Friday, April 24, 2015

How making SMORES relates to School

Tonight I made SMORES with my wife and children.  I had to find wood, paper, matches, chocolate, graham crackers, pokers, and marshmallows.

What does this have to do with school.  P.S. I love analogies, so bare with me.

In thinking of starting a fire you must build a strong base of paper and wood, which once you light the match, it will take off without much adjusting.  Once the initial spark takes off, make sure to continue to add wood to keep the fire hot. Grab your pokers, attach marshmallows, and cook them as long as you desire, absolutely your choice.  When ready, smother the warm/hot marshmallow between chocolate and graham crackers.  This is a very basic explanation, but I hope you are beginning to see the correlation to school growth.

If not here are my thoughts on this weird analogy:

The paper is the accelerant (school vision and direction)

The wood is the (school plan) which will burn out.  Then needs to be poked and prodded with new wood.  Not too often, just enough to keep the fire hot.

The matches are the passion and spark which is created by mindset, common language, and a sense of empowerment.  Without this, no fire, just wood and paper. Not much to look at or sit besides...

The poker is the connection from fire to marshmallow, or the staff, which stabilizes and has all the power over how long to cook the marshmallow (more on this ingredient in a second).

The chocolate is the glitz, for Carrie Downie this is the integration of technology.  A fine chocolate compliments, but alone without other ingredients leaves a dry mouth and bad after taste.

The graham cracker is the standards or what the students need to master, which have to encompass any change/growth and hold it all together. Again alone is edible, but without other two ingredients not something you grab from your cabinet alone.

That brings us the marshmallow.  This is the student, the glue that holds us true, holds us together, keeps us coming back for more.  How far we push them, how long we cook and turn them, how we inspire them, and yes, how much we love them is different each time.  No cooked marshmallow is ever the same.  The chocolate and graham cracker can be recreated over and over.  This must always be remembered when eating SMORES or dealing with students.  None are ever the same, bottom line!

No matter what your taste is for cooked marshmallows in a fire, it is essential they are warm enough to hold the other ingredients together.  By this, I mean they must have some intrinsic feeling of wanting to be in school (belonging) and a level of motivation to learn.  The degree to how hot this burns is up to the poker (staff and I mean all staff, from bus drivers to cafeteria workers to Principals)

Does any of this make any sense, probably not.... but next time you are at a campfire making SMORES, think about your school and how what you are doing and tasting relates to your school... I love mine! and I also love SMORES! Just not smelling like a campfire all night long....

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I have had the pleasure this week before break of connecting with a lot of great educators. We have discussed all sorts of things and through the guidance of +Modernteacher I have realized the importance of Time, Place, Pace, and Path. This framework is not just for students.  Which is of course is the driving force of why we are educators.

How Time, Place, Pace, and Path, as it relates to students will come up in a later post, but I want to now write to how it relates to dealing with other educators.

I do not have a direct line to students in the classroom as I am not a classroom teacher.  I miss out on teachable moments with students often, which I truly miss.  I do however have opportunities to have moments with peers and teachers as it relates to their thoughts about education.  This I am grateful for and cherish ever moment.

This week I was challenged, questioned, and pushed to think clearly.  That is not the point... In each of these instances, Time, Place, Pace, and Path played a role.  Each had to be considered depending on the group I was collaborating with.  By recognizing this framework my conversations were different and more personalized.  So I will break them down as follows.

Time - Where are we in the journey with whom I am talking with?

Place - Where are we located, how does the location relate and affect the conversations occurring?

Pace - How much can we push each other? What is too much, what is just edubabble? What is everyone comfortable with as it relates to taking on responsibility?

Path - Where are we going? How do we get there? What is the roadmap? How do we come up with actionable steps?

After this week, I realized that if I use this framework during meaningful conversations, I can better meet the needs of those that I am conversing with... It is not easy, but essential in connecting, collaborating, problem solving, and becoming a 21st century learner.  Isn't this what we want from our students.  We can't speak over their heads, nor rush, nor dumb it down, nor fillibuster, nor go in a direction that is not authentic, nor (fill in the blank), etc.

Be true to the conversation, be engaged, be passionate, have fun, but at the end of the day be cognizant that Time, Place, Pace, and Path need to be in the front of your brain in order to push the needle and make real connections and change.