Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow: An Enemy of Learning

As I was shoveling snow onto the eight-foot-high pile in front of my house during my fourth snow day, I considered the fact that we had lost an entire day of school and educational momentum, and wondered: should that also mean we lose an entire day of learning?  The in-again-out-again lack of routine for everyone - students, teachers and parents alike - is certainly detrimental to maximum student learning, but what can we do?  Mother Nature has another plan!  But what if snow was no longer a reason for learning to stop?  Physical schools are important, yes - but when we cannot get in there (be it snow, rain, travel, vacation, or something else), what if  getting into the physical school building was eliminated as a hurdle to learning?  What would that look like?  What if...
  • Students were expected to think deeply every day (even on snow days!)
  • Technology eliminated the snow day hurdle
  • Students were engaged in authentic, project-based learning
  • Teachers provided learning opportunities online
Is this possible?  Yes - and essential on days when students and teachers cannot get to school.  An unexpected snow day is fun for everyone, and I'm not trying to be the Fun Police, but really, it's all about maximizing our students' learning, isn't it?  Therefore, snow, sleet, freezing rain or burst pipes should no longer be a reason for learning to stop.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Lost Potential

As an educator, I have dealt with sad moments in my career, with the death of students with whom I spent time.  As Cicero said, "Nosce te ipsum," and boy, do I know myself: the death of a child is likely the saddest thing that I've ever had to experience, and hope to never again.  What truly gets me: the loss of potential of a child.

I needed to put my current blog post on hold, to stop and think about the loss of Christina Taylor Greene.  I never knew this nine year old, but her death has hit me like a ton of bricks.  This young lady was a victim of the Tucson, Arizona shooting at Representative Gabrielle Giffords's community meeting.  Her potential was simply incredible: the only girl on a baseball team, an aspiring politician, a dancer, a gymnast, a swimmer, a musician, a volunteer.  All of this potential: lost, in a single moment, and it simply devastates me to the core.

No one can reverse the insanity that occurred yesterday in Tucson, AZ.  No one can bring back Christina Taylor Greene.  But, as an educator, I remind myself today, and everyday, to always look for the potential in all my students, and commit to not letting that slip away.  Christina Taylor Greene's potential may have been lost, but I simply will not allow her death to be in vain: the potential of our students is right in front of us, waiting to flourish.  As educators, it is our job to develop it.  Please join me in ensuring that Christina Taylor Greene's memory is used for good, as a reminder every single day about the delicate potential that every student holds - and important job that we educators all hold.  It is our responsibility to ensure that potential blossoms to its fullest extent.

Works Cited:

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Cloud of Students

I was excited to learn of Tagxedo, a word cloud creator.  I submitted my blog's address, knowing that I was making myself vulnerable as to what would be most prominent...I was thrilled to see the biggest word in my blog's cloud: students.  Woo hoo!