I gain so much from my personal Community of Practice- the Teacher Leaders Network. After a couple weeks of venting in the community about the challenges and struggles each of us were dealing with in our professional settings- this prompt, like a breath of fresh air, came through.
So, what's GOOD AND RIGHT in your educational world right now? No qualifiers, no buts, just a celebration and appreciation of what is wonderful.
Here is my response and I hope you will add yours below.
University School of Milwaukee
After a visit to an independent school in Milwaukee, Wisc. with David Jakes to discuss the development of an academic technology plan that aligns nicely with the school's progressive strategic plan, I came back inspired and amazed at just what a group of committed people can accomplish on behalf of children when motivated to do so.
First impressions of the school ranked high. The moment I walked in the school and met USM's leaders I knew this was going to be a delightful visit. Most impressive was the evidence of creativity mixed with the wisdom and influence of top educational leaders across the educational spectrum. For example, from collaborative curriculum planning through mindmaps (Heidi Jacobs and Grant Wiggins trained), to deep, engaging personal relationships developed with students in secondary English classrooms- as they sat around a table discussing/reflecting what they were reading with a passionate teacher who was concerned that technology might interfere with this tried and true (and brilliantly impressive) process. Additionally, I saw strong evidence of the arts integrated into all core content classes, a diverse population of articulate students who could tell me what they were learning and their current research interests as I popped unannounced into various classes, a lower school that used inquiry-based methods in ways that made me smile through the entire tour, and a middle school team that "gets it". I am still trying to figure out how to harness the middle school teachers' enthusiasm and proactive attitude about the need for 21st Century alignment, but after I had met Matthew Montagne I understood their source of energy and drive.
"Da Bears" on the Harp
The highlight of the journey though came when we stopped by the music room. The award winning harpist, Linda Lak, enticed my friend David Jakes to not only sit at the harp, but actually gave him a lesson on how to play this beautiful instrument.
David Jakes Playing His Rendition of Da Bears
Powerful Learning Practice
What else is "good and right" about my educational world? Watching teachers up and down the east coast in three different projects- who are at differing levels of understanding- grapple with tough issues such as the new literacies, how to operate as an effective PLC online and f2f, and how to make sound changes to their classroom practice and pedagogy that builds on what we know works and yet incorporates the changing learning landscape of the 21st Century.
These teachers and educational leaders from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North
and South Carolina, Tennesee, Virginia, and Western NY cause me to reflect deeply as they discuss the tough issues, ask the hard questions and debate how and if
schools could/should change. I am so thankful to be a networked
learner. I grow so much every day and continually learn new ways to slay the time dragon from watching my colleagues.
Alabama Best Practices Center
Recently, in the work I am doing with the Alabama Best Practice Center I had a chance to collaborate online with a team of student advisors 2nd grade - 11th grade. We discussed how they use technology at home and school and how technology impacts their learning (if indeed it does). It was incredible to listen and watch as they quickly adapted to the Elluminate environment and took over as moderators and led the discussions. Their wisdom and insight - even from the youngest of the group - was mind blowing. I was reminded of what Silvia says (Gen Yes) about how students make up 94% of the learning environment and teachers make up 6% and to not include them in creating positive educational reform is just poor planning. These kids reminded me how important it is to include student voice in educational planning and reform.
I am thankful that I live in such a time as this and have the participatory media available to develop my own personal learning network made of educators from around the world. How awesome is it that we can bring others into our classrooms who represent such diverse thought and culture with a few simple clicks.
What is good and right? Having John Norton, Barnett Berry, Chris Gareis, Meagan Tschannon-Moran, David Jakes, Gene Roche, Cathy Gassenheimer, Will Richardson, Darren Kuropatwa, Barbara Mocarski and many others from TLN, the Blogosphere, and my PLNs as my friends and mentors. These precious souls hold me accountable in my thinking and stretch me in ways I would never have had possible without technology providing instant access to them regularly.
What is good and right? Working with teachers in one project where I am suppose to be the mentor and then quickly realizing they have so much to teach me - and redirecting them to work with teachers in another project - where we can all learn. Seeing daily that the collective wisdom of the group acts as a catalyst for increasing the wisdom of individuals, who then have a viral impact on their spheres of influence. Seeing how important it is for each individual to bring their foundational wisdom/value to the community, so that together our social experience brings new understanding and a deeper realization to everything I learned as an individual.
Cause to Celebrate
And without a doubt the most incredible "good and right" in my educational world was having the affirming honor bestowed upon me by my children - the 50th birthday site where I could see in black and white- there is much good and right about my educational world. http://www.sherrys50thbirthday.com/
Ok- Your turn. What do you have to celebrate in your professional journey?