Problem finding and problem solving

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The Problem is Not Climate Change; the Problem is Irrational Thinking

I rarely use this space to discuss themes that might be interpreted as political.  If the reader interprets this post as political, they are missing the point.  This post is about history, knowledge, what we do with knowledge, and the utterly unique role that education plays in that sequence. In the last week I read [...]

Reunion With a Teacher-Hero Who Taught Us to Learn

The great transformation in which education is engaged in the first quarter of this 21st century is simply this: we are changing our focus from what we teach to how we learn.  Forward leaning schools are shifting, in the words of Bo Adams, from teaching organizations to learning organizations.  Perhaps most of all, we are [...]

Are You Talking Honestly About Grades?

As you start the new school year, here is another thought that should creep into the school's organizational consciousness and bug the heck out of you: Are we measuring what we really value in our students?  Most teachers spend an enormous amount of time calculating a grade that they believe represents something, or at least [...]

Can Simple Rules Overcome Fear of the Unknown?

Can a few simple rules guide our personal and professional decision pathways?  Can they help alleviate the fear that I am going to leap into a bottomless chasm of future uncertainty?  Can they get us past the chokepoints of inertia that stand in the way of following a true passion? I think so.  A few [...]

No, I Will NOT Tell You What I Want From You!

After a day of workshopping this week, a teacher gave me some honest feedback. “You need to be more clear on the questions you ask. It wasn’t really clear what you wanted us to do or what you were looking for.” After thanking the teacher for this honest and helpful feedback, another teacher at the [...]

Simple Rules: An Important Step in School Transformation?

Here is something I bet we can all agree on: simple is almost always better than complicated. What if we could take those messy problems at our schools that always seem to circle back on us, that confound us with inertia, dead ends, and multiple stakeholder turf battles, and find some simple guidelines to sort [...]

Students Rising to the Unknown

Once in a while I get the pleasure of working deeply with students, asking the adults to sit back and watch how their students expand and rise to unbounded, untested, unknown mini-challenges.  That was the kind of day we had at the Shipley School last fall; here are just a few minutes out of our [...]

The Junction of “Surprise” and “Ah-Ha”

What if school was primarily a place where students and teachers co-searched for surprises? We often find the best ideas, the most creative solutions, the profitable surprises, not in the expected, the well-trodden, the known, but in the outliers, the untested, and the unusual.  Maybe they have been passed over by others because they are partially [...]

What Student Ownership of Learning Looks Like: A Remarkable Day at The Shipley School

What does student ownership of learning look like? How do even young students rapidly engage when given the freedom to ask expansive questions? Do students really need to start at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy before building to abstraction and synthesis? Do we even begin to tap the insights of students that would contribute richly [...]

Adding to My Classroom Innovation Toolkit

What does a transformed and deeper learning experience look like, and how can schools move intentionally in that direction?  Last year I was honored to co-present a session at NAIS with Bo Adams in which I focused (in a general sense) on the strategic or organizational side of this coin, and Bo focused on the [...]