Earlier this month I was so excited to be a part of our district’s early years conference and it wasn’t just for the food trucks (but seriously how can it not be awesome when you have food trucks!). It’s the one conference a year that always pushes my thinking around what an adult learning experiences could look/feel like and this year was no different. As attendees came they were invited to explore the various playscapes around the building, designed and facilitated by awesome early years educators.
Invitations & Provocations are something the early years team has been exploring for awhile now and we can see brave educators take the idea to more grade levels. If you are unfamiliar Louis Jupp in her blog defines the terms invitation and provocation as the following:
Invitation – something that encourages someone to do something or that makes something more likely to happen; written or spoken request for someone to go somewhere or do something.
Provocation – an action or occurrence that causes someone to begin to do something.
I know I am personally working through the difference between the two terms but they both serve the purpose to spark a learning experience.
I escaped the green screen playscape for a few minutes to look around. Each space had beautiful materials arranged in bins, baskets, jars and tables all begging to be explored. Many had questions or statements to help guide you to new questions or ideas you hadn’t thought of. All the space was used from floors to table tops and then the walls. It was impossible not to touch, play, explore. It reminded me of countless early years classrooms I’ve visited or follow on social media where educators have done the same with carefully selected and organized materials.
As I wandered I kept coming back to the idea of provocations or invitations for adult learners. The playscapes during the conference were just that, an invitation to think differently, to play, explore, to learn as a community. How was I inviting educators to play, explore, and learn? What materials could I use to spark a conversation? What does an invitation look like when it comes to modern learning and how would educators respond?
Maybe everything we do is an invitation: an invitation to think differently, to change our practice, to play, explore and learn. The trick is making it irresistible and provoking the thinking further along the way. Something I will be reflecting on this week.
I may be guilty of romanticizing change once or twice before. It’s hard not to get carried away and paint change with a pretty brush like blooms in the spring or colourful leaves in the fall. Then you hear that age old saying:
The only thing that is constant is change. Heraclitus.
I feel I lived the quote growing up. Change has always been a constant in my life: different countries, different school systems, different apps. It is what my job is all about after all: helping educators make changes in their practice.
Naively I thought I was good with change. Then the tweaks started happening.
Change of schools, parents moving away, step off a board, new team, step on a board, and the list goes on and on.
The changes were not necessarily bad. They were often necessary and healthy but as they started piling up I could feel my roots unearthing. It suddenly became just a bit harder to focus, to keep up with the mad race, to take the risks I was used to. The changes seemed to play with the safety nets I had established, the roots I depended on. Change was great when I could control it or space it out. All the changes at once felt like I lost my footing. I question my choices, actions and how they are received even more.
Maybe it isn’t as much that I’m not good with change but that I needed a more realistic picture of change. Maybe we all need a reminder sometimes that change is a messy process not just the glossy capture once or twice a year. Maybe it’s time to share the messiness and take the time to find that safe steady core.
I will be good with change again once my roots have settled.
I was sitting one Sunday morning listening to a speaker share how we need to Believe Again. How sometimes we get into such a routine that we miss the wonder, mystery and beauty all around us. We are weighed down by the to do list we think is expected of us instead of the passion that should drive us.
I wrote myself a note to blog about it and then never pulled that note back up.
Sometimes you can’t escape a lesson.
Last night I was going through a few new posts of a fav series on Youtube when it popped up again. Listening to this young diver share his reflection, the same idea came up again. Sometimes we can get so caught up in what we need to fix, what went wrong, we lose our reason. We need to believe again.
I think it’s really important to remind ourselves why we do what we do.
So in a season of to do lists, sessions, details, reports, a season of structures, systems and plans I want to make sure I remember the why.
I want to believe again.
I went to see Gifted last night with a friend. I’ll admit it isn’t hard to convince me to see a ‘pull on your heart strings‘ movie with Chris Evans in it. I expected the tears (you could hear the sobbing in unison at one point in the theatre) but not the reflection on education. Maybe that’s silly, it’s a movie about education after all.
In case you haven’t seen it, the movie in a sentence: An uncle is raising his math prodigy niece in a less than ideal but happy environment when grandma, mathematician herself wants to pull her away to study math and solve unsolvable problems.
It’s always hard watching movies about education. There are always a few cringe worthy moments like the teacher mentioning ‘we don’t speak unless spoken to’ to the grade 1 class (YIKES). But as GIFTED flows you realize the story comes back to the purpose of education. It’s the same dilemma we see on TV, in our conversations at dinner tables, with siblings, sometimes around our staff rooms as well. What is the purpose of education? Philosophy is pegged against Mathematics, academics versus the ‘feelings’ part of education.
As I was watching the movie I kept thinking of Logan LaPlante’s TED talk a few years ago.
The beautiful complex, competent, capable bundle of energy math prodigy needed them both in the end to be happy and healthy. Don’t we all?
If I have to choose one though I think I would go for the ‘decent humans‘.
It’s always quite the milestone to make the first marker of a long project like #the100dayproject. As we completed our first week Monday I was reminded why I love the project. Once again I’m learning and being inspired by great individuals sharing their practice openly. Sometimes it is friends like Sharon Drummond and her daily data doodles. Other times the inspiration is from someone new like parade.made and her whimsical daily Kawaiiness prints. I have to admit though that one of the most exciting elements this year is that my dad is joining in.
It was a simple mention. I can’t remember why I tagged my parents in a post about the project but I just mentioned in passing on Facebook they should join. My mom has always been artistic. The calmer pace out in the East Coast is giving her the opportunity to create more (really it is all the snow days). I thought she might appreciate the challenge. My dad is just getting in to photographs and Instagram. I didn’t expect them to follow up (first mistake). And in typical fashion my dad just jumped in. I opened my Instagram account to see my dad’s first post. We then chatted back and forth about hashtags and how it all works: a unique hashtag for his project, the collective hashtag to connect with the community. The hashtags are muddled up most days and the pictures may be of the ordinary but they demonstrate a commitment.
A commitment to a shared experience between us despite the miles, a commitment to try something new, a commitment to continuously learn.
I hope I am willing to jump in so freely the next time I am nudged with a new learning opportunity.
I stumbled on #the100dayproject two years ago on Instagram and it has been this wonderful learning journey each year. So when I saw the announcement on Elle Luna’s page that the project was back I couldn’t contain my excitement. Both years were unique but shared a common theme: grabbing my camera and creating just for me. I create a lot for work but taking a few minutes daily to create for creations sake was reinvigorating; to play, to learn, to explore. The power of community also came to mind. I learned so much by just following the projects of others. Having friends’ take on the project kept me accountable to posting (even if I had to catch up once or twice).
So what is it? In short for the #the100dayproject you choose something to create, something you know makes you happy and then share your creations on a daily basis with #the100daproject hashtag as well as a unique hashtag for your collection so you can connect with others and learn together. Repeat daily 99 times.
Now the hard part: the project starts in 2 days and I’m still deciding what I should do. Help! At first I was wondering if I should do something completely different like sketching or painting, learning a new language or knitting. I think though I have come back to photography. Although I have a long way to go, I can see how the project has helped me improve my photography. So I’ve narrowed it down to 3 ideas:
- 10 x 10: Keeping a similar flow to last year, the 10×10 would let me have a focus. After playing with the slow shutter app today I would know which theme to start with
- Canada 150: With this special celebratory year one idea was to focus on 100 pictures to represent Canada. Probably taking a 10 x 10 theme as well from symbols.
- An Appy Moment: I’ve always loved how accounts like the.book.report share new or favourite books and wanted to do a similar stylized photo and video recap for my apps.
Will you join me? What action will you take for 100 days? No one is too old or too young!
See you online.
It was one of those serendipitous moments when the connections fall into place.
I was at one of our new teacher training session on assessment on Thursday. As we were wandering around checking in I was able to reconnect with a colleague. As she was sharing about finishing up the STEAM LABS educator boot camp that we had chatted about before, I shared the Design Thinking for Leading and Learning MOOC. Then the question came: “How did you find out about it?”
The question has been posed many times and more often than not it is always comes back to amazing colleagues willing to share.
I could see the bread crumb trail that led us to the Design Thinking for Leading and Learning MOOC.
- Going back a step to Mary sharing it in an email and tweet to the #launchbookchat folks.
- Stepping back once more to when we first met Mary through the Twitter Chats looking at Launch. I think she found us from the official hashtag for the book. We never thought we would have someone join us from the states.
- The bread crumbs kept leading to the crew that was willing to chat about a book (there is always a fear that no one will be interested).
- Finally I could see the beginning, chatting after our sunrise meeting with a few colleagues that got the book saying would you be interested in a book chat.
It’s amazing when you take a moment and look back at all the connections, people and moments that are part of one single learning moment. All it took was one small share and then another and then another…
Time to drop some bread crumbs.