Student Voice

The Patient Art (and Flow) of Influence: #SlowchatED Dec 15-21

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Courtesy of Maddie, @HallMiddle 8th grader

We often talk about influence as a commodity – something to be “peddled.” People make careers out of influencing others (e.g. lobbyists), yet the concept of “influence” can also have an unsavory undertone. Influence as a contagion, something difficult to contain once let out into the open; an idea or mentality (or substance) that sullies something pure.

What if we took more time to think and talk about influence as a spirit of connection, a frame of mind – one that encourages us to both share ideas with others (and perhaps see them take root) and open ourselves up to what other people think and believe (and to feel those ideas take root in us)? (more…)

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Finding Purpose in Education (June 9)

My name is Moss Pike, and I teach Latin at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. I’m excited to host a #slowchatED discussion on finding purpose within education the week of June 9, since it’s a topic I’ve become very invested over the course of this past year. Our school is on the verge of making some potentially big changes, based on a quite thorough “Workload Study” we recently completed with all of our students, and purpose has been one of the more salient talking points in the discussion. In thinking about how to design more engaging classroom experiences for my students and more engaging PD opportunities for faculty, as well as considering reworking our school mission, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about purpose, focusing on the question of why do we do what we do.

Alongside autonomy and mastery, purpose is one of Dan Pink’s three essential requirements for intrinsic motivation, which he outlines in his fantastic book Drive (cf. some of my thoughts on the book). Pink (2011:137) points out that we don’t often enough ask “Why?” in the workplace, and I think the same is true within the classroom and at schools in general. Now that we’re starting to understand the value of the so-called “non-cognitive” or “soft” skills like creativity and empathy that play a central role in engagement and happiness, it’s the perfect time to call more attention to purpose and think hard about this question, as we’re pushing change in our schools.

When I learned about Aaron Hurst‘s new book The Purpose Economy, I couldn’t wait to read it and see what he had to say on this idea. It’s an excellent book to add to the list of “books not about education that have everything to do about education,” and if anyone is looking for something to inspire deep thinking about important ideas, I highly suggest picking it up (cf my notes on it). In the book, Hurst (2014:18) makes it clear that his idea of purpose goes beyond service, thinking of it within the following framework:

“When I say purpose, I mean more than serving others and the planet. Service is certainly at the core, but in speaking with hundreds of professionals and reading thousands of essays, I’ve discovered that there are two other key sources of purpose people seek: a sense of community and the opportunity for self-expression and personal growth. In other words, they pursue personal, social and societal purpose.”

That said, the book (cf. also Hurst’s blog) have served as the inspiration for me to have a wider discussion on the topic, with the hope that we can bring together a number of diverse ideas on purpose and start to answer the question “Why?” for both ourselves and our greater communities. “Much like technology a few decades ago, purpose has now become a business imperative,” Hurst (2014:21) claims, and in my opinion, purpose should also be an educational imperative. If interested in discussing more on the book itself, by the way, share any thoughts or questions in our EduRead G+ community and/or use the hashtag #eduread14 on Twitter.

So to this end, we’ll discuss the questions below next week using the hashtag #slowchatED on Twitter, beginning with Q1 on Monday, June 9, followed by a new question each subsequent day of the week. All are welcome to participate throughout the week, whether it’s just for one question or for the duration of the discussion. As always, there are no wrong answers in a discussion like this, and I’m excited to see what ideas we can come up with together.

Suggested Reading

There’s no need to read The Purpose Economy for our #slowchatED discussion (though you certainly should at some point!), but it may be helpful to read through a couple good blog posts on the idea:

Questions

Q1 Why is purpose important? What does it do for us as community members?
Q2a Define what purpose means to you as an educator, sharing examples. What is your own personal purpose?
Q2b Define what purpose means to you as colleague, sharing examples. What is your societal and social purpose?
Q3 What are some myths or misconceptions about purpose? Why isn’t purpose often pursued?
Q4 How can we find, celebrate, and sustain our purpose as educators?
Q5 Why is finding purpose more important than ever for students? How do we help them find it?
Q6 Share a purpose project you intend to work on in the next academic year.

N.B.: This post is duplicated in my personal blog.

Week 3 #slowchatED Reflection: All Hands in the #EDUhuddle

Cross-posted at Principals in Training

This video is the product of two students (Ben Enbom and John Hassen) at my school, Sir Francis Drake High School.  The ONLY thing I did was give them the driving question.  We collaborated on this project – well, it’s more like I mooched off of their artistry and passion for film.  I didn’t follow them around, I didn’t pick the people they interviewed, I didn’t review the final edit.  We talked ahead of time about my general ideas for this week’s chat and I trusted them to do the right thing.  And guess what?  They did the right thing.  Why am I so un-surprised?  I see kids doing the right thing all the time – they just want more opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the mini-verses of our schools…and beyond.

I’ve thought this question over for years – long before I stepped into my “authority/boss” role as assistant principal: while education certainly is a service we provide, the best classes I’ve been a part of (as a teacher, as an observer) feel like startups – everyone working shoulder-to-shoulder to create something unique.  It got me thinking: do we really want to continue a model where we TELL kids what to do and how to do it, or do we partner up as co-workers?  If we want them to be college/life/universe ready when they depart our (high school) shores, shouldn’t we give them the chance to ACTUALLY have a say in how those four years go?

I threw down a CHALLENGE in advance of the chat:  (more…)

2.10-16: Students & Adults As Co-Workers

Cross-posted at Principals in Training

This video is the product of two students (Ben Enbom and John Hassen) at my school, Sir Francis Drake High School.  The ONLY thing I did was give them the driving question.  We collaborated on this project – well, it’s more like I mooched off of their artistry and passion for film.  I didn’t follow them around, I didn’t pick the people they interviewed, I didn’t review the final edit.  We talked ahead of time about my general ideas for this week’s chat and I trusted them to do the right thing.  And guess what?  They did the right thing.  Why am I so un-surprised?  I see kids doing the right thing all the time – they just want more opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the mini-verses of our schools…and beyond.

I’ve thought this question over for years – long before I stepped into my “authority/boss” role as assistant principal: while education certainly is a service we provide, the best classes I’ve been a part of (as a teacher, as an observer) feel like startups – everyone working shoulder-to-shoulder to create something unique.  It got me thinking: do we really want to continue a model where we TELL kids what to do and how to do it, or do we shoulder-up as co-workers?  If we want them to be college/life/universe ready when they depart our (high school) shores, shouldn’t we give them the chance to ACTUALLY have a say in how those four years go?

My CHALLENGE to you: invite your students to our chat.  Have them make videos about the ideas we discuss and post them to the chat.  You know what ingredient has been missing for so long in the work I’ve done alongside my adult colleagues for 16 years?  Students in the room, giving us their perspective, ideas, expertise.  Students putting their hand in the huddle when it’s decision-making time.  We can turn that around – but what will that involve?  What will we have to change, give up, leave behind?

I look forward to our time together starting Monday.  Massive UPS to David and Catina for leading off with two tremendous weeks of learning and connecting.  Here are the first few questions to start mulling over:

Q1: Being co-workers implies mutual trust/respect: talk about your school culture through the lens of St/adult relationships: strengths & areas 4 growth.

Q2: Are YOU satisfied with the role your students play (or, if you are a student, YOUR role) in how your school operates?  Is the level of engagement where it should be? Explain why/why not.

Q3: Do you think students need more of a say/voice in HOW your school operates?  In how your class operates?  Why/why not?

Q4: Talk about PD at your school: are Ss ever involved in meetings? In planning sessions? In debriefing how “the work” is going?

Q5: What needs to change in schools/classrooms for students to see themselves as our co-workers? What do we have to give up?

Q6: