Tag Archives: #kinderchat

Celebrating creative superheroes

 The figures above were created by Mark, my very own 5th grade superhero, 
and evolved into puppets.

With a 5th grader, two 3rd graders, & a 1st grader all under my roof, I have enjoyed (understatement) seeing how my own children’s learning has developed within and beyond the walls of their schools. Further, from an academic programming standpoint, two of my daughters are English Language Learners, having joined our family three years ago from Ethiopia. Three of my children have participated in reading intervention, two in speech and language support, and one in academically talented services. As an educator and a mom, I understand how varied the needs of children can be and how much of a challenge it can be to both enrich and support.

I also know the incredible gift of seeing creative energy unfold in my own children aside from any of the ways we might describe their academic path; I believe all children have this within. In recent weeks, I read and commented on Day 5: Dreaming About Education by@stumpteacher #12DOD onBrett Clark‘s blog. Josh Stumpenhorst‘spost mentioned engaging children at school at the level they are engaged at home and the need for parents and teachers to come together, among many other points you I recommend you take time to read and consider. I considered these words as a mom rather than simply a school principal and shared this:

So many items here that I agree with as an educator and a mom, Josh. Wondering if I could do better as a mom to share out the engaged learning that happens in my home. Recently our basement has been transformed into ‘Hogwarts’ where my kids and their cousins created a class to teach one another. My son and his friends also took sidewalk chalk to the unfinished basement floor a different day to draw bases for their Star Wars ships as they mapped out what my son calls a figure battle. How do we share what happens unprompted in our homes with a larger community to demonstrate what can happen? I know as an educator, I’ve considered and reconsidered a lot from observing this in my own home coupled with my conversations with educator/parents like you.

So as educators and parents, how DO we harness this creative energy? How do we make that super power a way of being and not just a fleeting moment when they are very young? How do we know that the spirit we see in kindergarten can continue to shape them as learners beyond? While this can indeed lead into some complex conversations from homework to developmentally appropriate practice and beyond, start by thinking what you can do in your role whether it be parent, teacher, administrator, or teacher of teachers to promote and value student creativity; it is probably more than you realize.

I think back to visiting a class the last week before winter break that was being led by a substitute teacher. As the children prepared to color seals, the substitute talked about what color seals should be and what colors or patterns they are simply not. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched twenty-four little kindergarten heads shake back and forth in disagreement. One girl stated, “It is okay for my seal to have stripes if I want. My teacher said.”

Let’s pledge to encourage that creativity where we can, celebrate it when we see it, and be outspoken about “permission”. If you feel the same and are a teacher, do your students know you’re inspired by their creativity and want them to use that gift? If you’re an administrator and you agree, do your teachers know where you stand? Do they know creative sometimes trumps “right”? And back to the initial question I posed to Josh, how do we showcase that creativity so that its difference-making power shines through?

 
This post was originally written for Kinderchat, as part of NaPoBloMo, and published there this 3rd day of January.

Connecting…and preparing to STAY connected

With a new year with students starting for me next week, I am very much reflecting on the importance and the challenges of being connected. This post is prompted by Connected Educator Month and Scott McLeod’s Leadership Day 2012 today! As I continue to mold my time with my staff at the start of next week, I am so excited about the possibilities for them, our students, our parents, and my colleagues. I am both motivated and confident in taking risks because I know the power to enrich our school community’s learning experience is more than available to all of us thanks largely to my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

My staff theme this year is #makeitcount, inspired by a Nike campaign in which filmmakers hired by Nike took their budget and embarked on travels around the world. This crossed my Twitter stream, courtesy of George Couros, in June right as our school year was coming to a close.  This really spoke to me about taking those risks and providing engaging, thought provoking, authentic experiences rather than a nicely packaged rehearsed “film”. I shared this with teachers in my final time with them last year and highlighted some of the ways we “made it count” for the benefit of students. I prompted them, as they both reflected on last year and prepared for this year, to think toward the authentic experiences in which we can engage as a staff and provide for our students this year; we’ll pick up at that point again, come Monday. Trusting them and working alongside them as professionals, I also want them to think big, reach out, and take risks that would further student learning and family connections. I also shared how I encountered that #makeitcount resource, again, to put power behind growing a PLN. In other words, I shared the resource itself as the primary focus, and came around to Twitter the tool I used to make connections and acquire that. This is a strategy I’ve also used with administrator colleagues; it is essentially creating the relevance first and then teaching the tool. After a few opportunities to expose colleagues in this way, I share more of the “how to” phase of getting connected themselves.

While the summer is busy, most of us can agree that the pace still changes rather drastically in those first weeks when teachers and students arrive. Here is where my challenge comes in…I do not want to lose ground on the connections I make and continuing to both contribute and utilize the powerful resources my PLN consistently shares. I am aware that I have been less attentive to my PLN in the last couple of weeks in which my summer doctoral term brought exams and literature reviews as it wrapped and teachers returned to prepare their classrooms.  I am not satisfied with that. I do not want the nuts and bolts of my work to take precedent over the value I can add to our community through true leadership. How do you integrate that into your day? Anyone else feeling this way?

I prepare to leave my office today thinking of …

I’m still a bit amazed that all of this was here without me really knowing it before recent months, and I know I still have much to learn.  I am inspired and grateful for the opportunities I have and the time that is generously given by others to connect more people and support one another in the critical work we do. Thank you, PLN!