Here’s my answer:
I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. My life is teaching. To not do that this year should devastate me. It worried me a bit that it doesn’t bother me more. As I thought about it I realized why I’m okay with no teaching this year. See that’s just it; I am teaching this year. I get to work with nearly thirty school districts, in four counties around Ohio. That’s thousands of teachers and tens-of-thousands of students. I get to go spread my love of teaching & learning and how meaningful technology integration can inspire learning. I get to talk to teachers, principals, curriculum directors and superintendents. They ask for my opinion (and for the first time in my professional life) they listen to me and there is dialogue and collaboration. It is liberating and empowering. I set long-term goals and I believe in achieving every goal you set. I want to leave a legacy. I want to help change education in Ohio. I want kids to love learning. I get to do that more now than ever.
I am shocked....
...at all the amazing things happening in schools all over northeast Ohio. There are teachers and buildings and districts doing some amazing things. The things Garth and I have always tried to do for our students. I never realized how little we really know what is going on in our schools. This year, my goal is to try and bring those teachers and leaders to the world via technology. We have this amazing green screen studio at my office. My boss and I want to interview amazing teachers. We want to publicize their students and help them leave a legacy.
No To Rigor, Yes to Frustration....
If you have read previous posts on TFT, or if you have ever seen me present, you know that I enjoy poking fun at pedagogical cliches. So let’s tackle the idea of “rigor”. The dictionary definition basically says anything that takes work to do. That means that rigor can mean a million different things. Yet, teachers are expected to create “rigorous” learning experiences in their classroom. Does that mean we take our top students and then create lessons that are rigorous to them? Meaning that they will be really, really rigorous to our lowest students? Rigor is one of those words that no one ever defines for us, and maybe that’s the point. To create these lofty ideals that teachers must blindly aspire to achieve. I’ve decided to start a movement this year. I want to hear a new word in the conversations of teachers and administrators. We need to talk about “frustration”.
I like frustration. I think it is important to the learning process and I think that it can help foster empathy in our students. There has been this concept of “learned helplessness” in education for decades. It seems the more technology evolves, the more teachers give to students. If we want to make the transition to students as makers and producers of knowledge, then we will also be destroying learned helplessness in our students. This is going to cause frustration. Frustration for students as they began to see that failure and trying again are new concepts in the learning journey. Frustration as they begin to understand that teachers are not going to give them an answer or a mountain of resources when they (students) can’t find an answer. Frustration for teachers as students began to own their learning and direct instruction becomes less relevant in our classrooms. Frustration for teachers as students start to use the scientific method to find the answers to their essential questions and care more about learning than grades.
Think about your own life. Everyone has problems. Big problems, not just text book problems. Sometimes you get stuck in the middle. Sometimes you don't even know where to start. You get frustrated. You might throw things, or stare for hours at the wall. Eventually you walk away, think about something else or just try some different ideas. Usually, when you stop hyper-focusing on the problem, a solution presents itself. You get frustrated, your brain starts to scan for any previous knowledge that can help and eventually you solve the issue. But this is different than just solving a problem by asking someone for the answer. You feel pride, you overcame something and you didn't give up. I want students to feel that pride in thinking and conquering.
Frustration is a necessity in the creativity process too! Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, I’m just learning to understand frustration myself! You can watch this video, though.