Classroom Learning – Feb. 2 – 13, 2015

February is a short month to begin with and we’ve added a lot of events which have also made for some short weeks. However my students know, a short week means even harder work and effort to ensure we continue learning.

Here is a brief overview of the past week’s learning and what we can anticipate coming up!

Language Arts

Student reading groups have been created and they have collaboratively chosen a book they will all read and reflect upon together. Reading time will be provided in class in addition to our daily Drop Everything And Read Time as I truly believe we need to provide our students with not only time for directed reading but also time for reading books of choice to build their love of books. We will be co-creating assessment criteria this week for their reading groups and get started! They have been so excited to begin and seeing this makes me realize that they love to read!

They have also been doing an incredible job updating their GoodReads and also sharing, reviewing and recommending books they have read. Keep it up guys!

We have started reading Wendell The World’s Worst Wizard together, which is a very detailed, descriptive Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Adventure book. This is a harder transition for students who are used to the more general Fiction reads and so we have  reviewed the characters and their roles as well as the settings of each section together to gather understandings. It is essential for students to connect to concepts in books in order to comprehend so its been quite interesting to hear their take on this story so far.

Our narrative writing pieces will start this week based off of Wendell. The students will brainstorm their characters and create brain cloud maps with descriptive details of their character. They will then create a draft outline of their story. This will all be in their Language Arts folder in Google Docs.

Mathematics

We hope to finish our Resort Report this week or early next week. This includes all of the student’s multiplication equation work in their duotangs as well as their reflections. Their entire completed project will be in their Google Docs accounts and also posted to their blogs along with their reflection on their learning and understandings of multiplication. I am so very proud of their work so far and some have even begun multiplying 4 digits by 4 digits using the strategy they feel comfortable with. However, any additional review of those facts at home would be immensely helpful! We will tie in this learning with Division which starts following the completion of this project.

Science

We’ve had a blast mixing and creating liquids and solids. The students engaged in multiple hands-on experiments last week and documented their findings in their Science folders.

Here are a few photos from last week:

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

Mixing liquids to observe what happens.

They were excited to document the changes.

They were excited to document the changes.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

Working together and discussing hypothesis of whether liquid and solid combinations will dissolve.

We'll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

We’ll reevaluate our findings of the solutions this week.

This week we will be working on an a project experiment called Fill’er Up where students will have to create a device, mechanism or find a way to move liquids across a solid.

Social Studies

We completed our See, Think, Wonders about both the Arctic and the Great Lakes Lowlands regions and these can be located in their Google Docs Social Studies folder. They were fascinated by Niagara Falls as well as the sizes of the Great Lakes. Each student then created two separate Google Presentation documents with each slide titled with a focus question, which they will have to answer with their research:

Examples:

  • How does the land shape life in the Arctic?
  • What are the challenges of developing natural resources in the Arctic?
  • How are Inuit ways of life traditional and modern?
  • How does climate influence quality of life?
  • Why does this region have the largest population in Canada?
  • What makes this region unique?

This week students will be shown how to effectively conduct research using the internet, how to cite their sources and we will review copyright practices and plagiarism. They will also be provided with written texts from which they will be required to pull information and re-word in their own words to ensure they are able to find the information they are looking for but also to create their own understandings of it. Their individual and completed presentations will then be posted on to their blogs.

Art

Art is one of our favourite subjects. We get to be creative, wacky and representative of ourselves. We have been working on a drawn piece called ‘Falling Backwards’. Students had to trace their hands and feet, in which ever perspective they chose,draw themselves, and then decide what would scare them the most if they were to fall backwards into something. They then outlined their drawing with a Sharpie and learned how to use watercolour paint to create texture. Their results are awesome and I can’t wait to showcase them with you once they are completed. Here are a few pictures of their work in progress:

IMG_0933

IMG_0934

IMG_0941Stay tuned for more from LC5B!

 

Classroom Learning – January 19 – 23, 2015

The students of LC5B have been working very hard since the start of the New Year. I can’t begin to explain just how proud I am of their spirit, dedication and care towards their learning.

Here is an overview of the happenings in our room:

Our trip to the Spruce Grove Innovation Lab:

IMG_0555

IMG_0556

IMG_0557

IMG_0558

In Science, we have started our Classroom Chemistry unit and students have learned about the three states of matter. They have been applying their observation skills and jot note taking skills throughout our lessons. As we were discussing chemical reactions and the states of matter, one of our classmates Cassie applied this information to a very unique product that she creates with at home called Popin Cookin. This product contains a variety of powders that when mixed with water or a solution, quickly hardens and gels into a gummy-like substance and is edible. This allows the students to witness immediate chemical reactions and mixtures in an incredibly engaging and fascinating way.

Students took jot notes of what they saw, thought and wondered as Cassie led us through the experiment. As it happened, Mrs. Cameron stopped by and was quickly invited to watch and learn with us! You can read the student’s findings in their blog posts.

Here are a few pictures from our experiment:

IMG_0559

IMG_0534

FullSizeRender-40

One of my favourite things is catching students deeply engaged in reading or in sharing their reading with others. We have full class participation in our GoodReads and some students have opted for writing down their reading to keep track. I am willing to assist them in whichever way works for them in order to build students who LOVE to read! Here are a few LC5 students caught reading this week:

IMG_0540

IMG_0542

We also met with our GCMS collaborative buddy class LC7B and Mr. Heale last week for Art. Students are working on abstract murals in groups of 4-5. Each student contributes their abstract drawings and once complete all students will have the opportunity to add colour through painting on one another’s murals to create large representative pieces of our learning communities.

IMG_0450

To see more pictures and read more about our collaboration, please visit Mr. Heale’s blog : http://www.psdblogs.ca/dheale/2015/01/17/buddy-class/

We have a fun-filled and well-earned day of Hockey tomorrow and a full continuation of our learning on Friday. I am looking forward to connecting with you all on my next post and at our Student-Led Conferences on the 28th and 29th ( additional forms available for download under Important Notices) where the students will be showing you how, what and why they learn.

Also please take some time and read your child’s and others’ blog post reflections on their learning. They have posted their Social Studies presentations as well and would love to hear from you!

Miss D. Ariss

Our Educational World Is Changing

I recently was forwarded this incredible video by Dr. Tony Wagner who is the Expert in Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab. It’s a powerful talk about the status and direction of Education held at the World Innovation Summit For Education.

Our educational system is changing and I have never been more excited for the opportunities our students will have for a successful future. This talk focuses on the changes happening and why innovation, creative problem-solving and knowing HOW to apply information learned within collaborative environments is so vital for our students.

If you have a free moment, I would highly encourage you to watch:

“When knowledge is a free commodity, we need to innovate” Tony Wagner – WISE 2014 [Special Address]

2014 – My Year Of Change & Growth

The start of a new adventure!

The start of a new adventure!

This reflection will be framed in a different format than my usual posts. This is just how I feel I can accurately reflect on the year that has passed as it contained such force and fundamental change that I have compartmentalized most of it by time frames.

January – February 2014

I felt it…that feeling in the pit of your stomach that digs away at you. It whispers quietly at first, but it quickly becomes so loud that you have to listen: “Dana, you need a change.” I loved my school, my co-workers, my district and most of all my incredible group of students who had been my little family for three consecutive years. I remember first meeting them in January of 2012 as they were told they would have a new teacher and a brand new classroom. They had been in a combined grade one-two and extra funding had come up enough to hire a full time teacher for them. There I stood in their old room and watched as each one came up to me, introduced themselves by name and told me their favourite colour. I still remember their anxious faces and their half-smiles as I walked with them down the hall to what would become our new room. “THIS IS OURS??” they exclaimed with joy and squeals as the doors to their new home opened. I nodded yes and in that exhilarating moment, I knew in my heart that I also had found my home.

So when that whispering feeling of change started coming around, I panicked. Ignorance is bliss as they say and so I ignored it.

March – April 2014

I knew that no matter what was to come in the future, my students and I were to be separated at the end of this school year as they moved on up to grade five. I went into full “make the most of every moment” mode and these months brought us so much innovation, creativity, inquiry and excitement in learning. I did my absolute best to ignore that feeling to the point where I wasn’t doing much beyond working. I planned, I connected, I shared, I communicated, I read, I tweeted, I moderated, I presented, I travelled to conferences, I blogged and I taught and learned with my all of my heart for and with my students. These were the most exhilarating moments of teaching I have experienced (all of which have been documented in my blog and our Twitter account Miss Ariss’ Class). I poured my entire being into teaching and making every minute count. However, that feeling of change didn’t go away and it was wearing me down as the days went on. I learned that no matter how hard you want to run from the feelings that scare you, it is often those that need to be felt and addressed. I finally stopped and really evaluated what I wanted and needed:  Leadership mentors, group collaborations, constructive feedback loops for growth, opportunities for larger impacts on educational change, learning PD for my own growth and a more permanent home-base both professionally and personally

Change was happening and that feeling became so loud within that I finally started listening. Sometimes in life, things happen for reasons beyond our control but when we look back upon them, we often see the real meaning and the learning that can occur from them if we have the right attitude. As much as I loved everything about my career, I knew in my heart that my time in my little community, where I felt the safest and happiest I have ever felt, was ending. I could continue to ignore my personal and professional needs for growth and stay in my comfort zone or embrace that feeling and move forward into uncharted change. Those who know me well….know how this story will end.

May – July 2014

I can only describe these months as an absolute blur. Somewhere between full-time teaching, numerous educational conferences, presentations and travelling….I found the courage to listen to my heart. I took a huge leap of faith and accepted a new position at an incredible middle school a few hours away. Many would call me crazy for leaving a permanent teaching position, but they would not know who I am and what teaching truly means to me. Its not about positions, status, rank or authority; for me, teaching is about continuous growth and learning. To truly be an effective educator, I needed to continually embrace the difficult situations and decisions in my life and learn from them in order to grow and develop into who I am as a person which has a direct affect on my teaching, because I teach from my heart. I cannot remain in my zones of comfort and expect my levels of teaching to grow. I needed to widen my experiences in order to become the educator I need to be for every student that I have the privilege of working with.

I make this sound as if it was easy when in reality, this truly was the single most difficult decision of my life. I had built a safety net and it was never harder to accept the truth that nothing in life ever stays the same. I became almost paralyzed with fear; I was so afraid of losing the only family I had come to known, so afraid of moving away from everything that I had built and created, so afraid of what was to come, that I completely became focused on the impact failure could have on me by making this decision. I forgot how much I would champion making mistakes and learning from them to my students, but the difference was that we had built a safe environment for failing. I didn’t feel so safe as my entire life depended on succeeding with this decision I had made. I turned to the safety of my closest friends and family, who rallied alongside me and supported me in every way imaginable. By July 1st, I was living in a new home, in a new city and preparing for a new school, new colleagues and my first group of “new” students in three years. That is a lot of NEW and it happened within a span of barely two months. This was that feeling in the pit of my stomach realized: Change.

August 2014

Questions, questions, questions swirling in my mind all the time!

Where is our room?

Who do I contact for this?

Where can I find?

Will I connect with a new group of students?

Will I make an impact on their lives?

Will my colleagues accept and welcome me?

Can I really do this? Oh wait… I AM DOING THIS!

September 2014 – December 2014

When I first started this reflection I didn’t fully grasp or realize the amount of learning accomplished during the final half of 2014 until I started looking at the photos I had taken. I have grown immensely both personally and professionally in these past few months by being active in my new community and surroundings, by embracing the uncomfortable, by being honest and open about my strengths, strong passions and areas of growth but most of all in my own self-confidence as an educator.

I found myself surrounded by communities of support, expertise and varied experiences in an environment prime for growth. This is what I had hoped for and I knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey, but I have never been one for easy. I have come from close to 5 years of independent teaching in small rural schools. I have always planned, coordinated and constructed all of my own materials, units, and assessments based on my own student needs and most recently, students with whom I had looped with for three years and knew like family. I now was in a team of six grade five educators collaborating together on the learning for our students, in a school almost seven times the size of my previous.

A few of my fun-loving colleauges!

A few of my fun-loving colleauges!

Reflecting on the start of the school year, I see now that underestimated the transition into this. It has been years since I needed to share who I was, my true self, with other educators, as when working within a small district everyone knows everyone. My other collaborations have been with educators who follow me on Twitter or read my blog and have a strong sense of who I am. The individuals within my comfort zone, who are my rocks, all know my deep passion for learning, know how excited I get at the thought of planning a unit with my students and finding those connections for them, know that I am honest, genuine and will ask a lot of questions because I have a need to know the why behind everything I bring into my classroom, but that mostly I care…about everything and everyone all the time.

I learned that when working within a large group, fostering a relationship beyond work is essential for the dynamics because once everyone truly knows one another a foundation of trust and an environment where vulnerability is welcomed can be built, however that this also takes time. Effective collaboration doesn’t happen overnight, it needs to be built step by step by each individual party. My sheer optimism and strong will to ensuring meaningful things happen despite obstacles, is who I am however this is something that is shown over time through sincerity and action. I am learning how to communicate my passions, thoughts and ideas outside of my comfort zone and am pushing myself to hear (not just listen) and understand more and more.

Our LC5B!

Our LC5B!

These few months also taught me about the power of student connection and relationships. I had worried whether I would be able to connect with a brand new group, but as the weeks went on I started receiving hugs, drawings, jokes, stories from home, open discussions about their lives and genuine interest in mine, shared laughter and that feeling of knowing these are the amazing kids I am so lucky to know and work with every day. I love the community we have built and will continue to grow.

We are a family and their words mean so much to me!

We are a family and their words mean so much to me!

Just a few weeks ago, I decided to surprise my previous students by attending their Christmas Concert at my old school. I snuck into the dark auditorium hoping to grab a seat when one of them noticed me from behind the stage. Within a few seconds, they all popped out from behind the stage and began furiously waving to me. I can’t begin to describe that moment, but a lot of tears were involved. The kids I am honoured to meet and work with throughout my career are what make being an educator the most  meaningful to me.

Learning and sharing...always!

Learning and sharing…always!

This term also brought forth a lot of Professional Development and new projects which I am so honoured to have been a part of. Collaborating with other PSD70 educators on the first ever #EdCampPSD70 and co-keynoting the opening with Kelli Holden in the presence of so many incredible colleagues was truly humbling. Kelli and I reconnected again in November to present at ATLE on the use of SKYPE in the classroom.

I was also honoured to be asked to present an IGNITE session by Dean Shareski, who ever so kindly arranged the presentations to start alphabetically which in turn had me presenting first. This required me to dig deep into who I truly am as an educator and helped build my confidence in sharing that with the larger community of educators. Despite the nerves, it was an absolutely thrilling experience where in five minutes I shared my passion for education and spent the evening learning about the passions of others.

I was introduced this term to many new forms of PD focused on #MakerSpaces and #MakerEd, which I had implemented in my previous teachings but never had the opportunity to dig deeper into. From a Saturday road trip to Calgary with my AP and three other teaching colleagues to attend a one day MakerFaire to an ERLC hosted MakerSpace session where I connected with local librarians on the new creation of Innovation Labs in our city. I am so excited to share these experiences with the kids as they completed their first Innovation Week projects in December and will be visiting the labs in January. Not to mention continued collaborations and discussions surrounding Alberta’s Curriculum Redesign which I am currently a part of the committee for my new district in working on the competencies in learning.

In remaining true to myself and constantly having a need to learn and absorb, I along with my #Cdnedchat team continued our weekly collaborations continued and our chat is livelier than ever on Monday evenings! I also jumped in to three separate book clubs with Google Hangout reflections with various educators within my school and across the world to expand my learning and push my mind further. One of the book clubs focused on Leadership through being a part of my district’s Exploring Leadership committee.

Present – 2015 and beyond

My biggest take aways from 2014 have been to always listen to your heart, no matter how scared you are, and that how change is viewed depends solely on how you approach it. Is it an adventure filled with learning opportunities or will you view it as something horrible and choose comfort?

I learned how to truly be vulnerable and to rely on others when I need to. To not be afraid to say I need help or I don’t understand this can you show me. Reach out to others and in doing so, you open the lines of communication and make your connections just that much stronger.

I was reminded by my own inner fear and worries that we all face insecurities, hardships and stress. Our job isn’t to add to that, but to lift it off of one another. Be kind to all, especially the ones who may seem to have a hard exterior because somewhere down their path of life their experiences helped to shape that. Our students may come to school with brave faces, but they are looking to us to create the safety of an environment conducive to learning, just as we need in our own professional lives.

So what does 2015 have in store for me? I won’t even venture a guess, but I certainly hope my years continue to provide me with continued learning opportunities, strong supportive networks and a deeper understanding of my purpose as an educator.

Reading In Our Classroom

I just wanted to share just how deeply we are engaged in reading in LC5B. I am so proud of the independence shown by the students in updating and managing their GoodReads accounts. I am always so delighted when I log in in the evenings to see them rating books they’ve read, updating page numbers on books they are reading, recommending books and reviewing them.

We are learning that reading is FUN and it can take us anywhere we want to go!

IMG_8969

IMG_8970Keep up the great reading and sharing LC5B!

Building Readers

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.03.38 PM

Our goal this year is to build a community of readers. In order to build strong life-long readers, we must foster a true love of reading. Very often students are told which books they must read and when the power of choice is not balanced, students will disengage and reading will become yet another task that needs to be completed. There is a time for structured reading to learn the skills necessary to delve deeper into text, however our end goal is to build a love of reading so that students will continue to read out of enjoyment which will also grow the amount of reading they do.

One of the very first steps in this process is to introduce students to the endless amount of resources available to them and guide them in choosing books that are suitable based on interest and abilities. We are so very lucky to have access to any book in the entire world whether through our local and provincial libraries to thousands of online resources. We have been talking in our classroom about how and where we can find books well as how to know if it’s a book we are interested in and are able to read. This learning process is very important as I don’t want students to be at frustration levels when reading. The end goal is for them to read and read and read.

I’ve begun to introduce them to books they may have never read or even heard of before. The Global Read Aloud that we participated in chooses the top new books by authors from around the world. Students then share their thoughts, reflections and connections with peers also reading the same book. The books chosen resonate with their readers and I continue to read these aloud to the students year long to build that connection and model for them that deep love of reading. When I close a chapter and hear “Awww…no!! Keep reading Miss Ariss, keep reading,” thats when I know those connections have been made. This is the feeling we need to build with our students.

In our classroom, reading is an integral part of everything we do. We have dedicated DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time where students can choose to read independently or with a friend any book of their choosing. We will also be starting Literature Circles as well as focusing on individual strengths and areas of growth for each student in fluency and comprehension.

However, reading doesn’t end at school or in our classroom and so as a class, we created our own private reading community on GoodReads.

For those unfamiliar, GoodReads is the following:

“Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.

A Few Things You Can Do On Goodreads:

  • See which books your friends are reading.
  • Track the books you’re reading, have read, and want to read.
  • Check out your personalized book recommendations. Our recommendation engine analyzes 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.
  • Find out if a book is a good fit for you from our community’s reviews.”

Students have already joined the community, learned about privacy settings, searched for books of interest and set their own reading goals from now until we come back to school in January. Goodreads can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, it can even be downloaded as a free app on your mobile device or iPod. Students will require the use of school, local and at home libraries to obtain their books/reading materials as Goodreads is not an online reading program. The reasons we will be using Goodreads to track our school and at-home reading are as follows:

  • It’s real and connected to the world. Students can share and reflect on what they’ve read with millions of others so that reading isn’t just happening in a vacuum. They learn about differing opinions and have access to titles they may never have had a chance to see.
  • They will read and write reviews and recommendations alongside other avid readers. Their opinions will matter and the amount of writing and reading they do will grow.
  • They can recommend books to one another after completing them. We all know that when a teacher or parent recommends something students don’t respond as favourably as when their best friend recommends it.
  • They will build independence and ownership of their own reading. They will be required to independently provide page updates as they read at home and at at school. Goodreads provides them with a visual to help aid their growth and progress. This will be monitored by me weekly so I can have individual discussions with students. I ask that they read at home and be provided with access to record in their Goodreads account. They can do this at school the following day as well if access is not available.
  • Students are very visual and often times pictures will grab their attention faster. Goodreads provides photos of each book so students can look at the cover and even read the first few pages of a book before deciding if it’s one they want to find.
  • They can create their own goals and share that with me. I have stressed continually that reading is NOT a competition between them and others. They read for themselves and they share that growth with me. We will have whole group and classroom reading goals that when reached, we will celebrate, however we are a team made up of individuals.
  • Our private Goodreads community also allows for group discussions about what we are reading. I have modeled a discussion question and will encourage students to start their own about their reading as we get going. We have also connected our community to other classrooms on Goodreads, one even being in our own Grade 5 team.
  • Students will also be asked to create book trailers to review a chosen book they have completed and will post completed projects to their blogs.

I have also stressed that for this, reading material can be of the student’s own choosing. It need not be purely fiction or restricted to just chapter books. The possibilities are endless and I will allow any reading material that can be recorded and students provide evidence of the why and what to me during our individual reading discussions. We want to build the excitement over reading and connecting and that means different things for different students.

As always, I rarely ask my students to do something I myself haven’t done, and so I, along with two other teachers have connected and shared our own accounts and reading goals with them on GoodReads too. We’ve also extended the information to our parents in the hopes they would join us too.

Students need to see, know and understand that reading is life-long and not just a task to be done at school. Are we modelling this to them?

Delving Into Dewey – A Book Club

John Dewey By Eva Watson-Schütze (1867-1935) [Public domain]

John Dewey
By Eva Watson-Schütze (1867-1935) [Public domain]

I’m reading a textbook for fun! No…really…I am; and whats more is that five other educators: Michelle Cordy, Sharon Moskovitz, Dina Moati, Deborah McCallum and Shelly Vohra are reading and discussing it with me. What amazes me most about our John Dewey’s Educational Philosophy in International Perspective book club is that this is not a required read. We are dedicated and passionate educators who live across Canada coming together to learn, connect and better ourselves and our practice out of intrinsic motivation.

I’ve always loved reading books with depth and content; Stories and ideas that can transport me and shift my perspectives. I need to be able to connect what I’m reading to relevant experiences in my life in order to find enjoyment in it. This is something new I have learned about why I enjoy reading and why certain texts at different times in my life appealed to me more. I am finding now, five years into my profession, a better love and appreciation for the ‘educational’ texts I was told I had to read during both of my university careers. At the time, they were unattached to any real teaching experiences and therefore reading them then meant I was to memorize for the future, whereas reading them now allows me to connect, reflect and apply to my practice.

For those unfamiliar with the work of John Dewey, he was truly ahead of his time in regards to educational reform. His philosophies and publications are by no means considered easy reading, but they are of such high importance and relevance to the current changes occurring in education today, that I was drawn into reading more and more.

Our book club has been meeting bi-weekly using Google Hangout and sharing parts of the assigned chapters that have spoken to us and to our practice. We have engaged in discussions as to how Dewey’s philosophies still resonate today and how poignant some of his work has been. We are currently on Chapter 5, and I wanted to share some of the learning from the text that has struck a chord with me below:

“What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside? We want to do certain things and not just have the experience of doing them.”  – Robert Nozick  This to me is about that intrinsic feeling we get when we are truly engaged in constructing and creating something that will have an impact on the world and the lives of others. It’s not about just simulating life experiences in the classroom for students, but about actually doing these things in the here and now. I must have read this over more than I can count, because this is an area that I want to grow my practice in. I want the learning in our classroom to have an impact beyond our walls and beyond simulations of the world, but to transcend and become an active part of it.

“Coming to know others who are different from ourselves draws us out; we are educated. This is because only those different from ourselves have the vocabulary, grammar, and style we need. Those who are most like us can only tell familiar stories.” – Jim Garrison How often is it that we surround ourselves with others of differing opinions, views and life experiences? Not very often because it can be uncomfortable. Yet, this is where learning and education can occur and only if we are open to it and only if we are open to realizing our own deficiencies and needs.

“We only experience ourselves within a community, and we only create ourselves within a community. The kind of self which is formed through action which is faithful to relations with others will be a fuller and broader self than one which is cultivated in isolation from or in opposition to the purposes and needs of others. Playing lovingly with others is profoundly more creative than playing alone or playing only to win the war.” – Jim Garrison, Hans Joas Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration! Dewey spoke of self-creation and democracy and how these can be formed through active communities of individuals uniting for the betterment of all. We benefit and grow when our ideas, thoughts and actions are combined to create things we may have never even imagined on our own.

“The lack of imagination binds us to the conditions to which we were born. A failure of imagination chains us to the false choices dictated to us by our culture. It is the greatest possible slavery, for we experience our lives as free even as we choose among values dictated to us by others. It is by a sense of possibilities opening before us that we become aware of constructions that hem us in and of burdens that oppress.” – John Dewey and Jim Garrison Our roles as educators is to open doors of learning and experiences for our students. It’s to broaden their horizons, their goals and their worlds beyond that which they see or live in everyday. The possibilities are everywhere and it comes down to how and if we are harnessing them and the power we have to change our culture which binds us to our current states. Are we building the foundations for students imagine the ‘different’ or the ‘possibility’?

“Cornel West on Prophetic Pragmatism: The mark of the prophet is to speak the truth in love with courage-come what may. Given the fate of prophets, what often comes is humiliation, rejection, and even death. Prophets are not old men with beards; they are anyone who will speak the needed value in destitute times. I want to suggest that educators may become prophets and that frequently good educators must.”-  Cornel West and Jim Garrison Why is it that some educators feel like lone wolves or an island onto itself? How do they fuel themselves and keep going in what they truly believe to be in the best interests of their students? It’s not an easy task to pave the path to change, but we need to continue to share and speak to the learning that is happening in our schools.

I have learned more than I had ever thought I would when I first said yes to this book club, and all that I have read continues to permeate in my mind daily. It has caused me to shift my perspectives on many items and apply a different lens when self-reflecting on my own practice. There are eight more essays and chapters left in our John Dewey reflection group. I am looking forward to our next meeting so that I can learn and share with my fellow educators and adapt my thoughts from their understandings.