Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Remember the Big Picture

It is almost here; you know, the day when you walk back into the familiar building, greet your friends, admire their tans and ask them what they did over the summer. Afterwards, you munch on a few donuts, sit through a few meetings, make sure the photocopier is functional and then reclaim your workspace to ‘plan the year’. For many this means; dust off the pile of worksheets, count the tattered text books and print out your course syllabus. By the day’s end, it feels like summer never happened and you have slipped back into the workspace mode.

But wait; there is another way to begin the year! Instead of (ok, if you must, in addition to) worksheets and textbooks, open up the laptop and find your resources on line. Google books is a good place to start. Upload your course syllabus to a blog, webpage or better yet, a wiki. Learn some new tools and energize your teaching.

Fall in love with teaching again. Remember what your initial vision was whenever you first began teaching. Did you want to change the world, one class at a time? Did you want to help the ‘broken’ ones who did not believe they could learn but you knew they could? Whatever your first dream was that propelled you into the profession, reconnect with that and spend some time nourishing those feelings. Find your comfortable space; the back yard, your oversized chair or where ever you allow your mind to be at rest. Take a trip back and visit that teacher of the first and second years. Honor her calling and congratulate his brave vision. Remember what it felt like in those early years when your students said those magic words that thrill us to the core - “Thank you for helping me”.

Now, open your eyes and come back to 2010. Welcome to the rest of your teaching career; the best part of your teaching life is just around the corner. There has never been a more exciting time to be a learner/teacher than right now. Whatever you can imagine, you can do. Do you want your class to collaborate on a science project with a class in Hong Kong? Check out this site and get on board with Vicky Davis and Julie Lindsay who are connecting students to classrooms around the world and breaking down racial, cultural and economic barriers as their students experience the common humanity of others just like themselves. Do you want to motivate your students with amazing speakers but the logistics of it all are overwhelming? Check out Wetoku or Skype and bring the world to your students. Are you thinking about a new way to teach math? Look at what Eric Marcos is doing with his students, or I should say, what his students are doing as they teach one another math using videos tutorials that they create. If this is not enough and you need more energizing, sit back and marvel at this wonderful teacher who loves writing so much that after her ‘day job’ she teaches from her basement using a Smart Board and Skype. Did I tell you that she’s only twelve, that she published her first book at seven and that her ‘day job’ is being a student in a classroom? Meet Adora Svitak here on on her website and enjoy this short video of Adora at TED.

I met her this summer in Boston at the BLC2010 conference where she spoke about the power of youth leadership. She is amazing.

We teach in amazing times and we can accomplish incredible things. It is a privilege to participate in the growth process of these amazing students. Remember that big picture and as you prepare to return to school. Do not give into the ‘yea but’ voice in your head. Yes, there will be obstacles and yes, learning new ways might be a bit scary but do it anyway. We are already one decade into the 21st century folks. The future of teaching and learning is here. Welcome to 2010!


  1. thanks for reminding me, I think that's what I needed today.


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