If I Could Have Lunch…

…with John Hattie, I would shake his hand and thank him. Okay, for those of you who know me well, know I would actually hug him and then thank him ~ most likely before I even introduced myself. Those around me would be embarrassed, for themselves and for me, and I probably wouldn’t even notice if the interaction was awkward. I would just be in awe.

I’ve spent time this summer digging into what really matters in education…topics ~ concepts ~ people… who, I believe, influence the ideas I have swirling around in my head about what counts…WHAT REALLY COUNTS…for all learners. Some of my thinking is inspired by re-reading “old friends” hanging out on my bookshelf. I’ve also been inspired by some new friends. It has been a summer of centering. A summer of defining and re-defining. A summer of reading and a summer of writing. What fun it’s been!

John Hattie says that, “Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. Visible Learning and teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers.”   We all know John Hattie is smart, but what strikes me is the logic behind all of his thinking. He knows that it isn’t until we (educators) set our own goals, reflect on our own practices and look for evidence to support growth (or lack thereof) ~ coupled with learning with and from our students, their ideas, their work, and their reflections ~ that we can really support them as independent thinkers, readers, writers, talkers, and doers of the world. Furthermore, when teachers create their own feedback cycle for growth, it affords them the know-how to provide like opportunities for their students.

Since I don’t currently have a lunch date on my calendar with Dr. Hattie, I will have to work to honor his research by putting his findings into action. As I launch into the new school year, I am going to do my best to stay focused on my beliefs related to:

I’ve got a lot to do. If only I had a date for lunch…

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Just Imagine…

Creating & designing something IS how we make meaning…how we transform old into new…how we leave a track in the snow marking where we’ve been… all in service of creating a path forward. That is, I believe, the heartbeat of progressive pedagogy.

I recently read a post by an person who quoted James Baldwin by saying, “the place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” This quote is so meaningful and applicable to education today. Unfortunately, I think schools sometimes put these ideas into action in the wrong way. This is true when organizations believe that a select few can lead the way to create and make the place (classroom design, school culture, ways of being) and the stuff (curriculum, instructional best practices, assessment) for everyone to follow.

I’ve lived and learned a lot over the past 22 years as an educator and what continues to hold true is that what thrusts educators into strong, life-long professionals with a passion for continued learning is when a system invites ALL invested stakeholders to live out Baldwin’s ideas: “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” Teachers, the people we’ve hired to facilitate learning for our children, typically want to be a part of making it so they can fit. When we allow them to do so, they in turn allow their students to make it so they can fit. That is, not just saying that you subscribe to a progressive pedagogy, but actually living it! Without that, you just end up with a leadership team that has a lot invested, feeling good about what they’ve created, and feeling like they can fit…while everyone else is working double time trying to get on their page. Not to mention all the other stakeholders (parents, custodians, students, etc.) who may not be privy, let alone invested, in what is even being built. If, instead, we invite everyone to bring ideas and talents to the table to create and design, just imagine what kind of place we could make where everyone would feel like they fit.

Some things are worth repeating. Creating & designing something IS how we make meaning…how we transform old into new…how we leave a track in the snow marking where we’ve been… all in service of creating a path forward.  Do you believe that is the heartbeat of education today? If so, how are you putting those ideas into action?