Student Ownership. For Real.

Student ownership. I’ve watched my student tech team develop into this amazing group over the past year. Last year, I had a vision that I wanted to come to fruition; but even with that I couldn’t have imagined what it would become, what we would become in one short year.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I put out applications for students who were interested. I work in a middle schools, so there are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I simply wanted students who had some interest in technology, being a team, advocating for their school, and promoting through social media. Students joined for one or all of these reasons.

Soon after joining last year, ten of my eighth graders joined four other middle schools to be inspired by iSchool Initiative and create a three-year plan for our school. They set their sights high. They came together as a team and became leaders. Some of the initiatives they wanted our team to do included the following:

  1.  teach teachers and students more about technology; we are a 1:1 iPad school and they felt this was a need
  2. open media center in the mornings for students

Empowerment has become our middle name. Maybe our first. Students led app speed dating where they taught apps to teachers. Our student “my iPad has an issue” Google doc went to their iPads, so that they could be first on the scene before it went to our local IT. They did team building through activities like building virtual computers. Currently a few of them are trying to get a budget to build the computer for real!

The project that has generated the most excitement is their modern-day technology lab created in a room from a broken down computer lab. They created the floor plan. They  worked with me to determine what we needed to purchase for it. As a result, they own this lab.

These are middle schoolers who feel pride in what they do every day. They have a purpose in coming to school and are quick to tell me what they need and advocate for it.

Now that is real life. That is what school should be.

 

Summer of Learning

photo credit Theresa Stager

   As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Francisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to continue to make learning more engaging for our students: an ongoing goal for many. I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Fransisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to  continue make learning more engaging: an ongoing goal for many.

I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

Who Are We?

Opening Slides

IMG_0618

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.

A Place to Reflect & Ruminate

Catina: teaching, learning, leading, creating

Talk Tech With Me

A collection of ideas and thoughts on technology in education.

Daily Shoot

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

Ditch That Textbook

Ed tech, creative teaching, less reliance on the textbook.

Connected Principals

Sharing. Learning. Leading.

Stump The Teacher

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

Posts - Learning in Hand

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

Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Be a Better Teacher. Live a Meaningful Life.

The Principal of Change

Stories of learning and leading

Miss Night's Marbles

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

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

%d bloggers like this: