Tag Archives: learners

Main Entry: vision

3 Sep

Main Entry: vision

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: apparition

Synonyms: apocalypse, chimera, delusion, ecstasy, fantasy, ghost, hallucination, haunt, illusion, mirage, nightmare, oracle, phantasm, phantom, phenomenon, presence, prophecy, revelation, specter, spirit, spook, trance, warlock, wraith

Antonyms: actuality, fact, reality

We are in the process of considering the “WHY’ as Simon Sinek puts it, and by defining this it will clarify a vision for our learners and consider how we can go about this.  The process includes consideration of our current reality and the barriers or levers that create the tension between what is and what can be.  George Couros as part of Parkland School Division in the US has recently undergone a similar process (which follows)…



This truly tries to capture not only the work that we want to do in the future, but a lot of the work that we are doing in the future with our kids.  I love how it focuses on the idea of “learners” as opposed to simply students.  We always focus on doing what is best for kids, but if that is to truly happen, we all need to have the growth mindset and continue to grow.  Here is the Vision and Mission of our school division:

Our Vision

Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

Our Mission

Our purpose is to prepare, engage and inspire our students to be their best in a quickly changing global community.

Right now, these are just words, but our focus on the division is to put words into action and make some incredible things happen.  We will also continue to focus on being an open and transparent learning organization so that others can grow along with us.  Really exciting times in our school division.

Here are some links that I have read that may be of value to you and your school.

1.  What is education for? – Interestingly enough, this is an article that is 20 years old yet I was led to it on Facebook through a mistaken attribution to a quote.  It is a must read for educators as it is focused on where education should be heading and the importance of caring for others and our world.  Here is a powerful quote from the article:

A second principle comes from the Greek concept of paideia. The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person.  Subject matter is simply the tool. Much as one would use a hammer and chisel to carve a block of marble, one uses ideas and knowledge to forge one’s own personhood. For the most part we labor under a confusion of ends and means, thinking that the goal of education is to stuff all kinds of facts, techniques, methods, and information into the student’s mind, regardless of how and with what effect it will be used. The Greeks knew better.

There are a lot of powerful messages here regarding education and I really believe it is a must read for those who care about our schools and the direction they are going.

2.  How can I sell my skills beyond a boring resume? –  We have been working on digital portfolios within Parkland School Division for the past year, and continue on this road this year (and years into the future).  Your digital footprint is extremely important and many potential employers (including myself) use Google as a way of learning more about potential candidates. Our focus within the school division is that we need to go from the point where you digital footprint could lose a job to a place where what you do online can actually create opportunities.  About.me is a great place for many educators to start to develop that online persona that they can share the places they are on the Internet as well as start taking control of their digital identity:

If you have a web presence you want to show off at all, About.Me is a good option. The service is free, looks great, and links users directly to your other social profiles or web sites where they can learn more about you. About.me pages take moments to set up, and when you’re finished you get a short custom URL you can give out or put on a business card. You can even sign up for an about.me email address for those contacts to use when they want to reach you.

Definitely take the time to Google yourself (very helpful link) and see what is out there about you.  Would you hire you?

3.  50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom – We have many educators within Parkland School Division excited about the opportunity of using Twitter for professional development but many use it as a hybrid to not only learn openly, but also connect their classroom to the world.  There are some great ideas on this post and below are a few:

7. Connect with the community.

Partner up with local government or charitable organizations and use Twitter to reach a broad audience discussing the latest cultural or educational events in the area and encourage others in the community to attend.

8. Follow the issues.

Bring a little technology into debates by asking the class which issues they would like to follow. Subscribe to relevant hash tags and accounts from all perspectives and compile an updated resource cobbling together as much research as possible.

9. Write a story or poem.

Many writers and poets have experimented with Twitter’s 140-character format to bring new, serialized works in small chunks to attention-divided audiences. Some educators may like the idea of asking their students to apply their creative writing skills to a restrictive social media outlet.

What ways do you use Twitter in your school that aren’t listed in the article?

I hope you have a great week! I am extremely excited about our school year and the work that we are trying to achieve in our division. Share, share, share!


What skills do we value?

26 Aug

After having the privilege to listen to Yong Zhao discussing his new book ‘World Class Learners – Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students’ I was reminded of Sinead Duffy’s post regarding the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset, thus I am sharing this with you.

If these are the skills of successful entrepreneurs & Zhao says “To succeed in this ever-changing world, students need to think like entrepreneurs: resourcefully, flexibly, creatively and globally” – how many of our schools value these skills?  More importantly, do we foster these or try to extinguish them in our classrooms?  My fear is that there are too few schools and teachers that agree with Yong Zhao, and by the time they confront the reality that he is right, so many students may have missed the boat.

12 Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneurial Mindset

By Sinead Duffy 4th July 2012

Success does not happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and continual self-improvement. Every highly successful entrepreneur has a great story to tell. Often times, you’ll  be amazed by what most of them have gone through before becoming famous entrepreneurs.  They may be ordinary people but they do not have ordinary minds.

Here are the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs.

1. Passion

They absolutely love what they do; it energizes them and makes them come alive.

It doesn’t feel like work, because they feel they are doing what they were born to do.

2. Belief

Their self-belief and belief in their ideas enables them to succeed. They have faith in their ability to succeed and proceed when others doubt their ideas. They believe they can make it work and never allow their circumstances to place a limit on their potentials.

3. Courage

They have the courage to take on new challenges, to follow their instincts and to go boldly where no one has gone before.

4. Determination

Highly successful entrepreneurs have great determination. They are determined to make their ideas work, no matter how difficult. They are determined to nurture their ideas and watch them flourish.

5. Instinct

They are good at making decisions, tuning into their gut feeling and weighing up consequences in a heartbeat. The more decisions they make, the better they become at decision making.

6. Risk Taking

They are prepared to take risks and step outside their comfort zone to get what they want. Interestingly, a lot of their decisions are calculated risks.

7. Vision

They begin with a dream of what they really want to achieve and they set clear goals and objectives. From that, they strategize, plan and act on what they want to achieve. They inspire others to focus on achieving results.

8. Discipline

They are brilliant at getting things done and this takes commitment, hard work and dedication. They get up early, work late and never give up until they get what they want.

9. Resiliancy

They have failed in the past and they know that they will fail again in the future. They are not afraid of it. They have learned great lessons from their failures. They turn the situation around to make it work for them. In fact, other innovations can even emerge from failures.

10. Adapt

They are early adopters and quick to respond to changes that affect their business. They are not afraid of change, not afraid to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. They understand that change is a certainty and face whatever life throws at them with courage and hope.

11. Inspire

They motivate and inspire others to achieve results. They recognize and nurture talents and qualities in others.

12. Learn

They are always willing to learn and invest in their own personal development. They attend seminars, network and rub minds with like minds. They seek out others who share their passions and build relationships with people who support and encourage. They have great mentors and coaches and work on ways to continually improve. They grow daily, and never fail to make use of every opportunity.

Perhaps you can identify many of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs in yourself.  Are there some you feel are stronger than others? Are there any of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs that you would like to further develop?

Learning to be better learners

26 Jul

Tom Whitby has so eloquently penned the following post that I dare not alter a word.

Look up his blog and follow him. it is worth the cranial trip!

Teachers Are Poor Consumers of Learning

July 24, 2012 by tomwhitby

There are only a few explanations that many educators offer up as reasons not to learn and use any technology as tools for learning. One of the most popular excuses, frequently cited by educators, is that there is not enough time to learn all of the stuff that is out there. It certainly is true that there are a huge number of things to learn out there that are linked to technology. When thought about as a complete package, it most definitely can be overwhelming, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Where I disagree however, is in thinking about all of this technology stuff as a complete unit that must be learned all at once. There are logical and necessary ways to break things down to learn smaller snippets of things on a need-to-know basis in order to build into a larger framework of information.

In sales people are taught that if you can answer a customer’s objection to a product, you are more likely to make the sale. The problem is that the customer more often than not cannot articulate what the real objection is. They will say that they object to one thing, while the real reason is that they can’t afford it. If money is not the problem, they might choose color, or, size, or, complexity, or simplicity as an excuse not to buy something, when all along the reason for the objection is that they don’t understand how to use the product. The product is too complicated and they fear that they will fail at learning how to use it effectively, as well as looking foolish for all to see. That is not an objection that the customer will publicly admit to, or even privately to himself.  Of course a good salesperson will discover the objection allay the fears and make the sale. The customer, after making the purchase, will then take home the product, place it in a closet, and never visit it again until the eventual possibility of its placement in some future yard sale becomes a reality.

As educators, we deal with information, and once that was a limited commodity. Theoretically, at one time all of the available information in the world could have been contained within a very large publication. With each passing day however, the amount of information available to us grew in drips and drabs. It really began to increase exponentially with the advent of technology from pens, to printing press, to computer, to the internet. No publication could house all of the information available in the world today. I have been a classroom teacher for 40 years. There is way more stuff to teach today compared to when I started out.

As educators, do we throw up our hands and say that this is all too much, and there is not enough time for our students to learn all of the stuff that is out there? I think not! We actually break things down for our learners into teachable bites of information to be assembled and digested as ideas and concepts as our learners are able to take these things in. As educators the volume of information of what we teach will continually increase. That should never be a deterrent to educators preventing teachers from teaching, or learners from learning. We also now teach the skills for learners to critically analyze information so that they continue learning on their own beyond the limitations of their teachers. There is however one exception to this picture that I have just drawn out. The idea that educators are prevented from learning about technology tools for learning because there is just too much information.

Why don’t educators learn from their own teaching? Break things down into small bites of information. Learn what needs to be learned first, rather than all that can be learned, which is an unattainable goal that will overwhelm. Do not be daunted by the amount of information available, but inspired by that which is attainable. As a teacher’s knowledge of technology increases, so do the skills of learning more, as well as the ability to teach more. Technology doesn’t make a bad teacher good, but it can make a good teacher great. Educators should not be defined by their limitations, but rather by their ability to learn as well as teach. To be better educators, we must first be better learners.


Kids First Social Network

7 Mar

Let’s face it schools are changing. 

Rarely do we walk into a classroom and see the teacher reciting information, and the children sitting quietly in their rows taking notes so that they can remember the content. 

Chris Lehmann from the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia writes …. 

There are those in the educational and political landscape these days who would dismantle the entire institution of school, and those people would use the tools we love so much to argue for the irrelevance of school itself. It can be a seductive argument especially when so many schools frustrate us with the degree to which they underserve children. However, the fundamental purpose of public school — the idea that create physical spaces that are committed to educating a nation — is a good one.

There’s no question that how we conceive of school must change, but the why we have them remains as vital today as it ever has been. In an age where segmentation of markets, segmentation of society, keep people apart from those who think differently, who look differently, who live differently than they do, schools bring us together to learn from and with each other.

There is a subtle and yet vital difference in the fundamental role of school in the modern world. For the past 100 years, in most American schools, the school was important because it was where the information was… it was where the teacher was. The classroom was important because it was where people came together to get the information from the teacher. And while this is an oversimplification of the pedagogy of the past 100 years, it is, sadly, an accurate description of the dominant paradigm in American education. It is the Prussian model that Horace Mann brought back from Europe and instituted across the country with great success.

And let’s be clear – this model educated a nation with greater success than the world had ever seen – and so it is understandable to see why it has been so hard to let go of the old vision of what schools look like. Much of we see with the “No excuses” charter school model, No Child Left Behind and other current “reform” movements seem like an attempt to recapture the hazily remembered nostalgic days when students sat and patiently absorbed information from caring teachers. But to quote the song, “the good old days weren’t all that good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”
So if the reason to come together in a classroom isn’t because the teacher is there to dispense the knowledge, why come together in a classroom?

It’s because that’s where we come together to learn.

Let’s never forget that.

A vibrant classroom, filled with active learners is a wonderful place that deserves to be nurtured. Learning can happen in many ways, and not all moments of learning have to be social, but equally, not all learning moments should be solitary as well. All over the world, there are classrooms where students learn together with caring, dedicated teachers. In these places, the social learning means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is the promise of these classrooms, these schools that we must grasp onto.

And they are not as rare we think.

In every school, there are teachers who make the classroom into something special. They listen to students, push them to reach beyond what they knew their grasp could be. There are students who look forward to class those classes so that they be in deep learning environments. And in all those places, the learning goes far beyond acquisition of knowledge and skills and content. In all those places, there is meaning and wisdom and passion.

And at schools like High Tech High in San Diego and MET Academy in Providence, RI and Science Leadership Academy, students and teachers and administrators have come together to build entire communities that learn this way. And there are many, many more schools that have build powerful learning communities out there. We just have to do a better job of looking for them.

That is what school can be. As a nation, we can imagine many different models for school, but the fundamental idea that we build places where all children can come together to learn remains one of the best ideas we’ve ever had as a society.

We shouldn’t lose it. We just have to make sure our schools reflect the time in which we live.