Over the last two days we have been talking in class about what it means to be a leader. Garth and I are both discussing leadership along with the normal beginning of the year life-skills lessons; which also include "leaving positive digital footprints worth following" and asking essential questions.
After a brief discussion of what it takes to be a leader, how we define the word, leader and a few tidbits of inspiration, I had students fill out a simple GoogleForm. They were asked 3 times to write one word that describes "a good leader". I made sure to explain that I wanted words that described someone they would be willing to follow.
I had two goals in mind. First, I want my students to see, visually look at and soak up, what them and their peers think are good qualities in a person, a leader. Second, I wanted to see what they expected of me, without them knowing it. In actuality, this was an exercise in creating a blind taste-test. I can look at this Wordle and know that students want these qualities in their teachers.
The best part of this lesson was this: Every student raised their hands when I asked if they possessed at least one of these qualities, at least one time in their lives. I was a bit fearful that peer pressure would force people to raise their hands, so I also did a brief in-class writing assignment as a follow up. I asked students to tell me one time they were a leader in their life and how they think they can be a leader this year in the 7th grade. The answers are great. The majority of students wrote something about wanting to give some of their time to help others. I was afraid that this years students would be a bit slow to grab onto my energy and go sprinting towards reinventing themselves learners; We have only had five days of school, but body language says a lot in the 7th grade. Over the last two days students have really grabbed onto the concept of Garth and my class. The idea that thinking, creating, collaborating and wondering is emphasized over grades. I finished the week (no school tomorrow) with a clip from the movie "Pay it Forward". Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone.
A great read.
In June Garth and I were fortunate to be "camp counselors" at Digi-Camp Akron. Digi-Camp was hosted by Akron University and was a 3-day educational technology conferences. Teachers (campers) and instructors (counselors) stayed in the Honors Dorms, went to a baseball game and attended sessions geared towards the meaningful integration of technology in our classrooms. It was a great experience made even better by our breakfast guest speaker.
Jim Tressel, former Ohio State University head football coach and now at the University of Akron, as Vice President for Strategic Engagement, spoke to all of us about technologies role in education. Mr. Tressel spoke of passion, the art of teaching, keeping focused on the students we serve and gave some general concerns about where education is headed. I sat in the crowd with my iPhone and captured his speech. Below, Garth, Jim and I discuss education.
This recording was made on an iphone and sound quality is not perfect. Mike and I discuss the key points of Mr. Tressel talk.
Image taken from NASA.
I think that it is rather fitting that NASA's Curiosity sets down on Mars just before the beginning of a new school year. Garth and my continuing mission is to inspire learning through independent exploration and autonomous learning grounded in a grander sense of curiosity and creativity. Thinking of, designing, creating and implementing such an extraordinary thing like landing a man-made object on the surface of Mars is nothing less than awesome. Sure there is a ton of science and math involved with the whole process, but none of it would have been possible without the imagination of the people involved.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is someone I have spoken of before, and I come back to his words in a recent tweet: "The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams." As a teacher, a learner and someone who is always awe struck by what we know (and don't know) I find it inspiring to know one of this centuries greatest scientific minds still sees the importance of human wonder/curiosity. Garth and I teach exploration, but I do not think we have ever really discussed curiosity as one of the big factors that pushes humans to continually explore. Exploration, whether we call it that or migration, is at the foundation of all mankind's advancements. Whether we are talking about leaving Africa or landing on Mars.
It is with a new spark of curiosity that I begin this upcoming school year (two weeks of summer left). I am tempted to have the landing of Curiosity playing in my room during open house. I hope it will generate questions, spark curiosity about what 7th grade social studies will be like and start to create subconscious links between science and history.
Congratulations to everyone on the planet for living full lives. A special thanks to the men and women of NASA that make such amazing discoveries and continued exploration possible. "Live long and prosper".