Saturday, March 23, 2013

Benchmarks and Cairns

What is the best way to travel though the wilderness?
Looking for a trail, a path or route through this wilderness, we often times have to forge our way through the unknown. Looking to others for guidance often works wonders.

 While hiking in the mountains, over piles of rocks, tundra or nondescript wilderness, there are often piles of rocks, obviously and deliberately placed and spaced far enough to see from one to the next one.  Use of these trail markers, or cairns, prevents the need for an ugly stripe or trail across the landscape.  Instead, this series forms a guide, rough trail or path to reach a goal.  Interestingly, it also allows for some interpretation of the best path to a destination.  We walk wherever we want and not single file, thus preventing trails or scars or unsightly ruts.

Like walking in a wilderness, with no true trail, we each must blaze our own path in life.  We may look to others for guidance and direction.  Our teams, PLNs, fb friends, co-workers all contribute to the path we carve out but in reality, we must make our own choice.  Essentially, we all do whatever we want!  The fear of consequences often plies direct influence on our choices but we strive to do what we want. For instance, I would rather ride my motorcycle, yet I go to work to allow me the freedom to take those rides.  Without some form of income, those adventures would be cost prohibitive.

Maturity allows us to learn from others mistakes, like the hot stove illustration for a youngster.  We would not knowingly allow them to burn themselves, would we?  Rather we might strongly suggest a youngster not touch the hot burner.  Maturity then allows them to learn that our guidance is often for their good and they learn to listen to wisdom.  (Of course there are outliers)  Another example, “I have to go to school  may be restated, “I choose to go to school to prevent my parents being charged with educational neglect.”  Especially since a student may not articulate those thoughts as deliberately and may feel “forced” to attend, when in fact, it is still a choice.

 Speaking of school, school years, seasons, and days contain similar denotations or markings with many parameters to guide our paths.  For instance, we pace our curriculum using data about students understanding asking questions about what they know and don’t know and how we respond. (@atplc)  We help them discipline themselves by discussing socially acceptable behavior and provide extrinsic incentives in a quest to shift their motivation to intrinsic, all to help citizenship. (@swpbs) We establish relationships to connect and reach into their lives to influence.  We use this connection to steer them along a route, not a defined path but a direction, according to the perceived needs and mandates of society as a whole.

 Spring break is one of those benchmarks.  It reminds us of the passage of time, the growth of our charges and the impending transition from one grade to the next.  These transitions are often great times of stress in student’s lives.  Passing classes, end of term projects and final events, competitions and exams all contribute to their uncertainties.  Educators are asked to do the very best, with so little for so long, yet they still do whatever they want!  They take a job like this because of the children.  They have high expectations for children and themselves.  Conflicts occur when expectations go unmet.  Here lies the dilemma.  Collaboration with stakeholders aligns expectations and results between an educational system and the community that it serves.  Pressure, force and coercion may not accomplish unity, when one party values accomplishment and an ability to articulate concrete and abstract concepts with another party desiring the status-quo.  The children and students suffer during this conflict but persistence through these endeavors prepare them for success.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Education: Event or process?

Was becoming a citizen an event or process?
Inside this building, the process began where travelers to the United States were prepared and inspected and interviewed before they were allowed to enter the country.  This Ellis Island landmark at the statue of liberty site in New York City saw millions of people walk these floors.  This could take hours, days or weeks but finally the process was complete and the event happened.  Weary travelers were granted access to this great nation.
A bunch of us this past weekend, we were considering emotions, and if they were events or processes.  We concluded both.  This meant an event occurred but then continued and the process began.  Let's consider other characteristics, like sorrow, grief or even forgiveness.  These all seem characterized by events, happening in an instant, and often based on other's actions.  But because they endure in our psyche, we often dwell on them and take time to process through the entire situation, sometimes to our detriment and distraction.  Thus these things labeled as emotions can take on an existence of their own.  The event begins the process and benchmarks are met along the way!
For instance, does forgiveness require us to forget?  Does it mean we no longer consider the past or do we use the past as a basis for our future treatment?  One perspective says we forgive but remember.  The other point of view claims we forgive and forget!  Both cases warrant inspection. 
Education is similar, in that students reach milestones along the way but continue to learn.  Learners build on prior knowledge but often have aha moments where they grasp new concepts with clarity and understanding like never before.  No longer in a fog, learners begin to incorporate new ideas and with practice and rehearsals, improvement occurs and learning happens.  Even as adults, we often continue our learning, adapting and changing as we adjust to our surroundings.  Equipping our students with tools to improve their lot and not just cope with the problems we leave them become a top priority.
Education is hence both an event and a process.  A grade level takes 174 days of school, 13 years and possible post-secondary work and hopefully on into life.  Education continues and those that learn from other people's mistakes are the truly wise.
Hopefully, we all remain lifelong learners!  #onthemap 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Games you can't win...

What games can't you win?
"Games you can't win, because you'll play against you."
Maybe you'll be trapped in a box, stuck in a rut, bound by real or imaginary borders?
This quote is hidden in Oh, The Places You'll Go, by the birthday boy.
A book written to motivate us to action and often read at commencements, has a nugget addressing confidence, affirmations and positive attitude. 
When we work against ourselves, we become the most formidable opponent.  Nobody else knows as much about us. Nobody else knows our struggles, inmost worries and deepest fears.  These three obstacles, Dr Seuss wants us to master!
"'ll play lonely games too.  Games you can't win because you'll play against you."
The Dr admonishes us to recognize, train and discipline our own internal dialogue.  This language is not the norm but must be learned and received from another that possesses a similar champion perspective. A master teacher knows this and builds on the slightest feature to accentuate positive and diminish the negative.
Well done, wms!
#onthemap #seussquote

What is the first line of Green Eggs & Ham?

To build relationships, we need time, activity, trust and something in common.
In Green Eggs and Ham, the first line, does anybody remember that?  "I do not like___?___"
No!  He does not say "green eggs and ham" here but something far deeper.  The grouchy says " I do not like that Sam-I-am."
He begins the relationship in hostility and aggression and negativity.  Yet Sam builds on this, like a master teacher, with near countless adventures that pique his interest, stimulate his curiosity and teach him to trust. 
At the beginning, they are not too friendly, but by the end their relationship is solid.
Relationships take time AND action to develop.
The intensity increases till The Grouch can finally trust.

Thanks Dr Seuss!