Oh man. Duh.

Ever had a thought come to you that just makes you say, “Oh man.  Duh.”  Just had that happen thanks to Denis Sheeran.

He wrote an fantastic blogpost about Fidget Spinners.  Basically, he was seeing tweets and comments about how these must be banned.  Well….that wasn’t flying for Denis, so he set out to share how they could be utilized by kids and teachers in math.  Brilliant!


Here comes my, “Oh man.  Duh.” moment.

Is our first response to something that grabs kids’ utter attention to say NO to it?

Anyone who has been around education for any length of time has seen this before. Some weird thing pops up that kids just go nuts about.  And lots of schools immediately shut it down, ban it, make it a discipline issue.

Why?  It’s easy?  The thing is dangerous?  The thing will distract from other learning? Maybe.

Might we change our first thought to, “Boy howdy.  Kids really are digging this thing. Can we figure out how to capture that level of engagement and tie it to some authentic learning?”

Like Denis did with math and Fidget Spinners.  I bet we can.  I know we can.

We just need to take a breath, pause, and have a different first thought.

Oh man.  Duh.

A moral imperative.

Started reading Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation by Don Wettrick. Right off the bat hit this quote, 

“We do our students a disservice when we prepare them for a world that no longer exists and fail to empower them with the skills and abilities they will need to navigate rough and shifting seas. We don’t need students who can fill in bubbles on a multiple-choice test; we need students who can create, innovate, connect, and collaborate. We need students who can identify and solve complex, real-world problems. Changing the way we educate students is not only necessary…it’s a moral imperative.”

A couple days before, I came upon this video.  What is 21st Century Education?

Well pretty obviously, these two ideas feed each other.

Here’s the rub.  Our schools, administrators, and teachers still have to operate in the world of ‘filling in bubbles.’  Through no fault of their own.  It’s our present system. They know that kids need opportunities to create, innovate, connect, and collaborate. These words include 3 of the famous 4 Cs.  The missing C is ‘critically think’.  The ‘fill in the bubbles’ schools are still schools of distribution.  Information is handed out and then retrieved.  Questions are asked to which there are already known answers. Absolutely zero opportunity, nor in fact, need to create, innovate, connect, and collaborate.  The opposite of this idea is schools of discovery.  Giving kids the opportunities to create new answers to problems.  Innovate.  Collaborate.

I didn’t list the entire title of Wettrick’s great book.  Here’s the entire title.

Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level

The ‘20%’ part is an idea that talks about giving kids time to do all of the things in a school of discovery. Create, innovate, connect, critically think, and collaborate. Obviously one can’t turn the entire school day or year over to this notion.  But lots of places have made the decision to let kids explore and grow, aside from the demands of the bubbles.

This website is a good place to start.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.28.15 PM

Kind of a cool idea.



Yes. A secondary school guy can learn.

Our Teaching-Learning-Innovation department will be doing a book study with our primary school teachers, at their request.  Teachers of PK1 students.  We’re reading Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky A. Bailey.  I enjoyed 31 years in schools before moving to our district office.  Grades 6-12.  No clue about PK1 kids other than my own children.

So I was thinking, “What can I possibly learn from this book study?” With the I being the emphasis. How could I possibly relate to a book about little kids, having spent all my career with older kids and teachers of older kids.

What a knucklehead.  The emphasis in my thinking should have been on the word LEARN.  Of course I can LEARN from this book.  And it took about a half page to bang that into my head.

Here are a couple pictures of the book as I began my assault.  I learned a whole bunch about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).  I’m learning about Emotional States, STAR, Pausing, Survival, Emotional, Executive.  All of which apply to older kids.  All of which apply to adults.


The point was driven home when I watched this video.  About a kid who was a gang leader and a senior in high school.  And I was reminded that, “Relationships are the most important thing in education, they were 50 years ago and they will be 50 years from now. ” .

We start our book study next Monday.  We can’t wait.  In our district, our book studies and professional learning are driven by teacher needs, input, and requests.  Note I said we were invited to lead this book study.  We didn’t decide that this school needed this learning.  They did.  We’re not experts at Conscious Discipline, but we can run great professional learning sessions.  We get to learn right along with the teachers.  The principal and assistant principal get to learn along with their teachers.

This group of educators noticed that the number of kids coming to them were coming with an increased number of ACES.  And they want to learn more about how to better support them, their families, and their learning.

Reminds me of this great quote, “We can’t change who we serve but we can change how we serve them.” @KatieMTLC,  @gcouros

We are changing how we learn.  We are changing how we determine what we learn.

We are changing how we serve them.


Two sentences.

Two sentences have been banging around in my head this week.

“Some great learning waits just on the other side of your comfort zone.”



The danger of a single story.  This sentence is the title of a stunning TED talk.


the danger of a single story

These two sentences, when put together, are very challenging.

That’s a good thing.

The learning stream keeps on rollin’ by.

Had a wonderful conversation this morning with a longtime colleague and educator. Among other topics, we chatted about the access to knowledge and learning available via twitter.  He described a very normal reaction from some.  “It’s overwhelming!  So much information!  How do you keep track of it all?!”

I don’t even try to keep track of it all.

I described my twitter feed, using TweetDeck, where I am following 3187 people, as a ‘slot machine, constantly spinning’, as those 3187 people add ideas, thoughts, questions, etc. to the twittersphere.  Then I figured out, in our conversation, that I had a much better description for all that information.

It’s better described as a ‘learning stream.’ It’s always flowing.  I can stand on the bank, at my leisure, and watch it go by.  I can reach in and pull out an idea when I see one floating by that captures my interest.  I don’t try to scroll the stream back to see what I missed.  I figure if it’s a good idea, concept, question, it will float by again.  I can walk away from the bank and visit a school, a colleague, or a group of students.  The stream keeps flowing while I’m gone.  That’s ok.  My visits might give me an idea, concept, or question to throw out into the stream for somebody else to pull out.


Don’t sweat following lots more people than follow you.  I think that’s the right ratio. Listen more than you talk.  But don’t be afraid to share. You never know who’s waiting just downstream for you to throw something great into the water.

Tweet this!

I saw a great tweet from a principal talking about the 10 signs you might not be ready for twitter yet.  I decided to make a list of the….

10 Signs That You Might
Be Ready to Learn Using Twitter!twitter

  1. You’ve heard enough from a trusted colleague to give Twitter a try.
  2. You could use some more personal or professional support.  You are willing to make and learn from new friends.
  3. You have not perfected your craft.  Every kid still has lots of room to learn everyday.  You know you still have room for improvement.
  4. You have at least one good idea you could share with someone else.
  5. You are interested in having your voice be a part of a larger conversation about education.
  6. You are willing to collaborate with teachers around the world because your immediate colleagues haven’t cornered the market on how to teach well.
  7. You know that if something can be a game-changer for kids, time can be found.  A career can be built by trying to be a little better today than yesterday.
  8. You are willing to expend the energy and courage it takes to change your mind about something.  You are willing to have your long held professional beliefs challenged.
  9. You want to see if it’s true that amazing professional learning can be free, convenient, and totally self-directed.
  10. You are so passionate about education and kids, you are will to potentially get addicted to amazing professional learning. (warning: this could happen).