Sunday, December 18, 2016


... That's the number of ornaments I put on my Christmas tree before my li'l guy started hanging his toys on the lower branches like they were ornaments. He first tried laying the ring-like pieces onto branches of the tree and laughed as they fell through onto the floor. After 10-15min of those failed attempts, he was able to the branch through the center of the ring. And, just like Mom, once he knew it wasn't falling through, he grabbed another toy and hung it on the tree too.

If a one year old can mimic movements so fluidly, don't you think your eleven, thirteen, or seventeen year old kids (students) can too? Frequently, when I ask teachers, principals and instructional coaches how they're going to facilitate _____ skill, they respond with, "I'm going to model it." While I know that what you're implying with that statement is, "I'm going to intentionally demonstrate a new concept to approach to learning and students will learn by observing," but I need you to know that your students see you "hanging Christmas ornaments" too!

I think about the key learning outcomes we intentionally address across NTN (Agency, Collaboration, Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Knowledge & Thinking) and wonder what students are actually seeing and hearing in the skill development of these outcomes on a daily basis. For example, if we really ARE trying to teach out students that collaboration is about being a productive member of a diverse team through strong interpersonal communication, commitment to shared success, leadership & initiative, then shouldn't they see us wrestle with a dilemma with our colleagues? Shouldn't you be attending feedback sessions which support one another's growth as educators...and shouldn't students know that you all take the time to give and receive feedback to one another!?!? So many of you do such great things already that are MODELS of the outcomes you're trying to reach with your students, but when asked how you're going to support students in developing these skills, it's very rare that "make my own learning visible to students" is part of that response.

Had I waited until Owen was in bed to hang the ornaments on the tree this year, then yes, I assume I'd be teaching him how to put a ring on a branch in the next few years. Instead of that intentional demonstration, however,  I just did my thing and made it visible to him and IT STUCK! I didn't even know he was watching, but suddenly...there they were! Toys hanging on my tree and now I kind of don't want to take them down. 

As you look at the definitions of the NTN Learning Outcomes and/or the specific indicators on the rubrics, what will you do in your own work as an educator that will make your learning and your practices visible to your students? When you reflect on your actions and interactions with adults and students this semester, what were you REALLY modeling for your students? ...was it the skills and best practices you were hoping to model!? If not...what will you do differently next semester?

Peace, love, & "be the change you want to see in the world,"

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