Sunday, August 29, 2010

The elements of inspiration


This past weekend my son came to me and asked what the word inspiration meant. He continued to ask questions in a rapid-fire sequence, almost as if in urgent need for explanation.
He said:
"What is it? Where does it come from? How do you get it? How do you give it?" Mind you, these are all questions from a 5 year old. After a moment to collect my thoughts I told him; "Well..., inspiration can come from anywhere". This answer seemed to only confuse him even more. So, I went into more detail. so I said; "A smile can be inspiring, watching someone play a sport can be inspiring, seeing someone who is happy can be inspiring..." And the list went on. He said; "But Daddy, what does it do? What does inspiration do?"

The answers to these questions did not come easily to me and after our chat I got to thinking about what inspiration really meant. I often think of inspiration as a feeling. One that cannot be measured, quantified or manifest in a literal way. It is subjective, unique to the individual, but overall excitement and enthusiasm is bread from inspiration. Some are inspired internally. They have a certain "drive" to challenge themselves, to explore and investigate. Some are inspired externally. They get goosebumps from watching their favorite sport, listening to music, watching others actions, reading a book, and so on. Some are fortunate enough to conjure a combination of both.

I hope for my son that he is one of those fortunate enough to build his dreams into reality, to seek inspiration and find it, to never lose the excitement of learning, whether from within or from his surroundings.

I wish for students to be inspired by themselves, to be empowered by the process of discovery. I wish for them the type of outcome that is greater than the "bottom line" of accountability measures or mastery of standards. This is what I hope to inspire in them. This is how they inspire me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Co-Teaching: Relationships, Identity, Values...

Relationships, Identity, Values--

Picture this....Desks in teams (communities) of 4. Eight teams dispersed across the room. Groups of 4, and the rare 3 form teams (communities) of learning. Each member of the team is responsible for each other. They work with one another, support one another, experience success with one another, learn together. This is the foundation for the class that my co-teaching partner, Mr. Van Tress and I begin the 2010-11 school year.

As of the first week we have impacted this class in a way that I believe is very positive. Students of all abilities are interacting directly with their teachers, with each other, and with the content. Students who are typically shy, reserved or disinterested are asking questions in front of the class. I have seen volunteers make mistakes and discuss alternative ways to solve problems. I have seen acceptance and empowerment, group and individual decision making, the acceptance of personal challenges, and what feels like comfort and safety. I have witnessed and observed growth in one weeks time. Growth in ways one can only experience when connection, identity and values are shared openly and with trust and care.

We have a foundation! Now we must build, grow, reflect and discover as a class, as a co-teaching partnership, as a community. This is the power of inclusion!!

I am excited to continue onward on this adventure, I hope to see you along the way.

Monday, August 2, 2010

We all have something to bring to the table.

As I wrap my head around the beginning of another school year, prepare my body for the change of pace, and renew my purpose as an educator, I think about what it is that I can bring to the table. All of the following come from a sense of hope and the desire to remain open minded in the upcoming year. These..., reminders so to speak, are what I hope I can bring to the table.

*Embrace your dreams. Allow others to pursue theirs.
*When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody says anything that’s a bad thing. —Nobody cares anymore.
*Experience is what you get when you don’t exactly get what you want.
*Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly. -We may not even know it until it's needed.
*The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want something.
*When you are angry and feel wronged by another, be patient, they will probably impress you at some point.
*It’s important to know when you’re in a pissing match.
*Embrace others excitement.
*If you don’t know where the bar is, than don’t set it. You may stunt creativity.
*One of the best things you can do is give others the chance to do something to make others happy.
*Group feedback can be a highly self-reflective task.
*The best way to teach them something is to have them think they’re learning something else. HAVING FUN WHILE LEARNING SOMETHING HARD!!
*Approach teaching as if telling a story.
*Loyalty is a 2 way street.
*Fashion and trend are short, sincerity is long.
*Apologize when you screw up.
*Don’t bail. Stick with it. -The best crap is always at the bottom of the pan.
*When and if you have someone who tells you what you need to hear. -Listen
*Show gratitude
*Find the best in everybody- nobody is all evil.
*Being a teacher is like having a job in PR and marketing, you have to sell your success and show off your students’.
*We are all capable of far more than we give ourselves credit. Find out what else you are capable of.
*Know your passion & never, never lose sight of it.