Currents: Listens & Reads

Listens:

Cult of Pedagogy: Moving from Feedback to Feedforward Jennifer Gonzales talks to Joe Hirsch about the concept of changing feedback to feedforward, particularly in the frame of teacher evaluation. This is definitely worth having a conversation around for teachers and administrators alike.

Aspen Ideas to Go: Walter Isaacson talks to Norman Lear and Khizr Khan about Understanding American Values This is an engaging hour of conversation between an icon and a patriot facilitated by a genius. Enjoy.

Reads:

The Principled Principal: 10 Principles for Leading Exceptional Schools by Jeffrey Zoul & Anthony McConnell This is an easy-to-read yet chock full of wisdom book that explores the need for principals to be led by core principles to successfully lead a school. I really appreciate the discussion of culture crushers. (Halfway through, but a full review will come after I’m done.)

Accident by Andrea Tsurumi This is a lovely children’s book packed with wisdom for any age. Accidents happen–how we react to them is everything.

Have a great week!

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Currents: Listens & Reads

Volume 3!! It was a light week in the listening/reading world, I admit it but here are a few nuggets for you.

Listens

Audiobook: The Power of Moments, Dan & Chip Heath I am only a few chapters into this latest thought-provoker by the Heath Brothers but I’m already hooked. The book explores examples of how we experience four elemental moments throughout our lives: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. This book is chock full of relevance for us as educators and leaders.

Washington National Cathedral Forum: Brené Brown & Bishop Mariann Budde I am a Brené Brown groupie, as I know many educators are based on her message of empathy, vulnerability, and courage. While this conversation is in a religious context, the emphasis on courage, honesty, and connection has direct correlations to our work with children and families.

Reads

Harvard Business Review: The Culture Factor This is a series of articles that look at organizational structure, leadership, and climate through the lens of culture. Most interesting to me are the eight styles of company (organizational) culture and how these interplay.

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source: from HBR article, The Culture Factor

Screen Time? How About Creativity Time, Mitchel Resnick, MIT In our ever-growing debate whether screens are good or evil, Dr. Resnick offers some insight into both sides of the coin and encourages a new narrative–screen time as creativity. He makes the clear distinction that not all screen time is created equal and emphasizes focusing on quality vs. quantity in the screen time debate.

Have a great week!

Currents: Listens & Reads

Wow! I’ve actually made it to week 2 of Currents: Listens & Reads! Perhaps a trend is happening here, friends! Here is what was on my radar this week.

Listens:

The Atlantic Interview: Maggie Haberman Maggie Haberman is a White House Correspondent for the New York Times. She is doing some very honest and challenging work. I really liked her perspective on her early years of journalism and coming up in a “man’s world.” (I really like this podcast, if you’re not currently listening to it.)

Outside Podcast-Science of Survival: He That is Down Need Fear No Fall As someone who is terrified of heights and falling, this story of survival and problem solving was really intriguing (and a bit scary.) It offers us some insight into the minds of those who take physical risks, on purpose.

Reads:

Leadership + Design: Monthly Recharge (newsletter)  This month’s wisdom from L+D focuses on Disobedience over Compliance. As the group and its cohort reads WhiplashHow to Survive Our Future Fasteranalysis and insight have been shared to dig deeper into each chapter. This month’s chapter on disobedience over compliance shares the stories of those who have broken the rules to develop truly innovative and creative ideas. I’m particularly drawn to Executive Director Carla Silver’s story of her classmate as I may have known a kid or two who broke some school rules but have gone onto creative and successful lives. (Just as Mr. Bruce, my 4th grade Principal.)

Harvard Ed. Magazine: Troublemakers This really speaks to the deep need for educators to build strong relationships with all students, especially those who might be on the more “spirited” side. How can we dig deeper into the how and why kids are causing disruptions rather than just issue a punitive response?

Beyond the Whiteboard Blog: A Teachers Regret, a Lesson Learned  Laurie Smith offers a true life story of a heart-breaking missed opportunity with a student. We have all had moments like these in our practice and hers is a reminder not to miss out. (You might need a tissue for this one.)

BONUS-Watches

We had two snow days this week so Amazon and Netflix got a little extra time in my life. I watched two extreme sports documentaries that I think offer quite the insight on persistence, responsibility, planning/organization, problem-solving, grit, positive thinking, friendship, and just a twinge of nutty.

Meru-the story of three mountain climbers as they make their ascent up the 21,000 ft Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. Follow their trials and tribulations as well as observe truly stunning cinematography.

Meru Expedition, Garwhal, India

Desert Runners-follow the quest of several non-professional runners as they attempt to complete the Grand Slam of the Desert Run series by running 4 ultra marathons in one year in the Sahara, the Gobi, the Atacama, and Antarctica. You find yourself rooting for these “average janes and joes” as they run up to 100 miles a day in 100+ degree heat while carrying all the gear they need for four days on their back. It’s crazy but offers a lot of clear applications to our classrooms.

Will next week be a trifecta? Stay tuned!

 

Currents: Listen & Reads

I think it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with learning. I am never without a read in my proximity, a handful of tabs open to good articles, or a laundry list of podcasts on my phone. A lot of these may seem to have nothing to do with education but I view everything through the lens of education. I often ask the question, “how does this apply to the way we teach or lead?”

I’m going to *try* to start sharing these on a more regular basis. So here we go: Currents: Listens & Reads, Volume 1

Listens

Aspen Ideas To-Go: Seeing Grey in a World of Black and White NYTimes columnist David Brooks speaks to Rev. Adam Hamilton about divisions, perspectives, and actually serving. I appreciated the way Adam spoke about seeing humanity in others and participating in civil discourse. Important concepts within our schools, for sure.

Aspen Ideas To-Go: What Would MLK say About Today’s America? A conversation between Walter Isaacson and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I listened to this on my drive to visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the first time and it was very timely to consider not only the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s but the the movement during Reconstruction that is often forgotten.

How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black: Episode #76 Reza Aslan I have followed Reza Aslan for a long time and find him to be a brilliant scholar. He spoke of being on the margins of religion in order to be creative and disruptive. I thought that directly related to our work in education. Not being fully embedded in “one way” allows us the opportunity to stretch, grow, and embrace creativity.

Read

KQED/Mindshift: Forget Talent: Why Practice is Key to Most Prodigies Success A summary of the 2016 book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson. This is timely for our division as we explore the concept of persistence with our students this month in a variety of formats.

Catlin Tucker: Rethink Your Grading Practices We are just beginning a conversation on learning versus grading in small pockets of our community. I am a proponent of quality of feedback over arbitrary quantification. This article provides practical application for a shift in practice that is more substantial for students and less time intensive for teachers.

Edutopia: Will Letter Grades Survive? As schools and districts around the nation embrace student-centered and realistic reporting systems, how will we move the colossus of education from random letters to substantive assessment? Read on and see how competency based grading and groups like the Mastery Transcript Consortium are leading the way for massive educational overhaul.

That’s all for now. Be well in the world this week!

gratitude

The December value of the month at MA is “Gratitude.” It was intentionally made for December so we would honor that gratefulness lives beyond Thanksgiving. Just before Christmas, I shared with students just a small glimpse of how gratitude changes our brain chemistry and makes us happy. I talked about the science but also practical ways that we could share our gratitude in the world. I love the thought that just by articulating our gratitude, we can be happier and healthier people.

Over break, on a cold but beautiful walk in the woods, I listened to the On Being episode with Brother David Steindl-Rast on the Anatomy of Gratitude.  I was deeply moved by his thoughts on the way that the world is truly interconnected and how we must offer our gratitude for all of the ways that creation binds us to one another. This led to watching his amazing and popular TED talk. And then, a deeper dive into the Science of Gratitude. Talk about nerding out on information about gratitude!

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
― David Steindl-Rast

In my hope of building a lifestyle of happiness in 2018, I’ve chosen GRATITUDE as my focus word. I hope that by offering both silent and public gratefulness for all the people, places, and things around me that I will return joy outward to the world.

Here are just a few things I’m grateful for in closing of 2017:

  • The gift of family. Our nutty bunch added a new member to the tribe this year with the birth of Clara. It was great to spend Christmas eve with the whole crew.

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  • Team SSJ. We work so well together and provide a good balance of affirmation and encouragement as well as constructive feedback.
  • My cross-country team. Those wackadoodles made me laugh, cry, and push harder to be a better coach this past fall.
  • Sharing the first of many 40th birthdays in the year ahead for the class of 1996. It was a gift to be with my college besties to celebrate. I can’t wait until July to celebrate mine and welcome in a new decade!
  • Books. So many good reads in the last year, here are some faves:
  • Dogs. Atticus and Toby drive me nuts on a regular basis but they really do give me such great love and joy.

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  • And, perhaps most important, falling in love again. It might seem mushy or inappropriate to put here on my teacher blog, but I am so truly grateful for the way my teaching and learning network has walked me through grief and now right into new love.

May your 2018 bring you abundant sources of gratitude.

 

whimsy

I am so thankful for today’s Google doodle. In honor of Google’s 19th birthday, they’ve created a fun, interactive program to celebrate. I spun the wheel and got to an interactive one minute, deep breathing activity, which, it turns out, was just what I needed at 8:30am today. I shared it with one of my team’s during their meeting and it allowed a moment of laughter in a tough conversation.

We need these moments of whimsy. We need these moments of release. Our work is sacred and important and difficult and exhausting. It is also beautiful and rewarding. It is easy for us to become overwhelmed as educators. We simply must make space for the silly or relaxed now and again. I keep a link to Calming Manatee in my bookmarks bar for when I need two seconds of release.

This is all to say that mental self-care is essential for educators. We, by our natures, are givers and if we don’t take care of our own selves, we cannot give our best. So here is your permission slip to take care of yourself today and take two minutes for whimsy.

Happy Birthday, Google! Thanks for the laughs and breaths.

 

kindness and the playground

We have begun a new school year! I’m so thrilled to enter year 3 at my school. There are fewer unknowns and more opportunities to grow our community. This year, we are implementing a twice monthly Community Time. We will gather as a full middle school and engage in time with one another. What that time looks like is still evolutionary but every time will include a message our character value of the month (also new) and a reflection for our kids.

Our first CTA focused on kindness. Following our community summer read of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, we all have a common story understanding of kindness. For our opening CTA, I chose to do a reader’s theatre of rulers of the playground by Joseph Kuefler. We don’t have recess in our middle school (:-() or a playground on the 6-12 campus BUT we can draw so many lessons from this simple children’s story of power and bossiness. We used the reflection to wonder about times we had chosen to be a King Jonah or Queen Lennox in our lives (declare ourselves leader but treating everyone poorly) or whether we’d been ruled by one.

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This is such an important reminder as we begin anew with the routines of school, the locker halls, the carpools, the break time between classes. How are we using these unstructured times (like the metaphorical playground) to build up kindness and friendship? To lead with compassion, empathy, and respect? These are tumultuous times both in our world and just as an average middle school life–it is essential that we emphasize the good, the kind, the strong, the positive, in any way we can. And it starts on the “playground.”