Instructional Rounds Reflection #1

I tell my students I became a teacher because I couldn’t make a living on the stage. And while this is the falsehood I like to tell to explain my antics, it does, like many falsehoods, have a modicum of truth. For me, teaching has become performance art, and I am energized by every performance — whether it be one where I am on stage alone, directing student discussion by conducting a Socratic symphony or sitting among a group of students listening while they seek feedback on their writing from their classmates.  In either of these learning environments and as well as the other scenes I’ve created for learning, I feed on the energy generated by the students.

 

Teaching during an instructional round observation shines a spotlight on me and my students and holds up mirrors to reflect back to me what is happening in the classroom.  The light and reflection amplify the energy buzz. My first experience with instructional rounds, observing and being observed, pulled back a curtain on my teaching practice. While reading the observation notes from the members of my IR cohort, I visualize myself as the conductor of that learning experience they watched. The narrative of that class read like Socrates conducting an orchestra, calling on the instruments poised to play, praising those with the “right” answer, and trying to pull out insights from those more reluctant.  I wouldn’t be surprised to I read that I point to cue students to talk, I push my palm up to increase the volume in the piccolo section, or I push it down to lower the flugelhorns. All I need is a baton and the symphony of ninth grade Humanities could come together like a philharmonic.

 

But

 

I don’t want to be a conductor; I don’t want to wave my arms around telling students when it is ok to come in and join the song. Instead, I’d like to play within the orchestra, play an instrument that encourages students to find their own voice, their own passion. I wonder how I can make the space for students to step into the center, onto the conductor’s block in front of their classmates so that they can wave their arms, encouraging their peers to become part of the song.

Beginning with Personal Values and Personality Types

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 10.49.44 AMToday I started reading Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Teachers, and I started avoiding the inevitable introspective work absolutely foundational to building resilience.  In fact, I started writing this blog entry two hours ago, and I am now just finishing the third sentence.  In between the sentences, I’ve washed dishes, made the bed, and put away clothes.  And now I feel ready to write about what I’ve learned about myself.

While none of the knowledge I’ve gained this morning is new, coming to understand how I need to use it is unfamiliar.  And I am committing myself to working through Elena’s Aguilar’s program so that I can the resilience I need to be confident in my teaching.

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In Aguilar’ first chapter focuses on learning about our selves so that we can play to our strengths and wisely direct our energies.  Clear self-knowledge gives us confidence in our actions and decisions.   For Aguilar, self-knowledge is true power, and the key to gaining self-knowledge is a deep understanding of how these five elements make up our selves:

  • Values
  • Psyche
  • Strengths and Aptitudes
  • Socio-political identity
  • Personality

Gaining my own self-knowledge this morning I worked through exercises for values and personality.  While it was easy for me to identify 10 values, I had more difficulty narrowing these down to three essential ones.   IMG_1703

Upon reflection of my three fundamental values, I can see how the remaining seven values stem from these three.  For without kindness and gratitude, could we hope for equity and peace?  Doesn’t it seem that embedded in ideas of equity and peace are the values of kindness and gratitude?  If we cannot be thankful for the diversity of people and thought that surrounds us, then we cannot expect equity. Being fair and impartial comes from a sense of kindness, of affection, for all in order to see all impartially.  Without hope, how could anyone forgive?  For me, it is a faith in the underlying goodness of most that creates the hope I center my life around.  Without this hope could we expect there to be peace anyone’s life?  in the world?

Then I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test on 16personalities and not surprisingly found that I am in an introverted phase.  At the end of this school year, I found myself more exhausted by the people-intensive experience that is school.  Luckily, I have time this summer to spend in my head — resting, processing, and planning.

Today, (according to this test) I am perceiving information through sensing — an unexpected result.  While I do notice details, I like to make sense of the details to connect them to bigger ideas.  I feel more comfortable backward-planning as those who perceive the world through intuition.

I process information through feeling, and I make decisions first looking at people and circumstances and seek a harmonious resolution to any conflict.  My heart and body hurt when I cannot make everything right for everyone.

And finally, it is through perceiving that I live my outer life, understanding and adapting to those around me, preferring to take in information and trying to keep myself from being overwhelmed by new ideas.  I feel I can best be flexible within a structure, especially in my own teaching.

What I like best about the 16 Personalities test (and perhaps the result) is the noun given to describe all these attributes.  I am an ADVENTURER.  For these past few hours, I’ve been walking around my house, inside my head, thinking about the idea of being an adventurer.  And I wonder how much of this aspect of my personality is programmed by my DNA and how much is from my experience as a military brat.  Is there a gene for adventure, for using aesthetics and design to push social conventions and enjoying upsetting traditional expectations?  Or do I find satisfaction in the uncomfortable, in the need for change because each time my family moved, I found myself looking for a place within the conventional and ultimately knowing that I belonged outside of it?

Everybody is the Creative Type (and HMW use dt as a methodology for curriculum design?)

Today with Creative Confidence

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I am embracing the idea that creative confidence is a “way of seeing . . . your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt.”   With this way of seeing as my foundation and relying on my creative mindset of “a powerful force for looking beyond status quo,” I am now thinking about how to engage my creative energy during my summer of intentionality.   During my summer of intentionality, I am laying out goals for the work I want to accomplish and tracking my progress for meeting these goals.

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This approach I hope will allow me to return to school rested, without the underlying anxiety that I did not “do enough” or “think enough” about the 2018-2019 school year.

It was then invigorating to read that what keeps us from being courageous, from cultivating our creative confidence, is that there is paradoxically comfort in our uncertainty.  Shaking away the uncertainty, I have decided to work through this text as my way of challenging the status quo of course/curriculum design. (And I am deliberately not researching this idea because I don’t want to feed my fixed mindset of thinking that someone has already done this — proposed how to use Design Thinking for curriculum development.)

So what happens when we thinking about DT as a curriculum design methodology?  Do we combine it with the ideas of IBL and UbD?

The Kelleys see innovative programs as balancing three factors:  feasibility, viability, and desirability.  Finding the sweet spot in this triad is where design thinking works and finding it in curriculum design can be where students learn best.  For me, when thinking about design as curriculum design methodology, I see feasibility in education as a reminder for teachers to consider what we already know and believe about child development and pedagogy.  Will what we are proposing fit in what we know about how students learn?  Thinking about viability in education, we remember that our courses must live within the framework define our school’s mission and norms.  Will this course design support our mission and fit into our school’s culture?  Finally, desirability in education connects this methodology to Inquiry-based learning as we seek to connect our design to what student passion.  How do we learn what students hold as their core beliefs and how to leverage these beliefs for motivation?  In learner-centered design, we look for students to engage with content and skills that they feel are critical for success. Are these the same as what we as teachers feel are necessary?  And if not, do we let go of our own beliefs or do we encourage students to consider our ideas?  If so, how do we encourage students to look beyond themselves?

Using design thinking within the classroom as a methodology for inquiry-based learning is an authentic way engage students in innovative, interdisciplinary problem-solving.  This month I will explore how I can use design thinking within a curriculum development methodology to design a six-week course module focused on Shakespeare and Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Pre-reading Questions for Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Image result for creative confidenceStarting my MVIFI Summer + Learning today with Tom Kelley and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential with Us All.  Today I will start with questions, following a strategy I’ve taught students to use when tackling an unfamiliar text.  Asking questions prior to starting a text leads to greater comprehension while also providing students with their own inquiry into a text. Starting with questions is also a norm at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.  What follows here is my brainstorm of initial questions I have prior to diving into the reading.

Questions

  • What is the Kelleys’ definition of creativity?  Does it differ from my own idea that creativity involves an aesthetic appreciation of life and its truths? (This summer I am very interested in truths.)
  • What does it mean to have creative confidence? Is this a belief in your ability to make something worthwhile, something aesthetically pleasing, something meaningful?
  • I am participating in Enhancing your Professional Creativity workshop at SCAD later this month, and I am wondering how this text will connect with the work I’ll do in Savannah.
  • Charlie Rose is quoted on the dust jacket, praising the authors for sharing their secrets about “find[ing] out creative power.”  I wonder if the authors are concerned that Rose has lost his credibility as a journalist.  I wonder if this quote will appear on dust jackets printed for later editions.
  • I wonder what type of work I’ll need to do while reading.  Brené Brown mentions being inspired by the “real-life exercises” in the text.
  • A creative way of thinking, creative mindset, asks us to empathize with users while innovating and to tell compelling stories about our innovations.  My own inability to get out of my head when I am writing stymies my storytelling; I find myself clicking tabs on my browser instead of writing.  Will I learn how to get out of my head and turn off the internal censor?