Organic Learning

Creative Commons License photo credit: drbooya

I’m continuing this #30Goals journey with Shelley Terrell @shellterrell and Lisa Dabbs @teachingwthsoul. This weekend is dedicated to some catch-up time, as I am just now completing Day 3.  Here are the goals & video:

Short-term-Make a bullet list of what you believe regarding how you and others learn. In this reflection, think about how being part of online professional development has redefined the way you learn.

Long-term– In what ways will you ensure that your belief of how your students learn is reflected in your classroom?

What I believe about learning:

  • I believe learning is an organic process, and cannot be forced.
  • I believe learning looks different for each individual, and that makes it easy for us to misunderstand each other.
  • I believe learning is enjoyable if people follow interests and passions.
  • I believe learning is time consuming, and there must be life space for people to actually learn.
  • I believe learning often begins with relationships– others spark our own ideas and interests.
  • I believe learning is the responsibility of the individual– empower yourself.
  • I believe learning is 24/7 and is not limited by a school bell or PD session.
  • I believe learning never ends – we do not finish or end the process, just continue the journey.

For me personally, I know that I learn best when I research visual information and can compile it in my own way. The information needs to be relevant to me- therefore interesting- and challenging. In compiling, I need to take the time to think and challenge those thoughts. I also learn by observing the world around me, comparing it with all that prior knowledge, and making connections that may not make apparent sense to the outside observer. I am a reverse-dreamer… I tend to take ideas or concepts in process, think about them, reconstruct them, and make radical leaps from there rather than pulling dreams from my imagination.

How do you learn best?  Do you know? What do you believe about learning?

You Are Not a Number

Creative Commons License photo credit: elizaIO

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted. ~ Albert Einstein

This quote was shared today by Shelley Terrell through the 30 Goals Challenge. I admit, I hadn’t heard it before, and it really resonates with me.  Today’s #30goals Challenge is to “Re-evaluate Value”.

Short-term goal: Have our students think about how they are valued. Take one assignment not graded.

Long-term goal: Think about the way you grade everything, assessments. Share ideas on how to ensure students feel valued when they leave your class.

I have been thinking of this in terms of “Value Added” since students don’t receive grades for their Computer Lab time. I am profoundly thankful for that aspect of my non-licensed position because I do not believe in assessing technology skills in that manner. How can I add value to the limited time I have with students? Especially when 40% percent of the time students spend with me is taking various computerized assessments.  I have no control over that, and hear little about the results.

What does one do in that situation? Well, here are some ideas:

  1. Tell them, “You are not a number.”  The test my students are taking for the next two weeks actually puts the students score up when they click the “Turn It In” button. Yep, they see how many they got correct…. and are old enough to know what that means. My overachievers bonk their heads against the monitor because they miss one.  My low kids… well, they are the ones I worry about the most.  When they see “Number Correct: 8”, no one follows up with them about this score for *months*.  Yet, they know.  And take that into their little selves.  You. Are. Not. A. Number.
  2. Let them be comfortable.  I will show them they have value as people by giving them choice in where to relax and chill when they are recovering from seeing that number.

Not a very long list, is it?  I’m feeling very powerless. The greatest gift I can give them in this situation is to be an adult who truly does value them- their thoughts, ideas, dreams, and fears…. all in 30 minutes, twice a week for 430 students.

What are some practical ways to help students not take on that ‘number’ as part of their persona? Can you add to my meager list?

Beam me UP!

Today, I started participating in the #30goals challenge. Our first goal is to be a beam in a creative way.  Take a look at the first video from Shelley Terrell @shellterrell:

To provide support and encouragement to another educator.  Hmmm… isn’t this a natural process?  I find that because I am excited and passionate about what I do, that supporting and sharing is a natural extension of my life as an educator. The problem tends to crop up when that excitement is lost, and the local pressures of life weigh a teacher down.  This is part of the power of PLN’s- regardless of what is happening in my building or district or state or country, there is someone else out there who isn’t mired in the situation and is willing to be more than a support structure.  They step up to the platform and say, “Beam me up, Scotty.” ((And yes, I realize that Kirk never actually said “Beam me up Scotty”, but the terminology is so pervasive that he might as well have done so.  Just go with it, my Trekkie friends…. it’s not the point of the post.)) And off we go, together to explore worlds unknown.

In thinking about beams, I kept returning to this “Beam me up, Scotty” concept.  It’s so valuable to take mini-vacations in our minds…. to step away from our struggles and problems, and dream for a bit.  I feel like everytime I dive into the world of Twitter or my Google Reader feed that I’ve been ‘beamed up’.  Educators around the world show a wealth of exciting things happening.  And just like returning from a  trip to the Bahamas or even just a “Calgon-take-me-away” bubble bath, I return to my daily life refreshed and renewed.  I also do this locally when I take time to ‘geek out’ with some of my co-workers on our own time((You know who you are, @giftedteacher !).  We get together, and just play with cool stuff. In our excitement to explore the new tool de jour or website of the week, our concerns fall away and we explore new worlds…. together.  In that common exploration, we forge bonds and build support structures that serve us well in our day-to-day experience. Beams.

Do you remember what they say when they’re actually ready to beam up?

One word.


How can you ‘beam up’ another educator today?  Can you help them step away from their situation and step into a world that renews their passion for teaching?  Be the one to make that ‘energize’ call. Find a way to encourage someone in both your worlds today- the virtual one and the physical one.

Photo by jurvetson on Flickr.