Monday, April 20, 2015

Do We Need a Consumer Movement?

There are plenty of resources and discussion online about the maker movement: MakerFaire, Newsweek, Time and, of course, there is a #makered hashtag on Twitter for educators.  We are even making a big push for a maker space at EdCampMagic in June. My question is, are we focusing too much on making?

None of us live in a vacuum. We learn constantly by consuming, whether it be through media or just listening and watching. Without consumption, we would have no real place to start making something. I believe that innovation is rare at best (I have even argued it doesn't exist in education at all) and it is more likely that we are not innovators but instead we are modifiers or tweakers of someone else's ideas. When did you see anyone create anything truly new and innovative?

Part of curriculum development is curating the content we want our students to consume. Here are a few questions I think we need to consider:

  • Are we spending less time than necessary to really pick great content because of the amount of time we are spending trying to get kids to be creative?  
  • Are we giving our kids a pass on picking great content to use to create with?  
  • Are we in love with making because it takes less mental capacity (and planning) on our part because the kids are the ones having to do the thinking?
 Let's spend a little more time talking about how important it is to consume, and what content is best consumed by our students.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Break the Code of Silence (and Give a Public Pat on the Back)

I am not into the idea of personal branding for educators for a lot of reasons. What I am into is educators telling our stories and the stories of others. I love the opportunity to share what amazing things my kids do, and sometimes I share the struggles we have as well.

The truth is, some of our stories get shared by others. We don't have control over what others choose to share (and I think that may be a good thing.) That doesn't mean we abdicate our responsibility to share our stories, or the stories of others that need to be shared as well. 

Although many educators find awards distasteful, I argue that nominating educators who do good things is my way of giving them a public pat on the back. I share much of my life publicly, why shouldn't I share my appreciation publicly too? If you want to thank someone publicly, consider doing it with a Bammy nomination

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Is Your Search for Personal Professional Development Keeping You from Becoming a Better Teacher?

My new discipline procedure courtesy of Kids in the Hall.

As I peruse Twitter, which is happening much less these days, I am looking for big picture ideas. I want to know where my network is shifting. I want to know what the NBT, next big thing, is going to be.

What I am noticing is that there are a lot of scattered paths going off into lots of different directions: those who are tweeting tool excitement, those who are flailing wildly at the season of high stakes tests, those who are stuck on if schools need to be blown up or just tweaked. What I don't see is a lot of conversations centered around becoming a better teacher and improving our practice. It is there, but I usually have to dig.

So, if you are using Twitter as part of your professional development, is it helping you become a better teacher or is it getting in your way?