Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Vacation of a Life Time...

Convergence and a Vanishing Point!

Mt Princeton in the center, the tracks fading into a vanishing point, virga not hitting the surface and the road parallel all represent educational struggles, choices and dilemmas!  What is in store for this school year? 
A principal called the teacher to the office.  The dialogue went like this: 
Principal: Are you sure that Little Johnny was in class yesterday?  
Teacher: Yes, Why?
Principal: He did not go to any other classes all day long skipping every one but coming to yours!
Teacher: I am honored, flattered and saddened, all at the same time!
Does this really happen?  Are our classrooms safer, more secure, nicer, and better than any other place in our student's lives?  SOMETIMES!

Parallel Tracks
The road here travels right along side the rail road tracks.  They are parallel for this short distance, traveling north out of Salida Colorado towards Buena Vista.  The left and right track of the railroad are parallel the entire time! We look down the track here and we see things that begin as separate begin to converge on a common spot.  This example of a vanishing point demonstrates relevance in content.  The tracks look like they come together but the highway on the left seems to join in as well.  In the classroom, let's consider success the vanishing point and the multiple methods of reaching that place can come from various paths.  We could force students.  We could bribe them.  We could beg.  We could even scare or threaten them into submission.  Or we could connect with them, build a relationship and they would play along besause they wanted to!  Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation!  Think Daniel Pink and Drive! What is the best way to get somebody to do something?  Teachers seem to know it is more than just saying so!
Another Choice 
Although not apparent or obvious, our students have choice.  They do not have to come to school.  The law mandates students attend till they are 16, 17 or 18, depending on the state, but, they still have a choice.  They could skip!  They could avoid us.  They could cut classes.  Of course, this would leave to other consequences along the truancy path and educational neglect but they still have a choice.  Is our quest to kindle desire, passion and curiosity in their minds so they would rather be in our class and no place else, or are we just trying to get them in class?  Often times, it seems their baggage is not classroom appropriate!  Who is supposed to teach them manners, how to behave or what not to do?!  Too late!?!  We are.   (see story above)
Define VIRGA
Not the medicinal term but the term for rain that never reaches the ground!  Is this what happens when we teach?  Our lessons never really connect?  Our activities, methods or delivery is so dry the moisture of learning or seed of understanding is never wet by the message?  Is it too dry to learn?  Does our distance from our students prevent us from reaching our mark?  How far away are we from our students?  Connect, get to know, reach into their lives and see how hard they work, regardless of their age! What do we have to loose?
Mount Princeton
In the Chaffee County Colorado range of The Collegiate Peaks, there are mountains named after colleges. Many peaks are over 14,000 feet above sea level. Mount Princeton is one of those.  Denver is only 5,200 feet above sea level yet St Louis is only 700 feet above sea level.  To take a risk, travel to the top of this mountain and explore the territory is not unlike learning!  Risk is involved!  The potential for failure is close at hand but resuming and continuing are also expected. Struggle is mandatory when reaching for an extreme.  If it was easy, the reward would not be worthwhile.  Learning, repetition, reaching new heights, pushing limits and trying something beyond our expectations are components of climbing a mountain and learning new content.  How do we encourage, support and foster out student's quest for learning?

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