As always, it is an honour to work with schools and school boards to share my learning with them, and in return, learn from their ideas as well. I always encourage push-back in my sessions because I want to create an atmosphere where we all get better, including myself. The challenges are crucial to our development as learning organizations.
Recently, I worked with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and we talked about changing learning and learning environments. What was really special about this day was that there were several high school students in the room as part of the day. During the first part of the morning, I went and talked to the students and asked them on their thoughts about different things (should teachers use twitter with them, ideas on snapchat, what their learning looks like) and the conversation was so amazingly rich. As I talked to them, I shared some of the ideas that I was going to present on, but asked them to think critically about what I shared and challenge me after in front of the group. If I am talking about opportunities for students in learning, it is imperative that I ask them about their opinions and pushback.
What was really inspiring to me was one of the students talked about how it wasn’t really a great idea to use Twitter with students before I talked. By the end though, she was advocating it’s use to her teachers, because she had seen used in a different way. I was almost in tears listening to her as she was open to learning and new ideas, and then advocated for herself for something new.
Another amazing moment was when a student advocated that we spend more time on “life” and less time on school (I almost cheered out loud!). The analogy that he used for the idea of social media was pretty profound. He said (paraphrased),
“Social media is like water because it is everywhere in our life. We can ignore it and watch kids drown, or we can teach kids how to swim. Which way are you going to go?”
I was deeply moved by this experience and I thought to myself, why do we not do this more? We are talking so much about “what is best for kids”, without any kids in the room. Innovation has no age barrier, and it is important we not only bring them into the conversation, but tap into their brilliance. How often are we asking kids to be a part of our workshops or “talks”, and not only telling them to be a part of the conversation, but openly telling them to challenge us? This should be the norm, not the exception.
If any of those students are reading this post, I just want to thank you for your inspiration and ideas. I hope you know how much your words were appreciated.
(P.S. Here is my #30SecondReflection on the day below. I am wanting to do this more to push my own learning.)
— George Couros (@gcouros) May 11, 2015