The Most Important Thing/Part … of Education

Have you ever read The Important Book by Margaret Wise? It’s a classic pattern book that explores the essentials of anything from a spoon to a daisy starting and ending with The most important thing is

I was reminded of the book as I read Seth Godin’s blog post Tires, Coffee and People. As his post explains the most important part of a coffee is the beans, or of a race car is the tires, an organization people even though at times we can focus on all the extras the grinder for the beans, 4 wheel drive for the car.

It got me to thinking what is the most important part of education? Can I narrow it down to one goal, one skill, one element that stands above all else? I was stuck and perplexed and then I watched Ella Luna’s clip for Soulpancake. She shares how she stood at the crossroads of should and must and despite the risks she dove in to must. That was it! The most important thing about education is that when a learner stands at that crossroads, they know (in every sense of the word from the skills needed to knowing themselves) that they can choose must. For happy healthy citizens, for a better future, we need the next generation to know they can choose must.

Maybe that is too lofty. Maybe the important thing about education is much simpler than that. Maybe it’s just kids. But I think there is a freedom that comes from knowing what our most important thing is. We can then let go of our focus on the new and shiny and see that they are all tools to help us with our most important thing.

What do you think is the most important thing/part of education?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Ella Luna explains the concept of the crossroads of should & must much better in the clip below.

#20hrproject: A Slow Chat #teachersarelearnerstoo

So I made it past the half way mark of the #20hrproject. There are so many take aways even if it is just humbling to realize the difficulty involved in a skill. I have definitely experienced the highs and lows that come from learning. The moments you realize you have been sitting for an hour writing the same 5 letter word to get it just right.As I redid this curved line remembering one of the mentor videos I could hear Kaufmann’s word of “learn enough to self correct” come to mind.

As I was following the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, Debbie included a great one #teachersarelearnerstoo. I think that is what I love so much about creating whether it was the #100dayproject or this one, it puts me in the role of a learner and beginner all at once. It’s easy to forget the excitement, the nerves, the frustrations that come with learning something as adults.

IMG_6852#teachersarelearnerstoo seems pretty simple, but what a powerful statement. Over all the fancy technology, tools and toys it’s the learners’ mindset that is the greatest asset today (and any
century for that matter).Then we got to thinking, whether you are at the beginning of your project, end of your project or haven’t started a project maybe that is a conversation to be had: #teachersarelearnerstoo. We hope you will join us for a slowchat next week. Each day we will post a question or prompt to the #20hrproject hashtag on Instagram & Twitter and hope to spark a conversation of how we each model that we are never too old to learn something new.

Hope to see you online!

#20hrProject: And We Are Off

So it took a while to decide what I would tackle for the 20 hours (read more here). After chatting with Natalie & Debbie and her great post of Kaufmann’s top ten list, I thought hand lettering would be my thing. I always admired the fancy hand crafted cards or art work so why not try it out. So I went out and found some inspiration and resources and got myself started. Pulled out the pens and notebook and got started. Of course now a few days in, I am at the point where I start second guessing myself but that is all part of the process. I’m reminded how great it feels to be learning something new and having the great feedback of colleagues.

Haven’t gotten started yet? No worries. We have lots of time as we tackle our 20 hours before the end of October.

What do you need to do to participate?

  • Choose your skill you are going to learn and tell us! We have folks learning guitar, blogging and pasta making.
  • Share your learning to the #20hrproject hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or your blog. Debbie, Natalie and myself have promised to share at least once a week.
  • Connect with others. Leave them a word of encouragement or a suggestion. You can let us know your details here or let Debbie know so she can add you to the Twitter List.
  • We will celebrate all our great learning at the end of October.

Happy Learning!

It’s Good Enough -The Questions that Remain

Everyone needs that friend that doesn’t just say YES. The friend that calls you out and challenges you to re-think things even if it is slightly frustrating in the moment. Usually by now I have internalized the take away lesson but this time I’m just left with questions.

As I enter into my sixth year as a technology coach, it seemed like a natural time to reflect on the journey. When you first start off, you set up this beautiful slightly utopian vision of where you would like to head. For me it was a mash up of my favourite learning space designs with digital tools and smiling children sprinkled about, all wrapped up in a pedagogy that was meaningful and sparked life long learning. Then came the actual work, the small individual steps. From afar they may seem very distant from the ideal but I believed (believe) they could be part of the path/exploration..

Of course when you are reflecting all the questions pop up. The doubts creep in. Are the small steps still helping or are they getting in the way of moving forward? How do you balance starting where someone is with challenging them to go futher? How do you know how far you can push someone? Can there be a wrong way of helping? And the hardest question of all: Am I getting in the way?

I know I am a little late to the game, but this summer I finally took the time to read the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. As I was writing this blog post the image of the boy and his journey popped in to my mind. Particularly the story of the crystal merchant. If you aren’t familiar with the story the crystal merchant, always hoping and dreaming of one day making his great pilgrimage, gets so used to his everyday routines and comforts he can’t leave. He’s playing it safe. Not willing to take the risk. It’s good enough. The idea of sacrificing the temporary for the long term comes up over and over again through the book and the boys journey. So many times the boy could have stopped and been content but he would have missed the journey.

It got me thinking, am I the boy or the crystal merchant? Am I getting comfortable in the routine and the small moments that I’m losing site of the pilgrimage?

I don’t ever want to say ‘It’s Good Enough’.

New School Year, New Adventure-20 Hour Project

I loved everything about #the100dayproject even on days that the process wasn’t as enjoyable. So knowing how crazy the start of a new school year can get I thought why not do a 100 day project. So I had it all planned out. I would blog every day for a 100 days. Then panic set in. Taking a picture every day was hard enough, blogging takes me hours. There is no way I could keep that up for 100 days!

I knew I wanted to stay with creating, I enjoyed the daily practice/pause and loved the benefits of doing it with a community. Luckily I stumbled upon Paige Couros’ post and her 20 hour project. Panic subdued slightly. Paige shared Josh Kaufman’s TED TALK on the power of the first 20 hours. In his clip he shares how those first 20 hours help us go from ‘grossly incompetent’ to ‘reasonably good’ (aka his learning curve). The steps seemed simple: 1. deconstruct the skill; 2. learn enough to self correct; 3. remove practice barriers; 4. practice at least 20 hours.

20 hours I could do. 

IMG_6514.PNGSo I quickly tweeted @debbieaxiak & @natschneider and they said they were game (couldn’t do it without them). So here it goes. Another crazy project-Focusing on Blogging. I do feel like I’m cheating slightly because it isn’t a skill I know nothing about (hopefully) but definitely something I want to improve upon. I want to focus on sharing more broadly, in a variety of formats. Luckily I know some great bloggers out there and am reading Austin Kleon’s book Share your Work. It may not be quite 45 minutes daily but I was reminded of Ella Luna’s book the Crossroads of Should & Must where she says it’s ok to just take those 10/15/20 minutes a day. It is September so I’m not going to rush. I’m hoping to get going mid September and share through the end of October.

What will your 20 hour project be? The beginning of the school year is always so busy. We have our long to do list and expectations but what is that One Thing you want to learn? Is it to tweet, Instagram or create a weekly podcast? Is it to run like Paige, play Ukulele like Josh or paint like Debbie? Maybe it is to start a blog.

So join in!

  • Choose your One Thing you will learn.
  • Find a buddy (don’t skip this step, it makes life so much easier)
  • Share your learning with the group! I will be using the #20hrproject hashtag but we will hopefully share over food in real life too.

I’d love to hear what you will be learning, as well as suggestions or feedback on my 20 hour project. If you have a few minutes and want to fill out the Google Form to help us stay connected or leave a comment below.

Happy learning!

Confession: I am not Wonder Woman Pt. 2

Some lessons are harder to learn than others. 

After a gentle push that we all have something to share, two years ago I blogged Confession: I am Not Wonder Woman. It was the first time I really experienced how therapeutic writing this blog could be (also how long it could possibly take to write a few paragraphs). So am I less busy? Well it may not seem so sometimes but it has become the lesson I can’t avoid. From MEd courses on Mindfulness in Education and #the100dayproject I realize I am slowly taking the time for those small steps and trying to let myself say NO once or twice. Still a long long way to go, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.

But I noticed a different side of the Wonder Woman Syndrome creep in.

It is amazing to be in a profession where there are so many role models, educators doing AMAZING things from creating apps to keynoting conferences to publishing their work. You look up at these inspiring superhero figures and sometimes all you can do is have that fan girl experience like a 5 year old. How do they do it? How do they balance it all? And then the doubt starts creeping in, even just for a second. Should I be doing more? Am I putting my ideas out there? Maybe I’m not meant to be the superhero, maybe I’m just meant to be the sidekick or ‘hair and make up’. I’m good at the behind the scenes, the connecting, the sharing.

And just when you think you learned a lesson, there’s more.

I thought that was where the lesson would end, battling the questions of whether I was just too chicken or wanting to be something I was not. Then last week I had a few experiences that got me thinking. I wondered if folks at times, even for just a split second, may look at me with that same fan girl expression of awe and intimidation I had experienced. Suddenly I realized that maybe we all are heroes looked up to for a moment in time by our colleagues, our students, or family.

The Take Away

Maybe the take away is to remember to share the person behind the mask, the good and the bad. Or maybe the take away is that it is ok to be our own version of a super hero.

I may not be the image of Wonder Woman, but to someone at the right time I may be just enough hero.

ALL Speeds Ahead – Lessons on Change from the Ocean

IMG_6083The last time I was on the East Coast I reflected on Waves, their Power and Lessons on Change. So this time as I stood at the ocean edge with the freezing waves at my toes and sea glass in my hand it was hard not to reflect. Was I remembering to focus on the beauty formed over time with the sea glass or longing for the big photo worthy waves?

I kept thinking about the sea glass and wondering about change.

It didn’t hit till we were touring old war ships in the Halifax harbour. As we climbed the stairs and started our tour of the ship we came to the bridge and the Engine Order telegraph (ok, I had to get some help with that one). To be honest it was the old print and shiny casing that caught my eye. Through the lens I noticed the various speeds, imagining the boat barreling through open waters at full speed. It’s the ideal picture we often create of change, full speed IMG_2203ahead, no looking back.

I would have seen full speed ahead as the ideal for but over the two weeks my dad had roped us in to binge watching The Last Ship. Not necessarily quality viewing but definitely addictive and informative (for this post). Depending on the conditions, the purpose, and crazy hurdles that kept popping up in the show, different speeds served a different purpose. Sometimes it was necessary to just stop and be still in the pursuit of moving forward, using a slow speed to navigate the reefs, and other times it was full speed ahead. Even through the dramatics of the show, I wondered if the same could be true of change. Was I making the best of the various speeds of change or rushing to push the dial to full speed? Maybe sometimes we need to go half speed ahead so we can hone the skills a little more. Maybe we need to slow down to see what path is best next to get us to our final destination and sometimes we come to those calm open waters and it is full speed ahead.

It seems like every time I’m at the ocean’s edge I’m reminded that change is often not a quick endeavour. It’s a long journey with twists and turns, requiring a great navigator that isn’t focused solely on speed.

I may slip a piece of sea glass in my pocket this year so I have that small reminder to remember time. Here is hoping for a year at ALL speeds ahead.

Love to hear your thoughts!