Slow Down

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Are traditional school schedules and teacher classrooms too rushed and hurried to foster creativity and innovative thinking? Is the pressure to perform in a standards-based culture too high to promote deep and reflective thought? Do factory-model schools cultivate trust and relationships that drive honest feedback, teamwork and the co-creation of solutions?

And the implication is that the real or perceived societal pressure we feel to get more and more things done, and process more and more information, can be an enemy to real love and true learning.” – Four Reasons to Slow Down by Jon Bloom

Learning takes time and patience and this conflicts with how our society and our public education system often operate.

“In an ideal world, the school day would reflect kids’ changing needs and rhythms. There would be time for free play; school would start later to allow time for students’ much-needed rest; the transition time between classes would be longer, allowing time for kids to walk down the hall and say hi to their friends and plan their next moves; kids would have the opportunity to step away from school “work” in order to regroup and process what they’ve absorbed. “The actual encoding of information doesn’t take place when you’re hunched over a desk,” she said.” – Why Kids Need Schools to Change by Tina Barseghian

Deep and thoughtful learning that generates creative and innovative ideas and solutions requires the time and patience to:

  • think
  • reflect
  • dream
  • hope
  • discuss ideas
  • ask questions
  • seek answers
  • encourage others
  • build relationships
  • generate new ideas
  • test theories
  • create solutions

“The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.” – The Creativity Crisis by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman


This leaves me wondering about the learning and creativity within my school…

    • Do students know how to be creative? Can creativity be taught?

Creativity can be taught,” says James C. Kaufman, professor at California State University, San Bernardino.” – The Creativity Crisis

  • Are teachers designing learning experiences that promote deep learning and creative output?

“What’s common about successful programs is they alternate maximum divergent thinking with bouts of intense convergent thinking, through several stages. Real improvement doesn’t happen in a weekend workshop. But when applied to the everyday process of work or school, brain function improves.” – The Creativity Crisis

“When students display creativity and innovation in PBL, they are able to generate and refine solutions to complex problems or tasks.” – How Can We Teach and Assess Creativity and Innovation in PBL? by John Larmer

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Encourage Reflection & Action


As the instructional coach, I wonder what I can do to support deeper thinking and creativity within every classroom and online learning environment in my school. Maybe I should procrastinate and be unhurried! 🙂

“We’re always asked to be faster and more precise. But what can we learn from slowing down — even procrastinating? This hour, TED speakers explore why taking it slow is crucial…for all of us.” – Slowing Down from the TED Radio Hour

This radio program and Grant’s article, Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate, illuminate the idea of slowing down in order to come up with creative and innovative ideas. By slowing down and taking time to reflect on a problem, we give ourselves time to come up with different solutions. Sometimes, our initial solution or answer is not as good as those ideas we come up with after taking in and wrestling with and testing lots of ideas.

“But while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.” –  Grant

“It was only when they first learned about the task and then put it off that they considered more novel ideas. It turned out that procrastination encouraged divergent thinking.” – Grant

““You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” – Aaron Sorkin

I had never heard of the Unhurried movement until I started researching for this blog post, but the principles definitely align to being patient and engaging in discussions in which you truly listen (skills which I’m practicing). I love the philosophy of this approach which challenges us to relax and focus on listening instead of talking in a frenetic volley that is laden with interruptions.

The Unhurried Approach “applies to any process that requires the participation of human beings. We use Unhurried as a guiding principle in our work with people.”

I hope to apply the principles for being unhurried at work and plan some opportunities for Unhurried Conversations for teachers and students. In order to support deeper thinking and creativity within every classroom and online learning environment in my school, I will…

Photo Credit: flickr
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Learn from your Students

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My aha’s from today’s classroom observations, co-teaching and two students’ critique of a teacher’s lesson:

  • Talk with students, not at them. Notice what they are saying – verbally and with their body language.
  • Listen to kids. They have valuable things to say.
  • Trust kids. They can engage in in-depth conversations, deep thinking and problem solving about meaningful topics.
  • Learn from kids. Ask and they will share insights that will help you improve your teaching.

Frost by Robert John Meehan

Sometimes a moment
Stands out in time
A new life discovered
By a lesson in rhyme

Everything changed by
A single selection
A turning point made
In a moment’s alliteration

A new way to continue
Discovered in rhyme
One moment that changed
My life for all time

In that moment of time
A difference was made
My turning point reached
A life’s validity laid

My life’s road discovered
By a lesson in rhyme
The road less traveled
Was that selection of mine

And that too has made
All the difference

(copyright1993-2007)

Photo Credit: Pinterest

 

Believe in the Least of These

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I had such a blessed day today and the highlight was working with a student from creative writing class. This student struggles academically and has an IEP but with support in a quiet setting and the promise of a reward for working for a certain amount of time he was able to complete his story. I had no idea what reward I would give him if he actually completed the assignment. 

When he did finish the entire piece (working twice as long as his teacher and I required) he asked,”Do you have any candy?” Luckily, I had tucked away a Snickers bar into my purse the night before so I happily gave it to him.  He deserved it along with lots of praise. I want to remember this day and how proud this student was to return to his class and tell his teacher he had finished his writing piece. 

ALWAYS believe in every student. Give them your BEST. (And if you have one, give them a Snickers bar.)

“…’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” – Matt 25:40 NIV

“Then before I left class, Ms. Gruwell told me something that would change my life forever. She told me she believed in me. I have never heard those words from anyone… especially a teacher.” – The Freedom Writers Diary

Inspire with Passion

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As I reflect on my new role as an instructional coach, I’ve noticed that my most powerful tool is passion. I’ve been in classrooms these last few weeks and have seen excitement become contagious – excitement for learning, writing, creating and for sharing.

“The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.”  — Sarah MacLean

If a coach can bring an energy of hope and passion into a classroom or into a conversation, she can ignite or renew a passion in the heart of teachers and students. I’ve not only brought that energy with me but have received energy given by those teachers and students who are passionate and driven to learn. Together, we are creating a synergy that I hope will spread to others inside and outside of the school!

I’ve seen it happen several times this past week and today – bright-eyed excitement at the prospect of creating an online portfolio, enthusiastic planning of a school website, smiling faces finding joy in the writing process, thoughtful reflections on how to make learning more accessible to all students and satisfaction in learning new things like setting up a video camera.

Seems really easy, right? Yes, it is easy to inspire others to passion and excitement when you possess those things yourself. You can’t give away what you do not possess. I believe the best instructional coaching is inspirational coaching. And so my mission continues…

My mission in life in its purest form is to inspirePrompt to extraordinary actions – that’s the definition of inspire and that’s what I most love and value doing. In order to best inspire and serve those with whom I work and do life, I apply the following.

Inquire

Nurture

Support

Play

Imagine

Risk

Encourage

My Mission Statement

Trust the Process

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Photo Credit: flickr

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but with good reason. I started a new job July 31st and have been very busy. I am now serving as the instructional coach at Washington Co. High School and I absolutely love it! 🙂

I can’t express enough thanks to all of my family and friends who have faithfully encouraged and blessed me during the process of getting here. And most of all I thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching me who You are and for loving me in the most amazing ways as I stumbled and doubted You.

As I continue to learn new things, meet great new people and serve the wonderful staff and students at WCHS, I am amazed at how life works out. Here are some things for me to remember…

Never count yourself out. You are strong and capable.

You have family and friends you can count on – let them help you.

Continually surrender it all to the Lord and He will guide you.

NEVER lose hope!

Always believe the best is yet to come.

Focus like a Leader

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“Effective leaders focus laser-like on the quality of instruction in their schools. They emphasize research-based strategies to improve teaching and learning and initiate discussions about instructional approaches, both in teams and with individual teachers.”

taken from The Effective Principal: Five Pivotal Practices that Shape Instructional Leadership, The Wallace Foundation