Restoring Life to Learning

I’m a sucker for analogies and metaphors! I must say I hated them when I was in high school as my logical-mathematical brain craved “just tell me what it is and what it means!” Yet, as I matured as a learner and thinker, the value of analogies and metaphors (yes, even in math) steadily increased. To that end, please indulge my thinking and pondering on schools and learning using the idea of CPR (yes, I am also giving in to educators’ love of acronyms and alliteration!).

CPR- cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. How might this connect? What comes to mind? Immediately, I think of someone in trouble or crisis. Some would say that is where schools are. I also think of someone needing the help of others who are trained to help. Some would say that is where schools are. I also think of someone not surviving without it. Isn’t that where schools are?

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation is defined as an emergency procedure for reviving heart and lung function, involving special physical techniques and often the use of electrical and mechanical equipment. Are you beginning to see the connections? It brings life back to someone who has stopped breathing and whose heart has stopped functioning. So, CPR revives the breath and the flow of blood of a body using a connection between one and another, a process, and tools.

So what kind of CPR do schools need? Schools themselves may not need CPR (I think they do), but what happens in schools is in dire need. Those of us who work in schools need to be well-trained in CPR. Without going into an in-depth review of all of the writing out there about learning and schools, I offer the following. Life can be restored to learning through:

C: Creativity, Curiosity, Collaboration, Curation, Critical Thinking, Communication (the blood flow)

P: Passion, Purpose, Play (the breath of life)

R: Reflection, Relationships (the art of reviving)

Have you had your CPR training yet? How will you use it?



#fuse14: A Virtual Experience

Confession:  This is my first blog.  I have been involved in social media and the blogosphere for about 5 years now.  Most of my curation, though, has been in response to others– either commenting on their blogs, tweeting to and with them, etc.  Another confession:  engaging in this type of connection and learning through blogs and tweets helped me remain invigorated and excited to be in the field of education at a time when I felt I was surrounded by those who were disengaged.  I consider myself blessed to be connected to so many outstanding people (though I don’t know all of them personally), and I thank them for partnering with me in ways they may not have imagined.  Having said that, it is about time for me to fully engage with my own blog and invite others to connect with me here!

I had the pleasure to participate virtually in #fuse14, a design thinking extravaganza organized and offered by Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the MV Institute for Innovation last week.  For those of you who are unaware of Mount Vernon, you must take a moment to visit their website to learn more about them.  Under the leadership of Brett Jacobsen (Head of School, @jbrettjacobsen) and Bo Adams (Chief Innovation and Learning Officer, @boadams1), Mount Vernon is moving the pendulum when it comes to envisioning education and learning.  Brett has established a top-notch team of educators and thinkers, and this team is on the move and making an impact!  There were a number of outstanding individuals who partnered with Bo to make this conference possible:  @scitechyEDU, @TJEdwards62, @treyboden, @gregbamford, @AllisonToller.  I have probably neglected someone’s name here, so please accept my apology in advance.  This is a wonderful team of people who you must follow!

Please peruse the following Storify for a synopsis of my engagement in this exciting 2-day experience:

To be honest, I would have much preferred to actually be at the conference with colleagues, interacting face-to-face and minute-to-minute.  However, barring that, I found engaging in the conference via Twitter extremely exciting, fast-paced, and worthy.  Having Grant Lichtman (@GrantLichtman) as the official “Tweeting Tom” and real-time blogger aka Virtual Facilitator was immensely helpful for those of us virtual attendees as he posed interesting questions, shared a bit of the action, and continued to encourage all to engage.  I think this role is an important role for conferences if virtual attendance is encouraged and desired. How Might We continue to design a way in which virtual connections at actual conferences add depth and value to the conference, both for physical and virtual attendees?

What I also valued was the ability to peer in to both the Design 101 (beginner) and 201 (experienced) Deep Dives.  I was able to jump back and forth to witness the design challenges, comparing and contrasting along the way.  Due to intense work on their own team challenges, the Tweets decreased except for those team leaders or Grant who were in share mode.  It was more difficult to add a question or comment specific to a team’s design challenge as they were deep in to each other and their challenge, understandably so.  I would have loved to have an archive or reporting of the different prototypes that emerged for us virtual attendees.  How Might We consider this in the future?

As always with social media participation, I was blessed to make some new colleagues and contacts and engage with them not only about #fuse14, but also about some additional or tangential topics that emerged.  I look forward to continuing to make new connections. I am left with some questions that I will continue to reflect upon as a result of this conference, the contributions of all involved, and some new contacts.  They include:

*  HMW foster Ts breaking the chains of isolation to share & collaborate using the lens of scaling excellence?  HT @jbrettjacobsen

*  HMW we better understand the concept of “collective fear” and “collective group-esteem,” their roots, and their effects on individual fear and individual self-efficacy?  (sidebar conversation with @DrLeeAnneG and @profragsdale)

*  HMW utilize the process of design thinking to internalize the mindset of design thinking in learners?

*  HMW continue to reshape PD in schools so that it not only furthers the mission and school wide goals but also the personal and professional goals of each teacher– moving away from compliance-driven PD to proactive and highly sought after PD by each learner?

*  There are those who are more likely to take risks and chances in an environment with those they do not know, indicating a paradox-Strangers allow for more freedom to fail while safety of known colleagues increases “cost” of failing? HMW understand this better?

*  As thrilled as I am about the shift in learning and conversations happening within and among many learning organizations, I am concerned that teacher training programs are not systemically present in these conversations.  HMW? (sidebar conversation with @gregbamford)

I will continue to periodically blog on these and many other topics.  I invite you to follow me and contribute to the conversation!  Thank you for reading!