Unselfishness – How Michael Richards inspired me.


Over the break, I got a little into Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  I think I saw someone post it on twitter or something, but started with Louis C.K. and just worked my way backwards.

Lots and lots of funny moments with funny people, some good observations on life, with Jerry Seinfeld who knew right? Most of it was just something to enjoy, right up till the Michael Richards episode.

Anyway, he was talking about that one night he verbally abused some guy and walked out.  He was reflecting, openly and honestly about a mistake he made. The word he used was selfish, he was being selfish about his act.

This made me think about teaching.  How often am I selfish of my lesson, or what I want the take away to be?  I don’t think it is that often, but it made me set my resolution this year to be totally focused on student learning, and from their perspective.  What is it that they want to take from the lesson.  How can I empower them to start directing their own learning, and allowing them to think whatever they want about my teaching.  I see this as an opportunity to be a better learning, and technology coach.

When working with the students this week, I’ve been working on developing their voice in their blogs. I adapted some of George Courus’ work on blogging to present to the teachers about why we should be blogging with students. With our migration unit, the grade four and five students are thinking deeply about why and how people migrate. I’ve also been really happy with the sharing of the writing. Blogs have made sharing so much easier for my students, and the immediacy of feedback has really inspired some to write more. 

When working with teachers this week I’ve been much more patient.  For the last month or so, I’ve been focused on achieving the school goals, while this is really important, I wanted to focus on each teacher’s perspective and ability this week.  It’s been great so far, I have the goals we set at the beginning of the year, and while we have been progressing, I took this week to review our goals and make some changes.  It’s great to see where they are in applying the SAMR lingo to their lexicon, and even more inspiring to see how redefinition of integration is constantly being modified.

Anyway, a fantastic episode and an inspiring start to the New Year.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by MaRS Discovery District: 

I’m in the middle of blog lessons, and as we start talking about what and how we will write we are delving into digital citizenship. So far what has impressed me most about my student’s interpretations of this idea is that good digital citizenship is basically good citizenship, they just see it as an extension of their normal community.

Thankfully this allows me to talk about integrating good global citizens into my lessons this week. We can talk about what responsibility means to us in a digital and natural world, and how often those things are connected.  Most of my students know what it means to treat their classmates with respect, making that connection to posting pictures of others online makes sense to most of them.  Making the extension that these actions (both positive and negative) last longer online then they do in the classroom can be a difficult concept, but we have looked up the first website, and that makes it possible to see how long things last online (even if they are no longer as relevant as they once were). 
Responsibility to a community is something I feel we need to highlight in these lessons, and I can talk about our responsibility to the natural world as well.  Citing sources is like where we get our resources from. We need to be aware of where these things come from and treat their origins with respect.  Thinking about how we interact with others is extremely important in order to help our community reach its full potential.  
When I think about permaculture principles (the ones we made for the kids, Earth care, People care, Fair Share) I think it is easy to put these ideas into our digital citizenship classes.  I guess what I’m really wondering is how Digital citizenship is different from citizenship, any ideas? 

Coaching Perspectives

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a learning coach.  I try to treat students the same way as I work with teachers, showing them ideas, explaining a concept quickly and having people explore.  Working with each individual at their exploration process to take them to the next step in their discoveries and then sharing our learning.

I want to encourage this model for teaching with the iPads.  Students are all at different levels and have the opportunity to create many different things. This individual focus allows student to achieve their personal best.

When students are working together to meet a common goal that that they had a part in creating I’ve personally seen a much deeper sense of engagement.  They want to know more, they willingly share their work with many others and they are receptive to feedback to create something incredible. 
I think  George Courus mentioned in a conference in Bangkok that this generation of learners publishes first and then edits.  This seems to clash with the teachers who want to edit first before presenting.  I think we need to have teachers open up and not be afraid to make mistakes. We all need to publish, get feedback and improve.  
As a coach, I’m trying to again push this idea of being a beginner and that everything can be edited and changed (even once published).  We need to make sure our whole school community has chances to fail and learn from their mistakes. 

Sustainability and Tech

It is budget time and as I ask for more devices for my students, I wonder about the social and environmental cost behind my request. I’ve seen the videos and heard the horror stories of the “recycling” plants in China and around the world. I worry about the personal cost to people in these situations too, and wonder what is being done about it.

Since our school has started an iPad program I thought I would look into how Apple was thinking about sustainability. Apple says they are committed to transparency and are a member of different third party organizations to confirm this. I started reading their report on sustainable practice.

I guess I realized that everyone wants to be committed to sustainable practice but actual action is harder to take.  From their report it looks like Apple firmly believes in helping their workers (including third party workers) gain fair wages, working conditions and success.  I think all these things are true, but I do wonder about third party monitoring.

Going back to earlier post ideas, I wonder about recycling and design process.  How can we start designing computers and tablets, and whatever else to be fully repurposed.  I heard a program (forever ago it seems) on the CBC about tech designers looking at how the companies would have to be responsible for the waste (it would be included in the price or something) they then started talking about renting equipment.  The point was you could pay the company (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) for a specific package, when the time to renew that package came up the company would take the phone and hopefully reuse the different components to make a new phone or tablet, etc.

Cradle to Cradle has been a focus for me these last couple of weeks, if it doesn’t show.

Cradle to Cradle

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season, gift giving and how those thoughts impact the environment.

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from - http://www.eoi.es/blogs/aitanaleret/2011/12/16/dp2-cradle-to-cradle-waste-food/http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/es/

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from – http://www.eoi.es/blogs/aitanaleret/2011/12/16/dp2-cradle-to-cradle-waste-food/http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/es/

So I bought a back pack for my travels around with this philosophy.

I got it from kickstarter if you want to check it out  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mijlo/a-better-backpack-sustainable-design-sustainable-f.

Anyway, with my focus on permaculture the last couple of weeks as an individual and my focus on design as a teacher this cradle to cradle philosophy has really got me wondering about how we can teach students more about the ideas behind sustainable design.

Taken from Amazon.com

I read this book three years ago, and was really concerned that tech people weren’t buying into this philosophy.  So I want to make lessons that incorporate this idea.  I love the idea of publishing ebooks rather than wasting paper, but we’re still using important resources in order to produce the tech to make the ebooks.

How can we bring the cradle to cradle philosophy to class?

I think a lot about my implicit and explicit teaching.  When I work with students how can I reinforce the idea of sustainable design explicitly and through my implicit actions?  This is my focus for this week: being really aware of how I promote sustainable design.  Any help is more than welcome.

Permaculture Principles

I’ve been reading this book on permaculture recently.  I’ve looked through these ideas before, but one of them really caught my attention this week.

The edge of the Pacific Ocean

To me, especially when teaching, I feel like my colleagues and I don’t do enough of this.  Too often we are trying to really focus on teaching the bulk of students and making the curriculum work. We don’t often look towards the edges of our students.  I also wonder how often we look to the edges of our teaching and learning.  How often are we just looking towards accepted practice rather than trying to try something new?

I do realize that with students we need to make sure we are doing the best we can, and often parents have  a memory of school that they want to see in the classroom.  So, what does teaching on the margins and edges look like?

More than that I guess is what are we doing as teachers to have students look to the edges?  I want students to be able to see the great things that are happening at the edges of our natural worlds and our tech worlds.

I guess more than anything this idea of looking towards the edges really gave me hope on mixing my two passions.  Where two things meet is an opportunity to discover great diversity. Having people who can see two different worldviews (embracing permaculture principles as well design technology) is the way I want our world to exist. I think it is here where design will change the world.

Please message or post about how we can use the edges and margins to enhance education.

Learning group

After school yesterday we had our first meeting for the blogging group.  I’m looking forward to see what my colleagues are doing. Too often I feel like I don’t get to see secondary, understand how they teach, what their focus is, so I’m really looking forward to learning more with this group.

We plan to use the 3-2-1 method, reading three blogs a week, commenting on two and writing one blog post.  Hopefully this inspires our little community. I hope to see it grow.

Truthfully yesterday was already more than what I had expected. We had more people show up then I thought, and people seem to be keen to learn more and contribute. It’s an exciting school when people want to get better, use tech, and inspire students.  Happily for me, some of them are also in the environmental action group we have on campus. It will give me more of a chance to delve into the same questions I have.