Reflections on Project Zero Perspectives: How & Where Does Learning Thrive? at Presbyterian Day School, Memphis (Feb 13-15, 2014) [#PZME #PZextend]
An Unexpected Chord:
Reflections on Facilitation, Learning, and Leadership after #PZME
Two things drew me to the Project Zero Perspectives conference hosted by the Martin Institute at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis last week. The first was the invitation to collaborate with Martin Institute Fellows Philip Cummings, Robert Dillon, Jill Gough, Alice Parker, Meenoo Rami, and Glen Whitman. This proved to be a fantastic experience of generative and dynamic collaboration throughout the conference, gathering around Senior Fellow Grant Lichtman’s table to help shape a number of initiatives that will broaden and deepen the institute’s commitment to ongoing professional development for public and private school educators over time.
Don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel
As an equal can I get this through to you?
…Don’t believe the hype.
- Public Enemy
More talking, less yelling.
- Peter Gow
Thomas Hobson writes regularly stunning blog posts that document both the learning of his preschool students, and his reflections as a preschool teacher. You should follow his blog right now — or, at the very least, his Twitter feed — if you haven’t already done so.
In a recent post Mr. Hobson explores his sense of the appropriate protocols for “circle time” in the preschool classroom: should all children be expected to join the circle, or not? Hobson explains:
The main idea of circle time is to convene the entire community on a daily basis, to set aside a time during which we check in with us, an opportunity to discuss those things that impact us all, with at least the potential of all ears listening and all voices heard.
or “The Power of Backwards Design”
And the point was to provoke thought and discussion…
- Grant Wiggins
The purpose of this post is to document an interruption. I say that as much to focus and to limit my own thoughts – in a haze of outrage occasioned by the betrayal of a seemingly feigned apology — as to ward off critical commentary from folks who may wish to take issue with other implications of my commentary. While you are welcome to disagree with my opinion, and while I will gladly approve and post your civil commentary, my purpose is not to draw attention from other, significantly more important spaces like Tressie McMillan Cottom’s analysis of “shoddy cheap race currency parading as principled intellectualism,” Jose Vilson’s response to “the co-opting of racial language by ‘well-meaning’ progressives,” or Bill Fitzgerald’s documentation of Grant Wiggins’ decision to “delete his way out of his mistake.”
On Sunday, Grant Wiggins — seminal educator and author, on the foundations of whose work many of us are otherwise deeply indebted — offered “a very brief post — a tiny provocation” which he chose to entitle “Apartheid.” In that post he cited a definition of “apartheid,” then imagined what his readers might be asking:
Scribble, scribble, scribble — Eh, Mr. Gibbon?
- King George III
Everywhere that you go, no matter where you at
I said you talk about this, and you talk about that –
When the cat took your tongue, I say you took it right back
…You talk too much. You never shut up!!
Jonathan Martin — an incredible leader of schools, educators, and learning, and a man I’m grateful to consider a personal and professional mentor — suggested to me a couple of years ago that I needed to get more active on Twitter, and to start writing a blog, for the sake of my continued learning and leadership. So I did. Then he suggested that I needed, in both spaces, to ‘come out’ from behind the badge of my school affiliation and to take more risks.
You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @CurtisCFEE
An Overview and Reflections on White Affinity Group Facilitation at the NAIS People of Color Conference
I wish we could start a school with
all the members who attended SDLC & PoCC…
I’m remembering a scene from Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould in which the protagonist, legendary pianist Glenn Gould, pulls off a lonely Canadian highway in the dead of winter, enters a packed roadside diner, and sits by himself at a small table — surrounded by strangers engaged in dialogue with each other at adjacent tables. Anonymous, unrecognized, unknown, he begins to eavesdrop on people’s conversations — first one, and then another — not with any malicious intent, but intrigued by the music of human conversation, emotion, and engagement.
A response to “My Q-and-A with author Dan Pink: Using motivational questioning and more in the classroom” on Tom Whitby‘s blog
There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify
the belief that human societies should structure their behavior
around the demands of the marketplace.
- Chris Hedges
Tom Whitby — unassailably seminal connected educator, and spectacularly prolific and insightful blogger — recently shared Daniel Pink‘s response to a series of questions based on Whitby’s reading of Pink’s latest release: To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. And something in me snapped.
That I had a weirdly emotional reaction to the post — conditioned. no doubt, by a chorus of highly visible, and primarily self-styled virtuosos in the mainstream press who restlessly, recklessly, and willfully foist the ‘logic’ of ‘free markets’ and the language of “buying” and “selling” onto the wholly unrelated discourse of teaching and learning — suggests I might not be fair, either in my reading or in this post, to Pink’s or Whitby’s original representations — and that, no doubt, you should probably read and reflect on the post yourself — “My Q-and-A with author Dan Pink: Using motivational questioning and more in the classroom” — on Whitby’s important blog.
from Participants in the White Affinity Group Sessions at #PoCC13
NOTE: This material was collected by affinity group facilitators from participants, and provided to NAIS leadership to support equity and social justice initiatives however NAIS might see fit. For further information about the context of this exercise in White/European American affinity group work at #PoCC13, please see “475 Short Stories about White Allyship.”
In the relationships that are central to our learning and our lives, we believe that asking good questions is a crucial skill — and that this skill can be taught and practiced. Participants’ continued exploration of white allyship in Session 2 was supported by engagement in a Question Formulation Technique exercise (following protocols developed by The Right Question Institute) in which self-selected groups of five participants generated, analyzed, and prioritized questions about the following prompt:
White allyship is my life-long journey.
Cross-posted from the “Digital Citizenship Week” blog for Curtis School parents and guardians.
As a junior high school administrator 10 years ago, it was easy to separate children’s lives at school from the lives they led at home, and the relationships they developed in ‘real life’ from the relationships they developed ‘online.’ 5 years ago, it was clearer to allxs of us that behaviors off-campus were affecting relationships on campus, and vice-versa, both for well and for ill — and that social interactions rooted in the ‘virtual world’ grew branches, stems, and leaves in the community of students on campus. Nowadays, it would be foolish for a teacher or a school leader to suggest that ‘virtual’ interactions are any less ‘real’ to children than the friendships we see flourish or, occasionally, wither inside or outside our classrooms.
Reflections on the Progressive Education Network‘s National Conference in Los Angeles, October 10-12
— Bo Adams (@boadams1) October 3, 2013
This was precisely my experience of the deepest value of PEN’s gathering in Los Angeles this week: I was less drawn for those three days to sharing my realizations, colleagues’ sound bites, or resource links than to immersing myself in a rare congregation of like-minded educators — and appreciating both the personal connections and relational learning that the conference fostered.
Recently I was having trouble remembering something I’d written in a post this summer, for a five part series Liz Dwyer encouraged me to post on GOOD, exploring “The Purpose of Education.” These were essays adapted with Liz’s support from a series on this blog, “The Root, Stem, Leaves, and Fruit of American Education.” I went bouncing around through the various links on GOOD, and thought it would be helpful for me to list these links in one place — as much for my own reference, as for the potential benefit of anyone else who might be interested in exploring these ideas with me:
I am honored to join Philip Cummings, Robert Dillon, Jill Gough, Alice Maund Parker, Meenoo Rami, and Glenn Whitman as a Fellow of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence. I am particularly proud of the commitments to public-private partnership, and to “leadership as learning,” demonstrated by the Martin Institute, its leadership, and each of the members of this cohort. As explained in the Martin Institute’s press release:
Martin Institute Fellows are invited based on their passion for K-12 learning and their willingness to share ideas with others in the service of professional learning. Martin Institute Fellows have full time jobs as teachers, administrators, or educational consultants. They come from public, charter and private schools. They share the beliefs of the institute that learning is a process founded in questioning, sharing and reflection; that all educators can design and lead rigorous and relevant learning; and that everyone benefits from connected discovery and learning.
Reflections on EdLeader21′s 3rd Annual Event in Chicago, October 2-4, 2013
Not half an hour after my return from another amazing gathering of EdLeader21’s professional learning community in Chicago, my wife and I are discussing our own leadership challenges in our respective schools. In this case, she – the Dean of Students and Dean of Faculty at a Catholic high school – is exploring the ways authentic relationships are essential to the service and support she provides to each of her constituencies. Charged with creating new protocols for faculty evaluation and supervision this year, she has decided that her primary goal is to create constructive and productive relationships with those teachers who may ‘report’ to her from one point view, but whom she considers colleagues first and foremost as co-participants in a collective inquiry about effective teaching and learning in their school.
Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow
the range of thought?… Orthodoxy means not thinking—
not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness…
With reference to the neoliberal education reform agenda, and the new ‘social imaginary’ it has helped to construct, I recently wrote that–
This internalization of neoliberal commitments to the individual achievements of our students and teachers, and the market competition of our schools, is naturalized even in our most informal, everyday conversations about education. It is enforced by many of our classroom practices. It is celebrated in many of our school-wide rituals. But I find it perhaps most disturbing when it frames our thoughts, subconsciously or purposefully, about how to improve our schools.
Salon.com has published a must-read excerpt from Diane Ravitch’s forthcoming Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, in which Dr.
You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @CurtisCFEE
An edited version of this post appears on GOOD as
“The Real Education Reform Choice: Democracy or a Doctrine of Repression“
“The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education:”
Pedagogy, Policy, Politics, & Progressivism
PART 4: PRAY FOR RAIN
The prevailing culture controls the schools and has the power
to use them for its own reproduction… We have to be quietly
persistent in doing things the way we know they should be
done, adopting a form of nonviolent resistance.
- Nel Noddings
That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives
to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the
politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
Struggling numbly to conclude a series of posts I’d promised myself to round out by now (“The Root, Stem, Leaves, and Fruit of American Education”), I have been drawn away from my own thoughts, to a variety of writers whose acuity of insight, and complexity of thought, have left me humbled and inspired. Among these is Henry Giroux, whose recent essay “When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto” should be understood as a “#MustRead” for those who work in schools — or have any hopes, concerns, or fears for them.
In this extended excerpt, Giroux explores the implications of a ‘pedagogy of repression’ that follows, both by design and by consequence, from the raft of neoliberal policy ‘reforms’ that have been imposed upon our country’s schools.
NOTE: This post was updated from a post on July 9th, following the acceptance of workshop proposals for the 2013 NAIS People of Color Conference and the 2014 NAIS Annual Conference.
Last fall, in my final post as conference blogger for the NAIS People of Color Conference (#PoCC12), I asked myself some pressing questions about how best to “Bridge Conversations about ‘Teaching & Learning’ and ‘Diversity & Inclusion’.” I referred to an excellent presentation by Dr. Steven Jones at the fall CFEE conference, in which he forced the matter to a central question: We expect all students to demonstrate proficiency in math . . . Why not in cultural competence? (Watch the presentation here.)
I went on to describe the dilemma as I saw it at the time:
Somehow our collective conversations about diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice – as teachers and leaders, as parents and children, as people of color and white folks — remain relegated to some ‘value added’ territory of affective, environmental, or ‘cultural’ conditions which are understood as secondary to the ‘real’ business of learning.
If it is in fact true that transformative change in our schools will emerge from the ground up, rather than from the top down — if it true, as Sir Ken Robinson affirms, that we are ‘the education system’ — then the basic principles of how best to develop our school’s teaching practices are simple. This week, I got to take the first step on a collaborative journey with our faculty towards developing new criteria and protocols for faculty evaluation and collaboration, which will be developed with and by the faculty as an expression of teachers’ shared commitments, strengths, and goals — rather than by the imposition of an accountability framework from ‘above.’
For a variety of reasons, I have been inspired for a number of years by the idea that our teachers’ professional learning and collaboration should be governed by the same principles and objectives as our students‘ learning and collaboration.
The following post represents entirely personal views that should not be associated with the views of my employer, or any other institution with which I am affiliated.
On Monday, July 1st, Dr. John Chubb officially assumes the presidency of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). One of the most inspired educators and critical thinkers in independent schools, Peter Gow, has encouraged Dr. Chubb to understand the obligations and opportunities of his leadership position in terms we should openly affirm, and upon which should insist. In a #MustRead for all independent school educators, Gow’s “Open Letter to Dr. Chubb” outlines a variety of crucial principles — all of which should guide Dr. Chubb’s leadership; some of which, in my opinion, warrant Huzzahs and Amens:
Challenging Independent School Isolationism and Exceptionalism
“It does not help the rest of American education when exceptionalist claims are made that independent schools are somehow “doing it right,” with the implication that the rest are flailing and failing.
You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @CurtisCFEE
Chris.Thinnes.me is the personal blog of an independent school educator and public school parent. My opinions should not be associated with my employer, or with any other institution or organization with which I am affiliated.
Popular Posts This Month
- An Unexpected Chord: Facilitation, Learning, and Leadership [#PZME #PZextend]
- An Open Letter to the NAIS Board re: John Chubb’s Appointment
- How to Be White (after #PoCC12) – Part 8
- Bridging ‘Teaching & Learning’ and ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ at #PoCC13 & #NAISAC14
- “You are ‘the education system’…”
- “Always Starting with the Children”
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 4]
- Grant Wiggins’ Essential Question about ‘Apartheid’
- Circle Time: A Reflection on Policy & Public Purpose
- 475 Short Stories about White Allyship (at #PoCC13)
- This IS the Plate: School-Wide Goals for Learning at Curtis School
- Opting Out, Revisited
- Reading Comprehension Strategies from Ms. Lockhart's 4th Grade Students
- Driving Questions about White Allyship (#PoCC13)
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 2]
- 45 Minutes, 28 Teachers, 76 Questions: Creating an Environment & Climate Conducive to Learning
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 3]
- Reflections on Popular Posts in 2013 (Chris.Thinnes.me)
- Personal Reflections on Education and Democracy at #PENLA13
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 1]
COMPLETE INDEX OF POSTS
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