School Versus Learning #IMMOOC Why is there a Difference

As I continue along on this journey of learning, this journey of reading The Innovator’s Mindset with oh, 2,000 of my closest friends, there are a few points that are sticking with me today. Sometime George puts the words into my brain so much better than I can say them.

  1. School teaches compliance. Learning is about challenging perceived norms. (102)

To me this is a solid reason school might need to be tweaked. If school doesn’t equal learning at every level, well….are we doing it as well as we can be? AND are we doing it for the students of today? Better yet, how can we make these one and the same? How can we stop making school be about teaching compliance and get students able to challenge the status quo? Are we ready for that?

I certainly don’t have all the answers but today I watched a science teacher begin her lesson with students determining the questions. She presented an opportunity and they posed the questions they needed answered in order to learn what had happened in that situation.

2.  School is about giving you information. Learning is about making your own connections. (102)

Even in the framework of a curriculum, we have leeway; students can build on their connection to information.

I am watching books come alive for our middle school students as they make choices in what they read for maybe the first time as part of their learning. They are excited about it and engaged in books.

When teachers are gifted at helping students uncover knowledge rather than being wrapped up in covering material, it all comes alive for them.

Who Are We?

Opening Slides


Who are we? Where do we come from? What makes us who we are? Is it nature or nurture? For me, my family and the traditions that I was brought up with are so much of who I am that it is engrained in everything that I do.

I believe that I should be better today than I was yesterday.

I should have a disregard for the impossible.

My Bubeh and Zayde (great grandparents) came from Russia as young adults. As a child, I used to walk my Bubeh to the restroom because she couldn’t read English. In spite of not having a formal education, she raised four children. When school called, she had learned the formal system; she showed up, and whatever that teacher said was right! And boy oh boy, you didn’t mess with her! All that in spite of not reading. That perseverance came in handy; I remember her telling stories of the Cossacks raiding her village time after time as a child growing up.

My grandmother: she was the kid whisperer. Even though she wasn’t the most social person, she could strike up a conversation with any child whether we were in line at a store or wherever. She had an innate ability to bond immediately with them. When my sister and I both became teachers, she started buying books for each of our classroom libraries because, “They need to learn to read!”

She became a widow way too young and got the equivalent of a minimum wage job to support her four young children; she saw to it that each made it to college graduation. Her youngest, much to her dismay had a dream of being an actor. But she saw to it that he lived out that dream and went to Juliard on a full-ride scholarship to live out that dream -it wasn’t her dream but what her children wanted she saw to!

So how does this connect to my vision of education and to me?

That risk-taking of my grandma and bubeh?

As a first-year teacher I found myself in the inner-city where most of my second-grade students couldn’t read the pre-primer words. Innovation was where it was. The grade level text wasn’t going to cut it. Business as usual wasn’t cutting it for those kids. I knew that like my family before me I was going to have to take a risk and do it differently and get my students through several years of school in one year. Because after all, we all know the research: jail cells in Georgia are built based on the number of third-grade students not reading on grade level…and I wasn’t going to let my babies be part of that statistic! So as a twenty-two year old fresh out of college I broke the mold and I set the course for my career.

I was going to be a risk-taker. I was going to be an innovator.

These are beliefs that I have never stopped.

I have lived my educational career this way. I believe in this growth mindset. This is the legacy that I want to leave. We have to be innovators if we want our students to be.

What if we all committed to learning together? To innovating together? To figuring it out together.

Innovate * Inspire * Lead Change

If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow. John Dewey

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