You Should Read…(July 22, 2012)

I have been connecting with so many amazing educators all over Australia and it is always inspiring to see how much educators continuously want to grow in their practice.  I was thinking about not doing this “weekly post” over the summer, but I have always written to share what I am learning.  Since I am still learning over my summer break, why would I not share it.

Here are some great links I found this week!

1.  You are a Difference MakerJeff Delp, who is amazingly awesome guy, is even more so in person.  To welcome back his staff to the school year, he openly shares his welcome back letter for everyone to learn.  This is a great idea to help continuously build the culture of your school while also setting the tone for the year.  Here is a snippet of what he writes:

When our students walk through the front gates on Monday morning, please remember thatyou are a difference maker!  The small gestures you make to welcome students, and demonstrate an interest in their lives, will have an impact.  There is tremendous power in a smile, a handshake, or an encouraging word.  In the coming year, you will have opportunities to build confidence where it hasn’t existed, develop connections that have never been present, and generate hope for students who’s academic careers have been marred by hopelessness.  All of these are truly super powers!During yesterday’s training, the presenters shared the following quote – a powerful reminder of our ability to make a difference (either positive, or negative).

To all of the educators out there, this is a great way to welcome your students and staff back.  Thanks to Jeff for sharing and hopefully it inspires many others to do the same!

2.  10 Things in Schools That Should be Obsolete – Just an awesome, quick to the point post, that gives us some ideas of how we can continuously improve our schools.  Here is one of the things the author believes we should get rid of:

ISOLATED CLASSROOMS. Tony Wagner of the Harvard School of Education and the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement” and yet most schools are designed in a way that isolates teachers from each other. Teachers often learn to teach in isolated boxes and perpetuate that style throughout their career. Interior windows get “papered over” and blinds are shut. Yet out of school, people work in teams and are visually and often aurally connected.

I often think about if we could start a school from scratch, would it look anything like it does now?  The “Blockbuster” video below from the Onion would help to also build upon this discussion.  Would we invest in a Blockbuster now?  In ten years, what will we be laughing at what we used to do in school?  (Check out the video below; awesome for a great laugh but to also spark some discussion.)

3. How computers can hurt schools –  Although technology is something we should be very comfortable using in our classrooms, relationships are key to what makes a great teacher.  If we really want education to become transformative, it is great teachers that will use technology in effective ways to improve and personalize learning that will really make a difference;  it is not simply having the technology.

For at least a century, school districts have bought new technologies to save money. They assume the kids will learn more with the new devices and the school won’t have to pay so many teachers. This has turned out to be false. Radio, film, television, computers and the Web have all been hailed as potential saviors of our schools. In each case they have had little effect without good teachers in charge.

There is so much more go having a “21st Century School” (I hate this term) than simply dumping a bunch of iPads in the classroom.  How we connect and what we do with technology is extremely important.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a great week!


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Ken Whytock

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