Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keeping It Real - Collaborative Post with Lisa Meade

A collaborative post written by Lisa Meade and Christina Luce

We’ve realized,  the longer we’ve been connected, there can appear to be a hierarchy of sorts online. We are quite clear where we rank in that hierarchy (near the bottom to middle) so recognize our perceptions may not match that vantage point of those near the top or wanting to be near the top.

We choose to be connected educators because we believe there is power in that connectedness. Twitter and other social media platforms offer many ideas, resources and inspiration for us to use in our practice and reflection. Many of these ideas are found in incredible blog posts written by our colleagues. And once in awhile, we write a post that we hope helps someone.

However, sometimes there are blog posts, comments and tweets that aren’t so incredible or inspiring. In fact, sometimes, they are downright condescending. Instead of encouraging, challenging or inspiring, these posts demean or ridicule the practices of others.

We acknowledge the desire to be innovative, to challenge the status quo, and to push the thinking of others. This is important to moving our profession forward. However, our work is too big for any edu-writer to spend time declaring a singular way to do something. School not ready for Google Apps? That’s ok. Your school’s not ready to abandon its math program? That doesn’t necessarily make you a bad leader or teacher. When you can admit that you aren’t there yet, It makes you honest. I know no one leader that has every initiative and effort fully implemented to the capacity he/she would like. We’re a work in progress. We are evolving.  We run human organizations with human needs. And, leading with heart and putting kids first doesn’t allow a prescriptive or standard approach.

Some of the best bloggers we know, including Peter DeWitt and the team behind Leadership 360, open the doors wide open and allow many guest posts on a variety of topics. We are grateful for that. The work of running schools and improving schools is a combined effort and one that requires all of us to be honest and upfront about what is really happening (and NOT happening yet) in our school.  There are enough sources outside twitter (and our respective PLNs) that work too hard to tear down the work of schools. We simply won’t feed it into that. Agree or not agree, if you write on a topic, remember your audience. People like us who turn to your blog post for ideas, reflection and inspiration.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Playing IS Learning

Well, Global School Play Day (GSPD) 2016 has come and gone. Students and faculties participated in record numbers this year; okay it's only the second year of GSPD, but you get the idea. Word spread, and this grassroots movement that began as a conversation between Tim and Scott Bedley (@BedleyBros) seems to be really taking off.

Supporting this movement was really a no-brainer for me. Over the years, I have noticed both as a teacher and as a parent the critical role that play, well plays, in a child's overall development. Play helps us hone our gross and fine motor skills, cognitive, language and social/ emotional skills. Play allows us to test certain hypotheses, indulge our creativity side, explore natural curiosities and make discoveries about ourselves and our environment. In short, play develops the whole child. Which is why it is shocking to me that there are those who guffaw at the idea of dedicating an entire day to play.

Play should be integral to what we do as educators. The idea that we need to justify the use of play in our classrooms and schools boggles my mind.  In spite of the rise of the maker movement, challenge-based and project based learning, I know there are many teachers, schools and districts that struggle with this. At their very essence, the learning initiatives listed previously are rooted in play. It seems to me that play somewhere along the way got a bad rap and that somehow play, particularly in the school setting, in of itself was not seen as "rigorous" enough activity for students. This is unfortunate indeed.

The day after GSPD I asked my students what their takeaways from the day were, and I spoke with my own children (who did not participate this year) about why they feel that play is important to them. See their reactions below.

"It's okay to make mistakes when you play. We just try to do it again. 
We put our heads together and figure it out."

"We learn how to share. We learn how to take turns. We get to try something new."
"You can get more fit. You can learn different games, and how to do different things.
Most of all you can have fun!"

So I'm putting out a challenge. If you did not participate in GSPD this year, try it next year. Here's the link to the GSPD website where you can learn more and sign up:  http://www.globalschoolplayday.com/. If you did participate this year, I encourage to keep the conversation about the importance of play going and continue to find ways to incorporate more unstructured play into your school day.

Playing IS Learning!

Follow: @GSPlayDay