Well, folks. It’s been a long time since last published a blog on this personal blog, but in the words of one of my favorite current musicians, Macklemore, who I was fortunate to see in concert last week…. “You know I’m back, like I never left.”
I’d like to begin my return to this blog with a reflection on my last month of learning and have us consider how we can create similar circumstances for ourselves and our students during the school year, not just in the summer.
This month I have been fortunate to participate in various summer learning opportunities at the MASS Superintendent conference, MSAA Principal conference, and during our district’s leadership retreat. In addition to conferences, I’ve entered Voxer group chats, re-engaged with podcasts on my long walks, spent more time on articles from Twitter, and started to tackle my tower of books on my bedside table, I am definitely feeling rejuvenated and back fully in the “learning zone.”
In reflecting on the past month and trying to capture the environmental factors or conditions that helped me to dive deeper into the zone of learning, I have identified five areas that have supported my personalized learning: Flexible learning spaces, Agency, Balance, Supportive Network, and Space for Risk-Taking.
1. Flexible learning. My learning has taken place on beaches, in conference rooms, at dinner tables, over Twitter and Voxer, at work, at home, or while walking in my neighborhood.
2. Agency. I have had agency to pursue any topics, approaches, books, workshops that I want to learn more about or were passions I want to follow. I have had an array of choices and the autonomy to determine the best fit.
3. Balance. I have been more productive and focused in my learning because of the greater balance of work, family, and personal health that the summer has allowed. Long walks and runs bring clarity. Quality time with family and friends instill meaning in the work.
4. Supportive Network. I pride myself in surrounding myself with innovative thinkers, educational leaders willing to take risks, and friends who laugh with me (and at me). Through building an extensive network at various conferences, and then through social media, I have access to on-the-spot support and resources on topics ranging from SEL to PBL, from some of the most enthusiastic and collaborative folks around.
5. Space for Risk-Taking. This summer allowed for the space needed to take some risks either in my personal life in doing things out of the norm like learning to fish or hiking a mountain,
as well as presenting some crazy presentation titles such as “Maybe it is time to throw the baby out with the bathwater” regarding school change or “Making curriculum sexy again” which was about how we need to take a look at what we are keeping, discarding, and creating in curriculum. Sometimes…. a little risk can bring great rewards.
Here is a question for all of us as we think about our approach to the next school year:
- How can we create the same conditions for learning for our students where they have flexible learning opportunities, agency in their learning, balance with school, home, and health, a supportive network, and a space to take risks?
I welcome your thoughts and approaches on how you plan to create these environments for the next school year, leading our students to say at the end of their school year…“I had a blast learning.”