Communities of reformers
Some posts hit you exactly when and where you need to be hit. Dina over at The Line wrote a post that did just that recently. In a new school where I'm not exactly enthralled with the existing culture, I've found myself frustrated often. I haven't been posting as much in part because I felt like most of what I wanted to write about would be negative and complain-y. I'm not one to be content with school culture that needs some work so I've tried pushing some things here and there with very limited success. That's frustrating. Add that to teaching brand new classes and I'm frustrated knowing that this isn't my best year as a teacher, even if its simply because it's all new
In the midst of frustration the providencial interWebz sent Dina's post my direction. Frustrated working to change a school while working in that school she pulls in advice from several of my favorite names in education (featuring Deborah Meier and Chris Lehmann) who advise reforming with a posse (for support) and giving yourself a break when things don't work out they way you'd like. Check out this gem of a quote from Chris:
Trying to be Rafe Esquith or Debbie Meier is a good goal, but only if we don’t beat ourselves up when we fall short… teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. We desperately need wise, kind, thoughtful people who make this a career and a life.
And we need to forgive ourselves when we aren’t perfect or awesome or “A-game” every day. When the people who care leave because we cannot measure up to our ideal version of ourselves, in the end, that’s bad for our schools and our kids.
I have been in the habit of beating myself up for falling short this year, and Dina's post helped me remember that it's okay. I can fail without being a failure (and that I need to start forming a reform posse 😉 ).
Communities of learners
Michael Wesch teaches his college classes as if they were research groups. He does this to great effect and has received quite a bit of notoriety for his unique teaching style and the products of his students' research (some examples). In the post Our class on how we run our class, Wesch details how the class is organized and what the students are responsible for generating.
Wesch has effectively created and implemented a teaching style that I've been slowly working towards in my last several years as an educator. It's basically the definition of student-centered, authentic, active learning (I know that's a lot a buzz words in one sentence, but if they're ever applicable, it's here).
This post gave me a lot to unpack and think about in relation to my own teaching. I haven't had the time to sit down and decompress all the information he's slammed into this one post quite yet, but it'll definitely be something I spend time on this summer (if not sooner).
Michael Wesch was a guest on a recent Seedlings Podcast (#60) where he gives a little more insight into his philosophy of teaching. An interesting tidbit: he uses Eric Fromm's The Art of Loving to stay focused on what how he should think about his students. The whole show is worth a listen.