Monday, April 8, 2019

An Innovator's Alphabet

Image result for a-z
Like any other field of work, education loaded with buzzwords and jargon. This blog post isn’t meant to define terms- there are enough edu-glossaries available out there. I also hope to avoid as many acronyms as possible! Rather, my goal with this post is to share my own observations and opinions, add to your toolkit of ideas, and remember some of the favorite elements and touchstones of our business, A-Z. 

๐Ÿ’ป Academic Technology, Authenticity, Authenticity, Agency
Authenticity and Agency: these are the goals and outcomes we hope to see and somehow measure. Academic Technology can be a powerful tool toward that goal but Authenticity and Agency are the what, the how, and the why

๐Ÿ“• Blogs
My blog may be the proof that anyone can be a blogger. There are so many skilled educators and specialists in all fields that are contributing their thinking and writing in a regular basis. Want to know why I Blog, or why I think it’s so reflective and important?  Well, I wrote a post about that, too!

C
C some of the most buzzed about (for good reason) words in edu-jardon are the  4 Cs (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking). I don’t consider these “soft skills” or “21st century” skills. They are critical skills for a learner of any age. But there are systemic Cs that can foster these skills for the learner. If we want to see and foster these skills in our learners, we need to cultivate these Ca in it schools: culture, compassion, connection climate. The result is student agency, empowerment and empathy. 

๐Ÿ“Design Thinking
I love a good STEAM challenge, but I’m always looking for the design thinking that separates a spaghetti tower sculpture from a design challenge structure. Intention and reflection are critical. Design and redesign can be the first step in shifting a craft corner to a classroom makerspace. 

✊ Empathy, Empowerment, Engagement 
I’d take twice the time and tools to measure and communicate these competencies over letter grades, numbers, narratives, and report cards any day of the week. We need to come to find ways to demonstrate who kids are and showcase what they are able to do over reporting on what they’ve done and how they’ve scored. It’s why our work matters and why teachers do what we do. 

๐Ÿ’ก Formative 
It’s not about data or assessment necessarily, unless that data actually informs, influences, and enhances the teaching and learning that comes next. Apps like Seesaw or Peardeck are powerful ways to collect and see thinking in real time!

๐Ÿ”œ Growth Mindset 
So much power in 3 letters, y-e-t.  I can’t solve my Rubik’s Cube in less than 2 minutes... yet!

๐Ÿ” Hidden Curriculum 
This phrase used to name the worry of nefarious agendas. Now I like to think about the hidden agenda as the skills and abilities below the surface that we are targeting, the competencies that students need in and out of our classrooms.

๐Ÿ”–  Intention
This is such an easy step to skip. We can follow plans and manuals, but without authentic and emotional intention, the experience can fall flat, or fall into the category of compliance, rather than an engineered and engaging learning moment. Innovating and Igniting are the visible models of our Intention. 

๐Ÿ“ฃ JedTalks
Writing a blog has been a powerful experience for several reasons.  It's a highly reflective process, it clears space in my head to formulate a complete and cohesive thought about a topic,  and finally articulate and archive that thinking in one location to be able to reach for at a later date.

⌛ Knowledge
Knowledge is understanding, not information. In our hands, pockets, and students’ backpacks, we have instant and endless information collectors in our digital devices. It’s our constantly-evolving job to shift our instruction and assessment from counting how much information students have collected toward demonstrating and showcasing their understanding and application of that content. 

๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“ฒ Literacy 
Literacy is often defined by the ability to read, write,  speak, and listen. In a digital age, digital literacy is critical, our classrooms should include opportunities for even our youngest learners to acquire the ability to (responsibly) read, write, speak, and listen with digital tools. 

๐Ÿš€ Moments 
I like to identify those magic moments in our own educational experience, and in that of our students, that are Meaningful, Memorable, and Measurable.  graphic 3 ms A lesson that strikes any of these elements can be effective and engaging, but when they intersect, that’s the sweet spot!

๐Ÿ‘ฅ Network
I’m not talking about your district tech network or building WiFi, but your own PLN. These are the supporting characters in our own stories. These are our sources of insight and inspiration to enhance our own professional development.

๐Ÿ” Observation
Like reflection, this is another element that is often lost for time. In my coaching role I have learned tons by having the opportunity to observe colleagues who excel at their craft. We are all surrounded by different types of experts, each in their own area. And each with something to offer.

๐Ÿ”ฆ Personalized Learning
There are as many working definitions for personalized learning as there are implementation models, but my favorite thing to think about with PL is that’s it’s an act: personalizing learning. It’s less about exactly what we do, and more about the how and why. Larry Cuban’s reminder that Personalized Learning is a strategy, not a policy should be a starting point for any educator or system looking to to shift toward a PL approach. 

๐Ÿ“ฑ QR Codes 
QR codes had fallen out of favor for a bit, but now that the iPhone’s camera is an automatic reader, and digital media and content is so accessible to create, the QR code is back as a simple button or window to showcase student process, products, performance or practices!

๐ŸŽข  Risk vs. Reward
Risk is the reward! Take a chance, try a new digital tool, collaborate with a new colleague, or challenge yourself to engage your students’ attention in a new or unique way that you may have seen and previously thought, “I could never do that.”  Find the colleagues around you that encourage and facilitate risk-taking, provide support, and challenge you to keep moving forward. Tradition and complacency get in the way of progress and innovation!

๐Ÿšฉ Student-Centered 
What do personalized, blended, flipped, differentiated, or project based learning have in common?  They are student-centered. Every year another revolution rolls through,  but you can be that the ones that make us rethink and reshape the teaching and learning in our environments are student-centered.

⌚ Technology
This shouldn’t be a surprise. As an educator who is passionate about the integration of academic technology, I always try to keep the conversation focused on practices over products. There are more and more digital tools 

๐Ÿ”€ Unlearn...
Unlearn what you have learned. One of the wisest thing Yoda ever taught was to break old habits of mind, shake up assumptions, and be willing and open to new ways of thinking. 

๐Ÿ‘“ Vision
A vision statement is only as effective as the behavior and actions that follow.  A clear and focused vision enables and empowers progress.

๐ŸŽค Workshops
Every educator should offer to present at a staff meeting, local tech day or regional conference. It’s a professional tune-up to articulate ideas, tips, or techniques, while also reflecting on our own craft. 

๐Ÿ”ฎ X-Factor 
I’ve been part of hiring panels that talk about that “special something.”  We all know it when we see it, remember our own teachers who had it, and strive to catch it every once in a while. 

✅ Yes
Lean toward Yes- Medfield’s Nat Vaughn (Principal, Blake Middle School) follows his school’s mantra of Lean Towards Yes. Its an intentional mindset of willingness toward growth and change, adapt and reach, but also lean on one another for strength and support. 

๐ŸŒ  Zeal 
Last but not least, nobody captures the mojo of an inspired educator like Principal Brian McCann (@casehighprinc). It’s my favorite quote and a guiding light:

I’m not asking permission to be awesome, and I’m not apologizing for being passionate.


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