A Vision for Education

 

Yesterday, March 12, was an incredible day. I was in the company of 9 other women from Decoding Dyslexia NC and we met with our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson. We asked him to stand up for kids with dyslexia, a population that is embarrassingly underserved in our state. He listened, asked questions, and we walked out of there with our heads held high knowing we gave a voice to so many kids in North Carolina who desperately need help that they aren’t receiving. After our meeting, we headed to the offices of our representatives and popped in, asking them to support a bill that has been introduced that defines what dyslexia is. The representatives we met with were gracious and listened, even though it was the end of the day. I’ll go into more detail about this in a future post, because it needs to be shared, but today my vision for education is this:

That we, as educators, are doing everything we can to meet the educational needs of all our kids, and that we are giving them opportunities that they don’t even know they need.

This is going to look different for each kid, but we have have got to get away from drowning them in tests and the false sense of accountability that testing purports to give. We need to help each child find their success identity and be open to the different ways that can look.

8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC2 Week 2

I am bound and determined to keep up with the awesome MOOC on the book Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, so be prepared for a blast of posts with this focus and hashtag. A big challenge for me will be to keep these succinct because yay words! I want to use all of them! I’m starting with week two with the full intention of backtracking on week one, but I want to feel somewhat caught up, so here we go. (For the record, I read Chamber of Secrets before Sorcerer’s Stone so apparently this is a thing with me.)

One of the prompts asks us to talk about ONE characteristic of the Innovator’s Mindset and give an example of how I exemplify this. None of these characteristics can operate in isolation and I’ve started and restarted several times– I am going to go with “risk taker” because this speaks the loudest to me and my approach to teaching and learning. I strongly believe that we owe it to our students to take risks. In the YouTube Live session, risk is defined as moving from a “known”, something that is comfortable and familiar, towards something that might possibly be better for our kids. This is an inherent part of my personality and something that has served me well in the classroom– for the most part. Not every risk I take has had a positive impact on students– there have been many projects or initiatives that I have had to go back and restart or stopped altogether because they aren’t meeting the needs of my particular group of kids. These reasons can be things like a lack of a clear plan or communication, I’m way more excited about it than my kids are, infrastructure issues, whatever. But when this happens, the crucial part is going back and reflecting on why and how it can be improved for the next attempt.

All this being said, there are many instances where risks have paid off and have led to amazing experiences. The most recent being my current position as STEM Coordinator. I saw a need for it at my school and approached my principal with the idea. To my complete surprise, she said yes and this year has been transformative for me in a lot of ways. Instead of being responsible for 25-50 students, I now serve almost 900. That is a BIG responsibility (not to mention intimidating, overwhelming, ridiculous…)! Not to mention all the teachers that I am now tasked with supporting… I have been working to find my place in the grand scheme of things this year, and am learning how to work with different personalities, that support looks different for different teachers, and that it may just be possible to expand the pockets of innovation.

So my point to all this is that I strongly believe we have to take risks. Sometimes that risk will crash and burn, but this isn’t a guarantee. I found myself starting to stagnate and I made the choice to do something about it– this has led me down a path that I know I can control. If I am bored or burnt out, I have the power within myself to do something about it. We all do. So go do something that you can embrace fully– your kids will thank you and you never know when you might inspire a colleague. I leave you with this:

PRACTICE