I actually have several posts that I drafted over the last year (probably more like the last few years), but have never posted. I started getting into a routine to draft and then review on Sunday to post. Somewhere along the work beat, I lost track of that time. I need to get back into that routine. I found this post to be a great one to start back with up again considering it's about taking pause. I've been doing that a lot over the last few months with the pandemic. I now find myself with a lot of time to think. I can't believe how slow the last couple of months of school went, but also how fast. If I timelapsed my daily work routine, it would have been a boring string of me getting up, grabbing coffee, sitting at a computer for several hours, leaving the house for a long walk, eating dinner, reading, repeat. It made me realize that sometimes we move so fast that we lose sight of the things that are important. The moments that are important to be in. I think this is why I like writing. It forces me to be in the moment and it also helps me grow.
So, basically... for a while these posts may be random. A little current reflection combined with past writing. Enjoy! :)
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This week I found myself saying a few different times, “It was a great week for students, but maybe not a great week for everything else.” I often feel this feeling. The feeling that when one part of my life is going well another part could use work.
At the last Jay Marks Culturally Responsive Teaching session, Jay talked about how all the other ‘stuff’ gets in the way sometimes of what’s really important - our students. A lot of the extra is placed on ourselves by ourselves. I certainly do that... I take on more than I should and say yes to things I don't have time for. It stems from my drivers (and it's who I am as a person), but I'll talk about that in a later post.
Anyway, I find it all to be a balance. I know it's a balance. Still even in that understanding, I know that there are multiple points where I am unbalanced. My goal is by the time Friday comes around I feel like I’ve done well in both work and life ... It's a good goal. Still working on that. ;)
This week I found myself taking pause for the things in education that matter and being thankful that I can do that. When I'm at work, I also want to make sure I am in the moment and the 'daily work' or 'checklists' don't get in the way of what's important - the students. In my class there was an incident that I had to take pause and address. It wasn’t a huge deal and I could have easily made a quick comment and then moved on with teaching. However, the more I thought about it the more it bothered me and I remembered... 'this is the work'. So the class and I had a talk about the effects of a little white lie in what they have coined, "Circle Time".
I’m sure through the talk they were all thinking, “Ok Reimold, this isn’t a big deal.” They are right - it wasn’t. Out of all of the deals in the world this was nothing. A blip in the universe. However, I really wanted... let me correct myself, I really needed them to understand that these are the moments that define one's own character. These are the moments in which we could do the right thing or not. Our actions and our words matter...because all of these small insignificant things add up to big significant things and they start to define you. It's all about what kind of person you want to be and what that looks like for you. I won't get into what the white lie was about, but I will say that I am glad I took time away from the curriculum to have this moment. Even though we/teachers find ourselves trying to sprint to the invisible finish line we can't forget that this is the work too and we need to take pause to honor the importance of this work. We ended our talk with one question, "What kind of person do you want to be?"
Also, this week I had the opportunity to help a student get ready for her interview for a full ride scholarship. It was a good week. :)
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Just FYI. That student got that full ride scholarship (housing and tuition). #ProudTeacher
These are the moments...
Wow. I can't believe we are already in marking period 2! Time in education always seems to fly by. There are so many things I always plan to do and there just never seems to be enough time. I wish I could multiply myself like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. That would be pretty awesome, but I digress... I started an email to parents about what was happening in the Raven Innovation Lab, and then I thought, "This would be a great time to get back to blogging." So here I am, blogging away! :) #woot
I ask my students to blog every week. It's possible that they feel it's 'busy work,' but I find it helps with growth- at least it does for me. Thinking about your own thought process, why we think the way we do and why we did what we did is hard. Even saying it sounds weird. :) I personally reflect on everything I do. It actually hurts my brain, but in such a good way. I'm not sure how I got here. I would like to think it was some awesome teacher I had once upon a time that instilled this in me. I'm getting older now, so I can't remember that far back, but I'm sure that's the reason (or that's what I'm telling myself). :P Reflection is really a skill that I think needs to be practiced. Just like playing an instrument or becoming a better designer. The more you do it, the better you become... and the whole point is to always try to be better.
The marking period started off strong. I would say that I spend the first few months convincing students that it's OK to fail. I love seeing their faces when I tell them I want them to fail and fail miserably in this class. Judging by their expressions and responses, this is a message that they do not commonly hear in their other classes. They have been taught that there is ALWAYS a right or wrong answer. A + B = C. If you don't pick the 'right' answer or take the 'right' action you will definitely have a negative consequence that heavily impacts one's grade. One of the goals of the course is to foster confidence. I want the students to feel confident to take chances - take a risk. With risks there are possibilities of failure. That's life. It happens. The important part of the process is what you do after it happens. Students in the iLab engage in what I call failing forward. Trying something. Failing. Reflecting on why their process didn't work that time. Trying something else. Failing. Reflecting. Researching. Planning. Repeat. It's an endless cycle. I find that this process promotes critical and creative thinking- two skills that entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and others have said are the skills of the future. A few years ago everyone kept saying it's coding. I agree that coding is a lovely skill to have. However, what we failed to see is that in order to be a 'coder' one must have developed certain other skills to be successful. It's like being the boss of an employee that is a master of Photoshop, but can't come up with any design ideas. Are they really valuable to the company? Maybe that's a bad example, but that's all I have right now. ;)
Anyway, the process is frustrating, no doubt, but there is so much growth that happens within the process. I, too, am learning and growing every day. It has been a process for me to just get to this point in my teaching career to have this mindset.
The iTeam this year has engaged in so many experiences already. We have gone through design challenges, interviews for empathy, screencasting, 3D modeling, 2D design, team trips and finally lots and lots of researching, planning, creating and reflecting.
We are now moving on to product development and marketing. Students will be gaining new technical skills and problem-solving how to use a piece of equipment. One of the things I love about this class is that we are learning together. I do not pretend to have all of the answers (because I definitely don't). I model how I would approach the problem and propose possible solutions for us to try. When those don't work we start proposing solutions to move the team forward together. Learning and growing together. How cool is that?
Next, the iTeam will be creating an actual product to sell. We haven't fully moved onto the next step of the project because we are still working through some technical issues. What the students don't know is that they will be working independently to start, pairing and negotiating ideas and then pitching their best marketable idea to the team. The team will decide what direction they will go. This should be an interesting real-world experience. It's moving beyond concept to actual practice. They will be developing, marketing and selling. The money made will go back to the team and they will have to negotiate what they will buy for their next learning experience. This is the first time I have done this. I'm pretty excited to see where the students take it. Much of the class is student-led. I give them a framework to start. The team is starting to realize the box they have been working within and that it's ok (encouraged!) to work beyond the boundaries.
This past week I asked students to write about what they are thankful for. The theme is gratitude. One of my students wrote about how she is thankful for all of the small things that we often forget during our days. Not to steal her thunder (thanks Sleepy Genius!) but I would agree. I am thankful for all of the small things. I'm thankful that I am happy and healthy first and foremost. I take for granted good health, but I think about it often during my day and I'm thankful I am physically able to move around and engage in the activities I do daily. I'm also am thankful that I have good people in my life and I continue to surround myself with positive people who push me to be better, think deeply and live largely. I constantly tell my students that having academic success is important, but surrounding yourself with good people and continually trying to be the person you want to be is ultimately what will matter at the end of the day. I would argue that being the person you are proud to be is almost all that matters at the end of the day.
Lastly, I am thankful that I get to work in a profession where I get to make positive differences. I tell the iTeam this all the time and maybe it's cheesy... but they are the BEST part of my day. I love that it's a small group. They have dubbed themselves the iTeam in the past and it has stuck in year two. It really is a team. Because it's a small group they have to develop some sort of working relationship. You can't hide in this class. As a teacher, what I love is that their friend group expands naturally and they no longer need the class to bring them together. They initiate it themselves. One thing I have learned about my K-12 education is that every student needs 'their person.' This is what makes their school experience. This is what they will remember when they look back on their time at ROHS and this is what I try to do for students. Connect them together so every student can find 'their person.'
The team and I spend about 1.5 hours (lunch included) together and I love every moment of it. I genuinely look forward class every day and I am bummed if I have to miss class for a meeting or a workshop. I think... or I suspect... this is how one knows they are doing the work they should be in life.
Maybe this is a bit selfish, but I am grateful that I get to have this feeling of satisfaction and good work. There was a moment during college when I could have chosen a different path. Actually, I distinctly remember this moment and this one moment changed my life forever. So now here I am. Just a teacher who loves what I do. :) I only hope that all of the students at ROHS will find something they love to too. #thankful
Here are some photos & quotes from the iTeam. Enjoy! Give the team a follow @ROHSiTeam !
" I AM ALSO THANKFUL FOR BEING PART OF THE ITEAM. BEING IN ABLE TO BE IN THE ILAB HAS TAUGHT ME MANY HELPFUL SKILLS BUT IT HAS ALSO PROVIDED ME WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET SUCH WONDERFUL PEOPLE. THE ITEAM, EVEN THOUGH WE'VE SPENT ONLY A FEW MONTHS TOGETHER, FEELS LIKE A SECOND FAMILY TO ME. " - DAN THE MAN
" I AM VERY THANKFUL FOR ALL OF THE FRIENDS I HAVE BECOME CLOSER WITH THIS YEAR, ESPECIALLY THE ITEAM. WE HAVE BECOME A GROUP THAT IS GOOD AT PROBLEM SOLVING AND WE WORK WELL TOGETHER. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE FUN TIMES WE HAD SUCH AS TEDX AND THE ESCAPE ROOM. " - THE CZAR OF INNOVATION