Personal Goal for this Reflection: Have the entire post done in less than 30 minutes. Ready? Set. Go!
1) OBSERVE – “Looking back, what pleasant surprises did I discover this week?”
I’m changing this to “impressed with” instead of “surprised” because it’s my reflection and I can do what I want with it :-)
I’m incredible impressed with the visible showcasing that two LS Connections teachers are doing. Eileen Fennelly in Science Lab, and Brittany Schmutzler in Performing Arts, are covering both the walls and the interwebs with student work. They are setting great examples of ways to make student learning visible, and showing how they can help students see themselves as applying knowledge to make an impact. The Student Spotlight videos and the work in the gardens, which will no doubt find it’s way onto the plates of students in the dining hall, are two fabulous examples of the great work these two are doing with the kids at MVPS.
— Brittany Schmutzler (@B_Schmutzler) September 9, 2016
— Eileen Fennelly (@eileen_fennelly) August 31, 2016
2) REFLECT – “What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week?”
The lesson that comes to mind is related to leadership, and an action that Shelley Clifford took during one of our LS Admin meetings.
I was tasked with uploading the new learning standards that Nicole Martin had worked with various teams to create, into our student learning system so that the electronic gradebooks could be activated. Finding the time to get that work done was extremely scarce. So in one of our weekly meetings, Shelley put aside the non-essentials from the agenda so that time could be dedicated to completing this task. It was exactly what was needed because by the end of the hourlong meeting, the task was complete and the gradebooks were up.
The lesson for me was how valuable it is to give people on your team the time they need to get things done, especially when time is so valuable a resource. I wonder how I can make that same space available for the various teams that I lead?
3) FOCUS – “Are my short-term efforts and my long-term goals still aligned?”
I still believe so. I have emphasized goals around my administrative duties this year, and a big part of that is helping the people I supervise reach their goals. So for instance, Juliette Minutaglio wants to grow her knowledge, understanding and skills in the maker-centered learning domain of her responsibilities as Media and Maker Manager – something I’ve written about before in my reflections. So help make this possible, we are changing the routine of her coming into classes from reactive to proactive. We will be getting together to co-plan a weeklong lesson for second grade so she can get a better look “under the hood” of the decisions that go into preparing these experiences, and so she can identify the tools/skill/software/etc that she needs to be competent with in order for her to be comfortable leading that lesson.
Then we’ll set up a time for her to facilitate those lessons! :-)
4) BE PRODUCTIVE – “What could I have spent more or less time doing?”
This is always a tough question for me right now because I’m seeing everything as being important. And when everything is important, perhaps that means nothing is important. Alex Blumencranz shared a great suggestion with me regarding my list of to-dos. She said, “Make an ordered list of the top 20 things that you have to do. Then cross off the bottom 19.” She’s right of course, because it establishes a priority.
If I really had to ask myself, “What took up more time than it should have?” I would probably say the amount of time I spent working with people in my digital PLN. A lot of questions came to me this week about makerspace set up and outfitting, plus there was a particularly large amount of response to my Twitter shares that needed attending to… particularly from the saying “Thank you” end of things.
@JimTiffinJr 早晨 (jóusàhn) from the Fragrant Harbour!
— Brian C. Smith (@briancsmith) September 9, 2016
It is such a point of tension for me because I firmly believe in modeling for others how to be a contributing learner instead of just a consuming learner, and I have a responsibility to share from both my MVIFI and MVPS roles. The way to settle this tension would be adjust the timing of it, like Alex suggested, by determining the priority – still cultivate that PLN, but know where it sits amongst the other items to do.
5) HAVE COURAGE – “How did fear and uncertainty affect what I did and didn’t do?”
I can’t say that there was any fear or uncertainty that played into this past week. Pausing for a moment to think back through the week – even though I’ve already had to reset that 30 minute timer once :-/ – I cannot find a moment where that happened.
Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
6) CLEANSE – “What mental clutter can I clear?”
I don’t want to call it clutter because of the negative connotation around that word, but I would have to say my MVIFI blog post is what I can clear out of my head. That has been something that has been rattling around in my head for a while in a bunch of divergent thoughts, so collecting it all into a solitary written work was quite a bit of hard fun for me. That’s one of the same reasons that I enjoy presenting at conferences – getting all of my ideas together in an organized, presentable fashion. Bo Adams shared a quote with me (that I won’t get exactly right here), from someone famous (that I also can’t remember), but it had to do with “writing down what I’m thinking helps me know what it is that I am actually thinking.” This was exactly what this post did for me, and I’m entirely grateful for the opportunity to write it, but it certainly was taking up a lot of cognitive resources for me these past few weeks… and I really don’t have that much in the way of resources to begin with. :-)
I am glad to have that done.
And the timing couldn’t be better, especially since I now have to start working on my World Maker Faire presentation! ;-)
7) BEGIN ANEW – “What is the first logical step for next week?”
Getting off on the right foot for me will be adjusting to the new family schedule. Religion classes have now been added into the weekly mix, along with new soccer games for the youngest ones. A re-balancing of my Rocks and Sands is probably called for.
Drat! Didn’t make my 30 minute goal… took 62 minutes to write this. I could have trimmed it if I had made fewer hyperlinks and embeds, but I find those valuable to readers for sharing the stories in the post. I wonder if that assumption of value for the reader is true? I wonder if 30 minutes is reasonable or not? We’ll try again next week.
The genesis of this reflective post comes from an experiment that Bo Adams invited a group of MVPS leaders to be a part of. His hypothesis in the experiment revolves around the idea that the process of regular reflection by learners, student or faculty, can produce remarkable positive learning results. That, in and of itself, is not a new belief.
Where the twist comes in is making it a regular occurrence, as opposed to just after a major event – or in a student’s case, when a project, test or unit of study is completed.
Essentially, what if regular reflection was an “assignment”, or some other form of home learning? How might this practice of reflection become habitual and motivated by intrinsic value? By doing this as lead learners, what empathetic insights might we gain to better enable us ask others to take on this practice? Or might we discover that we shouldn’t ask them?
To guide our reflections, Bo shared with us these seven questions shown to the right.
They are based on a post written by Mark Chernoff on their site Hack Life. I highly recommend reading the post to help unpack the thoughts and motivations behind these seven questions.
Well, consider this post my way of getting my homework done so I can participate in the class discussions to follow. :-)
Images in this post, but not shown in the Image Credits section, are my own.