This morning, 4/6/14, I sat down at my computer to read Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning by John Hattie because I needed something to do. It's easy for me to read literature of this type - I love the philosophy and pedagogical prowess.
Reading the words turned into blah, blah, blah like Charlie Brown as he listens to his teacher. I've heard it, read it, listened to it, and thought about John's ideas countless times before. I know this stuff and I coach teachers, whenever possible, to understand the same ideas. What's new. Nothing. I decided to tweet a few thoughts to spark some kind of inspiration. While on Twitter site, though I'm not normally there, I wondered what my Twitter bio said about me; I was disappointed.
Yes, I was disappointed in myself because the words in that bio did not, now past tense, represent me. I wrote them some time ago and haven't bothered to go back and read who I am at this point in my life as an educator. So, I rewrote it and am bit more satisfied, here's why.
I am student centered
I could care less about standards, tests, SLO's, PARCC, or any other generically foisted mandate. I care most about students, their learning, and how I am deepening it.
This is how I see myself in the classroom. Maybe it is a buzzword but I don't care. I am what how I see myself and I am a learning coach. Good coaches praise awesome work, lead students to deeply understand mistakes and how to fix them, call out misbehavior, share their love of learning, and want every single student to succeed. This is me. This is how I look at being an educator.
I'm a technology integrator - that's a lame title for what I really do. Yes, I help teachers integrate technology and see how it fits, but what I really do is so much more.
I really spend a great deal of my time listening to educators helping them understand how to teach better, how to assess, how to redesign instruction, how to think differently about teaching and learning, and how to make learning meaningful for every student. Yeah, I love tech but I love coaching teachers even more.
I can't be an impactful educator if I'm not a learner. A year or so ago there was a trend about educators being learners themselves; this is still the case. Every teacher must be a learner. Not just a learner of new textbook series, technology, behavior modification, or Common Core, but a learner of new ideas, and a learner of students. We can't exist without learning for the very day we stop learning about our craft is the same day students lose because we have no fuel in the gas tank.
I have to be this, will always be this, and want every educator to invest in being a learner.
Don't get this word wrong or at least wrong about me. I'm not on a national stage calling for change though change needs to happen; I'm not hunting down politicians forcing my opinion in their face; I'm not barking at others on Twitter or other social spaces about education reform.
I have decided to work within my school district, at a grass roots level, to change education and disrupt the status quo and thinking within individual and groups of teachers. I don't shy away from pushing my point of view into a conversation. I do it by asking "What if?" and it always elicits a response to thinking differently.
Disruption is about thinking and doing differently.
Hates status quo
Status quo is stagnation. If we aren't changing to meet the needs of students we fail them. Change is necessary, most don't like it, I love it, we need it, so let's do it.
Loves a clear vision
If you're a leader, and I'm a leader, then you have to have a clear vision and be able to communicate that vision with clarity backed by sound reasoning. This is where I call out every superintendent, principal, and administrator to a challenge - What's the vision? Is it clear? What's the plan to achieve it? Most importantly, how are you leading it?
The vision I have is this:
- challenge students with meaningful, complex, real work tasks
- deepen student learning using a coaching mentality
- integrate technology where appropriate
- use assessment to inform instruction rather than punishment
- describe what learning looks like instead of trying to grade it
- accept mastery learning is very different for every student
- understand success in life is not predicted by schooling but by student's passion