"The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious.
The desire to reach hearts is wise."
- Maya Angelou
What does meaningful learning look like?
Yesterday I attended #NovaNowGR. This was the first time I had the opportunity to see Kent Innovation High. For some time I saw pictures and heard about the phenomenal learning spaces.
Talk about impressive! The space was open, inviting and the natural light was a refreshing change.
As I walked into Kent Innovation, I immediately entered the +Rushton Hurley session. Rushton led a discussion on meaningful learning. He asked about our experiences as learners and within a minute he had my wheels spinning. Three memories perculated in my head. Interesting enough, not all were positive.
The first occurred in 7th grade. My teacher was Ms. Berg. Each day she had us writing in our journals. On the surface this isn't that memorable. But a couple things made it so. The first was that we journaled every single day. Routine can produce lasting memories. The second was that each day Ms. Berg commented on our journal writings. Not at the end of the week or even every other day. She commented each and every day. As I look back this was significant. Ms. Berg made relationships an important part of her classroom. The final part that made it memorable for me was that I could write anything and I trusted her, she had won my trust. As a 7th grade boy you sometimes need an outlet...Ms. Berg was that outlet for me.
The second meaningful learning experience was not a positive one. I can still clearly visualize the moment. I was sitting in science class next to my friend Doug. It was quiz day. Well, to be honest pop quizzes were part of this teachers norm. The quiz was designed to see who read the chapter from the night before. I sat in class and answered each question on my half-sheet of paper. I felt so-so about the quiz. I figured I got 8/10. The teacher then asked us to pass the sheets forward. As Doug and I waited for the person in front of us to turn around we whispered to each other. He told me he thought he bombed it. I shrugged and told him I thought I did okay. Then SUDDENLY our teacher stormed in front of us, grumbled and crumpled up our papers right there. Both Doug and I had open jaws. The teacher looked at us, and then angrily said, "I said NO TALKING!" We then had to meet with him after class. As we shuffled our feet to the front desk I was prepared to apologize and try again...but no such luck. He simply said, "I hope you learned your lesson because you both just received a zero on the quiz." I was devastated...Doug on the other hand simply gave up. Both of us truly despised our teacher. Later that day I went home and told my parents. They encouraged me to work hard and "get it back". But internally I told myself I would never be like that teacher. I knew right there that I would never intimidate and scare people to make myself superior.
The third moment is one I would have never predicted. I was in Home Economics...something I dreaded...(until I saw the class list and noticed it was mainly girls in the class). I did enjoy the teacher and somehow, someway she got me to step out of my comfort zone. Mrs. Anderson challenged me to cook and knit. I'll never forget cooking in school and getting good enough to take the recipe home and try it for my family. The night I cooked at home I was so proud. I was growing up. The meal was a spinach pasta blend. I added cheese and bread. I was really looking forward to serving my family. Bless them, they were kind and supportive...but I could tell they really didn't like it. Funny thing was, I actually did like it. But everyone else was simply getting through it. I'll never forget this experience and I'll always be thankful for Mrs. Anderson for pushing me out of my comfort zone.
These three learning experiences are all very different, but there is a commonality. Each created an EMOTION. Whether positive or negative I felt something. The first was a strong feeling of friendship and caring. The second was a feeling of despair and anger. The third was a feeling of anxiety and doubt. These emotions were real.
I can tell you one thing that is certain. The vast majority of my memories don't involve grades. In fact, I don't think I ever said, "That was special because I got an A!" My experiences throughout school were generally positive. I attribute this to teachers that helped make learning meaningful.
Looking back on +Rushton Hurley session I applaud him for sparking reflection and generating discussion. I believe teaching is an art, it is imperative that we connect with our students and find ways to make learning matter.
This Week's Question is: What are your most vivid memories of learning?
NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday, February 9th: 3pm Meeting
Monday, February 9th: 4pm Lego Club
Monday, February 9th: String Team
Tuesday, February 10th: Bible Release
Tuesday, February 10th: 4pm Minecraft Club
Tuesday, February 10th: PTO Meeting 7pm
Wednesday, February 11th: K-2 Assembly at 8:45
Wednesday, February 11th: String Team
Wednesday, February 11th: 3pm discussion on twitter and voxer (meet in the library if interested)
Thursday, February 12th: NAEP 4th grade testing 9am
Thursday, February 12th: CP Federal Credit Union 2pm
Thursday, February 12th: 4pm Minecraft Club
Friday, February 13th: 8am Staff Meeting in Mrs. Smith's room
Friday, February 13th: Valentine Parties in the PM
Friday, February 13th: 5th grade to All-Skate
* Staff Meeting topics
- Standard Based Grading
- Reading Month
Articles Worth Reading:
For Better or For Worse @Joe_Mazza
My Dad, The Differentiator @Jeff_Zoul
Hurry Up and Slow Down @laughwithchad
How to approach teaching with a spirit of adventure @Angela_Watson
Tech Amplifies Student Voice @TonySinanis
9 Things You Should Be Able To Say About Your Life @marcandangel
Videos Worth Watching:
Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon BeatBox! (4 min)
The Austin Hatch story (7 min)
Lip Sync Battle (Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon) (13 min)
Schools that work for Kids... @E_Sheninger (15 min)