show them how.

*PS-this was started on Palm Sunday, but life gets in the way….*

Today is Palm Sunday. Across the globe, folks walk the way to Jesus in his triumphal entry to Jerusalem before entering into Holy Week and arriving on Sunday at Easter. In my tradition, The Episcopal Church, we begin with the blessing of palms and then enter our sanctuaries with joyful hymns. My favorite piece of this service is one of my family traditions, and one I bet is shared by many across the blog who are handed a long frond of palm; we make palm crosses. Not officially as part of the liturgy, but something we do with our idle hands as we hear the stories and celebrate this beginning of the holiest week of the church year.

I take great joy in shaping these palms into crosses which I share with friends or keep in the sun until they are dried for the year ahead. Part of the reason I love it so much is that I learned this skill from my mom. Who I assume learned from someone in her church at some point, somewhere. I didn’t learn through a workshop. I didn’t learn through a video or textbook or lecture. I learned by watching my mom, right next to me in the pew, year after year. She might gently guide my hand from time to time, but I learned by watching and mimicking. Now, I sit quietly each Palm Sunday and build three or four pieces of art while I hear the sermon and reflect after communion. Perhaps someone watches me and learns?

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This is a metaphor for our learning environments for me. How are we modeling learning, not only with our words and materials but our actions? How are we considering the role of apprenticeship and guest experts within our context of learning? In an age of self-directed learning and tinkering, which I wholeheartedly appreciate and support, how might we not forget the valuable role of modeling?

And not only for contexts of academic work but also learning to be whole-hearted humans. “The students are watching”┬áso say Theodore and Nancy Sizer and remind us of the moral imperative as educators to support the integration of modeling character throughout our educational settings. Character education in a silo is yet just another drill and practice act but rather the appropriate modeling of our expectations for treating one another and ourselves is critical.

The careful and meticulous handling as a long, thin palm is crafted into a short, slightly sideways cross in the silence around others remains a symbol not only of the religious event for Christians but also as a symbol of the need for careful and meticulous shaping of our children. May we model it well.

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NAIS reflections, short version

I can’t possibly calm my mind enough yet to truly process the last 36ish hours. Six meetings, three workshops, and one keynote later…so much to think about from this years NAIS/LINK conference.

Since I spent today live tweeting (is there dead tweeting?) from the conference, my first reflection will be in take away snippet form.

1. It was an awesome sight to behold thousands of independent school minds in one place. Talk about a smarty party.
2. I’m so glad I was able to smile myself into the Klingenstein reception despite my lack of RSVP (thanks Cindy, as always, you rock). it was great to see KSI friends and mentors for even a few brief moments.
3. I loved using twitter to follow the conference. It allowed me to check in with things I could not attend, most notably the Fri gen sess, during which I sorely was double booked! It was also a hoot to make a twitter connection during the 21stC session with the person sitting literally in front of me. What a chuckle we got there!
4. Being the scheduling wonk that I am, I was impressed with the open minded and mission driven process articulated in the session by Hawken School. Talk about bold innovators using time to best serve their kids!!
5. I am not alone in my desire for mission driven, progressive-why thinking, technologically rich, student centered learning. I was constantly reminded of this as I traversed the halls and spoke with many folks leading our schools.
6. It was so nice to see and hug my colleague who teaches in Turkey, even if it was for only a brief few moments. She is an amazing human being and role model of courage.
7. I love the guys at Evernote and Idea Paint so much I went back twice. And my new friend gave me the coolest pink evernote tee.
8. I was disappointed by Geoffrey Canada, which makes me so very sad. I talked about seeing him with several folks and I eagerly anticipated inspiration. I wanted him to know his audience and speak to how we, the Educators of the demographics that we teach, can make a difference in the lives of the demographic that sadly, we do not often reach.
9. I’m very sad I missed the Heath brothers, but I bought their new book….(yea! Another nerdy change book!)
10. I love being an independent school educator. I love using technology to collaborate. I love talking about the mission and the why of things, and I love kids. This 36 hours of driving, gas money, parking money, traffic, conference fees, and two days in high heels were worth every minute, penny, and pinched toe. I am enormously blessed.