i c u

Hello teacher candidate. I have been thinking a lot about you this week.

To be honest, I think about you often in the last month of school. There is something about the energy at the end of the year that makes me nostalgic. I think about do overs and do no mores and new beginnings.

I have seen you once or twice in the hallways, staff meetings and meant to connect with you. See how you’re doing. Whatcha up to?

But, I’m going one way, you the other.

Each with some pressing task to complete.

Now with the summer upon us, I really do wish that I had made a greater effort to make time for you. Just to sit for a bit, share resources, trade stories. Relate.

I feel lousy that I looked busy because I’m not really sure that I was.

Sometimes I was just ‘hustlin with paper in hand’. Not really in the moment. Not really minding the gaps. In automatic transition.

We all have stuff to do, yet at the end of the year I wonder is it always the right stuff.

Besides wrapping up this school year; the reports, the cleanup, the archiving. I also start to lean forward into the next school year. So many possibilities, so little time to map out a reasonable plan. And I suspect that September will arrive, like always, in the same Navy Seal sneak attack pandemonium that it does every year. I emphasize LIKE IT DOES EVERY YEAR. 

Blindly, I fall into the over planning trap every summer. And I am tripping into the trap line every June. So, in September, I have a whole lot of stuff that may or may not be en pointe because my planning has not met my students yet.

So, unofficially my summer will be spent imagining new paths, resting, relaxing, getting bored, and still trying to get life stuff done.

What are you up to?

Degree, done. Faculty of Ed, done. 60 days from now you will have officially arrived – an occasional, part time, or full-time teacher.

What are you feeling?

My dad once told me that 1 year of work-world equals 10 in school. In his view, textbooks and lectures got you to the door with a random set of keys. Too many to count, too little time to examine them all.

You may have felt this reality in one or both of your practicums.

He riffed on this idea whenever he was involved in hiring new team members. Other times, it was when he was nostalgically accounting for his humble beginnings with the bank.

I started with the bank, in the mailroom, right out of highschool … now I hire business graduates to do the same job.

Pete Cluff – on job competitiveness

When he reflected on the value of experiential learning to his success he accepted open mindset in its fullest form. And I have come to appreciate the power of taking risks because of it.

I often said yes before I fully understood what I was getting into.

Pete Cluff – on risk

My dad upgraded or upskilled with surgical precision. His continued learning and growth mindset was the edge he had on his competition. And he always knew the where and what of the next wave of change because he was generally standing in water chest deep, watching the white caps forming in the distance.

This approach served him well. He choked on a wave or two but somehow managed to swim with sharks throughout his career. This brings to mind the vastness of the invisible bits in teaching. Some just below the surface, though not necessarily sharklike, can still surprise and nip.

Had I sat with you, I would have shared a word or two about wellness, and mindfulness, and community. All are powerful repellents for EDU bug bites. All are bits of me that only connect over lunch time chats and coffee runs to Tim Horton’s. These micro structures build immense internal supports in my EDU world and could for you too.

I really wish I had shared them with you.

For now, I leave you with this.

Tina Zita @tina_zita  posted a great question about teacher leadership on her FlipBoard    https://flipgrid.com/ead74d and in my response I proposed that leadership means openly and obviously stepping into uncomfortable spaces, learning on the fly to fly, and maybe even supporting others in the process when you are not completely sure of the destination.

I plan to take my own advice and meet you in September.

I challenge you to do the same.



next gen 3/3 [collision 3]

Image result for three

I have not engaged with big picture EDU in a responsive and responsible manner.

And to get global in my pedagogy, I will ned a mentor.

I became aware of the U.N.’s Global Goals back in September. I thought connecting a newly formed TED-Ed Club with these elements would be awesome.  Somewhere between merging constant connection with global connectedness, I let the goals fall to the wayside.


Seemed like a big bold leap to get the kids inspired in their TED-Ed thinking. And it would have been great. The problem was, well, me.

I didn’t do my homework. I didn’t have a depth in delivery. I couldn’t see the necessary bread crumbs to bring the big picture within reach of the students.

In short, I did not prepare well.

And I did not return to them.

The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. — Jean Piaget, 1896-1980, Swiss developmental psychologist, philosopher

In my head and heart, I know that I want to move my conversations in EDU to a larger scale. I also crave to bring more of that world into the classroom. But I am unsure of what to ask, or who to ask.

So far, I have had several frustrating episodes of surprisingly paradoxical disconnection with my PLN. This is the irony of a bigger silo I guess, where the questions I was pursuing could not be answered with my current set of resources.

There are plenty of challenges in my board that need attention. But the bulk of the heavy lifting can be done locally with the resources available. For now, I feel like I should spend time reconnecting global goals with my local pedagogy. Look at bigger and broader challenges. The kinda challenges that are beyond my silo.

next gen 3/3 [collision 2]


My learning spaces need [re]consideration.

In a previous life I would have sat through a two hour PD session, then probably bemoaned my aching back afterward.

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from Make Space – Doorley & Witthoft

I also probably would have, in some way, evaluated the quality of the PD by how my head and body felt afterward.

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Then I would have been judgy, that somehow the overall quality of PD needs to be changed, personalized, or updated.

All of these positions are flawed. All passive-aggressively critique from the sidelines. And all of these are completely alien to my personal pursuit of professional development.

The professional development moments that I have chased on my own this year have been intrinsically motivated. And the awesome I found is always pretty much smorgasbordian.

But that is me driving the bus.

I learned when and where according to best fit. I found my why and often many other people’s why as well. And in doing so, I feel like my expanded and supported views of EDU equally helped me to help others as for myself.

When I reflect on the learning spaces that I have created for my students, I’m feeling underwhelmed.

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I really do believe that all learning is personalizable. Up to now, that meant how the curriculum is approached, rarely have I explored the positive impact this could have on learning spaces. Going into 2017-18, I will be rocking the phrase ‘nothing’s precious‘ -striving to shift through my comfort zone to see the unintentional outcomes of weak learning space design and push forward with as many student-centered design decisions as possible.

next gen 3/3 [collision 1]

I am still in a silo.

AND the digital reach that I have pursued has not yet broken me out of it.

FullSizeRenderI am reminded of this daily, I guess in a good way, with every PD session I attend outside of my school board and with every podcast and with every virtual high five I see on Twitter.

My exploration of the outer reaches of EDU has always provoked new thinking and despite some differences, it is still unfortunately easy to find the similar.

Sometimes, I notice that I have just stepped into someone else’s silo. Bigger maybe, but still a silo. I feel kinda okay with this. Kinda. Mostly because my search is not over. Every time I reach out into my PLN I try to include more views, angles, dissonance, inspiration. However, the monochromatic nature of my sources has got to change. What am I missing? Who am I missing? Why did I miss it/them?

I found a bunch of post-its stuck -in-silo reflections at the bottom of my book bag, the scrap thoughts follow …

…build a silo, then add a window, skylight, deck, a garden, doors, add a playspace, invite people over, go visit friends, take some time to sit outside … maybe forget your keys, wander the neighbourhood … 

Building a brand is dangerous, I have noticed how ideas start to close rank, replicate, congratulate, and wither when a book deal hits social media. 

Dissonance is a necessary tension for deep learning.

Time away from EDU builds better thoughtfuel and imaginative mind traps to capture new views in the wilds.


next gen 3/3 [admission]

I feel like a whole lot of random is shaking out of this ‘end of year’ moment. Things that I thought I would keep doing  I am suddenly less than happy to continue and other odd pieces are rising back up into my view. [check out my flipgrid questions]

All in all, it seems like, in addition to my disquieted mind I feel a change happening. It feels like nerves, or like an empty stomach grumble.

Internal. Primal. Uncontrollable.

And even though I often approach the even-keeled reliability of ‘truth’ with healthy skepticism, I am off balance enough right now to crave some truth.

So I’ll toss that comfort to the wall.

See what sticks.

Here’s where I am ending the school year.

Maybe these are only my truths for right now.

Or they are just my current provocations.

I do know that any collisions with my pedagogy will level-up my game.

In no particular order…



next gen 2/3

siloThere’s a shifty futurist mindset rooting itself further and further into my POV on education. Often as I sit in staff meetings, class activities, and casual convos my brain time travels. This has happened previously, but now I am mostly casting forwards instead of back. Tumbling forwards might be a better way to put it.

The signals surrounding EDU are telling me that the culture and community expect us, insiders, to start doing things differently and these expectations are starting to stack up. Some of the signals are lightly tapping on the window and others beating at the door. Regardless, ignoring them, for me, has become impossible.

Earlier this year I was able to put some of these imaginings into a presentation for PK Markham.  The suggestions were primarily tools that promote cracking open some of the paradigms in education – credit acquisition, hours of study, and alternative accreditation were a few of my play pieces. All in all, the PK was firmly pressing towards aggressive customization of learning.

There are definite signals surrounding EDU telling me that the culture and community expect us on the inside to start doing things differently…

Most of my suggestions were options that I exercised at some point in my portfolio. And all of the suggestions were grown out of options that already exist in EDU – just hacked to be used in a different fashion.

So, on that note, this just happened… How Google took over U.S. Classrooms, and my brain started to frizzle. It seems like a dispatch from the future, and it reminds me of a conversation that I had with a colleague almost 6 years ago.

At the time I was using a non-edu-domained Google Drive to share and collaborate with my students, and a fellow teacher challenged this practice as unsafe and insecure. I couldn’t agree or disagree with his position; honestly, I had no salient understanding about digital privacy issues, but I did feel as if I was on to something that was helping in my classroom. At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.convergence

Some of my students adapted to the collaborative space quickly, others remained bound to paper tools. Regardless, the Google apps like Slides and Docs allowed for reasonable academic shortcuts to occur between digital and analog learning styles. It also allowed for me to exist inside the students’ binders and learning experiences in a way that was previously inaccessible.

At the time GSuite was just a tool. Now I get the naivete that I am falling on. Google has never been just a tool. But in my class it was.

And I felt then as I do now that the tool got more students moving in a similar direction – towards learning. The platform was relatively unadorned as few apps or extensions existed at the time. I did not stop supporting the students who chose to remain on paper. I did not openly advocate for the sole use of Google Apps. But, also, I was not overly concerned with the growth of Google, since it existed outside of our EDU domain.goog

It still seemed kinda experimental, disruptive, fringy even.

And honestly, in regard to the Google takeover of EDU, I am at peace with sheer volume of intellectual property that they house and I am equally at peace knowing that despite my better judgement I have given Google access to my private details.

But Google has taken over…[?]

What gets to me is the suggestion that there is nothing we can do about it. Google in itself is not education. Also, Google does not define our current needs in education. It is only a tool for education. Google would probably argue differently.

I often think about the Privacy Paradox illuminated so well by Note to Self Podcast on NPR. The paradox for educators occurs when ed-tech convinces us of its benign-ness and that a single story is best. The one note headline rattles me as much as other singular ‘awesome’ titles like Twitter for PD or Voxer for book clubs or GSuite for Education. There is no one-way to do education. And I am bugged by spokespersons and brand agents that are still teaching in classrooms.

I crave disruption methods that keep the silo from growing up around me. It is not so easy to jump ship and expect that the tide will bring you back to shore. Often the distance can seem dangerous and impossible to traverse. Are random views enough? Should I  continually seek another tool to support or disrupt my learning? Try more not less. Commit to none. Get outside of my backyard? Yard sale my silo?

Is it that simple?

next gen 1/3

One time, in the middle of an ed -tech camp, I heard a colleague mention that 18th and 19th-century learners probably thought their skills were modern as well. The presenter had just huffed through a detailed pitch for a new app that could potentially revolutionize learning to the nth degree. My colleague, ever the skeptic and always the smart ass was doubtful, to say the least. But his point was entirely en pointe.

I heard a colleague mention that 18th and 19th-century learners probably thought their skills were modern as well.

My school board is in the midst of a reformation where the ‘new’ is tagged as 21st century and or modern learning. And much of what gets perceived as ‘new’ is wrapped in an app, device, or tech tool. I won’t debate whether the ed-tech is a refresh or rewire on teaching [or both, sometimes], but  I can admit from the inside that I am officially suffering through ed-tech-fatigue. I have played with ed-tech for some time now – early adopting, getting messy, and supporting others’ explorations. And all of this ed-tech sandboxing has lead me into two stark realities.

  • I am officially tired of tech-driven edu-conversations.
  • I am officially invigorated by hunting down the signals of change in edu.

I won’t debate whether the ed-tech is a refresh or rewire on teaching [or both, sometimes], but  I can admit from the inside that I am officially suffering through ed-tech-fatigue.

The buzz that I have begun to tune into is coming from places where tech may or may not be accelerating the learning and the most modern element is around conceptual frameworks, like change, and equity, and learning and integration.

What if the silos opened outward?

But, before I settle into the breakdown of these ‘old school’ elements. I gotta take some time to figure the nature of these signals. What is the point, in understanding the point of origin? And why am I noticing them now?

beyond binders 9 bio

beyond binders 7 pd