admission

I feel like a whole lot of random is shaking out of this ‘end of year’ moment. Things that I thought I would keep doing  I am suddenly less than happy to continue and other odd pieces are rising back up into my view. [check out my flipgrid questions]

All in all, it seems like, in addition to my disquieted mind I feel a change happening. It feels like nerves, or like an empty stomach grumble.

Internal. Primal. Uncontrollable.

And even though I often approach the even-keeled reliability of ‘truth’ with healthy skepticism, I am off balance enough right now to crave some truth.

So I’ll toss that comfort to the wall.

See what sticks.

Here’s where I am ending the school year.

Maybe these are only my truths for right now.

Or they are just my current provocations.

I do know that any collisions with my pedagogy will level-up my game.

In no particular order…

next gen pt2

silo

There’s a shifty futurist mindset rooting itself further and further into my POV on education. Often as I sit in staff meetings, class activities, and casual convos my brain time travels. This has happened previously, but now I am mostly casting forwards instead of back. Tumbling forwards might be a better way to put it.

The signals surrounding EDU are telling me that the culture and community expect us, insiders, to start doing things differently and these expectations are starting to stack up. Some of the signals are lightly tapping on the window and others beating at the door. Regardless, ignoring them, for me, has become impossible.

Earlier this year I was able to put some of these imaginings into a presentation for PK Markham.  The suggestions were primarily tools that promote cracking open some of the paradigms in education – credit acquisition, hours of study, and alternative accreditation were a few of my play pieces. All in all, the PK was firmly pressing towards aggressive customization of learning.

There are definite signals surrounding EDU telling me that the culture and community expect us on the inside to start doing things differently…

Most of my suggestions were options that I exercised at some point in my portfolio. And all of the suggestions were grown out of options that already exist in EDU – just hacked to be used in a different fashion.

So, on that note, this just happened… How Google took over U.S. Classrooms, and my brain started to frizzle. It seems like a dispatch from the future, and it reminds me of a conversation that I had with a colleague almost 6 years ago.

convergence

At the time I was using a non-edu-domained Google Drive to share and collaborate with my students, and a fellow teacher challenged this practice as unsafe and insecure. I couldn’t agree or disagree with his position; honestly, I had no salient understanding about digital privacy issues, but I did feel as if I was on to something that was helping in my classroom. At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.

Some of my students adapted to the collaborative space quickly, others remained bound to paper tools. Regardless, the Google apps like Slides and Docs allowed for reasonable academic shortcuts to occur between digital and analog learning styles. It also allowed for me to exist inside the students’ binders and learning experiences in a way that was previously inaccessible.

At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.

goog

And I felt then as I do now that the tool got more students moving in a similar direction – towards learning. The platform was relatively unadorned as few apps or extensions existed at the time. I did not stop supporting the students who chose to remain on paper. I did not openly advocate for the sole use of Google Apps. But, also, I was not overly concerned with the growth of Google, since it existed outside of our EDU domain.

It still seemed kinda experimental, disruptive, fringy even.

And honestly, in regard to the Google takeover of EDU, I am at peace with sheer volume of intellectual property that they house and I am equally at peace knowing that despite my better judgement I have given Google access to my private details.

But Google has taken over…[?]

What gets to me is the suggestion that there is nothing we can do about it. Google in itself is not education. Also, Google does not define our current needs in education. It is only a tool for education. Google would probably argue differently.

I often think about the Privacy Paradox illuminated so well by Note to Self Podcast on NPR. The paradox for educators occurs when ed-tech convinces us of its benign-ness and that a single story is best. The one note headline rattles me as much as other singular ‘awesome’ titles like Twitter for PD or Voxer for book clubs or GSuite for Education. There is no one-way to do education. And I am bugged by spokespersons and brand agents that are still teaching in classrooms.

I crave disruption methods that keep the silo from growing up around me. It is not so easy to jump ship and expect that the tide will bring you back to shore. Often the distance can seem dangerous and impossible to traverse. Are random views enough? Should I  continually seek another tool to support or disrupt my learning? Try more not less. Commit to none. Get outside of my backyard? Yard sale my silo?

Is it that simple?

future proof [for quest 2016]

This has to stop. These moments of time travel – I get headaches.

While standing in class, mid-lesson, mid thought- I blink it’s 1985, I blink again and it is 2016. Where am I? The lights, the corkboard, the rows of desks. A chalky sense of nostalgia chased by the grim reality of, well, nostalgia, all soaked with the sour smell of ‘been there, done that’.

Wow.

It all is pretty much as it was in 1989 when I graduated from high school.

I’m getting jittery, edgy and what could have been fuzzy feelings from my high school days turn on me viciously. Looking at my current classroom, I realize that my younger self is screaming at me, dissing me for missing my own point; I had issues with school back in 1985 as a student, that now, in 2016, teacher-me continues to perpetuate.

Reality check…if I had walked out of a classroom in 1985, back-to-the-future, and walked into a classroom in 2016, what would I have registered as radical as the fact that I had just traveled 30 years into the future? Huge changes? Any changes? Computers, fashion, adornments notwithstanding…

I cue into the now.

The lesson I’m delivering is hinged on the question ‘Is your career future proof?’ Solid angle of inquiry for a careers course, right? I thought so. Each of the students, at this point, has started to investigate and plan their post-secondary pathway. Each of the students has started to pick the senior level courses that in theory will keep them racing towards a career.

Is it important for the students to see a bit of their future? Of course it is!

The future is where change manifests, dreams come true, and everything we learn in school becomes real. It is important to keep them tracking their future targets…right? Even though we know their targets are constantly moving and the competition for finite future prospects is stiff. And as I ask the students, I realize that I want to answer it as well. Am I future proof?

I start to future cast into the next 15 – 20 years that remain before my tentative retirement, what if I am still standing in a similar classroom? What if the children of these children remark to me ‘wow this class looks exactly the same as my mother described’?

Now I am really uncomfortable.

That chalky, tingly sensation is almost unbearable. The students needed some prodding, I shift gears. ‘Is teaching future proof?’ Still lots of blinking. ‘Will I be able to teach in the same way that I do now in 5 years, or 10 years, or even 15 years from now?’ I am catching a roll now, I should wait, waiting time is good, but I throw one more question to the crowd. ‘Can you folks imagine a school, without ever setting foot inside a school…building?’

This gets them chatting. Analyzing what a teaching job would look like in the next 15-20 years became the parallel sweet spot for our lesson. The students could not stop poking questions and making statements about my career. Some students took the opportunity to comment on the current system, as they know it; others tried to project themselves into a future system that they may never be a part of. A few tried to keep their future plans in plain sight, but the gravity of the topic pulled them in too. The best of the bunch riffed off of each other as the creative spark lit up their thinking. Either way, I felt my younger self-smiling satisfactorily.

Capturing the full transcript was impossible, the energy, the controversy, the opportunity to poke the system in the eye- all of this exploded out into the conversation. The next day the debates continued. Much of what happened in those two periods were lost, the feed was just too rich.

We never officially pegged an answer. We did not find a clear path to our future selves. We did leave the space with some pretty good critically constructive inquiries. Some of them are captured here.

[Them & Me ]

‘You should stop using paper handouts.‘ I have tried that, some students do not have digital technology.. ‘No, just stop using paper handouts…period‘ Like stop handing things out at all? No handouts..?

‘Can we film our class?‘…in general? ‘Ya, I film everything then I post it.‘ Post it? Where? ‘Everywhere.‘

‘The WiFi should be available outside in the school yard.‘ It kinda works if you really need it, you could stand near the door… ‘I want to work outside when the weather is nice…‘

‘The school has it wrong…‘ Good start, what are you thinking? ‘I don’t want to insult you, but school is designed wrong.‘ School is not just me, it’s you and me. ‘Ya right.‘

‘Why do we have classrooms?‘

‘Why can’t I Skype your class from the library?’

‘I agree, school is messed up.‘ Share your thinking. ‘We walk in the halls and sit in the classrooms. I want to hang out in the halls and move around in class.‘

‘Why can’t I stay home and do school with YouTube?‘ Explain your thinking. ‘I watched two YouTube videos today in P1, could’ve watched that at home.‘

‘Could I sit in my friend’s Psych class this week instead of coming to Careers?’ uhhh, hmmm. ‘…they’re talking about abnormal psych, I just studied Oedipus…’

‘School should be free.‘ It is, kind of, for you. ‘No, free, right up through university.‘ How would that work? ‘Well we can pretty much learn anything for class from the web…‘

‘I was just thinking about my art teacher, he uses a lot of history examples in viz art… I like how he mixes other courses into art class.‘

‘School sucks…I want to work…why can’t I just go to work and not do school?‘ Where do I start? There’s lots of reasons to get an education, then get a better job… ‘I don’t really care about that, I just want to work.‘

‘Are you worried about your job?’

‘If I am a modern learner, does that make you a modern teacher?’ I believe so. ‘Wait, what does that even mean..?’

‘I miss my elementary school.‘ Why? ‘I had more fun.‘ …like recess? ‘Not just that, I think that it was just more fun to learn.‘