Saturday, February 19, 2011

EMDT613 Week 3 - Comments Post #1

Gregg Eilers

Wow! As I read through chapters 5-8 in "The Art of Possibility," I couldn't help but think of two things: 1) teacher-talk in the staff room, and 2) the power of student- to-student learning. Allow me to explain.

The whole concept of the calculating self vs. the central self completely changed my thinking about how I view certain aspects of the teaching profession. I asked myself, "Self? Am I a person that tends to take things too seriously to where it effects how I interact and lead my students?" Fortunately, the answer from my "self" was a resounding "No!" But what my inner self was convicting me of was how I can somehow be effected by how others relate themselves to the calculating self analogy. In other words, I can at times get sucked in to a conversation at lunch with other teachers that revolves around the common complaints of standardized testing, state standards, decisions by administrators, micromanagement and a plethora of other topics that educators seem to find the time to rant about. I discovered that I will listen to these conversations and walk away wondering what good did that just do for any of our students, other creating a free therapy session for these teachers at my expense? My point is, and I think this is what Zander was getting at, was the fact that there will always be something to disagree with, something that doesn't go the way we want it to, or someone that doesn't do things the way I would do them. But the question is whether or not I choose to stay stuck in that rut or way of thinking, or do I choose this presence without resistance approach? Do I let the obstacles stand in my way, or do I allow myself to say that is the way it is and allow myself to be creative and open the pathway for possibility? Obviously my goal as a teacher is to do the latter, but I know I am guilty of allowing my calculating self shadow the central self and the possibility it can unleash.

Secondly, the whole idea of students teaching other students kept running through my head. After reading the story of the Cuban and American orchestras teaching each other how to play different and difficult pieces, I started thinking about how much power students have when teaching other students. I use this strategy in my own classroom to a certain degree, but this concept of the "silent conductor" really highlighted my thoughts on how I can enhance the learning by disappearing from the lead of the room, so-to-speak, and let the kids lead their own learning with each other. Automatically, my head began spinning with different ways to approach some of my lessons and how to implement a more centralized learning environment to where I enable or give students the freedom to learn from each other. By doing this, I think the dynamics of my classroom would completely change, and if nothing else, a great social experiment for my 6th graders who are mostly English Language Learners!

My son and a friend ... Let's not forget that we can learn from them also!

My Response:
Gregg, once again I find myself really connecting with your post. Both of your scenarios hit home. Teacher lounge talk is so often negatively focused, with complaining about students, administrators, and testing. Often I do as Andrea commented and don't go there for lunch so as to avoid getting pulled into it. Negativity breeds negativity far faster than positivity. I'd rather keep my focus on the big picture and realize that everyone, students included, operates from a perspective that I probably don't know all the details of. It is far better to not take the situation, my control (or lack thereof), or decisions too personally. Remember Rule #6. Lighten up. When there is a really tough day going on that threatens to become filled with negative controlling thoughts, I try to think to myself, "It's going to be a BEAUTIFUL sunset tonight!" Realizing that this to shall pass, whatever the situation is, and life will go on with better/positive implications has been helpful for me. Your second comment about students teaching each other, like the Cuban and American Youth Orchestras, also hit home. Peer teaching is wonderful and can accomplish more than we may think it can. It has germinated some ideas that I'm anxious to share with a team-teacher.

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