Knowing WHO You Have

mid2Circa 1996.  This is my Teensy; my youngest; my Madeline.  A toddler, smiling, while her extended family clapped at her newly honed skill of “running” in our huge backyard.   She was proud here, much like the day before when just her father and I smiled and sat in awe while she ran uphill, smiling.

The day after, with a larger group, this lasted  for about 30 seconds.  The next picture (hidden) shows an overwhelmed baby girl, looking for her mother, crying.   I bolted out into the yard to snaggle her up in my arms.  I was confused about the sudden change in her affect.  I only know she needed me to protect her from the clapping, yelling and cheering.  I intuited that is was all too much.  The noise was too much, but more than that, Madeline did not like all the attention.

mid Madeline @ 8 analyzing the basil grown for her self-altered pesto recipe

Fast forward 1.5 decades:  Madeline prefers to hang under the radar: reading, thinking, baking, yoga-ing:  minus the make-up and bling that her peers adore. I didn’t understand this about my girl for quite some time.  I learned that she prefers solitary time.  She dislikes a lot of attention.  She wants to read and write and think.  This is a private activity that she shares, sometimes, with the people she loves and trusts.  I covet the time “that” trusted human is me.  I hold it dearly, because I never know when it will be sitting in my lap.  Still, nobody is all “introvert” or all “extrovert”.  Like everyone else, Madeline is a wonderful blend, loving social time with special people; craving time for reflection. Shy?  No.  Quiet?  Often.  Don’t forget:  Still waters run deep.

576851_4885868667807_1236838366_nMadeline with friends during spirit week

Knowing your students will allow you to meet their social needs

Some of my Tweeps recommended a book by Susan Cain:   Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking . I am intrigued. I want to understand introversion better. I love people who seem to fit this profile. I work with people who seem to fit this profile. I may even have been born introvert myself, but  the world and experience seems to push everyone to be social; to collaborate and  talk.  Still, like many, quiet time fuels me.  I love working alone.

I also listened to a TED talk by the author: Pretty amazing synopsis of what it is like to grow up primarily introverted in a social world.  Listening to this TED talk fueled a conversation on Twitter about collaborative work in classrooms.  One of my Tweeps has done a remarkable job of thinking about Cain’s book .   Follow this link for a thorough look at what it means to be introverted in today’s classroom.

The need for privacy; the need to seek respite from “social” – is a healthy and adaptive way to negotiate life. I suspect, as teachers, it is our job to know our kids and know what they need to shine.  Social learning is great for extroverts, but not everyone learns best that way.  While the world pushes us to collaborate, we must also consider that some think and learn best when they can work independently before sharing with the group.

Knowing who sits in front of us in class is the first step toward meeting everyone’s needs.



Love this. Group work: how does it work best? I think variety is probably the spice of life. Exposure to all ways is a good idea for the individual. Still, everyone needs time doing it the way they work/learn best.

Barking and Talking

Reading and commenting on Aviva Dunsiger’s post on classroom desk arrangement reminded me of a related but different topic I’ve been wrestling with lately. I’ve been asking myself questions about what it means to do group work.

I’m not certain which lady or gentleman first automatically equated group work with collaboration, but I need to have a word with her/him. When it comes to project work, l’m a proponent of my students taking a larger role in deciding whether working with a partner to create, produce, and/or present is really in the interests of everyone’s progress and learning. Some cite the infamous ‘real world’, in which we are supposedly inundated with demands to work with random people (in many cases, ones we can’t stand), as the pedagogical impetus behind group assignments, but that reasoning just feels lukewarm to me. It’s a strangely defeatist vista which I don’t see reflective of…

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White Dudes Dangling Carrots


The US is  in a state of revolutionary  change.  .  As we stand on the edge of the “fiscal cliff”, we reflect on what was, in the decades before the crash.  Indeed, the bell-shaped curve illustrating the “haves” and “have-nots” has become an inverted J curve with the chasm between the rich and poor astounding; the lopsided spin  makes the bulk of us dizzy.

It is time we focus on the core issues.  Government needs to work collaboratively to solve the REAL problems.  Pointing at teachers, firefighters, police, librarians instead of focusing on the REAL problem for our financial woes is incredulous. In politics, it is obvious where the unnecessary roadblocks lie.  In the past, Obama sent forth proposals with concessions already in place, thinking they would be accepted.  He learned that the proposals were pocketed and  Congress simply asked for more.   Failure to collaborate and compromise is a core issue.  The philosophical differences are hurdles, but solving the problems should not be optional.  Drawing lines in the sand cannot be tolerated.  The people in the US spoke clearly last month.  Did anyone hear?

Blaming the poor, the uneducated, teachers/firefighters/police officers and others for the money woes in this country is incredulous.  It is nothing more than dangling carrots and barking  empty  promises.   Not everyone is distracted by hollow, shiny things dangled by good-looking guys with a tan and nice, white teeth.

Not me, anyways. The problems are crystal clear.   I hope I am still around to see our country  focus on the truth instead of blaming the casualties on the side of the road,  victims of a system that protects the elite.

It’s time to put the political shenanigans aside for the welfare of our country.  

Staying Engaged

engageI had a lively conversation with some great educators on Twitter recently.  It started with an article

Technology:  Myth of MultiTasking.  Not surprising, there were educators who despise “multi-tasking” and those who embrace it without much thought.  I suspect their biases fuel each one of them.  Multi-tasking while driving cannot be compared to multi-tasking while learning.

An interesting book was  recommended to me by  @royanlee on Twitter:  Now You See It:  How Technology Will Transform Schools and Business in the 21st Century.  This book was said to give a nuanced look at multi-tasking/ task-switching.  I intend to buy the book soon.

My own bias about multi-tasking is felt quite strongly.  Still there is a time and a place for everything.

If we asked a group of educators today what student engagement looked like, I am certain the responses would be much different from what they would have been just two decades ago.  The phrase probably wasn’t used much, until recently.  Expectations have also changed.  Goals have changed.

Times are a changing.

If we are focused on the learner, we too will change.  I see no other options.  They want to be engaged. This means something different now than it did in the past.

What does it mean to you?