Monday, February 25, 2013

An Evening with Chris Lehmann

This past Tuesday I had the fortunate pleasure of attending the fourth of my school districts digital dinner series. In usual style we first had presentations from  teachers from our local schools. I really like this part of the evening because I get to learn what is happening where I work.  Sharing the good practice that is happening in schools near by motivates others like me to give it a try too.  There is a lot of great teaching and learning happening in my school district.

 Anne-Marie Middleton and Ryan Hong  from Hillcrest Elementary shared their journey with assessment for learning and how it has transformed the learning and teaching in their classroom.  JB Mahli and Michael Moloney shared their story of using eTexts in Social Studies at the high school level and the positive impact it has had on student learning.  All four presenters are people I highly respect so it was great to hear them speak to such a larger crowd.

After dinner we all settled in to listen to Chris Lehmann.  He started this presentation by talking about his family and the experiences his own children were having at school.  It made me sad to know that his young son does not like going to school. As a grade one teacher that is just so wrong on so many levels.  It made me feel very lucky to work in the country, province, school district, and school that I work in.

He talked about the vision that schools should have.

Schools need to be caring institutions .

We don't teach subjects or grades we teach kids and that must be at the forefront of everything we do in our classes. He said when you put your subject first that is what is most important.  I work very hard to put my students first. I genuinely care about my students and I am constantly letting them know that.  I think as a grade one teacher it's pretty easy to do though. It should be easy to do at any level though and I know there are a ton of amazing teachers in my school district doing exactly that. But it was important for all of us to remember to put our students first, and our content/subject/grade level second.

Our role as teachers has changed because most "content" can be googled.  He talked about the fact that we no longer have to deliver content, but we need need to mentor our students by listening more and lecturing less.  I am working hard to do this in my classroom, and I will continue to work on it with my adult relationships too.  Sometimes I know that I have so much running around in my head that I miss what is being said to me.  I definitely need to listen more.

He went on to talk about collaboration and  how it works.  That's an easy sell for me. Since joining twitter in July 2011 and becoming a connected educator I am a way better teacher because of the networking and collaboration  with my wonderful #1stchat crew.  Those amazing educators continue to inspire me on a daily basis and both my students and I are luckier because of this.

Chris talked about how schools should be places of passion and reflect real life.

One thing I've been thinking about lately is the concept of the integrated day, or a day that makes sense.  So often I wish my kidlets and I could decide when we want to take a break and be far less dictated by a bell schedule.  It seems so artificial for us to have to stop our learning because a bell tells us such.  It reminds me of a time earlier in the year when we took part in a Discovery Education live on-line session about amphibians.  The session took us right through recess yet my students didn't really even notice the bell.   I think some days there are just way too many distractions around my classroom and I need to find ways to limit them as best as I can.  Why can't we work over recess if we're on a good role? Or better yet why does recess have to be scheduled and structured?  And my students learner support, how can we better structure it so that it works with the rest of our classroom program? Things are changing, and will continue to change. That is the only constant.

I also like Chris's recent posts on technology which he also talked about.  Technology  should be like oxygen - ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.  I have been very fortunate this school year to have access to a lot of technology in my room. For my students it is a huge part of their day, yet they are never required to use it. My young learners surprise me constantly with the ways they are using technology to learn, show, and share their knowledge. Check out their individual blogs. Most things put on them are created and uploaded independently by them. They are deciding how to show the world what they know, and what they want the world to know about them and their learning. That's powerful stuff when you're six or seven.

Chris ended his presentation by reminding us that we really have four main goals  to teach our students. We want them to be thoughtful (as in full of thought), wise, passionate, and kind.

While I've tried to write about my evening with Chris Lehmann I really have barely scratched the surface of what he spoke about.   I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to listen to him speak and I hope some time in the future I will be able to learn from him again.  In the mean time I'll keep checking out his blog and I recommend that you do too.

1 comment:

  1. You are right, Karen. We are fortunate to work and learn where we do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and once again pushing my thinking. Creating & sharing with the world is powerful for our students yes, but it is also powerful for me!