone.

Some people think that this means to ignore them. That is not what it means at all. It means give them the space they deserve to feel comfortable in the classroom. Not every kid is silent because they classroom is not a safe place. On the contrary, the student might be silent because it is the only place where they don't have someone asking something of them. It's a chance to just sit and take in the information. Kids can just sit, listen, and learn and be ok with it.

Many will find this hard to believe, but I am actually an introvert. I'm really good at hiding it in public, but my closest friends know that I'm an introvert. I would drive my teachers nuts because I would selectively participate in class. They would try to catch me "not engaged" because I was not taking notes. I would reply with whatever answer they were looking for and go back to listening. Sometimes I sat and listened because I did not have the time to do the reading, so I was trying to find out what happened and learn from others.

I'm also dyslexic, so being asked to read out loud was a nightmare. I would hide as much as possible on reading aloud days. I didn't need someone to save me and get me out of my shell, I needed people to leave me the hell alone for that day and let me be me.

All of this talk about getting every student up and engaged is forgetting the vulnerable introverts. Let those students do their own thing when they need it. Don't ignore them. Let them know they are seen every day and that you respect the fact they are not feeling it today. Not every silent students needs to be saved.

So, if you see those tweets from people telling teachers to save all of these students, please do not RT it. Offer a reminder there are other students in the class that deserve their quiet space and do not need to be saved. Especially from people that are not even in the classroom anymore.  

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Power of Student Agency @UniLiggett #EdChat #PBL

I've just finished my second year at University Liggett School. Seniors shared their amazing ARP projects last week and I was blown away. ARP is our version of Senior Capstone projects. I showcased some of the ones that I helped students finish in my last post, but I wanted to make sure I shared another project that is simply amazing.

Katriel Tolin wrote and illustrated a book about mental health in the black community and it is amazing. The book is available on Amazon right now. People always wonder about the types of things that students can produce when they are given time and provided guidance. This is just one of many different examples I have seen over the past two years working in the Makerspace and teaching at University Liggett School.

This book is a powerful reminder of students are capable of doing if teachers just let them. They have stories to tell, messages to share, and ideas to grow if educators can move past the "sage on the stage" approach to education and give more time to student agency. It is not easy. Students are going to resist it because they have never had it before, but that doesn't mean we do not try. Not every student is going to publish a book, invent an app, or solve a world problem, but we will never know if we do not give them a chance to explore what is important to them and give them the time and means to share.

I encourage you to pick up this book, especially if you teach African American students who deal with mental health issues. A student wrote this book and I hope it serves as a way to help other children dealing with mental health issues and I also hope it serves to inspire students to write, draw, and pursue the things that interest them. Ms. Tolin's book, "It's Not a Big Deal!" But It Feels Like Oneis just one example of the amazing things that students are creating at University Liggett School because we have embraced Project Based Learning and Student Agency.