When Worlds Collide

I’m not much of a TV person and don’t have cable, but I recall being told about a Seinfeld episode years ago where one of the characters describes how having his relationship world and friend world collide is dangerous. I think my two education worlds have collided, and I’m thinking it’s not such a bad thing!
I’m a student success teacher. I spend a lot of my time working with “at-risk” students who don’t always find our ways of teaching and the structure of school a good fit. I also spend a large chunk of my time working with teachers in professional learning groups implementing new technologies and teaching strategies. Up until TEDxOntarioEd I was only making very vague connections between these two parts of my job. I could see the correlation between good teaching/assessment strategies to less students showing up in my office for “student success” work, but never thought much beyond that. The final TEDxOntarioEd talk was by a student who reminded me of those I’ve seen many times in my office with various stories. Every student has a story. School doesn’t work for all. Nothing works “for all”. Student success embodies individuality. As I was listening to Tim speak, I realized that I was using my “student success” brain to listen, not my ICT integration brain.
I felt like I was at one of our student success meetings where we regularly bring students in to speak of their barriers to education and what made a difference. I realized at that moment the similarities between integrating technology into education and student success. Teachers who are immersed in either one often share the following qualities.
     1. Creativity
     2. Put some control into students hands
     3. Focus on the “big ideas” or expectations opposed to the specific
     4. Take risks, not afraid of making mistakes while learning and trying new things
     5. Differentiate learning and assessments to best fit students needs
     6. Foster skill development in students like problem-solving and self-advocacy
It took me a long time to get here, but there we go. Teachers succeeding in both these areas embrace change. They often have “outside of education” experience (in industry, business or other) and often made bad students themselves, therefore wanting more options for their students.
So…. how do we bottle it? 

3 Replies to “When Worlds Collide”

  1. Change & Risk are two things we ask students to experience in our classrooms; but embracing these two characteristics and modeling 'learning', is to me a far more compelling way to teach this lesson.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Your 6 points struck me. As one of Tim's teacher mentors, I would like to share with you that these past few days Tim has been "on the top of the world". I too, have been thinking about ways to "bottle" this success. Tim's talk alowed him to capture each of your six points.
    Chris Coyle

    Is the magic as simple as having more students speak in a public forum? If so, maybe it's time to organize a more pervasive student led discussion of education?

  3. Hi Chris – a few years back (3) our board (SCDSB) held numerous forums for student voice. These students got up in front of 100+ people and told of their educational experiences. We've done smaller versions of this since. VERY powerful. No where near as big as TEDxOntarioEd. I'm glad Tim is "on the top of the world". Kudos to you! Helping students develop that kind of confidence and risk-taking sure is difficult. The closest I've ever come to witnessing that type of development with my own students was during a 10-day canoe-trip up the Missinaibi. That sure was transforming for many of them! Watching it was unbelievable. So, maybe our jobs are to find a way that works for each kid to get them from current place to "on the top of the world" (empowered)? Man, my head hurts trying to think of how to start this with each of my students! 🙂 Thank you! I've always thought much smaller when planning.

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