I haven’t blogged in quite a while and it seems like the last few times were either politics or poetry.
This year for professional development, our school is doing something called “Personalized PD.” Essentially we’ll be getting licence renewal credit for doing something I’ve been doing for years anyway; doing personal reading or research and implementing what we learn in our classrooms. Any professional educator worth their salt ought to be doing this at least casually if not deliberately and formally anyway.
Sometimes it’s a website, blogger or twitter. Sometimes it’s a professional journal or association resource. Sometimes it’s your own personal learning network (PLN). But anyone who’s serious about helping their students learn and grow is also constantly striving to learn and grow themselves.
Now that it’s becoming “institutionalized,” that is to say now that the educational-industrial-complex is finally catching on to personalized pd and to “professional learning circles (PLCs),” I worry that it will no longer be as organic and subversive as it once was. Time will tell, but in theory at least, it’s an excellent idea.
One component of our school’s Professional PD is that we need to share what we learn and implement with other educators. So, rather than create an entirely new blog, I am going to post about what I research and apply here on my existing blog under the tag “teaching” and with the spiffy “faculty lounge” banner graphic.
I may not be a professional education consultant, a TED Talks speaker, award winning administrator or YouTube or podcast host, but I am a 24 year veteran of both parochial and public schools, so I hope that my ideas and insights will be useful to whomever stumbles across them and to my colleagues at Boyer Valley and Woodbine schools.
DISCLAIMER/TRIGGER WARNING- What I write here are all my own opinions and do not represent Boyer Valley Community Schools, their Board or Administration- although
1) I will do my best to remain as positive and professional as I can at all times because
a) I like my job and want to keep it and
b) it’s the right thing to do anyway.
2) They really ought to be their ideas because it’s not like I’m a blither idiot, I try to be informed and it’s not like I haven’t got years of experience and any district ought to trust and empower their educators (whew- sorry, just putting that out there even though I recognize that it was both cynical and unprofessional, but admit it, it was at least kinda funny, right?) and
3) I forgot 3… oh yeah- any blogger ought to be able to feel comfortable being as genuine and authentic as possible without having to fear recrimination for their candor, right? Be that as it may, my goal is to share ideas, not spew opinions or vent frustrations so even if I try to use humor (or sarcasm) on future posts, please know that it’s intended to help communicate not to ruminate.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it.
The PLC I am a part of (not to be confused with a PLN) has as a goal to increase motivation among our students. Last year we discussed using “Growth Mindset” ideas, but for whatever reason, we didn’t get all that far. That doesn’t mean that I have to give up on that concept myself in my own classroom.
One of my plans is to dedicate a portion of each Monday to addressing issues of learning attitudes. In my eighth grade Civics classes I plan on using videos from Trevor Ragan at trainugly.com. In my middle school Art classes especially, I will be working through the Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM) developed at Harvard. I will touch on these in my high school Art classes as well although in Commercial Art and Web Design , I intend to emphasize the steps in the design process more.
Later in the year, I may switch Art classes to videos from a YouTube channel called ‘The Art Assignment’ which will essentially be cycling through the studio habits in different ways. I may move Web Design to either Trevor Ragan, Simon Sinek or Steven Covey or some combination of all three.
As a Cheer coach, I’ve used John Wooden’s ‘Pyramid of Success’ for many years, but have let it go for a few years now, so I think I should bring it back.
All of these programs are intended to help develop learner’s own intrinsic motivations to desire to learn and challenge themselves rather than relaying on extrinsic motivators like grades, privileges, rewards, punishments, detentions, candy, etc. etc.
The thick, pseudo-intellectual explanation for this is that I see myself as aligning with cognitivists and existentialists in psychology rather than the behavioralists. The snarky way to say that is that I want students to be thinkers and learners rather than treating them like animals or machines.
Let’s be blunt. The trend in legislatures and state departments of education in recent years has been to focus on testing, data, and standards. But if students don’t respect the test, the results will always be skewed and therefore inaccurate. What’s more, the best tests, the best data, and the best designed standards in the world won’t mean jack if students are either unwilling or unable to learn.
Because of this, we need to direct our energy into inspiring and encouraging students to actually WANT to become life-long-learners.
Here are two trite cliche’s which I consider personal mantras and which I share as often as I can:
- We can’t teach them Bloom till we take care of Maslow
- If you WANT to learn, NO ONE can stop you;
But if you DON’T want to learn, NO ONE can help you