Nov 25

EduCon Sessions Are Up!

The non-SLA sessions for EduCon 2.1 are up on the site! Check out the Conversations page for some incredibly exciting sessions.

I tried to make a list of all the sessions and people I’m excited to see, but really, the post got too long too fast. It’s going to mean that people are going to have to make some hard choices, but we are holding to our structure of longer sessions, fewer sessions a day, time in between, and sharing meals so people have time to talk.

There’s more to post… more sessions coming… panelists announced… dinners planned, but we’ve got the first HUGE piece of the content of the conference up, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Hope to see you in Philly… it’s going to be an amazing time!

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Tags: educon, educon21

Nov 16

Barbara’s Fund

Barbara Barreda, ed-tech blogger and principal, lost her house in the California wildfires today. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Barbara and spend some time with her. She’s a wonderfully kind and smart educator, and I can’t even imagine what she must be going through.

So Jen Wagner and Clarence Fisher have set up a way for people to help. Read Clarence’s post first or just go right to Jen’s page for the fund, but if you know Barbara or if you have read her blog and you can spare some money, please do.

If you’ve benefited from the edu-blogosphere, this is a wonderful way to say thanks by helping out one of the community’s wonderful members.

Nov 14

Where Does It Live?

Educators write pretty mission statements. But the problem with so many educational mission statements is that they sound good but bear little resemblance to the real world. This is part of the reason why good ideas get reduced to being called "edu-babble" because the words get invoked but never put into practice, so they lose their meaning.

But ideas have meaning if we let them.

So I have an idea — whenever we hear or read schools or districts or teachers or administrators make a claim that their school / district / PD session / whatever is about "21st Century Learning" or "Life-Long Learning" or "Project-Based Learning" or whatever claim we may see or read, our first question should be — "Where Does it Live?"

Educational ideas only have lasting power if they exist within the systems and structures of institutions that claim them. Everything — every system, every policy, every structure — in schools represent a pedagogical choice, and we don’t take advantage of that. The classes we choose to schedule, the length of the classes, the times they meet — every possible permutation privileges certain kinds of learning and makes other kinds of learning harder.

So, for example, at SLA, we say that the way we treat each other is based on the ethic of care — the idea that caring relationships are at the heart of creating healthy learning environments. That idea has to live somewhere or eventually it will get squeezed out or only live within the people who came in already believing it. This is why we have Advisory — a four year relationship between a group of twenty students and a teacher that ensures that every teacher has a group of kids for whom they are responsible and every students has an adult in the building who will always be their advocate. We had to plan for caring, we couldn’t just assume it, and we certainly couldn’t just say it.

All schools should be able to point to the places, the systems, the structures that prove that the words we say we believe truly live and are systemized in our schools. If we do this, those edu-bingo words will stop merely being buzzwords and, instead, will give us the rich language we need to teach and learn.

So what does your school claim to believe and where does it live?

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