What are the ingredients of a successful educational conference or workshop? What makes professional learning relevant and impactful?
Recently, I had the chance to sit down and discuss how educators learn with Michael Medvinsky and Ben Gilpin on the #UnearthED Radio Show. The catalyst for our conversation was the renowned Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference.
Although we only spoke for 10 minutes or so, we dove into the very nature of professional learning. I’ve spent the better part of the past five years researching digital age professional learning. As part of my doctoral dissertation I interviewed innovative leaders across the country. More recently, I contributed a few words to a book on PersonalizedPD. Through it all, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s not about “how” we learn…it’s more about “why” we learn.
Memos and mandates do not drive learning. We learn because we are open to the idea of becoming. We learn because we are curious. We learn because we understand that new processes and pedagogy might benefit our students even if the content does not change. We learn because we are networked and connected.
“Lifelong learning is a mindset not a mantra; it is the lens and disposition we bring to every situation we encounter.”
When we open our minds to the possibilities that await we’ve created the very conditions needed for learning. Click HERE to listen to the UnearthED Show, and hear Michael and Ben share their beliefs about how educators learn. (You can also subscribe to #UnearthED Show on iTunes).
I’d love to hear how you learn best, and why you think some educators might be less inclined to learn the same way.
If you really want to know if you are a culturally sensitive leader just ask your students about Black History Month.
Students often associate February with Valentine’s Day, I Love to Read Month, or even the 100th day of school. These are really comfortable things to talk about. What I’m less inclined to talk about is how the color of a person’s skin may impact the opportunities that person experiences. I’m even less excited to reflect upon my own white privilege.
These are some of the hardest conversations I’ve never had.
And I’m done not having them. Fortunately I work with an amazing team of teachers who are helping me with my journey. They push me. They help us get better for all kids…not just the kids who may look like us.
This school year I’ve been reading a different book each month to individual classrooms. This month…Black History Month…I’m reading, “All Different Now” by Angela Johnson. I’ve had the chance to fumble through some pretty powerful conversations with students. Admittedly, my contributions have been limited to asking a few difficult questions and then listening to students. I’m seeking to understand. At the same time I’m digging deeper.
What I’m learning is that I have a long way to go. Our kids are counting on me, and us, to teach them how to be culturally sensitive. How can I do that if I’m not part of the conversation?
The silence is blaring.
I need to confront my own comfort with the status quo. I need to question why I might be feeling so comfortable while others around me are hurting, angry, and oppressed. I need to acknowledge that my own truth is not always the same truth and journey that others have experienced.
Recently, I had the chance to connect with Brandi Bates about this topic on a radio program called, UnearthED. You can click HERE to listen to our 10 minute conversation.
Brandi helped me begin to shine the light on the dark part of Black History Month; my own white privilege.
If you had ten minutes to talk about anything you wanted to what would it be? What if you could join a conversation that educators halfway across the country were having about the very same topic?
I’m co-hosting a new show on the BAM Radio Network called, unearthED. The show premiered in iTunes this week and was listed on the “new and noteworthy” list. We’ll be following the energy behind different conversations that teachers and school leaders are having on social media, and then taking them deeper.
We think students deserve a new narrative because many of the conversations on Twitter are too important to skim over. My good friend and co-host, Ben Gilpin, and I are committed to delving further into the issues that every educator confronts. The show is less about answers and more about questions, vulnerability, and authenticity.
Our show is part of the BAM Radio Network’s TweetED Channel covering the best Twitter education chats of the week. We hope you’ll listen and subscribe, but most of all we hope you will join us in moving beyond the echo chamber. We think kids will benefit when we continue these conversations together.
You can subscribe to “unearthED” by clicking HERE or copying the link below into your browser.