Exercising and learning

As my regular readers know, I have started this year with a focus on getting healthier.  I have found that I enjoy and learned so much.  In no particular order, here are some of my particular A-ha’s.

  • I need to exercise by people who I see as a little better than me.  I work harder that way.  Believe it or not I am competitive and even exercise class is a competition.  I share this fact because we need to talk to our children about who they sit with and work with and how it impacts their learning.  We need to create learners who know what they need and how to ask for it.
  • Exercise is not the silver bullet.  I have not lost the weight I wanted ase I was doing this because I haven’t really changed my eating habits.  Just like I need to stick with the exercising and add another step to lose the weight.  One mistake we make is to assume that one thing will solve all of the problems.  If we just had this one curriculum, then…..  We know in reality it may take several things working in conjunction together to help all students learn.
  • Pick the right success criteria.  If I chose the scale as the success criteria, then I would feel like a failure.  Instead, I am using my energy level as well as inches lost and increased fitness.   If we use the standardized test as the only measure of success for our students or schools, many people would feel like failure when in fact they are successful.
  • Music makes a difference.  There has been several times I wanted quit.  One particular time, a song that reminded me of my son came on.  It was a subtle reminder why I was there.  Other times the beat kept me going.  When add music to our classroom, it help motivate our students and us.
  • I have preferences for certain instructors.  I like the ones that seem to know when I need feedback.  It’s as if they can read my face and then tell if I am on the right track or if I need to do something differently.  Students also need feedback at the right moment or it won’t move them forward.
  • I can do more than I thought was possible.  I have been at this for about 4 months. Now, I can do ten burpees in a minute when originally I could only do a few and not very well.  I also thought of the instructor who said, “you will!” to my response that I had no abs.  She and others believed in me and it has made a difference.  This is our charge as teachers to create students who can do more than they thought was possible.  We do it daily.  Students who come to school only knowing their letters leave school reading.  Students design computer programs and do so much more because we push because we know they can even if they don’t.

I guarantee when I began my exercise journey that didn’t expect that I would learn so much about myself as a learner.


Cooperating or Collaborating?

I love when things line up in my world to teach me.  Here is one such story:

One of my favorite thought partners asked this question of a group, “Who are your favorite people to collaborate with?”  The night before, I was reading Better Learning Through Structured Teaching and the thing that stuck with me was the section on cooperative learning versus collaborative learning.  My answer to that question was “Are we really collaborating or are we just cooperating?”

Here is one example in my career when I was cooperating instead of collaborating.  I would sit with the other science teacher and talk in generalities what we would do for the following week.  When we left, I wrote the lesson plan and shared the documents with her. Then both of us would go into our respective classroom and teach the material as we saw fit.

Knowing now what I know, I would love to coach my former self and the other science teacher to create a collaborative system to plan and implement the curriculum.  I envision we would not talk about what activities we would use, instead we dig deep in order to understand the standard and how to help students learn it.

I now am asking myself this: “Are we working together or are we creating something together?”  I hope I spend more time creating than working with others.

Thanks my thought partner for pushing me to think deeply daily.



Please Invite Me

In my current role, I am based out of our district’s central office.  In this role, I get the chance to see and work with so many teachers throughout the district.  My favorite times are when I am invited because I become inspired.   If you a faithful reader of my blog you will remember that magical experience in Angela Staber‘s room as just one of those moments.

Just recently, I was invited by a second year teacher in our district to come and co-teach with her.  She is lucky enough to teach physics at our alternative high school.  I always joke that she has my dream job.  I say that because my high school physics and chemistry teacher, Mrs. Solsky furthered my love of science.  The teacher and I found a time that worked for both of our schedules.

On the way there, I voxed with my #EdBeat that I was so excited and thrilled to be heading there.  Several people commented how they could hear the excitement in my voice.  It was so much fun and I learned so much from the teacher and the students. The two of us made plans to do some more work together.   As I left, I felt like I was vibrating from all of the positive energy of the school.

My request to you is please invite me.  I grow and become inspired when I am in a school. Also I will do everything in my power to come.  If you don’t work in my district, please invite teachers, administrators and others into your school and room.  These should be locations where learning happens for all involved.