Friday, September 12, 2014

Reply Hazy, Try Again Later

The Magic 8 Ball was a favorite of mine as a child.   Probably not for its grad ability to predict the future, and more because it was one of many toys that succumbed to my klutziness and was dropped, slightly cracking the outer shell, allowing me to realize that there was little magic actually inside.  In reality, it was a multi-sided die with possibilities floating in what appeared to be black water in a glass jar with a screw on lid.  To be honest, the black water was the real mystery to me.  Even after the cracking incident, my sister and I -- and other friends -- would try to wrangle the answer we wanted for our future from the Magic Ball by re-phrasing our questions with multiple double and triple negatives.
 
Here's how I know that the Magic 8 Ball was a fraud:

1.  I never owned a blue mustang. *
2.  Marie beat me at Monopoly during the summer-long game with IOUs.  
3.  I never mustered the courage to dive off the high dive at Manor Lu. *
4.  I didn't marry the boy next door. *

The Te@chthought prompt for today pretty much  has me serving as my own Magic 8 Ball.  I suspect I will have about the same track record, if reflecting on the last five years is any indication.  After all, how could anyone have predicted that there would be an absolute assault on education?

September 12

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years? 

I am actually very excited about the future of education.  I am less than excited about the PRESENT educational system, mostly because so much of my time seems to be spent accounting for "evidence" that what I am doing is actually effective.  Having said that, the tide appears to be changing.  There are many who are sitting up and taking notice, commenting on the value and importance of metacognition as a skill to be taught.  Several of my colleagues discovered Carol Dweck's concept of Growth Mindset, and are actively infusing that concept into their classrooms for kids to consider.    Teachers in faculty rooms look nothing like the faculty room dwellers on television -- and faculty "lounges" are losing that title completely.  After all,  who has time to LOUNGE during the school day -- or even after?  Districts are beginning to ask for planned proof of consideration for Webb's  DOK - Depth of Knowledge  questioning strategies.  

I've mentioned Habits of Mind before.  Arthur Costa's work on brain research is not new.  Thirty years in the making, and suddenly it's the hot new thing.  I love that I work with colleagues who are just nerdy enough to be willing to share their own triumphs and failures in their classrooms as they try to get kids to engage with material, and still learn something about themselves in the process.

The reality is that the next nine months represent 20% of the next five years.  My focus this year on promoting metacognitive understanding is not a passing fad.   Additionally, I will continue to refine my use of the concept of autonomous learning; the task of motivating learners to succeed because of the intrinsic desire to learn rather than the motivation for the top block on the rubric.  The four years after that will continue to prove a time of refining and honing -- and dragging (or maybe following?) learners along for the ride.  After all, five years from now is a year shy of the Roaring Twenties.   It will be time to make some noise.


*Oh, and I wound up marrying a great guy.  He lived in the DORM next door to me in college.  I dove off the high dive at Penbryn Pool, and owned a blue minivan -- in fact, 2 of them.  As far as Marie's Monopoly skills, I guess there's still time for a rematch.   

Maybe I should go float in a pool of black water this weekend and see what I can predict....  Here's hoping that THIS TIME I am right.

#reflectiveteacher