Beyond Flexible

I am a huge fan of flexible seating.  Why?  Because it speaks to me… to every child.  It is a language all on its own.  It says … come in and choose what works for you!  Choose what is best for your learning.  To me “beyond flexible” is a respect to all languages of learning…. it builds a culture of value, trust, and respect.

Respect for differences. 

Respect for prior knowledge.

Respect for one’s strengths… because everyone has them! 

By providing flexible seating I am “speaking and interpreting many languages to learning.”  It is the “multilingual approach to learning”… each child’s own personal language.  I am letting each child know that I am privileged to learn with them and I cannot wait to see what they have to offer in their own way27C9FC8A-82E4-4FD5-87A4-F31C751D79DEBut why stop with seating?  Why not go beyond and have flexible learning too?

It makes me think of how I choose my shopping experience.  I am in the moment.  My moment looks different based on my day… my mood… my energy.  I am the one who likes to walk in to a store that offers a variety.  I want different.  I don’t want a carbon copy of someone else.  I don’t want everyone to know where I bought it just by glancing at a “label.”  I am different and I embrace it, just like I embrace the different learners in my classroom each day!

George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset,  made a strong point this week (during the IMMOOC YouTube live session)… one that resonated with me.  He mentioned that when leading there are times “I am literally trying to figure this out right now.”

Thanks George…  that is me!  That is my shopping style!  My life style!  My learning style!  I am wrestling with what I want… what I want to wear.  I may not even know until I see it.  I feel my shopping is similar to students’ learning.  I feel they wrestle with their own learning and it may change from subject to subject like brand to brand.  They may not even be in touch with their own likes or dislikes, yet they are trying to win at the “game of school” through one experience.  Shouldn’t they come out with an amazing outfit of learning designed just for them?  Shouldn’t their learning be flexible too… the kind that goes beyond differentiation?  Isn’t it their own learning language?

“It’s more than just a skill level.  Each student has a different set of interests and passions and prior knowledge.  Each student has a different set of questions.  Each student has a different system that works for them.” –A.J. Juliani and John Spencer, authors of Empower

 

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#IMMOOC Week 1: Setback or Serendipity: choosing the road less traveled.

Overcoming adversity builds T.R.U.E.G.R.I.T … small setbacks build character.  Setbacks come in different forms, especially in education.  Many see change as a setback, something that will disappoint and have complications.  The fear of change has always had an influence on the mood of teachers, students, and parents alike.  You can see it in a person’s eyes.  The fear that creeps over them when you are trying to explain what is about to take place.  The questions forming in their minds with every word spoken.  You find yourself in that moment choosing which road you are going to travel.

Do you continue to move ahead with change or do you comply and conform?  Do you actually have a choice?

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Have you ever sat in your first in-service day of the year to hear the changes that are coming your way?  The kind of change that is done just for the sake of change and not necessarily for the better.  You find your entire body tightening up as if  you cannot take one more word.  You wonder how all your optimism could possibly leave your body in 20 seconds or less.  You spend the following hours telling yourself to wipe away the negativity so that you can get back to your happy place.  The place where you just redecorated your classroom that awaits smiling, optimistic, and excited children.  Is this a setback?  My guess is that the change in which creates that tense feeling is most often not change for the better,

I’m one to choose the road less traveled.  Yet compliancy is at the forefront.  Compliance is not just a term we use with students.  It has been a professional responsibility that has inhibited my teaching and growth for many years forcing me back on a one lane highway… traveling in one direction with head on traffic.  George Couros (author of Innovator’s Mindset) states, “Compliance does not foster innovation.  In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite.”  Where was George when I needed him for his perspective?  The right perspective can help make the impossible possible!

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ― Shel Silverstein

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Then there was the in-service day that did change!  The one that went from a hot sticky auditorium (with a lecture on how we need to be better before we even get our fresh start) to an air-conditioned banquet hall with the high school’s marching band loudly playing the fight song just for their teachers.  The change that gives you chills and resets your inspirational compass so that it points straight forward.  My guess is that the change that gives you chills is the kind that George Couros is talking about… Innovation!  The kind that has your innovative administration ( Dr. Jacie Maslyk  Dr. Michelle Miller #PLF) challenging you to open a #twitter account and connect with other educators in the crusade to remake learning.   The kind of administration that TRUSTS you with social media.

What about that change?  George Couros says, “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” #InnovatorsMindset

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My current administration has brought on many changes… positive changes… innovative changes!  We now have permission to choose how we will teach the common core standards in our own individual classrooms in place of being on the same page, on the same day, just like all other classrooms in the district.  We now have tech-fest where lead learners step up and share their knowledge to help push our district forward.  We now have trust to choose #flexibleseating as an option for a learning environment that challenges and encourages all children.   We now have permission to blend our curriculum so that we are no longer teaching the same concepts in 3 different subject areas according to the map.  We now have district goals to engage all students every day, all day- to show purpose, passion, and pride in school and throughout the community.  This change is AMAZING!

For me it is always my mindset that turns things around.  Setback or serendipity? I’ll choose the road less traveled!  As George Couros says, “We need to make the positive so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

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